Elizabeth Wein: World Building - Event Report.

Making time for world-building By Fiona McKeracher 

I'm about to start writing a new book, an exciting but daunting place to be. All I have is a germ of a premise and some very loose ideas. Staring at my screen for hours, I found my ideas were not exactly fanning into flames in the way I'd hoped. I needed inspiration -- something to kick-start some proper progress – so it was with some relief that I spotted the workshop on world-building by Elizabeth Wein. 

Elizabeth Wein
The first five YA novels by this award-winning author are set in Arthurian Britain and Sixth century Ethiopia. Her novels CODE NAME VERITY and ROSE UNDER FIRE are set against the back drop of World War II and BLACK DOVE, WHITE RAVEN takes the reader to the 1920s. So, with a sense of anticipation, I attended her workshop in Edinburgh last Saturday, keen to discover how she creates such wonderful and realistic imaginary worlds. 

Elizabeth Wein @EWein2412

Elizabeth, wearing her vintage style dress for VE Day and a broad smile, set a welcoming tone to the afternoon. She shared a wealth of insights on how to build a world and even cracked open a notebook to show us her existing work-in-progress. She cautioned against creating a world from scratch and discussed ways of taking what is available to writers in their real world for use in their imagined one. For example, carrying out research could include visiting locations, or interviewing people with relevant knowledge. 

She advocated that small details lend realism to historical settings and therefore careful research is vital. 

After she shared the tricks of the trade on the craft of world-building, it was time for some practical exercises. Using random piles of Playmobil Elizabeth had dumped in front of us, we had lots of fun cobbling together scenarios that suggested storylines. 

Things got even more interesting when Elizabeth brought out her vast collection of maps and guidebooks – she loves to use maps to spark ideas. I was given a tourist map of Boston. My eye was quickly drawn to an advert for the Salem Witch Museum, where twenty innocent victims lost their lives during a witch hunt of 1692. My mind began racing. A few seconds later, the outline for a short spooky story began to emerge. Now I understand exactly why Elizabeth is so keen on maps. 

I felt this workshop delivered even more than it promised. Apart from learning valuable tools to bring more depths and richness to my writing, the practical exercises were great for finding new ways to spark the creative juices. 

For more information on SCBWI BI events and to book, click here

Fiona Mckeracher has enjoyed writing for children for many years. Her novel SILVER WOLF was recently long-listed for the New Children’s Author Prize run by the National Literacy Trust in partnership by Bloomsbury Children's Books. She has just begun a new novel for middle-grade readers.

1 comment:

  1. An excellent report of a wonderful workshop. Thank you.


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