from Magic Kingdom For Sale/Sold by Terry Brooks
"By now the whole of downtown Morpork was alight, and the richer and worthier citizens of Ankh on the far bank were bravely responding to the situation by feverishly demolishing the bridges. But already the ships in the Morpork docks - laden with grain, cotton and timber - were blazing merrily and, their moorings burnt to ashes, were breasting the river Ankh on the ebb tide, igniting riverside palaces and bowers as they drifted like drowning fireflies towards the sea. In any case, sparks were riding the breeze and touching down far across the river in hidden gardens and remote rickyards."
from The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
"Gilchrist's Second-Hand Furniture Warehouse had once been a cinema. in the years when cinemas were still palatial follies. A folly it remained, with its mock-rococo facade, and the unlikely dome perched on its roof; but there was nothing remotely palatial about it now. It stood within a stone's throw of the Dock Road, the only property left in its block that remained in use. The rest were either boarded up or burned out."
from Weaveworld by Clive Barker
Three books, three worlds, three beautiful minds. These three (the books and the writers) are gems on my bookshelves. They're very different and I've come to them at separate times in my life but they all use a very rich method within their writings. They create beautiful worlds that encapsulate not only their stories but also our imaginations.
Terry Brooks is probably most famous for his Shannara books, I was introduced to Brooks through his novel 'Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold'. Landover is a magic kingdom, complete with dragons, wizards and tree maidens. The kingdom itself is instrumental in the storyline but the way it is described and the manner in which we discover Landover (as Ben discovers it himself) added to my involvement with the novel.
Terry Pratchett has always struck me as owning a genius mind and imagination. His use of footnotes and the mythology of the Discworld has created a set of novels that are, if not unique, then inextricably linked to him in their style and feel. Knowing the magical physics of this world includes us in the Discworld family. We accept that a piece of luggage may easily have legs and be loyal to its owner, that a camera only works if the wee man inside is in the mood to paint and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a flat planet that sits on the backs of four elephants who ride an immense turtle in space.
Clive Barker is generally labelled as a horror writer. I daresay that for many people, the word 'beautiful' doesn't sit easily with his novels and yet he has an eye for beauty, perhaps exotic and alien, but beauty nonetheless. He paints his worlds, be they in another dimension or, as in the extract from 'Weaveworld' above somewhere we know well, in this case, Liverpool, England, with a vibrant palette. He brings colour - sometimes bright, sometimes deep to a street scene that we might otherwise have walked by unnoticed. His worlds provide not just a backdrop for his stories but a frame that seeps into the canvas of his novels.
Provide your readers with a world that is not just a scenery flat but another living member of your storyline cast. Whether it is set in this, our known world, or some other dimension, planet, or version, treat your world as importantly as your characters. As you would reveal details about your characters, reveal the rules of your world. Does magic exist there? Are the physical laws similar to our own? What is extraordinary and colourful about the world that you have created? Invest as much time and care in creating your world as you do in creating your characters and watch your story come to life.