Tweet chat 7th November World Building – Guest J.L.Rothstein

Also joined by expert, Winnie Tataw

Participants: Maria Johnson, Elizabeth Holland, Gerald Hornsby, Julie Chang, Anita Belli, Ellie Holmes, Ella Shane, @LonsdaleRik, @LoshadSpaceport (Samuel), Jo Rothstein, Winnie Tataw, Deborah Klee.

My apologies for giving the incorrect EST start time for the Friday Salon tweet chat. I forgot that UK had previously been on British Summertime (BST) and not GMT as I had wrongly stated. So now we are on GMT it is 11am EST. I hope that does not mean we miss overseas participants who are at work. Sneak a few tweets under the desk! 

Jo and Winnie both write fantasy and are experienced world builders. Others in the group use world building in a different way. For example, creating fictitious villages and towns, or recreating a period in history. We had a fascinating discussion that stretched into 90 mins and could have gone on. A topic to be revisited I think.

Some writers start from a world view. They create a world and then imagine the characters and how they behave within that world, an outside in approach. Other writers start with the characters and the problems they need to resolve and then create the world around them, an inside out approach.

It was interesting to me that writers of romance Elizabeth Holland and Ellie Holmes first imagined the setting/place. Elizabeth wanted to create the perfect village for The Vintage Bookshop of Memories. Ellie Holmes created a locality and used this for both of her novels The Flower Seller and Little White Lies. One of her readers asked where the café was as they wished to visit it and she had to tell them it was pretend. All of the authors agreed that it is important to create a place that feels real to you so that the reader believes in it too. 

Maria Johnson writes historical fiction The Boy from the Snow and spoke about the importance of researching the time period. Gerald Hornsby who writes political thrillers as Jack Warwick, spoke about the need to keep researching in-check so that you do not waste time and energy researching material that you do not need.

Jo Rothstein, author of the Heaven Sent series creates multi layered, complex fantasy worlds. She starts from the inside with her characters before creating their world. We went on to discuss how much detail of world building is planned before writing.

Jo uses: story boards, a high-level outline, character biographies, vision boards – which inspire the characters, rules of the world. Winnifred Tataw, author of fantasy The God’s Scion series, takes a similar approach. Some authors use Pinterest to share their vision boards. I was intrigued by the idea of vision boards. Jo uses scrapbooks, and posters, as well as Pinterest.

Authors of other genres shared the planning that they did in getting to know the world of their characters. This included: notebooks – plotting in longhand, reference books, family trees, index cards, word docs., maps. Researching a place including the laws, customs, and language. Using Google maps to look around an area and discover the shape of the land and geography. Some did a lot more planning than others.

I asked if there were templates to help with world building. Although there are many on the internet Jo suggested Reedsy- The Ultimate Guide to World Building.

All participants shared their tips:

  • Keep track of the facts
  • Keep it authentic, for example, true to the historical period.
  • Don’t let planning and research get in the way of writing the story.
  • Have fun – throw yourself into it.
  • Imagine yourself walking the steps of your characters. Make it plausible. Make your reader want to go there.
  • Establish the rules of your world so that you can stay consistent and not inadvertently violate as you write.
  • Map out your world.
  • Write your rules – don’t overcomplicate them.
  • When you build your world make sure anything you add on is consistent and doesn’t conflict with anything previously set.

We shared what we found most challenging:

  • The world rules that you have created as a writer can sometimes feel too constraining.
  • Combining technology with magical elements. 
  • The world of magic although intriguing presented its own particular challenges for Winnie, author of The Lone Star Child, and Anita Bell, author of Ruby Sixpence Whistles up a Storm.

Fantasy is a popular genre for readers and writers. We decided it is because fantasy allows us to escape the real world, and is a reminder of the story magic we experienced as children.

J.L.Rothstein and Winnifred Tataw kindly shared links to their websites and other resources that might be of interest. 

Don’t miss the Giveaway on Goodreads for JL Rothstein’s Atonement below.


My Website:

My YouTube Channel:

Here is the link to my GoodReads giveaway of 5 signed copies. I would love if this could be included to promote my giveaway.

Winnie Tataw

The spirits in my stories: 

Book character birth charts:

Book 3 cover Reveal:

Info on book 3:

Next Friday we are discussing editing – self editing and working with editors. Our guest is author and editor Ellie Holmes. I hope that you can join us at 4pm GMT and 11am EST.

Please remember to use #FriSalon or we will not see your tweets during that hour.

Until next week.