Are You Using Your Story World to Its Fullest Potential?

Photo credit: mine
So as I’m writing this post, it’s snowing. Really hard. It’s the perfect silent snow storm with giant white flakes and we’ve got close to five inches on the ground already and it’s not going to let up any time soon. And I’m loving it. (Day later update: we got a foot of snow.)

But it got me thinking about story worlds and settings and how easy it is to forget to use the world itself to its fullest potential. Sometimes—and I know I have totally been guilty of this from time to time—we get so caught up in the plot and character that we forget that, if done correctly, the world can be a character in itself. The world can create problems—massive problems, if we let it—for our characters.

I mean, those of you who live in snowy places know what it’s like to cancel plans because of a blizzard. Or how terrifying it can be to get caught driving on one. Or how easily slippery road conditions can totally mess up your day.

Those of you who live in the coastal south likely know what it’s like to have to hunker down inside during a hurricane. Some of you in the plains know what it’s like to hear tornado sirens, or how scary it can be to hide while the sirens are going. Those over near active fault lines know exactly what an earthquake feels like.

There are loads of examples of the way the world directly affects us—and that’s without even diving into how societal things influence our identities and plans. And yet, when it comes to writing, it can be so, so easy to forget to incorporate those things.

Granted, you have to be careful. It’s also easy to use weather in cliché ways (i.e.: raining during a sad scene, bright and sunny during a happy one), or to not properly set something world-related up before using it. But if properly set up and carefully incorporated, your story world can be a really interesting layer that can complicate the plot and impact the characters in really fascinating ways. You just have to be willing to use it.

Have you utilized your story world to complicate the plot in your writing?

Twitter-sized bite:
Have you used your story world to its fullest plot-complicating potential? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

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