Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wonderfuly Written Worlds

Yes, I meant "worlds", not "words". For me, a wonderfully written world goes a long way toward luring me into a book, seducing me with sights and smells and sounds and cultural differences. I can forgive telling, mediocre character building and even an abundance of adverbs (as evidenced by my previously mentioned love for Dune) if the world becomes real to me. Some of my recent reads have taken place in amazingly unique worlds, part of the reason I enjoyed them so much.

Most recently, Marianne de Pierres' Burn Bright led me through the inky dark, staying always on the lighted path, for who knows what lies in the darkness? Her Ixion is as foreign to me as it is to her heroine, Retra, but it wasn't long before the lights of the clubs, the spires of the churches and the spiderweb cables of the kars to come alive in my imagination.

Goliath, the third and (hopefully not, please, scott, write more!) final installment of Scott Westerfeld's amazing Leviathan series wowed me with the way it wrapped up the tangled plot-lines, even as it added more with every chapter. More amazing to me than the complex and loveable characters and more intriguing than the threat of a war to end all wars is Westerfeld's Clanker/Darwinist world. Between the Beasties and the walkers, there is no imagining this world the way of our own pre-WWI history, from everyday life to the war front.

I'm not advocating that all writers should go overboard with setting descriptions. That can get long and boring and doesn't serve your plot or your setting. It's a delicate balance. It's the reason I still haven't finished The Name of The Rose. Sorry, Umberto. It's part of the reason I know a lot of people couldn't get into Dune.

Not all books need to set the stage so vividly, but Goliath and Burn Bright are wonderful examples to learn from if you are looking to write a fantastical world. In both of these books it is the way the characters interact with their surroundings that makes the skies stay ever black, or brings the smell of the Leviathan to life in my mind. Don't be afraid to fascinate the reader. It's the reason we all want to go to Diagon Alley and get our own wand at Ollivander's, or visit Samwise in Hobbiton, or have tea with Alice and the Mad Hatter. It's the reason I'm so in love with my WIP.

What worlds have drawn you in lately?

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