World Building – It’s Harder Than You Think!

I was never one to write the fantastical. I never felt as though I had it in me. The past few years, however, I’ve been unusually adventurous in this department. It started with a brief and fleeting encounter with badness in my short story >> Rabacheeko.

I wrote Rabacheeko based on a friend’s nightmare. Then I entered it in a short story contest and was thrown for a loop when it received honorable mention. I mean, I did NOT like that story. It was too weird. I thought the made-up language and brushes with the bizarre were far too unfantastically dealt with. So much so…when the contest organizers invited me to read my piece at their anthology launch, I kind of said, “Yeah, sure.” I even considered going…but I was too humiliated by the piece. I could not read that in public.

The Anthology Which Holds My RABACHEEKO Captive! ACK!
The Anthology Which Holds My RABACHEEKO Captive! ACK!

Even after the sheer humiliation of having people read that short story, I still hadn’t had enough of world building. I wrote a Middle Grade novel called Dubious Pickles and the Space Between the Walls. Here’s the synopsis for that novel:

Everyone in Dobber Corner is afraid of Dubious Pickles. Everyone that is, except ten-year-old Arbour Lévesque. After an encounter with Dubious at the local thrift shop, Arbour knows there is nothing to fear. But when he follows Dubious home and peeks inside his windows, he discovers the world of impossibilities in which Dubious lives. Arbour witnesses a walking talking plastic man, a flying cat and a staircase that does everything twice.

Arbour decides to befriend the shy Dubious, but he knows it won’t be an easy task. He badgers his friends to help him infiltrate Dubious’ magical house. Inside, they discover that Dubious lives in a maze of secret passageways that honeycomb his mansion’s ancient walls. Afraid of their attention, Dubious attempts to scare the boys away. When drowning them in a room of pearls doesn’t do the trick, he tosses them into a cavernous abyss that takes them all to Nowhere Fast. Arbour’s brother Newton, a card-carrying genius-inventor-extraordinaire, lends a hand and the boys are able to overcome every obstacle Dubious throws their way.

The boys eventually convince Dubious they mean him no harm, but coaxing him out from behind his walls is but a short-lived victory. Bad things begin to happen in their town and the adults are quickly vanishing. Arbour knows that only the childlike Dubious can help him save the town from a threat more menacing than Dubious Pickles ever was.

Writing that novel took everything I had. I can dream up otherworldliness…sure, no problem. But to actually write it?! The task is as tiring as it is perplexing.

You would think I would have had enough. NOPE.

I am now knee deep in trying to complete the world I created for my 2014 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel, now renamed MY BOOK OF DREAMS. In it, the main character spends time in a bookstore that is NOT actually there. He has contact with a book that nobody else can see. Worlds keep shifting, time bends in odd ways. I don’t live in this world…so it’s not merely a stretch to imagine it…it’s hellish trying to get the vision from the fluidity of the brain’s landscape to the rigidity of words.

Don’t ever take world building for granted. If you watch a movie or read a book where it steps out of the everyday mundane reality of contemporary modern life…just know that whoever created that piece HAS DONE A LOT OF WORK CREATING THEIR WORLD FOR YOU.

I’m crawling through this piece, where I run through everything else. Difficulty level is at 11.

And who knows how convincing the realities of my story will even be for the future reader?! I’m asking for their suspension of disbelief, obviously…I hope I’m up to the challenge of giving them a new world to peek into.


By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.

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