Each time I wonder what else we could possibly talk about, someone comes up with another creative topic. This round’s blog chain is brought to us by Michelle. She asks:
“There are so many things we have to include in our storyworlds…characters, world details, settings, etc. No matter what genre you write, your stories are full of tiny details that help create your storyworld. I know that for me, at least, finding or creating all these details can sometimes be a bit tough.”
One site I frequent is babynamesworld.com. I love it because it not only lists names but also the origins of the names and their meanings and it’s very user friendly. While there are some details I can use TK for, names I can’t. If I don’t have a good name, it’s very hard for me to get into the story. For example, I’m working on a new YA right now called LAST KISS. The girl MC’s name, Leila, came to me pretty quickly. The boy MC’s name, however, went through a few evolutions. Nothing seemed to click and it was hard to write the pages. (You could also call it procrastination but it was REALLY difficult for me to envision him without the right name). So I went to babynamesworld.com and found Connor, and it was PERFECT. I had a name and could picture his attitude, his face, everything. It’s kind of like when you meet someone and they then tell you their name, and it just DOES NOT match them. It’s like that for me when I get a feel for my characters. Some names match them and some don’t, but in the fiction world, I can keep choosing names until I get one I like. In the real world, we live with the names we’re given. Like my full name being Margaret, which I hate. Well, technically, it’s Margarita–which I really like–but it was changed to Margaret on all American records and I can write volumes on my theory that having the name Margaret is what prevented me from being popular in high school, but I’ll spare you. For today. Margie, on the other hand, is what I chose to be called when I was in college. And, let me tell you, those years were a BLAST. Coincidence? To me, Margie is fun and perky and you just can’t get mad at a Margie. The name just sounds too nice. Margaret, though? “Hey, do you know if Margaret is going to the party tonight?” “Nah, tonight is the night she puts her hair in a bun and watches Murder, She Wrote Reruns while sipping some herbal tea.”
Setting is another story. I don’t research much when it comes to landscapes because I usually pick areas I know and then put my own spin on them (I’m lazy like that). In PIECES OF US (my YA that will be out March 12, 2012), segments are set in the Catskills. I based that area on the bungalow colonies I went to with my grandparents when I was a kid–only in POU I made them lake houses because people were having trouble picturing what I meant. Other parts of the story, however, took place in Cherry Hill, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. Lucky for me, I have FB and posted a shout-out to people familiar with these areas. They told me about demographics, etc. and I also Googled a few streets in Philly to get a picture of where the teens hung out. Googling is my main MO. I don’t have specific websites I like (other than the names one). My first go-to is to ask someone, and after that it’s googling terms (like when I wrote a chapter book about cheerleading) or landmarks or phrases.
But what happens when you write within parameters of a different world? Coming up with worlds different from our own always fascinated me. Christine talks about this in her post. Check it out!