Tuesday, February 21, 2012

World within a World

Music Influence: “Scars Align” Cyrenic (Dying to Live, 2011)

 

I spent a large amount of time traveling on Thursday from airport to airport hoping planes as if I were an Easter bunny tripping on sugar. Had twelve minutes to make a connection flight in Salt Lake City- don’t think I’ve ever run through an airport faster in my entire life. An airport is a world all to itself. When you're inside it's a complete different mindset. Even the most bashful of people will find their inner hellcat. You have to bite, scratch, claw your way into position to board the plane. You have to elbow and throw dirty looks at the guy sitting next to you taking up half your elbow space. And put up with the other person getting rip roaring drunk, which in turn, you have to get drunk to deal. Airplane courtesy is not everyday courtesy. It's a one man island. You've gotta look out for yourself and say screw the others. Leave them for the sharks.

But while I was doing all this traveling I had nothing more to do than read. And I’ve seriously been low on reading time lately. I’m three years behind on Melissa Marr’s faerie series and I absolutely love these books. The Fae world is a world within our own as the Fae walk the streets most humans are oblivious to their presence unless the Fae want the humans to see. There are a few humans who have the sight. The notion of something abnormal happening in the normal intrigues me. This is the type of Urban Fantasy I enjoy reading. The world within the world.

The world of mythical creatures inhabiting the world I know enthrall me. As if I were the one walking down a dark alley with enchanted eyes watching me, waiting to make a move. The world where creatures of the night fight with one another. The world where only in my wildest imagination things happen. This is essential when writing Urban Fantasy novels. Build your world around the one the reader can understand and relate to. I’ve read a lot of fantasy/paranormal books where as the reader I can’t relate to the characters or the world they live in. Either the explanation isn’t there for the world, or the creatures who inhabit the world are too strange and foreign for comprehension. This is a problem I have as a writer. It’s so hard to paint the right picture for your reader when you see it so vividly in your head but lack the worlds to properly explain it. And when you’re beginning to write a new world, you want to dump as much information into the beginning as you can possible pack. You want the reader to experience the world immediately, when actually; you want the reader to wade in slowly as if to test the waters. Too much information could spook off a reader from reading your really kick ass world you’ve built.

So what I want to know from my fellow readers and writers is how do you wade in? You don’t have to be writing (or reading) a paranormal/urban fantasy novel to see the world within the world. We all create our own world when writing. What’s the right mixture in the beginning of the world the reader knows and relates and the world you’ve built and created? What’s the best world you’ve read in a book lately? Anyone read any really good paranormal or urban fantasy novels?

 

24 comments:

Enid Wilson said...

I actually don't like reading/writing description that much. So I'd prefer the paranormal/urban fantasy brought to life in the dialogues, or in some bits among the dialogues.

The Spinster’s Vow

Maureen said...

Hmmm. How do I build a world? I like to step so far outside the RL, and then haul the RL into the world I'm building. I took Emily from the here and now and tossed her into a world outside of actual history...but she brought the RL with her.

I did the same with Cameron and The Alien Library...threw her onto an alien world, but she is still RL and how she reacts and responds to what she faces is RL.

The Changed World...I twisted the RL and wrang out the juice for the future world...my first urban fantasy.

Beginnings...I think you really have to sprinkle the oddness in, with a balance of RL so that you don't lose your reader. If you have an audience that wants to immediately be lost, then that is how your write it. Not my style of writing...

I think about Charles de Lint and what he does with the Newford world...which you ought to try out, Sin. I think you'd like them.

JulieJustJulie said...

