The Vanished Knight, #IWSG & Indie Life

Wednesday, January 8, 2014



There’s a lot going on over here today, I’m Misha Gericke, who’s talking about world building. It’s also IWSG post day and this will also do double duty as my Indie Life post. Without further nattering from me, please welcome Misha…


Since I’m traveling around the blogosphere, marketing my YA Epic Fantasy book The Vanished Knight, Joy asked me to write about world building.

I approach my world building the same way as my characterization. In my mind, the world exists the moment I think of it, already formed with its cities, monuments, histories, cultures and norms. My job as a writer is to find out what they are and share the relevant details with my readers.

That’s pretty much the basis of it. But of course, there is one complication to world building. Characters can act out of character. Worlds… not so much. Unless a story is about the world suddenly acting strange, like… say with a super volcano suddenly erupting, the world is completely subject to its own rules and its history.

If the world suddenly went off its access for no reason, or people just suddenly went to war without a reason why, the story’s believability would be undermined. And strange as it might sound, believability is the foundation of the fantasy reader’s relationship with the story.

Fantasy requires the reader to suspend disbelief, but there’s only so much you as a writer can get away with. Anything beyond that point will have the reader sneering at your fake-looking attempt and closing the book. Which naturally, no writer wants.

So if you’re building your world, make sure you know the world’s fundamental rules. And never break them unless you have a very specific and excellent reason to do so.

Also, never forget to take into account the effect of culture on your characters and what they’d do. It might sound silly, but something as silly as saying “OMG” will jar if you’re in a culture that either has no gods or a pantheon of them. Even if your character acts out against his or her culture, it still has an effect. You don’t rebel against your culture for no reason, and you don’t do it by acting as if the culture doesn’t exist. You rail against it, beat your head against it, you scream against it. But above all, you’re always acknowledging its effect on you and those around you.

Above all, world building is about being authentic. So once you know your world, make sure there’s internal logic and consistency within your book that blends with the world and culture you developed. If you can do that, you’re well on your way to becoming a master world builder.

How do you approach world building?

Blurb
Since the death of her parents, Callan Blair has been shunted from one foster family to another, her dangerous secret forcing the move each time. Her latest foster family quickly ships her off to an exclusive boarding school in the Cumbrian countryside. While her foster-brother James makes it his mission to get Callan expelled, a nearby ancient castle holds the secret doorway to another land...

When Callan is forced through the doorway, she finds herself in the magical continent of Tardith, where she’s shocked to learn her schoolmates Gawain and Darrion are respected soldiers in service to the king of Nordaine, one of Tardith's realms. More than that, the two are potential heirs to the Black Knight—Nordaine's crown prince.

But when the Black Knight fails to return from a mysterious trip, the realm teeters on the brink of war. Darrion and Gawain set out to find him, while Callan discovers there is more to her family history than she thought. The elves are claiming she is their princess.

Now with Darrion growing ever more antagonistic and her friendship with Gawain blossoming, Callan must decide whether to stay in Nordaine—where her secret grows ever more threatening—or go to the elves and uncover the truth about her family before war sets the realms afire.

Bio
M. Gerrick (AKA Misha Gericke) has basically created stories since before she could write. Many of those stories grew up with her and can be seen in her current projects.
She lives close to Cape Town, with a view over False Bay and Table Mountain.

If you’d like to contact her, feel free to mail her at warofsixcrowns(AT)gmail(DOT)com, Circle her on Google Plus or follow her on Twitter. If you'd like to see her writer-side (beware, it's pretty insane), please feel free to check out her blogYou can also add The Vanished Knight on Goodreads.

Links


On the IWSG & Indie Life front...

In view of Amazon’s policy of removing reviews of books that haven’t been bought on Amazon and those felt to have been written by friends and relatives, I decided to do things a little differently for my next release. 

I’m doing a review tour with Wendy Ewurum at the end of January and so I uploaded the book and made it free for a day in order to give the reviewers a chance to download. I got more than I bargained for because 300 people downloaded the book. Don’t ask me how they found it.

Since then, it’s been at 0.99, until I moved the price yesterday. Where does the insecurity part come in? At a 0.99 price, I had a few returns. Naturally, that didn’t sit well with me because I wonder if people don’t take samples before they buy books, and who the heck returns something that was 0.99 anyway? It’s not even worth my time to do that, nor do I know how to do it anyway.

But like my husband tells me, I sometimes make the mistake of thinking that other people think the way I do, and we all know that no two people think alike. In my heart, I know I still haven’t found my niche market, but each day is a new opportunity to explore the book publishing world and move in the direction I think best for me.

