World-building for Readers

Science fiction and fantasy writers live in worlds of their own creation for every story. They are expected to create other-worldly rules, creatures, elements, and characters. Magic and charms are common.

What about writers of other genres? Each story, regardless of genre, contains a unique world of its own. Writers use a variety of techniques to establish the best setting for characters to interact in- one in which the story events make sense and flow easily. Very few stories can happen “just anywhere.”

But how important is the story world to readers? In the book, This Year You Write Your Novel, Walter Mosley says, “Readers create a much larger world than the writer intends. It won’t be exactly the world you intended them to see, but it will be close enough- sometimes it will be better.” (p. 87) In the best collaboration between readers and the writer, both parties bring knowledge and information to the reading experience which intensifies the perception of the world for readers.

As a writer, I hope that the research I complete will help me build a world that readers can see clearly. But it excites me to know that if my research is good enough, readers will create a world that is even better than the one I intended to portray!