It’s Fantastic February. Today we have an amazing special guest for you.
Writing a Believable World
by Anya Bast
My name is Anya Bast. If you’re not familiar with me, I write across many different subgenres of romance. My two best known series are the Elemental Witches series and the Dark Magick series, which are both what my publisher terms “urban fantasy romance.” I would call them paranormal romance. I write strong heroines who are paired with difficult, dangerous men. My worlds generally contain some kind of magick.
As well as paranormal romance, I write a little historical fantasy and a bit of horror. Basically, if it’s fantastical in some way, I probably dabble in it. I’m not much for non-fantastical stuff, not in my writing and not in my personal choices for entertainment, either.
Raven’s Quest, my latest release, is historical fantasy. Raven’s Quest was one of the first books I ever wrote and it’s a pure fantasy romance, weaving a tale of love through a world rich with magic. It’s set in a faux European Renaissance-type world.
In the Raven’s Quest world, magick is controlled by a tyrant who understands its influence. Although rebellion is brewing, led by the rightful heir to the throne and a powerful woman who comes from a distant magick-drenched country.
For this world I used history mostly just for underlying flavoring, like a base for a soup. The rest of the world—the religion, system of magick, government—all came from my imagination.
Worldbuilding is my favorite thing about writing. I love creating a new world and fleshing it out. Sometimes I’m asked by writers for advice on how to create effective and believable worlds. Here’s what I tell them:
Make specific notes about the world before you start writing. It will help you avoid inconsistencies that confuse the reader and/or ruin their sense of place. If you continue to world build as you write, make sure you note all the changes or additions you make. That helps lots during the editing phase.
Make sure you cover all the bases. In our world/reality, we have religion, a political structure, philosophy, a rich history, social customs, a criminal/judicial system, a business community, military, fashion, great historical figures, influential books, ect…. I could go on for a while. Your fictional world should have all these to make it seem real. The devil is in the details when building a believable world.
I try to avoid writing scenes where the whole purpose is explain something about the world. It’s much better to weave the required information seamlessly into the story. You can do that simply through the storytelling or dialogue, but avoid dialogue between characters that is unnecessary to character or plot development. Dialogue that has as you know anywhere in it is usually a red flag. If the characters already know what you’re revealing, find a different way to convey it to the reader.
Study history and other cultures to gain ideas. Studying the French and Russian revolutions once gave me an idea for an entire world, one of my favorite worlds to date. So, get geeky, dive in and see how you, too, might be able to find some historical facts to mutate to your advantage.
Thanks for reading!
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