I also know that not everybody will get my stories. I don’t think anybody can call any of my novels a light read. Plot lines that take interesting turns and multi-layered characters are my forte. Nor do I write 100 page books—which is something I’ve come to like in romance, by the way. You know a quick read that you don’t invest a lot of time to finish? Yes, I’ve read some of those recently and like them.

Susan Kaye Quinn wrote Burn Bright and Be Patient, an interesting article that many of us should take to heart. We often forget that writing, publishing and finding our niche takes time and fortitude. It’s hard to keep our eyes on the goal post, easy to forget the readers who clamour for our next book and even easier to get sidelined into thinking our career is on a path to Nowheresville.
 
As I like to say, unswerving perseverance is the key to success. That’s how I kept myself focused when I didn’t see a book contract in my future. That’s what I said when I didn’t think I’d sell much in the indie market and that’s what I’ll tell myself until I break into my targeted readership in a big way.

I hope what I’ve shared has encouraged you in some way. What are your insecurities today? 

Don't forget to share the love today. Visit the IWSG site and as many bloggers as you can. The Indie Life list is here.

Also, do check out the Facebook IWSG. We are beginning a new feature this Saturday, titled "News & Promo Saturday". Members will have the opportunity to post one promotional piece and share some "writerly news" with the group.

42 comments:

  1. I don't get why people return books either. Don't they read the sample first? And even if I download a book I decide I don't like, I don't return it. That would be wrong.
    Misha is spot-on about the world building!

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    1. Exactly, I sample EVERYTHING, unless it's something I've helped the author with and know what's in the book or it's by Jeffrey Archer and I know I'm gonna love it.

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  2. I agree with you regarding the returning of books. But what can we do? Oh, well.

    I didn't know Amazon's policy had changed. That is certainly news.

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    1. Thanks for dropping in CD. Yup, since the scandal with John Locke, people have lost reviews, taken down by Amazon.

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  3. You can make returns on eBooks? That's so weird. I can understand it for tangible books because the employee can tell if someone already read it and was trying to return it. But with an eBook, you can read it and then return it. There needs to be a new policy about that; maybe only getting 50% back or something.

    Great post on world building from Misha!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. Laura, it's gets worse because people have up to a week before they return the books. It has happened a few times with my short story collections. The returns come a few day after the sale has been made. Dunno why people do the things they do.

      Ditto what you said about Misha's post.

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  4. Returns are so evil. Only Amazon allows them, too.

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  5. Boy pricing and marketing has so many unknowns, doesn't it? I don't get returning a .99 book either. Weird.

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    1. Yes, they feel like uncharted territory sometimes.

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  6. Misha is so right about world building. It's like the world a writer builds needs to become a character in and of itself.

    I didn't know you could return ebooks on Amazon. That's kind of depressing to learn.

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    1. Misha's right, my setting is also a character so I understand that aspect of world building.

      We live and learn, eh?

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  7. Fantastic post on world-building. Misha, you are an expert. :)

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  8. Awesome. World building... I sometimes wish we could sit in a room of creative minds and just bounce crazy ideas off each other to design the truest, most amazing world.

    Goodness, .99 returns? THAT'S INSANE! Who returns an ebook anyway? I mean they're so inexpensive to begin with.

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    1. Hey, Crystal,

      Wouldn't that approach be just grand.
      Ya know, even now I don't know how you send a book back. :)

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  9. You can't expect that everyone will hear your voice. Very sensible of you to "get" that. As to the world-building, I enjoyed your take on it a lot.

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    1. Hi, Lee,

      Even the classics aren't everybody's cup of tea, so yes, we all have our word groupies.

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  10. Go Misha! Great tips on WB. Sometimes you just forget the process ya know?

    Hi Joy! My husband taught me the very same thing yours did. You write wonderful books. Never doubt that. I can't imagine returning a book. That's just crazy. Don't mark your books too low. Try giving the first one in the series discounted and leave the others at a higher price. I'm sure you've already done that, but that's all I can offer. *Big hug*

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    1. Hi, Mina,
      Thanks for your encouragement and advice. I'd left the book that low because I figured I'd be making changes still. I'm crazy-neurotic that way and I didn't figure that people would find it to buy it so early.
      Hugs to you too, pal.

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  11. Misha sounds very knowledgeable when it comes to world building.
    Who on earth returns a 0.99 book? Why does Amazon allow the return of a 0.99 book which is so affordable? Just sounds crazy!
    Joy, you'll eventually make a total break into your targeted readership, and it could be closer than you think. You have the correct attitude, you're a real go-getter, and that's a plus!
    For myself, I believe in shoulder to the wheel and full steam ahead, not looking up and around too much...
    And it sounds like I need to read that article by Susan Kaye Quinn.

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    1. Michelle,
      Not looking up and around too much sounds like a good strategy. That way you stay focused. :)

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  12. I have never even considered returning an e-book. Even the ones that I didn't much like, I wouldn't return. That is nuts.

