Posts Tagged ‘harry potter’

Yesterday my SBB Sarah and I had a chance for a short field trip. It’s always fun to spend time with Sarah and I always enjoy the discussions we have about life and writing. Yesterday the topic turned to worldbuilding vs. wallpaper in writing.

The term “worldbuilding” was popularized at science fiction writers’ workshops back in the 1970s. It involves developing an imaginary setting with qualities such as a history, geography, and ecology for their story. In other words, an author must create an entire world for your characters to live in.

But worldbuilding is not just for Sci Fi or Fanstasy books. When an author takes the time to develop their character’s entire world, the result is a richer reading experience. Taking time to think about your characters world will also help you as the story develops. A little bit of planning in the beginning will save a world of hurt later on in the writing process. Even if you do not use all of the information you have created, small brush-strokes of those elements filter into the story.

Wallpaper on the other hand is when you add a few words or key phrases that try to convince the reader that they are in your character’s world. The writing can be flat and is sometimes difficult to draw the reader in.

A good way to tell if you have created a wallpaper world is to ask yourself:

“If I had a magic time machine and moved my character to another time and location, will this story still make sense? “

If your answer is yes, you need to consider adding more details to your character and your plot. Still confused? Here are some examples:

In the book Jane Eyre, would the story still have the same impact if it took place in modern day London? Of course not, the historical setting and situations built into that world are so integral to the story that it cannot take place anywhere else.

Here is another more recent example:

In Harry Potter, would the story still have the same impact if he attended a school in Alaska, or an inner city school in Chicago? No, the world that J.K. Rowling created is essential to the success to the story. By creating a rich world filled with magical creatures, spells and an awesome castle for a school, you have a world that your readers jump into and follow right along with Harry.

So how do you build a successful world for your readers?

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have an extensive checklist for worldbuilding on their site.

Author Holly Lisle also has a post on worldbuilding that is very helpful.

It isn’t necessary to go into this much detail for every story, but it might be worth it to take a look for ideas. With a little work, your characters world will much richer and a more interesting reading experience for your readers.

Happy Writing,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk


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It’s done.

Harry Potter, that is.

On Saturday I was able to go to a (free even) screening of the very last Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; thanks to the military base theater and the dedication of the girl child and her best friend who were willing to get there several hours early in order to be in line with pizza and games.

It was better than Part 1, in my opinion. The purists were still critical (always) of the details that didn’t ring transfer accurately from the book to the movie, but all in all it was an exciting show. But, then again, I’ve always seen the movies as somewhat separate entities from the books. I still can’t believe they never had Peeves…

Harry has been such an integral part of our family’s life. My mother bought our oldest child Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for his seventh birthday after hearing it had been a hit in England. It was the first “real” book he read on his own.

Since then, each of the three kids has read each book multiple times. We’ve had Harry-inspired Halloween costumes and birthday parties and endless hours of just good old imaginative play. Not to mention the library Harry Potter extravaganza we attended in Maryland! (Thanks, Barb!) Lawn quidditch was just one of the amazing things we did there!

But the oldest child had the most magical experience. He grew up with Harry. Literally. The timing was perfect for each book – as Harry grew older and had more serious and darker problems to face, he was ready too. So maybe it’s fitting that he was too busy to join us for this movie extravaganza. He’ll see it of course, but he can wait. Just like Harry is growing up, so is my boy.

It’s been a wonderful journey.

Sarah Wones Tomp


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