World Building for Romance

A book is a wonderful and amazing thing. You hold in your hands the key to another world, a world that previously only lived in the mind of another person, who may have died a hundred years ago, or live on the other side of the planet. Inside the imagination of the author live the characters, fighting and loving, the world being born and history happening. Wars, evolution, climate change and all sorts of weird and wonderful events. All entirely imaginary, and yet magical enough to first enthrall the writer, then drag a reader into that world. Who has not looked up from a book, feeling the real world to be but a pale facsimile? Who would not leap through the door into the world or imagination, or dream about the wonders of another’s world? Who has an unrequited love for a cherished book boyfriend? (Conan or Mr. Darcy? Enquiring minds what to know!)

That is the magic and wonder of world building. While I am an author, I was most certainly a reader first, and always. The worlds of others are still as magical and enchanting to me today as my own are.

The building of a world, and a book for that matter can start from the inside or the outside. Ok, what does that mean? You can start with the story, the characters burning to be written and already conjuring scenes. Then you can craft a world that answers the needs of your plot. This is from the inside out. An example is JK Rowling’s description of seeing Harry Potter in her imagination and then crafting a world to house the story.

The other way, and this may well be a hangover from dungeons and dragons and other role playing, is from the outside in. Build the world in detail, then a plot and characters arise from the world you have built, its history, customs and where the privies are. Tolkien for instance would fit into this category, building an entire language before writing a story set in middle earth.

                Which way is for you? I think you probably already know which way you prefer. However, it is worthwhile to consider the pitfalls of both methods. Building the world first may be an absorbing way to procrastinate ever actually writing the story. But it does add a depth of rich detail, and often research will inspire the plot. Building the story first may lead to a lack of description in scenes or running into rewrites due to some problem with the world. But the story is written, and you can add in depth of detail later.

 What aspects of world building are difficult for you? What author is your favourite world creator?

Disclaimer: I write a long running blog on world building, and you can sign up here.

About Cindy

Cindy Tomamichel is a multi-genre author, with her SMP series Druid’s Portal a time travel action adventure romance set in Roman Britain. Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building. The 30 Organizing Tips for Writers provides much needed help for authors trying to navigate social media and build an author platform. Doing NaNo this year? Check out her free book NaNoWriMo Ready. Or pick up a copy of the free Romance Short Stories.

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About Cindy Tomamichel

Escape the everyday with tales of time travel, romance, fantasy and science fiction. My website blog focuses on world building for scifi, fantasy and historical fiction writers. Wanting help with your author platform? Check out 'The Organized Author' book and services.
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7 Responses to World Building for Romance

  1. sueberger3 says:

    Oh, that’s an impossible question. Tamara Pierce’ s world of Tortall is wonderful. As is of course, Harry Potter. And in the adult world. There are so many wonderful fantasies,and worlds. I adore Susan Elizabeth, Phillips and Jane Ann krentz and Beverly Jenkins -all very different.
    Since I am a Pantser, I have no idea what kind of a world building I am. I do know that anything goes in time travel as long as you stick to your own rules and make them real and logical.

    • Cindy Tomamichel says:

      Pantsers rule! Time travel should feel right for the period, but often that makes it hard for modern readers.

  2. pamelagibson says:

    I write historicals so my worlds are already created. I just have to populate them with characters and a story. My early California rancho period historicals were easy because I majored in history with emphasis on the period I write in. My Regencies, however, take continuous study.

    • Cindy Tomamichel says:

      Yes, the regency does seem to be a hard period to write, with all the social rules and the small number of families in the ‘ton’.

  3. Sally Brandle says:

    I seem to develop the story and characters simultaneously. As far as an unforgettable crush, Rane from Celeste de Blasis’ Swan series. And a man named Morgan comes to mind….the heroine was supposed to marry someone else, but she chose him instead??? Any answers on that one? These are books I read 30+ years ago. Another thoughtful post, Cindy. 🙂

  4. First off, I’m watching Sanditon on PBS here in the US. It’s Jane Austin’s final unfinished novel, finished. I’d love to be Charlotte. I am a panster , and often a real event inspires or at least enriches a story idea.

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