Well ... every now and then I find myself doing something that I have ...
A. No business doing.
and
B. No idea why the heck anyone in their right mind WANTS me to do it.
So. I was minding my own business when …
Someone asked me to read their completed work. That makes sense I suppose cuz I consider I myself a reader. However, they also wanted me to give my opinion about it. And worse … my help? HELP? WTH? Obviously I asked about their sanity. Then I found someone who actually knew what the hell they were doing who offered to help ... But no. Said insane person didn't feel ready.
What to do? Gahhh ... I read the manuscript again. And saw something intriguing. Potential. But. It def needed some work. I told him he needed to get some craft books (Hellion recommended). Get a real CP (Hellion recommended method of finding one). You know ... someone besides me. Someone who can write right. Not that I think that he has actually read anything that I’ve written, because well I don’t really write to begin with.
But he wouldn't go away. Then my daughter asked. And when I asked why me she said something like “because” which only made it worse. So. It’s kinda embarrassing but I now find myself CP & for all intents & purposes head cheerleader & research assistant & & God help him sole editor to … An Urban fantasy writer. Which I haven’t read since I ‘lived” the urban fantasy but that’s another story.
So.
Now that we have established that
A. I have No business doing this.
and
B. No idea why the heck anyone in their right mind WANTS me to do it.
So obviously
C. Writers are crazy.
People that know me know that I usually send ‘voice recordings” however there are those rare occasions I do type things out.
Why? Like my DD said … just because.

JulieJustJulie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JulieJustJulie said...

Just because. An excerpt from One of My Letters to Robert...

So …
What you need to do is to step back from your story. And take what might feel like a step backwards. Before you start any deep revisions, you need to write out a more in-depth description of “your world”. Plot out its history, society’s rules, everything or anything that pertains to or is unique about “your world”. And don’t forget … if you break a “rule” to have a rational reason how or why that rule could be broken. What you’re looking for is some WB rules that will help you maintain the continuity of your story/stories. AND help you in establishing some GMC (goals motivation conflict) plot lines.

***

I am going to end this with a quote from Dominique McElligott, the actress who plays Lily Bell On the new AMC Western series Hell on Wheels. I feel that it is a wonderful description of what your world building goal should be. IMO Your goal should be creating a world that is of your making … a fictional place … but one that feels as Authentic as our real world.

Dominique said “The authenticity of it, and the fact that it’s not stylized like the Westerns are, makes it much more complex. There are social issues being dealt with. There is such a diversity of characters that you wonder, “How are these people going to relate to each other? How are they going to converse?” There’s going to be conflict. There’s going to be a lot of tension. How is that going to be resolved? What’s the interaction like? Basically, it’s a question of survival, and who’s going to survive and who’s going to die. It’s so much more than just a Western."
Interviewer: What was it about this woman that you felt you could identify with?
McELLIGOTT: "I love that she’s an outsider. I love that she’s from this alien place, in comparison to where she ends up.”

I feel that if you …
Give your readers a story that has Authenticity. Diversity. Realistic interaction. Conflicts. And Resolutions. If a writer can do all of that? Then they will be IMO a successful writer.

Julie

Marnee Bailey said...

First of all, Jules, I can absolutely see why writers would ask for your opinion. After all, I'm planning to send you my MS, when I finish this round of revisions. ;P

What I've learned.... Huh.

Plotting has always been part of my repertoire. But I've learned that there's so much more past that. This time, though I wrote to my outline, I think the biggest changes have happened in my revision phase. So, I guess I've learned that revisions is the most important part of my writing process. It was a hard lesson. Hopefully the next book I can write the first draft faster. I'm going to try, anyway. I'll just keep telling myself that I'll probably change it all in revisions anyway. LOL!!

I've also learned that the "point" for me, the thing I really want to accomplish when I'm writing, is to show characters falling in love. Sometimes, in all the work I do to get the words on the page or to get the plot out, I forget that it's about that loving feeling. I forget that I read to watch two people go through the adventure of falling in love, with all those swirly, losing-control feelings. I watch for that "it won't work" despair" and that euphoric "he wants me too!"

It seems so obvious, but I'm amazed at how many books I read that miss that mark.

Great post, Sin!!

Sin said...

Sorry guys. I didn't realize this posted on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. No wonder why I couldn't find it for my blog on Wednesday! lol

Sin said...

Enid, excellent! I'm a bit like you. While I enjoy the description of the world, I like learning about it through dialogue and interaction between the characters. I've been trying to find the balance between those two. I suck golf balls at dialogue, so it's not my strongest point while writing. But I'm steadily getting better I think. When I write, my mind is all over the place. I think that's why my dialogue isn't the greatest. I'm not a social person by any standards. Most conversation for me is stilted and one sided, which can't happen when you're writing (unless your characters is a social idiot like me).

