I was recently sitting on a plane, flying home from a trip and I stared out the window and basically pondered life. (Ever done that before?) As I looked down and the world became smaller and smaller and soon drifted out of view I realized how the world seems so big but it’s all relative.
Have you ever thought about how small you are?
In the whole scheme of things, you are something so small, yet so important!
If you zoomed out and looked down at the earth, it would look like a little bouncy ball waiting to be tossed around. But in reality the world is massive and is home to so many people, lands, and creatures. There’s times when you may feel like the top dog in your career, school, or organization, but then you go to the beach and stare out into the vast blue waters and realize just how small you really are.
I feel like that’s a good feeling to have though, knowing just how big the world is. Looking at the ocean always puts things in perspective for me. I realize a) I am not alone and I am small but in no way insignificant; b) the earth is an amazing place; c) I am lucky to have the things I have and be able to stand by the ocean, and it is a privilege to feel small next to the sea.
So my point of all this is:
There’s a big world out there. There’s billions of people and millions of miles of land and even more water.
Being an author gives us an amazing experience!
We get to create a person, a being, a character simply from descriptions, thoughts, and their actions. WE create a life on a piece of paper, and our readers get to live that character’s life for a couple hundred pages. How cool is that?
Your job as a writer is to literally create a world in your mind and then write it down. You have to figure out the setting, and if it’s a real place you need the facts, but if you are creating a magical forest or an island off the coast of America, you need to come up will a million little details to make the story realistic. You have to tell your reader if it’s cold there or how your character got there, etc.
It’s really amazing when you think about it. For example, J.K. Rowling created an entire universe of wizards and other magical creatures and built a world for them at Hogwarts. Tolkien actually created another language to write his story. I can’t even imagine how many times John Green has been asked if An Imperial Affliction is a real novel. He basically had to write a second book to write The Fault in our Stars, which I find amazing. In the few books I have gotten to read by Sarah Dessen so far, it seems like she uses the schools of Perkins Day and Jackson High in each of her books, as well as some other little facts or places that connect all the books together. So she created a little place that she carries out through a lot of her books.
So when you’re writing, really put some thought into those little details. They make all the difference in the world.
For my upcoming novel, I sat down one day and I made a schedule for my protagonist, Addison’s school day. I had to know what classes she had and when she had them to make the book believable and relatable. Even when you’re dealing with messed up dreams, you still have homework. So I wanted to make sure I said classes that were realistic for a high school junior to be taking. I also didn’t want to say in chapter three that she was walking with her best friend to history for last period and then a few chapters later say history class was how she started the day.
I thought about the school she went to. What it was like to go there, the atmosphere, if she rose the bus to get there, and what the bus ride was like.
I created a house for her to live in and a family for her to live with. I wrote down the color of her mother’s hair and the traits she got from her parents.
I think my favorite part was creating the dream world. It was great because I could do whatever I wanted. It didn’t have to be believable. That was the point, it’s so different from her waking life sometimes. I got to have a little fun creating the villain of my story. Write his back-story, come up with what made him tick.
Sometimes it’s hard to think of the little details. It’s time consuming.
Knowing a school day schedule or locker number may seem small and insignificant, but if you zoom out far enough, Earth is just a dot on a screen.
So my advice is to drive yourself crazy with all the minor details. It makes a story realistic and relatable. It sets up the story in a way that feels like the reader is truly a part of it. Living a different life rather than simply reading a book.
It’s amazing the way writers draw their readers in. It baffles me how many times I find myself crushing on the boy in the book, thinking how perfect he is and blushing when he says something cute. For so many people reading is an escape, an adventure, a vaction. For a hundred pages they are someone else, with a different life, and your words are their escape route, their fairytale come true for a little while.
So keep that in mind when writing. Create a whole world for your characters. Know them inside and out. Make a world with small and big details. Make it real.
Now go write something big! 🙂
P.S Got any ideas for next #WritingWednesday? Leave a comment below or tweet @NadetteRae to let me know!