How We Create Worlds

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Photo curteosy of

As I thought about blog ideas after the controversial article I wrote about joint custody and the drama that unfolded behind it in my previous four posts, I thought what should I write next?

The wonderful thing about becoming a writer is there is always something to write about whether it’s a thought, character, or a world.

If you were once a bright-eyed child like me, your parents and you might’ve read Maurice Sendak’s book Where the Wild Things Are. I know little about the author except that he died at 83, was not crazy about children, and had a vivid imagination. Pay attention. The last phrase is what’s important.

Sendak created a world that not only captured the imaginations of children, but adults, also.

How do you as a writer, reader or a professional in business approach the creation of your world whether it is a book or a set-up for a new business. It is not just about atmosphere. A world for your pages or creation must capture the imagination. First, it must captivate your imagination.

For example, a river has always held my interest. Perhaps—with the exception of ten months when I lived in the middle of tobacco country—I have always lived close to a water source. I’ve lived in two states with an ocean, grew up on a river, and for the short time I lived in England. I was twenty miles from the English Channel.

What does the name of my solo book manuscript happen to be, Sons of the Edisto? The Edisto is one of two rivers bordering a small—once active—town of Bamberg, SC. When I looked at old maps of the town and advertisements, I discovered a town full of life and hope at the turn of the twentieth century and into the 1960’s. But it was the idea of a river in a book leading me to it.

What gave Sendak the idea for Where the Wild Things Are? Did he have a dream? Was he inspired by someone or something?

Where do our worlds begin and end in our creations?

I think it must be inspiration from a single thought or person.

I encourage you this week and weekend to look at your work. What world have you built?

Or, perhaps, you haven’t built it yet. What sort of bridge are you waiting to cross?

I would like to hear your ideas about how you create worlds.

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3 thoughts on “How We Create Worlds

  1. Here’s a thing, I had this idea for a book, a little bit fantasy or other worldly, which is not normally my thing at all. I’ve never created a world like this, but I had the idea for a story and several key things. I decided that I would create a basic map that would place things in a certain manner whilst I develop it a bit more. This led to more ideas along the lines of, oh there must be this and that, if I have this, then part of the story should be… and so on. I’ve never worked like this before but it seems to be opening up something a bit unexpected and I’m going to pursue it a bit more.

    Normally I don’t place too much emphasis on place unless it is important, or to put it a different way, unless the place is like a character in the story. But that is just how I use it. I have read many stories where the use of place or setting is well illustrated, detailed and adds a lot.

    1. For me, setting and detail is important when it comes to both the books I’m writing: Sons of the Edisto and a nonfiction project I’m scheduled to complete. In many stories, I understand not as much is required, and I think a lot depends on the author. It is one of the reasons I’m trying more than ever to read a variety of authors. I’m currently reading The Autobiography of King Henry VIII, and Margaret George goes into great detail in many scenes to the point you feel like you are there. Doctor Zhivago was the same way. I felt like I was part of the Revolution in Russia. I read Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not. It was simple. The author knew what he was talking about.

      It sounds like you have found a great way to shape your world in writing. I’ve also created maps and charts for Sons of the Edisto. I did not grow up near the area about which I’m writing. I wanted to make it believable, especially for the time period of 1924.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

  2. When I was thirteen I wrote a dungeons and dragons book. That was the only time I have tried to create a world. I did used to like getting lost inside a role playing computer game and the worlds they create. I would like to write something that you have to fully create yourself. One day. Just not yet.

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