Lichgates (The Grimoire Trilogy #1) by S.M. Boyce – Fantasy
Publication date: 15th October 2011
The Grimoire turns its own pages and can answer any question asked of it…and Kara Magari is its next target.
Kara has no idea what she’s getting herself into when she stumbles across the old book while hiking along a hidden trail. Once she opens it, she’s thrown into Ourea: a beautiful world full of terrifying beings that all want the Grimoire’s secrets. Everyone in this new world is trying to find her, and most of them want to control the new-found power the Grimoire bestows upon her.
Braeden Drakonin grew up in Ourea, and all he’s ever known in life is lying. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. He has one question to ask the book—-one question that can fix everything in his broken life—-and he’s not letting Kara out of his sight until he gets an answer.
There’s no escaping Ourea.
S.M. Boyce is a fantasy and paranormal fiction novelist who also dabbles in contemporary fiction and comedy. Her B.A. in Creative Writing qualifies her to serve you french fries, and she updates her blog a few times each week to keep you entertained.
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Fantasy World Building: How to Develop a Realistic Setting for Your Novel
A great friend of mine, Jen McConnel, asked me to talk about world building and how I do it.
Because of the heavy high fantasy influences I’ve had in my writing career, I tend to give the setting a fair amount of detail. I do my best to keep it as secondary, but many tell me the worlds I create become characters all their own. That’s one heck of a compliment, right?
In my opinion, setting is crucial to a novel. It establishes the where and settles the reader into the novel by giving them a concrete location. With a stable setting, the reader can dream as big as they want and let the characters move through what is for all intents and purposes a real place. The background becomes solid, and in making the setting as realistic as possible, the author lets the characters take ownership of the space.
The process of world building itself is incredibly complex and subject to massive rewrites and revisions. It’s all about finding a balance between too much and too little description. Fact is, you’ll never make everyone happy. I hear reviewers say the setting was perfect just as often as I hear others complain the description went on too long. So I do what makes me happy.
When I sit down to create a place, I’ve already daydreamed about it. I’ve pulled in my past experiences or looked up amazing pictures (which you can see on my Pinterest boards “Swipes & Ideas,” “Creature Swipes,” and “Character Swipes”). I’ve let my mind wander, and I have a sense of what it looks like. If you’re going to build a world, you need to already have an idea of how all its pieces fit together. That’s step one.
Step two in world building is to start out small. Plan out how you’ll introduce your bits of the world and plan out why each bit of the world matters. You may not talk about every nook and cranny, but you should know about them. Realistic writing comes from understanding even details that are never shared.
If you’re building an entirely new world like I do in Lichgates (Grimoire Trilogy #1), you can’t info dump. Telling the reader all about this crazy world all at once in the first chapter will make them slam the book closed. Don’t inundate the reader; spread it out instead. Let the characters visit the various places in your world and explore it with the reader. Have a character who knows all about the world join up with one who doesn’t—having this dynamic will prompt dialogue that explores the nuances that aren’t visible to the naked eye, like the land’s history (or city’s, or whatever). It lets the reader learn along with the character.
Step three to building your world is to sit down and actually write out your first draft. It’s okay if it sucks. The point is to get it out.
Visualize the location, right down to any movement within it. Ask questions. If you’re in a forest, what do you see? Are the trees close together, or separated? What’s on the ground? What kind of canopy do you see—green leaves, fall colors, or dead limbs? Are there animals? If so, what kind? If not, why not? Are your characters taking a path, or are they wandering, lost?
Write the details as your narrator—not you—would notice them. Use cues from all five senses to bring about action, rather than just describing the world. So instead of describing the red and yellow leaves on the forest floor, describe the crunch they make under your narrator’s boots as he runs through the woods. Show us how a gust kicks them up, and how the wind’s biting chill races down the nape of his neck.
I heard someone tell me I used too much “telling” in my world building, and I’m sorry, but I laughed. That debate is so old. That’s a whole other post, but you’ll need to balance showing and telling in your world building, and that is why I bring it up. Visual cues will obviously be telling, and frankly, you’ll see mostly telling while establishing your setting. I mean, don’t get carried away with it or anything. “The woods were dense” is just weak. But, you can tell us how the trees congregated close together. Use active verbs, and you’ll make your writing both strong and interesting.
Continue to build the setting. Take risks. Let it interact with your characters as much as they interact with it. Let it breathe, and I think you’ll be impressed with what you create.
Rewrite. And rewrite. And tweak. And rewrite again. Sigh deeply. Repeat.
That’s how I work, anyway.
First drafts are typically pretty bad. Don’t let that discourage you. As you build your world, it will teach you things. It will grow and develop, and your subconscious will uncover new nooks and crannies you hadn’t realized existed.
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To celebrate her free book day, the solstice, the end of the world, and a myriad of other things, S. M. Boyce is also offering a giveaway with winner’s choice between two beautiful hand-wrapped pendants.
You can choose between this Royal Green Agate pendant and this vivid Natural Blue Onyx pendant. They’re wrapped with sterling silver wire, and each handmade pendant is inspired by Boyce’s Grimoire Trilogy. Make sure you enter to win! The winner will be announced next week. What an awesome way to start off the new year, right?