How to Create a World That Will Grab Your Reader

by Guest Blogger on April 3, 2013 · 16 comments

in Guest Blogger, P-R, Writing Tips

forever and ever amenGuest blog by Liv Rancourt, author of Forever and Ever, Amen

Thanks very much for having me as a guest here at LoveRomancePassion. I love writing paranormal romance, and in this post I wanted to talk a little about how to create a world that will draw your reader in.

Worldbuilding is a tricky thing, especially when you’re writing fantasy or paranormal. Anything that makes the reader think “wait, that wouldn’t happen”, even for a moment, undermines the truth you’re trying to create and pops them out of the story. So how do you keep that from happening?

The key concept in making your world work is CONSISTENCY.

Whether you’re diving into a variation on the ever-popular vampire tale or spinning something entirely new, the rules of your world cannot shift around. If your vampires burst into flames at the touch of the sun, a pair of shades should not protect your hero this one time in order to move the plot forward. Decide what your rules are and stick to them.

This is especially true in the run-up to the final battle. If your heroine pulls a new trick out of her back pocket just in time to defeat the Big Bad, it weakens your ending. The secret is to seed the action ahead of time with enough hints that when she pulls out that trick, the reader thinks, “Of course!” instead of “Cheater!”.

Another way to think about consistency is in terms of your character’s special gifts. Characters who can fly, read minds, or live forever are a lot of fun to work with, as long as their powers have a purpose. As in anything else you put on the page, you need to think in terms of goal, motivation, and conflict. Supernatural powers are cool, but they need to move the plot forward in some way or they’ll end up confusing things.

And a confused reader might not finish your book.

Another recommendation I recently came across suggested writers should stick to one framework or mythology. So, like, if you’ve got vampires and werewolves, you probably don’t want to add fire-breathing dragons to the story. Readers attach certain expectations to character types and you don’t want to stretch your credibility by trying to blend too many different ingredients into the mix. Identify your source mythology and stay consistent within it.

So why did I invite a vampire to a battle between heaven and hell?

More than once, I’ve been asked why I plunked a vampire into the middle of Forever and Ever, Amen, my paranormal romance about angels and demons. The easy answer is, “rules are made to be broken”.

Really though, I did it because that’s what my character Flora needed. She’s fifteen years old and doing her best to cope with an overworked, overstressed mother, a sleazy father who gives her money instead of love , high school classes, dance lessons, friends, and all the other pressures that weigh in on teenage girls. She’s got rebellion down to a science.

Liv #1And what could be more rebellious than dating one of the undead?

Flora and Vincent are minor characters in the book, and their storyline works because I consistently treated Vincent like a vampire and because his presence – and his unique skillset – move the main plot forward. So while I may have broken one of the rules, I paid attention to the others, leaving all the characters – and hopefully the readers – with a happily ever after.

So what do you think? Are there rules of worldbuilding I left out? Have you ever tried to mix vampires with fire-breathing dragons? I’d love to hear from you!

Peace,
Liv

Author Bio: Liv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website & blog (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).

Buy: Forever and Ever, Amen

Tag line: Sometimes you have to break the rules to do what’s right.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Liv Rancourt April 3, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Thanks so much for having me as a guest here on LoveRomancePassion!

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2 Terri Rochenski April 3, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Consistency IS key. Too often I’ve gotten my hands on a novel that missed something while editing. Ruins the whole book for me.

Great post!

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3 Liv Rancourt April 4, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Thanks Terri! Turning off the editor-in-my-head is getting harder and harder, so I feel your pain when it comes to stumbling over something they should have fixed.

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4 Traci Douglass April 3, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Great post, Liv! And awesome book as well. Highly recommend it! :)

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5 Liv Rancourt April 4, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Thanks Traci! Glad you liked it ;)

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6 Eliza Daly April 3, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Rules are made to be broken. I agree, and I love reading books that break them. :-) This sounds like a great read Liv!

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7 Liv Rancourt April 4, 2013 at 3:45 PM

I think it is, but then I’m a little biased. ;)
Thanks, Eliza, for checking in.

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8 Debbie Christiana April 3, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Very wise words, Liv! I loved Vincent :) He was a minor character but pivotal in one scene especially and I thought it was great.

I’ve read a few books lately about immortals. Are they really? They should have one weakness, one thing that does destroy them or I think the story loses some of it’s tension. The reader has to believe that something dangerous could happen to the hero/heroine or they may not care what happens to them.

You have a stunning picture :)

Deb

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9 Liv Rancourt April 4, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Good point(s), Deb. If a character is absolutely powerful, where’s the fun?
And thanks for the compliment on my photo. ;When we meet in RL you’ll be impressed by how good my photographer was. ;)

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10 Jillian April 3, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Good advice. I better go check my manuscript I just finished!

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11 Liv Rancourt April 4, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Heh. Always happy to help, Jillian ;)

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12 Nana Prah April 3, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Great post Liv. You rebel.

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13 Liv Rancourt April 4, 2013 at 3:49 PM

You know it, Nana!
Thanks…

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14 Tami Clayton April 3, 2013 at 4:55 PM

All good points, Liv. I adored the vampire you wrote in Forever and Ever. Such a perfect character for Flora to date. It was one of my favorite parts of your story.

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15 Liv Rancourt April 4, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Thanks Tami! If I ever dive into the sequel, Vincent will definitely have a role.

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16 Ellen Gregory April 5, 2013 at 6:42 AM

Worldbuilding is one of my passions and something I pay a lot of attention to, both as a reader and a writer. It’s one of the things I love about fantasy — exploring a world that is not our own. I definitely agree that self-consistency is the key — and I think it’s also important to choose which details to include and which to discard. I also loved Vincent — he was a character who subverted by expectation. :-)

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