Wednesday, April 17, 2013

4 Letting the Reader Experience Your World by Lisa Gail Green

You all know Lisa Gail Green, I'm sure. She's a contributor here at Adventures in YA Publishing, and she is also a permanent mentor on the First Five Pages Workshop. In addition to that, she blogs over at Paranormal Point of View. You may not know that she is a fabulous writer with a book releasing this month. We're so delighted to have her share some words of wisdom on world building today. Please welcome her and read on for great tips.


I’ve written a LOT of books. Most of them will never see the light of day. Each one was valuable though because each one was an experience that helps my writing grow. When I wrote my first draft of THE BINDING STONE it was simply called DJINN. I knew roughly where I wanted to go – and in fact it was the first book I ever tried outlining. I’m a pantser by nature. I realized pretty quickly that the outline I’d written only took me halfway through the book! Like I said, rough draft.

One of the biggest lessons I learned from this book was about world building. I’m a sparse writer. I always end up filling in the holes later on. But when I started writing, I didn’t realize the totality of what world building includes. It isn’t just description of the place, it’s the main character’s interaction within that place. It’s examining how she experiences the world around her, therefore putting the reader in her world.
Let’s take a look at an example from the middle of the first page of THE BINDING STONE.

I spy a young girl who is closest in appearance to myself. A smile tugs at the edges of my mouth, and I quickly change from the heavily draped fabrics of my last master’s time, mirroring the girl’s outfit exactly. I must be about fifty pounds lighter wearing what feels like no more than undergarments. I nod my head in approval. I think I am going to enjoy this century. 

This entire description did not exist in my first draft. But notice, I didn’t just say, WOW PEOPLE WEAR LESS CLOTHING NOW. No. Leela noticed something right away of importance to her, and hopefully showed the reader something about her character as well.

Let’s look a bit further in the book.

“You just tried to kill me!” Gabe says.
“It was perfectly safe. I told you Master would stop it.” I shrug and conjure a fistful of grapes, which I start popping in my mouth one by one. The sweet and sour taste explodes in my mouth. A pleasure I have not experienced in quite some time.

So we can see how Leela feels no urgency even though Gabe almost died. Instead, she’s interested in feeding her senses. I’m giving the reader more than amusement here. My intention is to share more character information.

As you write look for opportunities. What’s in the room? What props do your characters use or not use and why? Is the mood reflected in the world description? Here’s another short example from later on. Can you tell from the way Leela sees the scene and her short interaction with Jered how she’s feeling?

We materialize on the neatly manicured lawn as dawn breaks over the horizon, bathing the large Tudor style house in its own golden aura. The sky behind it is pink and raw, like the skin beneath a scab. Crickets still sing in the quiet of the early morning hour.
I reach for Jered’s arm, but he shifts away from me, and my hand falls on empty air.

When world building, don’t just describe it. Let the reader experience it. Integrate it into the story to enhance it instead of slowing it down.

About the Author

Lisa Gail Green writes paranormal and fantasy. Look for the first novel in her DJINN series, THE BINDING STONE, available this Spring! She would most definitely have a werewolf for a pet if she weren't allergic.

Lisa's Website
Follow Lisa on Twitter

About the Book

Tricked into slavery by the man she loved, the Djinni Leela has an eternity to regret her choices.

Awakened in the prison of her adolescent body, she finds a new master in possession of the opal that binds her. But seventeen-year-old Jered is unlike any she’s seen. His kindness makes Leela yearn to trust again, to allow herself a glimmer of hope.

Could Jered be strong enough to free her from the curse of the Binding Stone?

Find The Binding Stone on Goodreads


  1. Great tips on world building. Loved the paragraph from the first page. Can't wait to read this.

  2. Hi, I am working on a new novel now too. Trying to outline and panster at the same time. I have not given it much attention this month because of A to Z . Hopefully, I will get more accomplished in May.

    In the meantime, check out my blog at
    It is dedicated to Martin, the little boy that died in the bomb blast Monday in Boston. I have a very special request of readers. Please read. I would love feedback and even participation if you have the time. Thank you.

  3. Love your describe vs. experience tip. Visceral is always better than a list.

  4. I enjoyed this post, especially as a reminder to engage the readers more so they can experience the story, not just read the words.


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