Nya has a secret she must never share.
A world she must never question.
A gift she must never use.
And a sister whose life depends on her doing all three.
I am such a blog stalker. My Google reader is stuffed full of agent, editor, and author blogs (along with a few others just for kicks.) And I know most of you are the same way.
But if you haven't added The Other Side of the Story to your list of daily must-reads...well, just take a look. Janice Hardy, author of the soon-to-be-released fantasy The Shifter (The Pain Merchants in the UK), has one of the most informative blogs for novelists I've ever come across. (And from that little teaser above, I can tell you her book is at the top of my fall required reading list!)
Janice very kindly agreed to share her thoughts on world building techniques on yaHighway. So without further ado...
People know what mundane things look like, but they don’t always know what importance a mundane item has. You get your pick of details to convey subtle info to a reader, so look for details that do more than just provide window dressing. Look for things that have meaning to your point of view character, and let that meaning add a new layer of understanding to the world they live in. Make it clear that this world couldn’t be anywhere else but where you’ve set it—whether that’s Atlanta or The Kingdom of Asaguili.
Backgrounding works just as well in the real world, if not better, because readers already have an idea of what the world is like. (They do live there after all). If your protagonist lives in a crime-ridden area, you might show her locking multiple locks on the door, or have her hear gunshots or sirens. She might not carry a purse that can be easily grabbed on the street. Seize the opportunities to flesh out your world in ways that not only show setting, but add tension, deepen characterization, and even further plot advancement. Just because readers know the world is no reason to skimp on making it feel real. And those tiny “real” details can add so much to your story.