World-building is a vital factor in your novel. It makes a book cinematic, fuels the imagination, turns a scene into Technicolor in the reader's mind. Setting is the spice. Use too little and the result isn't rich enough. Use too much and it will overpower everything else. Writers need to find a balance.
ELEMENTS OF WORLD-BUILDING
- PERIOD - Establish the era. Remember the physical, sensuous world. The clothes, transportation, the sounds and smells, even food and hairstyles need to be part of the scene. Put your reader in the story by getting the time period correct.
- LOCATION - Whether you put the scene in a known location or are building a new world, it's important to transport the reader into that world. Set the stage. Let the reader 'see' that world.
- TIME SPAN - Does your story span a few days, weeks, or years? Make it clear to the reader. Be sure to take care of the transitions in time. Check facts if it spans a large amount of time. Make sure objects are not obsolete, that in fact, they are still used, or even invented.
- CONFLICT - Your characters need a struggle. An obstacle to overcome. When you create your setting make sure you set the scene of the struggle, whether it is inner turmoil or in a personal conflict with a friend or a family member. If alone, describe the place where he is having this struggle. Such as a quiet library, or alone in his room. If struggling with family or friends, set that scene as well. A beach, a family gathering, out with friends.
ADD TENSION TO THE SETTING
"He heard small waves lapping at the timbers and the echoing cries of a lone gull. But Ethan was listening for the man's breathing, for the scrape of a shoe, or the whisper of a blade being drawn." From Thieftaker, D. B Jackson.
In this passage we hear what he heard, setting the scene. The next line lets you feel his fear.
Do your research and your readers won't be disappointed you took the time and trouble to create the magic.