How does a fiction writer enter the world inhabited by characters in different genres? My process begins by reading favorite authors in the genre I plan to write, the people who inspired me to write that kind of narrative. While reading I focus on noticing tricks that the author uses to build the ambience or capture the sensations from the world they describe. How do successful authors create their magic?
My favorite science-fantasy author is Anne McCaffrey, who introduced dragons to readers worldwide and sparked a generation of new writers. I became too impatient to wait for a new episode to be published. My imagination took over, and I built a world of my own to occupy while waiting for Ms. McCaffrey to finish another fantastic book. I doesn’t matter how many times I read her “Dragon Riders of Pern” series, I’m still spellbound by the story.
While tapping my foot, waiting for new books, I discovered Marion Zimmer Bradley, another author who satisfied my longing to inhabit another world. Her “Darkover” series gave me hours of reading pleasure which generated more ideas of my own. Then C.J. Cherryh’s “Chanur” series took me into space with intelligent lionesses, scary insects, and a myriad of other humanoid creatures to battle.
Of course, I’m not devoted to writing science-fantasy. An idea for a mystery-adventure forms in my mind, so I switch gears and start reading mystery novels. My mystery habit began with Agatha Christie. I once joined a club that delivered her books monthly, but that left weeks in between shipments without a reading fix. Arthur Conan Doyle filled the gap. I felt astounded that his tales were not always focused on murder. My mystery habit did not stop with these authors; I soon found other incredible writers to appreciate. I prefer cozy mysteries, books that refrain from blush-worthy scenes or gory descriptions, so my own writing tends to stay in the cozy realm.
While working on my recent mystery-adventure GOLDEN LEGACY, I needed to know more about the language and atmosphere of 1888 to bring Ginny to life. I started reading historical mysteries and found that “Steam-Punk” novels particularly spurred my imagination. I relished the rich language and clever inventions described on the page.
I assume that other authors find ways to “get in the mood” of the worlds they create. So, what helps you build the world you write? Do you view photos, read books, watch interesting videos? I’d love to hear what inspires each of you. Please give us a glimpse into setting the mood for your writing.