    Thank you Misha for the world-building information. Even non-fantasy writers must stay true to the world as it exists.

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    1. Robin, it takes all types. Appreciate you dropping in.

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  13. Misha is so right about wold building -- it's all about realism and suspension of disbelief. Without that, it doesn't matter if your story/characters are great, because readers are already turned off.

    I always enjoy reading your insights on marketing, Joy. One disadvantage small-pubbed author's have is the inability to change their prices. Are the $.99 books outselling mine? Yes. But I can't change my $5.99 price. It's publisher set. So at least you have a good way to attract readers even if you have a few returns.

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    1. Hi, Lexa,

      Thanks for visiting. Good point to remember, we indies can and do play with pricing.

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  14. Congrats, Misha. I know you have been working hard and you will reap the reward of your labor. I like the concept of world building in your book. We live in different worlds and have different expectations. Callan's world should be interesting. All the best with the book.

    Joy, I know you will persevere through the journey of writing and publishing. You will continue to slowly gain success until that big moment. Just keep plodding, writing or publishing.

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    1. Peaches,
      Yes, that's exactly how things will go. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I like steady numbers, not so much because of the money, but it means people are reading my words and that's important. If I get more people reading, that'll be wonderful. Finished your book, by the way. Quite a tear jerker.

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  15. My issue is the week long return time. I've returned ebooks three times, twice for accidental purchase (it does happen) and once because I wanted a book by an author having a sale and realized I didn't have enough. So a book by an unknown author got dropped. But I only do with within short order of purchase. Never like half a day or days after purchase. I think the longest time you should have is 48 hours. A week is ridiculous. I don't like Amazon's new review policy. What about people who get free copies from Story Cartel or Netgalley. I guess you just have to leave that out from now on.

    World building can be tough but you have to be consistent. Great job on world building Misha.

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    1. Hi, Sheena,
      That one-click think can be dangerous if you have itchy fingers. :) Yep, a week is too much time. If I have nothing else to do, I can get through at least 3-4 books in that amount of time. There's a group I'm in where one writer said she sometimes watches people going through her books and returning them. There are some really dishonest people in this world, but we know they say karma can be...

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  16. LOVE Misha's guest spot. All reasons why good fantasy is so hard to write (and why I love reading it). Well done, Mish!

    Regarding your IWSG: Amazon's return policy for books makes me a little crazy. Especially since most of my stories are around 15k words. They can literally read and return them in the same afternoon. :( Mind, I've only had like two returns, but like you, it made me wonder why the story wasn't a fit. In reality, it could just be a cheapskate using the system to read free books. And even if that isn't the case, it makes me feel better to thinks so. :)

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    1. E.J.
      You made me chuckle. It's entirely possible to do a quickie and return the book before a couple of days or week go by.

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  17. Thank you to Misha for her excellent thoughts on world-building! I'm working on making a rich, three-dimensional world since I'll be writing an epic fantasy next. I just drew a map (a very bad one) of my world the other day, and I think that helped a lot in terms of helping me see where things are in relation to others.

    IWSG: You have a positive attitude, and I applaud your courage! It takes guts to be a writer because you'll realize, as everyone does, that it's impossible to make every single reader happy. It's the ones who do like and GET our work that we keep writing for. And E.J.'s comment above me was exactly what I was going to say... maybe those returns are the equivalent of a cheapskate buying a shirt, leaving the tags on, wearing it, and then returning it.

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  18. Hi, Julie,
    I gotta admire fantasy writers for the time it takes to build a whole world and/or civilization.
    Thanks for the encouragement. So true, that we need to keep writing for the people who enjoy our work.

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  19. Hi Misha! Great post on world-builing, and exactly what I need to read up on at the moment. And Joy, I just don't get people who return books for 99c, sounds crazy to me. But then again, there are people who will go through a lot of effort to return any little thing. Just shrug it off and keep writing. (:

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  20. Great post. I agree about people returning a .99 book. How cheap can you get? I try not to think about returns. Best wishes for a great year.

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  21. I admire your perserverance. Good luck with the review tour (great idea...take that Amazon). I hope it does wonders for your book.

    Leanne ( http://readfaced.wordpress.com )

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  22. Thanks, Elise. Doing just that. :)

    Diane, I tell myself that life is like that and the world is so interesting cause there are so many different kinds in it.

    Leanne, thanks for your good wishes.

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  23. Time, fortitude, and perseverance- such a good reminder to stay the course and believe in oneself. Good luck your blog your!

    Lucinda Whitney

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    1. Thanks, Lucinda. I aim to stay the course.

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  24. I love world-building and getting into the nitty gritty details that make the world real. Not an easy task!!

    Best wishes, Misha, for your book!!

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