We’ve been contemplating who we’re writing about and what sort of stories we want to tell. But where are you going to tell yours? World-building is a crucial element to the reader feeling like they are truly experiencing the story. What would DIVERGENT be like without the Dauntless pit? Can you imagine Harry Potter going to school anywhere other than Hogwarts?
If you write contemporary fiction, you might think world-building isn’t as important. I disagree. I think no matter what sort of story you’re writing, it’s important that the reader feel like they’re experiencing it beside the main character. Some of the best contemporary stories have settings that really come to life: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, PAPER TOWNS, OPENLY STRAIGHT.
This is one of my pet peeves about a lot of New Adult Contemporary Romance. Off the top of my head, I can name half a dozen New Adult titles that open with a bar/drunken party scene set in a college town. But I can’t tell you anything about the setting. It doesn’t stay with you.
Engage the reader with your world.
It’s early in our planning process, so you might not have a firm idea of what your world looks like yet. For those folks, let’s focus more generally on the sort of places you’ll need to include in your book. But if you do have a rough idea of your world—how will you make it come alive? What are its rules and norms? How do people communicate there? How do they dress? What do they do for fun? What’s the government like? Are there socioeconomic classes? Where do your characters sleep?
Where will your main character find his story? Brainstorm a list of places that might become a part of your world. And if you’re Pinterested, create a board of setting inspo and share it with the group!