Regardless of the time period, the story, or the plot, the world your novel occurs in is a world of your creation.
The style of novelist Tom Wolfe represents one method for creating a world. Wolfe’s methodology involves doing as much research as possible. For his masterpiece The Bonfire of the Vanities, he actually “lived” on the bond trading floor of a major Wall Street firm for a period of time. For all of his books, Tom Wolfe stressed the realistic re-creation of the actual world in which his characters lived.
Other notable authors, such as Saul Bellow and Norman Mailer, believed that the novelist needed only to make things up. For example, if your novel was about a family in India and their struggle reconciling Western and traditional morals, moving in with an actual family in India was neither necessary nor advisable. The world you wrote about was the world you created. The magic of the story trumped any need for a dogged devotion to reality. Which method is better? To Bellow and Mailer, Tom Wolfe was a poseur; to Wolfe, Bellow and Mailer were literary frauds. The way you want to approach world creation depends on you.
So, unless you’re prepared to immerse yourself in your characters’ world, or your creative genius rivals the imaginations of Saul Bellow and Norman Mailer, you might want to utilize research tools to create your novel’s world. Such tools include:
1. Other novels or non-fiction works set in a similar world. If your story takes place in Elizabethan England, you don’t want Sir Walter Raleigh checking his Blackberry.
2. Historical books, television shows, and movies.
3. People you know. Don’t be afraid to tap the knowledge of everyday acquaintances that might have valuable insights about the world you want to create.
4. People you don’t know (people in the same professions or environments as the characters in your book.)
Fantasy is defined as “the free play of creative imagination.” That said, how much research do you have to do to create a fantasy world? Literally, none. If you want talking clams in your novel, no problem. If you want vehicles that look like potatoes but travel faster than the speed of light, so be it. However, this is not meant to discourage you from seeking inspiration from other works. Most likely, the decision to embark on a fantasy-oriented project was inspired by something you saw and loved at some point in your life.
World creation allows you to play the role of a god, but the real success of the world you create will depend on its ability to facilitate and illuminate the story you want to tell.
© Copyright 2018 Author Learning Center. All Rights Reserved