Mini world building.
Write about what you know. That is why it is the easiest to set a story in a real place. Especially, if it is a place that you are familiar with. But there are issues with that. Someone might call you out because you didn't put a building in the right place. Or the real place, doens't quite fit the mood of your story.
For me, it's easier to create a new place. My recent work in progress takes place in a village. And coming up with the basics of the village, took a few hours work.
Here is how I did it:
1st. Think about how much the setting will effect the story. Is it going to have it's own character? Is it just a place? How recognizable do you want it to be?
2. How big? In my Coiree series I came up with Deerbow. A large city somewhere in the midwest. My latest WIP, the little village where everyone thinks they know everyone else. I needed Deerbow to be a large city, so it could hide my characters better. The small village, because how tiny, yet remote it is.
3. Basic layout: There are two ways I have done this.
Deerbow: I hung a piece of blank paper on the wall. I drew some of the major features in, ie: the rivers and where some of neighborhoods were. I didn't have names, but concepts of the what type of neighborhoods they were. As I wrote, I would add details.
The village: I cheated. I found a map of a small town. I didn't copy it exactly. I took the main roads, then filled in my own features. Since the village was named after the falls, the river was the main feature I added. Like Deerbow, the map is hanging on my wall.
|Glory in my wonderful map making skills. And the potato I use for a camera.|
4. Give the place a personality. Blue-collar? Sports fanatic town? College town? A lot of retired people? A place that has seen better days? A town that only has a population boom in the summer? It's personality should fit with the mood of your story.
As you can see, you don't have to come up with the layout of everybuilsing with a complete history on each one. Make notes as you write. The church you mention in the beginning of the story, might become the scene of a major plot point later. I find it's best, not to spend too much time in the basic planning of the setting.
If a place becomes important. You may need to map out that out and fill it with the imformation you need to write the story.
Also remember, this information is for your benefit, to help set the stage for your characters. If you start to tell the readers the history of every small cafe. Something you might have created for background information, but if the characters don't need to know it. Don't bore your reader with it.
by Mari Miniatt