Jenny Peterson is a writer and editor based in Denver, CO. Reading and writing YA and new adult is her first love, and she spends an inordinate amount of time dreaming up fantastical worlds for kick-ass heroines. She also splits her time as an assistant editor for a YA publisher. The Descendants Series, her e-novella trilogy, is being released by indie publisher Buzz Books USA in a couple of weeks.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
by Jenny Peterson
There’s a whole world out there, big and chaotic and sometimes confusing. I’m not talking the world in general—you know, continents and countries and all that—but the “world” immediately around you. Wherever you’re sitting right now, there’s more than just the screen in front of you. There are smells and sounds and maybe the feel of a hard chair under your butt.
For example, I’m typing away at my laptop, but I’m not sitting in a void. I can smell the flowers in the vase nearby (getting a bit ripe, time to toss); I can hear the recycling truck making its way down the alley (oh crap! Need to take out the recycling); I can feel my needy tabby rubbing against my leg looking for attention. This is my world at this moment, and it paints a picture that goes far beyond the simple “I sat at my desk writing.”
That’s world-building. For writers, it’s the difference between a story that stays on the page—flat and a little dull—and an experience. Creating a world for characters that involves all five senses can show readers so much: the atmosphere, a character’s mood, the rules and mechanics of the story. A character doesn’t just walk down a street, he’s passing houses and cars and other people. World-building shows us these things. Are the houses close together or set back in well-manicured lawns; are the vehicles pick-up trucks or sleek sedans? It’s all in these little details that really pull you, the reader, into our world and hopefully make you want to stay a while.
In my novella, CREATURE DISCOMFORTS, I created two worlds: the “real” world that looks just like the one you and I walk through each day, and the “demon” world that’s just under the surface. For main character Rachel Chase, the demon world and real world overlap and intersect, the two often colliding though she tries her best to keep them separate. Rachel’s reality is one in which certain demons and their clueless offspring interact with normal society. It’s a reality where Rachel and her friends have to consult a book on demonology—called a Corpus—to learn whether the demon or half-demon passing as human in Rachel’s English class is a threat or not.
I loved creating Rachel’s world, one that will be so familiar to many readers except a tiny bit off. But that tiny bit makes all the difference. It can mean the difference between a sound being benign or scary, or a smell being good or bad. For example, lavender in Rachel’s world is more than just a scent. It can be used in a concoction to hide the smell of fresh blood on the breath. (Ewwww, right?)
Building an all-encompassing world is that last piece of the puzzle for writers. The plot and characters may be what piques your interest, but it’s the world in which you can lose yourself and keep the story going long past the final page.
Best friends Rachel and Kendra are well past ready for things to go back to normal … or as normal as it can get for a demon hunter and a half-mermaid. College is supposed to be about study sessions and sneaking beer, not fighting monsters, right? But when girls on campus start disappearing, Rachel, Kendra and fellow demon hunter/annoyance extraordinaire Sid begin investigating.
The closer they get to the truth, the more they realize there’s something hiding in the Georgia mountains that is much older and deadlier than your everyday demon. Forget studying for finals, these three will need to fight just to survive. Learn more about the novella and the Descendants at the series website, http://www.descendantsseries.com.