World Building in The Winter People:
First of all, I want to thank Traci for letting drop in at her blog—I promise not to start any lightsaber fights or throw snowballs. LOL.
Okay, so when it comes to world building you need to have a foundation for your story. I think some of the most important things to know are: What is the setting/timeframe of your story? What are the rules/laws of your world (whether human world, or otherwise)? Magic/no magic? Who are your main players (or characters)? What kind of feel do you want to create—something creepy/romantic/funny/adventurous?
For The Winter People I got to bring a fantasy world into a contemporary-modern day setting. My main character, Salome, is deathly afraid of winter. She fell through a pond as a child and was rescued by “beings” in the woods. These beings warned her to stay away, couple that with a near drowning, my character was traumatized by this event and now has a phobia of the winter.
When we think of winter, we think cold, icy, desolate—everything kind of dies off (like the plants etc. animals aren’t really out and about much). So this sets the perfect backdrop for my story. My world has many layers to it. One, we’re unsure if the stuff going on around Salome is in her imagination or if it’s real. Strange voices that no one else hears—the creepy things she sees in the woods and on the road. Again, no one else can see them. I build upon this to really dig into that creep factor. We also have the strange music that comes about when the voices seem to appear as well as around certain characters.
It was important for me to interweave realistic things with strange occurrences that could be happening or might not be. We have the picnic in the woods, the strange being that seems to be stalking Salome—causing accidents that hurt her. We also have the hidden room in her grandparents’ house and the odd collection of things they have there. And the voices no one else can hear. Plus three guys who may not all have her best interests in mind.
For The Winter People, I wanted to capture both the beauty and horror of everything surrounding Salome. Like the snow and the woods. Not to mention the people. Everything in her world can be both good and bad or a combination of both. Since most of us aren’t terrified of winter, it was important to really dig into Salome’s head and kind of have her replay her fall into the pond.
One thing that has really helped me in building up this strange world, is keeping a notebook and also looking for pictures on pinterest and other sites to give me good visuals. Most of my story takes place in winter, so I wanted to see snow storms, snow covered houses, trees, hot cocoa…Christmas, bad roads—the things that make up winter in the north (in Michigan).
For me, most of the world building stemmed from my main character’s fear and how she would react to the world around her. Throw in a little fairytale stuff and you’ve got the backdrop for The Winter People.