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Worldbuilding with Louise Marley

Port Townsend PhotographerGuest posts for the Ways into Worldbuilding series will appear most Wednesdays through early November. This week’s guest is the award-winning author Louise Marley.

Louise Marley is a former concert and opera singer, and the author of 18 novels of fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction.  A graduate of Clarion West ’93, she has twice won the Endeavour Award for excellence in science fiction, and has been shortlisted for the Campbell, the Nebula, and the Tiptree Awards.  Her historical fiction, the Benedict Hall trilogy, is written under the pseudonym Cate Campbell.  She lives on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State with her husband Jake and a rowdy Border Terrier named Oscar.

Aside from reader expectations, why do you build worlds? Is it more of an obligation than a pleasure? If the latter, what is enjoyable or rewarding about this aspect?

Since my inspiration is often visual, an image that comes to my mind, I love worldbuilding.  When I read, I expect to go someplace beyond the mundane world we live in, and when I write, I very much want to do the same.  I yearn for different scenery, different cultures, different societies, and a touch of the fantastic become real.

How important is worldbuilding in your stories? Is it a goal for you to create an innovative world, or do you favor having the milieu sit more comfortably in the background?

Worldbuilding for me takes third place.  First place is in the firm grasp of character development.  Second is plot (hardest of all, for this writer.)  Third is worldbuilding, which influences both #1 and #2.  I often feel more free in worldbuilding than in anything else, because I can create it in just the way I like, and then adapt the characters and the plot to fit. Read More…

Worldbuilding with C.S.E. Cooney

Guest posts for the Ways into Worldbuilding series will appear most Wednesdays through early November. This week’s guest is C.S.E. Cooney.

C. S. E. Cooney (csecooney.com/@csecooney) is the author of the World Fantasy-nominated biopic collection Bone Swans: Stories (Mythic Delirium 2015). The Nebula Award-finalist title story appears in Paula Guran’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas 2016.  She is the author of the Dark Breakersseries, Jack o’ the Hills, The Witch in the Almond Tree, and a poetry collection called How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes, which features her Rhysling Award-winning poem “The Sea King’s Second Bride.” Her short fiction and poetry can be found at Uncanny Magazine, Lakeside Circus, Black Gate, Papaveria Press, Strange Horizons, Apex, GigaNotoSaurus, Goblin Fruit, Clockwork Phoenix 3 & 5The Mammoth Book of Steampunk, Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy anthologies, and elsewhere.

Do you apply any sort of process to worldbuilding? How does a coherent world emerge in your work?

One way I’ve done it is to start with a character. Who is my protagonist? What is her home life like? Is it normal for the place and time she lives in? If not, how so? What sort of town or city does her home reside in? What is her town or city’s importance to her country? (Podunk? Capital?)

How was her country founded, and by whom? Who are its gods, its scientists, its wizards, its artists, its fighters? (What does my protagonist believe in? Is she traditional? Is she in for a rude awakening?) What language(s) do its citizens speak? What are the roots of this language (and therefore of this country)? Read More…

Kristine Kathryn Rusch on Worldbuilding

Rusch - FOR WEB-2465

Guest posts for Ways into Worldbuilding will appear most Wednesdays through early November. Today’s post is from one of our industry’s most versatile writers and editors, Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

International bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes under several names and in every genre she can think of. She’s won more awards for her fiction than she can count, and she also edits. Her latest editing projects are The Best Mystery and Crime Stories 2016, which she coedited with John Helfers, and The Women of Futures Past. Her next novel, The Falls, will appear in October. For more information on her work, go to www.kristinekathrynrusch.com or sign up for her newsletter.

Aside from reader expectations, why do you build worlds? Is it more of an obligation than a pleasure? If the latter, what is enjoyable or rewarding about this aspect?

I’m constantly thinking about other worlds, other times, and other cultures. A big part of my what-ifs (the source of my fiction) is: What if I was born in that country? Or in that time period? Or on the Moon in the future? What would it be like?

As a kid, I used to imagine myself into photographs—what does the air smell like? What does the ground feel like? I still have a coffee table book of photos that my parents owned. I used to stare at it all the time, imagining myself watching those people or being them. Read More…

Starting a novel: Granite or fun house?

Today’s post: the mental state of being at the front-end of the novel. I love the start of novels. It may be the only time I can say I am unabashedly happy as a writer. Other times I may be confidant, poised, satisfied, or happily resigned. But there is only one sequence when I am in love: At the beginning.

Other authors do not love beginnings. Mary Higgins Clark has said:

“The first four months of writing a book, my mental image is scratching with my hands through granite.”

In contrast to this–quite common, I believe–writing experience is mine:

Springtime at Giverny - Monet

Springtime at Giverny – Monet

“The first hundred pages or so, my mental attitude is that of being lost in a fun house–no, not lost, more staggering from one wonder to another”

Once I have a general plot and I know my novel’s theme and major characters, it’s as though a door opens, and here is a world that was always present, people who have always existed, and a truth I’ve been waiting to tell. It’s the miracle of fiction writing, that the mind weaves lies which become the truest thing we know.

The first hundred pages can be tad exasperating, it’s true. There are many side paths which look germane, but which really are other books. Not this book. One might take a few steps in, and then realize, no, that’s not my story. So beginnings are largely about choices. We must choose from an embarrassment of riches. We must not gorge, indulge or be swept away by possibilities. Well, perhaps some of this on the first draft. But we know in our hearts that we must later, cut, cut, cut.

The first hundred or hundred and fifty pages are a time of intense creative fire and at times, joy. I know that I’m being shown a tremendous story, and that inevitably, I will get only some of it right. But nothing in my life quite matches the pleasure of getting to try, and watching the book come to life on the page.

And after?

Oh, that is another story. There will be granite and a small portion of boredom… Another post!

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Ways into Worldbuilding interview series: Stand by for next Wednesday’s interview with Kristine Kathryn Rusch!

Worldbuilding with Martha Wells

Guest posts for the Ways into Worldbuilding series will appear most Wednesdays through early November. Today I welcome one of my favorite authors to the site: Martha Wells.MarthaWells_byIgorKraguljacsmall

Martha Wells has written many fantasy novels, including the Books of the Raksura series (beginning with The Cloud Roads), the Ile-Rien series (including the nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer) as well as YA fantasies, short stories, media tie-ins, and nonfiction.

Aside from reader expectations, why do you build worlds? Is it more of an obligation than a pleasure? If the latter, what is enjoyable or rewarding about this aspect?

I enjoy it, and it’s one of my favorite parts of developing a story.  I like coming up with the details, and exploring how the world has affected my characters, and how it can determine the direction and feel of the story.  I find it rewarding to come up with something that feels true and consistent no matter how fantastic or far out it is. Read More…