What are you doing to the environment?
No, this is not going to be a post about recycling, or reducing your carbon footprint, or considering alternative energy sources (although for the record, think about doing any or all those things in some small way, because we’d all breathe better for it, but I digress…). This post is about what a writer does to–and with–the environment he or she creates within the scope of a story.
We all know how it starts. “It was a dark and stormy night…” That right there tells us it’s we’re not going on a picnic (unless it’s a zombie picnic…).
When you have as much fun as I (and a zillion other writers) have with building worlds, it’s not long before you look at the mounds and mounds of notes you’ve made and realize that most of this stuff belongs in the liner notes of the DVD special extended Super-Duper Platinum 50th Anniversary Diehard Collector’s Edition and should only be made available to someone who is crazy enough to base their Doctorate in Philosophy on a 200-page paper thesis of the study of your story. If you are not “there yet” as an author (and save for some rare exceptions, you’d pretty much have to be dead to be that close to “there”), you may find yourself with a lot of useless material on your hands. Or a convenient excuse to not actually get down to writing.
But the good news is that when you are building a world, you have the opportunity to build a character in your story. A living, breathing, entity-that-affects-your-story. And the best news is that your readers won’t even realize it’s there, influencing the mood, tone, and theme of your story. Your setting–your world–reflects the story you’re telling and the universal, human truths within that story. Unlike the real world, it needs to make sense and respond to the moods of you as author and creator. It’ll likely respond to the moods of your characters, too. You can wield your story’s environment like a character itself.
And the absolute best part of all? It only rains when you need it to.