Creating book worlds is exciting and fun but can be a complex process of imagination and discovery. Everly Frost’s debut novel is set in an alternate version of today’s Earth where everyone is invincible. While constantly assessing and reassessing the world, there are three questions Everly used to keep on track. Take it away, Everly!
What is the world?
These are the defining characteristics of the world – the essence of what the world is. Once you have a good handle on these, the foundations of the world will fall into place.
I found it useful to write these down and refer back to them often. In Fear My Mortality, the major characteristic of the world is that people heal at super fast rates to revive and recover if killed. They’ve had this ability since day one (it’s not an evolution).
All other characteristics will stem from these.
What isn’t in the world?
These are consequences of the world that might cause problems for readers because of real world knowledge, expectations, or perceptions.
For example, a problem with a world where people are invincible is overpopulation. As a solution, I decided that the trade-off for super healing is the inability to have children. Many people can’t and others have only one or two children. This keeps the population stable.
Another problem: are they all vegetarians? No steak dinners if animals are immortal too. This ended up being important. Allowing animals to be mortal meant people are familiar with illness, infection, and medicine, even if it only affects their pets. At one point the main character, Ava, likens herself to an animal because they can die and so can she.
Searching for the problems can be time-consuming but can be helpful too.
Is a little bit of info dump okay?
Gasp! I’m a huge believer in showing a scene and allowing the reader to deduce information from actions, dialogue, and active descriptions, not information dump. But I’ve learned that a little bit of straight up information is not only okay but necessary.
Depending on the complexity of the world and its history, readers sometimes need a few informative sentences to know what’s going on. Then they can move on to the important things like … will Ava escape that drone, will she find freedom, and will she forgive Michael for what he did?
I’m still learning and I’m definitely not an expert, but I hope some of these tips and examples are helpful.
About the Author
Everly Frost is the author of FEAR MY MORTALITY. She wrote her first story when she was nine. She grew up in a country town, lived for a while in Japan, and worked for several years in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Now, Everly lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and two children.