Saturday, February 5, 2011

Creating Worlds, Creating Life

I want to create worlds.

A very lofty goal, yes. To take words and create something that transcends the world we live in, takes you to a place you know must be real—it has to be real—even though it plainly tells you it’s only fiction. Things that spark my imagination, light a fire inside me. Once you have been to the best of the fictional worlds, you can never fully return to this world again. Not without some of it trailing back with you. It’s real. Real in the fact that it will never let you go.

The question I have is this: Why?

Why do some books feel so real while others so obviously contrived? I’ve read books that convince me there’s secret populations among us, perhaps even worlds under our feet, worlds in the universe. Among us are immortals, vampires, witches, wizards. There are books that cause a little stir of both excitement and dread as I wonder how our world will transform in the future.

Is it the amount of time the author has spent in that world? As in, the more they develop it, the more real it becomes? Or are they simply gifted with a better imagination? Is it because they don’t explore by rules, but instead let instinct rule? Do they free-write their world until it becomes a living, breathing thing? Do they base it off of something real inside of them? I wish I knew their secret.

Here’s my list of books that have taken me to my favorite worlds: Harry Potter (the first book that made me want to write), The Stand by Stephen King, The Giver, Hunger Games, Twilight. I also read a book about a girl stuck on as island when I was little, and that island has never left me. Is, in fact, the inspiration to the deserted island in my first novel. I wish I could remember the name. But it does bring to mind Lord of the Flies—another cool island. The Hobbit. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Even, in a weird way, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Yes, many of these are books that everybody lists, and I think for good reason. They have all managed to create a place that embeds itself in the mind forever. How can you get more real than that?

There are also books with characters so real they stay with you. A couple that come immediately to mind are I Am Not a Serial Killer and the Stephanie Plum novels. I don’t know why, but those characters stick with me.

Do you have any thoughts on how it’s possible to take inanimate things like words and create life? Or, what are your favorite story worlds?


  1. This was awesome, Karyn. Elegantly written, yet heartfelt. A great post that will certainly stick with me. In my opinion, the more real your creations are to you, the more real they appear to your reading audience. Loved your list of books, too.

  2. I'm going to mention this blog on my next post and link over here. Definitely worth mentioning. Maybe you'll have more traffic coming over to see your fine work! It needs to be seen!

  3. Hi Karyn, Roxy pointed me to your blog. I wholeheartedly agree that words have a magical ability create life.

    In fact, I think I might even disagree with your characterisation of words as inanimate objects! Because what they are really doing is moving ideas from one person to another.

  4. Hi, Karyn, I love every minute of my creations, and enjoy reading others who write in the same genre. Even though at times it drives me mad!

  5. Good job on creating a new blog. Interesting post. There are a lot of books out there but never enough books that you can't put down.
    Love and Peace
    Wanna buy a duck

  6. Thanks for your comments, everyone!

  7. Hi Karyn!
    I followed over from Roxy's blog :D Congrats on your new blog!

    It's amazing how some books pass from us and others stick to our brains and shape the rest of our lives. I'm still convinced my letter from Hogwarts MUST have gotten lost due to bad weather (or owl murder...)

    When you mentioned the book about the girl on an island, "Island of the Blue Dolphins" immediately sprang to mind. I LOVED that book!


  8. Hilarious about the letter to Hogwarts! It wasn't Island of the Blue Dolphins. I read that one once while searching for it. It was good, but not it.