Sin said...

Chanceroo, sprinkling. I like it. A little dusting of paranormal here. A dash of oddness there. It's almost like you're creating the perfect AU recipe.

Sin said...

Jules, writers might be crazy. Writers might be a lot of things, but it's the unique-ness that draws readers in. You can obviously understand this since you're both (regardless if you admit it or not).

Sin said...

Marn, I have to agree with you. Jules would make a most excellent reader. She keeps her opinions concise. Offers constructive criticism. She's honest. All things you look for when you're looking for a reader.

TerriOsburn said...

Afraid my brain is not in the place to answer this. But I'll try. *strains last remaining braincell* I don't like to be hit over the head with a new world. Which is likely why I don't read para or urban fantasy. I'm too practical and rooted in (my own) reality. My current MS is set on a real island and I know I need to bring that island to life. Make it another character. No idea how to do that.

Kiddo is reading those Melissa Marr books. I think she's read the first three and plans to buy the next one. She's loving them! Have you read the Lauren Kate Fallen series? Kiddo loves that one as well. All about Fallen Angels, but I think they're more in the normal world.

Sin said...

Love Melissa Marr! I hope Izzy is enjoying them. While MM is considered YA, I think her books are really mature. Older teen definitely.

I can't get into the Lauren Kate books. The teenager in my life loves them. But doesn't like the Melissa Marr books. I think it's the difference between fallen angels (right?) and the Fae.

MsHellion said...

The current world I'm immersed in (Paranormal wise) is the Fallen series by Lauren Kate and Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick. I love the Fallen Angels concept, and I've seen many versions of it--so while the heroes are the same sort of broken, the lore is always slightly different with slightly different emphasis on a key piece of history. Loving it!

I'm reading MacLean's newest book (to review), I'm thinking of having RWR review books on Tuesdays, mostly because I have a LOT of books to review and only so many blogs to my name. It's a regency, but the world building is good. I can feel the setting and the worlds she's encompassing: the polite society and the seedy underworld where gambling takes place.

Sin said...

My favorite kinds of world are the seedy underworld types with the brothels and the gambling hells and the underbelly of society. Especially when the naive and innocent to the real world stumble onto it.

MsHellion said...

I hate the lore of the Fae. *LOL* I don't read it for LKH or anyone else. But love fallen angel books. *LOL* Which is why I don't read most of the Melissa Marr books (though I like her Graveminder book).

Sin said...

I'm not a big Fae reader myself. Melissa Marr's books are the only ones I'll read. She's an amazing writer. Even better world builder. She's got this world that is weaved SO perfectly. Between her and Kim Harrison, if they had a writing baby that baby would dominate.

Maureen said...

God, Sin...you want brothels and gambling hells and the underbelly...? You have to read Simon R. Green's Nightside books.

Sin said...

*scampering off to Amazon*

Maureen said...

You can't get much more underbelly and the dark side of everything than the Nightside.

MsHellion said...

I hope while Sin scampered off to AMAZON, she's picking up that WRITING BOOK AS WELL!

Marnee Bailey said...

Oh, Sin, I forgot to add. You should try ANGELFALL by Susan Ee. It's cheap on Amazon and it was wonderful.

JulieJustJulie said...

Marnee said "First of all, Jules, I can absolutely see why writers would ask for your opinion. After all, I'm planning to send you my MS, when I finish this round of revisions."

Thank you Marnee, and honestly I am looking forward to reading your work. however this guy doesn't just want a CP or a betta reader ... he wants an editor. I might joke about it but helping someone work through the first deep revisions of the first draft of their first manuscript isn’t something to be taken lightly. Can you blame me for questioning his sanity? I mean really. "Hey, this is my editor. She doesn't type, doesn't write and she posts videos on FB of herself talking to her fish."
Insane.

JulieJustJulie said...

Him. Not me. I'm just quirky ... or as my DH likes to put it 'You're-a-Crazy-( insert-Maiden-name-here )Girl'.