Primarily I write contemporary romance. But one day my hubby and I were talking about new story ideas and I told him I wanted to write something about lawyers and paranormal. But I didn’t want to write vampires. So I made up my own species. The Vampyyri and Jaktur.
The Vampyyri are beings who live off the emotions of humans. One touch is all they need to gain enough energy to make it through a day or two. Any emotion works: happy, sad, angry, depressed. The stronger the emotion the more life-sustaining energy they gain. The Jaktur hunt the Vampyyri. Unlike the Vampyyri, the Jaktur are mostly human. They live off food and water just like we do. But they are immortal for the most part since they can only die at the hands of a Vampyyri with a specific kill shot. And they possess superhuman powers.
So you ask…what does this have to do with world building?!EVERYTHING! When I started this story I thought “I’ll set it in modern-day Dallas.” Which meant, to me, that the world building wouldn’t be that extensive. Because I associated world with the setting around us. Boy was I wrong. There is so much more to it than the setting. I have pages of notes about the Vampyyri and the Jaktur. Building their societies, their species, was all part of world building. From their origination, to how they die, how they survive and their hierarchy. With each question I answered there were five more I had to ask myself.
The work to build not just the plot and character arc, but also a species and their quirks can be exhausting. The reward is WORTH every frustration, every minute contemplating and every ounce of confusion. Because world building is the freedom granted to a fantasy writer to make their characters however they want them to be. The only rules are the ones you make up.
Contemporary is fun because you don’t have all of the “other” things to worry about. Humans are humans and the settings don’t really change. However, the constraints can be great depending on your story. I can’t very well have my cowboys walking around in the Wyoming winters wearing shorts and flip flops in a contemporary story. But if I wanted to do that with a fantasy story…well, that’s my prerogative. And THAT is awesome!
Needless to say, when I sat down at the computer on the first night the concept of world building changed for me. And now…I can’t wait to get started on my next new world!