Welcome back to Notes from New York! Let’s continue with more tips for preparing your book for submission. This week: World building.
Obviously I’ve posted a lot on this beforehand, given that it’s a pretty prominent part of my favorite genres. I even started a Vlog series on it that I hopefully get back to soon. I really enjoy talking about it and actually doing it. But world building is also an exceedingly difficult thing. There are a lot of elements to take into account to make your world a fully fleshed out reality.
And that’s the key here: fully fleshed out. It’s pretty easy to spot a fantasy world as thin as parchment paper. While it theoretically exists on the page, there’s clearly no foundation holding it up. It shows that a writer wanted to tell their story in a fantasy world but thought way more about the story than the world itself. Sometimes it seems like they’re making up the world on the fly, and that always shows loud and clear.
In fantasy, the world is a character. You want to give it the same development as your protagonist, maybe even more so. Worlds are, after all, more complicated than people. And when querying you can’t get away with an under developed world because a lot of awesome fantasy comes through the slush. I read more than one MS that had me ridiculously excited because of its unique world. A lackluster world pales in comparison to that. So before you query your fantasy, here are a few tips:
1. Consider all of the main aspects of your world including: Geography, government, history, economy, religion, culture, technology etc. You should understand these things even if they don’t play a huge role in your story. Because if you don’t, the gaps will show
2. Don’t skimp on the setting. Setting gives us a picture of your world and places us inside of it. So focus on your descriptions in order to envelop the reader in your world
3. Don’t use stock fantasy worlds. The typical medieval fantasy setting with few variants is played out. If you want to catch someone’s interest, make sure the world has something new to it, be it a magic element, a technology element, or a cultural element. If you’re going to stand out in a sea of stock fantasy worlds, you need to add some new twist.
World building is obviously much more complicated than that, but it’s important to know that agents can often tell even from the query and first pages whether or not your world is well thought out. So develop that setting and make your world shine! Your book will improve right along with it.