25 Keys to World Building with Miranda Rae Carter (Giveaway)

Today, please join me in welcoming author Miranda Rae Carter To Peternatura. Miranda is the author of Beneath the Surface, which was published on October 22 by FriesenPress.  Beneath the Surface is the first book in Miranda’s “The Malions” series.

  Miranda Rae Carter has lived in British Columbia, Canada, her whole life, and is a self-proclaimed home-bug. She spends most of her time doing what she loves, and that is being a mom and wife—and trying to master the art of cooking. The rest of her time is divided between looking in mouths and writing. For more information on her malion novels, visit her website, or facebook or follow her on twitter.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]ABOUT BENEATH THE SURFACE:  Adolescence hasn’t been fun for Liss Lawrence. And after a year in Vancouver, when she’s finally adjusted to her new situation, a freak car accident sends her life spinning out of control and crashing into the world of the malions, a hidden race silently helping humanity from secret enclaves underground. Liss’s knowledge of the malions endangers her family when Jaredsons Securities takes an interest in her accident. Few know the men of Jaredsons Securities, an international intelligence company specializing in missing persons cases, are actually the Vykhars, ancient malion enemies whose true purpose is the eradication of the malion race. The Vykhars will stop at nothing to discover if Liss is connected with the malions, and if they do, they will exploit her. Perhaps more dangerous still are Liss’s growing feelings for Rion, a strong-willed malion scarred by his encounters with Vykhars and carrying a secret that could destroy their relationship. But Liss has a secret and scars of her own, and Rion’s fiercely protective nature threatens to tear them back open. Can this pair of unlikely lovers survive the dangers of the Vykhars? And can their love survive their own misconceptions?

 And now, let’s hear from Miranda…

 World Building in Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Novels

 By Miranda Rae Carter

                         Have you ever wanted to write a paranormal or fantasy novel?

             Have you ever read a paranormal or fantasy novel and wondered how the heck the author created such epic details? How did they remember them all?

             Maybe you read a paranormal or fantasy novel and were left with questions about the world.Miranda Phoenix-1962

             Well, there’s no template when it comes to building a world for authors; however, a good author will know countless more pages of detail about the world and its characters or species, than what is actually written in the story. Think of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, and her novel The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide. This book contains over 500 pages of interviews, details about the clans, pictures, maps and so much more that was never written in the series itself. She probably has another novel worth of details about Twilight’s characters and scenes sitting hidden in a desk drawer somewhere. The point is, world building is not an easy task for authors; but if you want to do it right and have a paranormal or fantasy world that impresses your readers, your world must—at least—have these twenty-five details. Keep in mind, this goes beyond the page-turning plot and thorough character sketches you’ve established.

  1.      A name for the species you’ve created.  Are they vampires, witches, centaurs? Or are they something you’ve produced on your own, like I did, when I created the malions?

2.      A detailed description of the world they live in. What does it look like? Does it smell different? Is it dark and musty or full of beautiful castles, meadows, mountains and waterfalls? Do they have their own calendar or special celebrations?

3.      If they don’t live in regular society, they must have a way to make a living and get by. What is that?

4.      A name for their language, and possibly some translations, if you are inventing your own language.

5.      A life span, including details about reproduction, and age of maturity. This is also a good time to include details about how males and females are different, beyond reproductive organs, and circadian/cyclic rhythms. Do they sleep? When?

6.      Details about how relationships, marriages and family structures work.

7.      How big are your species compared to humans? Are the females bigger or smaller than the males, and how soon do they reach their full height and weight?

8.      What do they eat? Do they have a special diet? Is there something specific they need to survive? Is it scarce or plentiful?

9.      Is there something that would instantly kill your species, that may not kill a human? I’m thinking sunlight and vampires, or water and the Wicked Witch of the West.

10.  Do they go to school or have any formal training when they are children? Who teaches them?

11.  A mythology for your species that disproves any current mythology we may have believed up until this very point.

12.  Laws and regulations in your fantasy world, or ones that differ from where your story takes place if you’re writing paranormal.

13.  An explanation of how your species came into the world. Did they come from another planet? Did they come from the cross-breeding of two species? Were they a science experiment gone wrong?

14.  Do they practice any religion? If so, how is it similar or different to current religious practices? Do they worship a different God?

15.  Detailed maps of the world you are creating.

16.  Exact population numbers, in every area of the map you are drawing.

17.  How does your species dress? Do they wear anything at all? Why?

18.  A list of specific details about any special abilities your species may have, and what they do.

19.  Details of your species’ weakness. Everyone species must have some sort of weakness.

20.  Can your species exist alongside the human world? Why or why not?

21.  Specific details about the enemy, the enemy’s world, and why they have become the enemy.

22.  Is there a hierarchy in your species? What is the person at the top called? What is their purpose during that time and how long can they be in that position? Are there more than one leader?

23.  What is your species emergency plan if they were discovered by the human world?

24.  What is your species here for? Or, what is their purpose? Are they trying to protect something?

25.  Are there human allies they have? If so, how many people know about them, and how do you go about becoming a trusted friend of this species? Is it forbidden to communicate with the human world?

These are some of the most important details of a good paranormal/fantasy novel; they make your story realistic and allow your readers to imagine the place as if it truly exists. The other aspect you must have before you publish your story (or self-publish, like I did) is an experienced editor who works in the paranormal/fantasy field. Even when you’ve built your world, perfected it, had it critiqued and edited by friends or fellow writers, there still may be questions left unanswered, or plot-points that need tweaking, and you only have one chance to impress your purchasing readers before they never pick up your novels again.

 Scary, but true.

  Good luck and happy writing!


  Thanks, Miranda! Most of you are readers rather than authors, so here’s your question to enter to win a copy of Beneath the Surface: What’s your favorite fantasy or urban fantasy world (or paranormal), and what is it you like about it?

One entry for comment; extra entries for blog follow (or email), and for each of those share buttons you hit below!








19 thoughts on “25 Keys to World Building with Miranda Rae Carter (Giveaway)

  1. I don’t have a favorite world but my favorite type of fantasy are ones that are set in the real world. I like seeing what twists the author uses in a known setting.

  2. i don’t really have a favourite but i like when it’s so near the real world because it make me hope i could suddenly reach it in a way ( like the one from mercy thomson, kate daniels etxc)

    • I’m the same way, Miki. I like the idea that maybe, just maybe, those weird college students who live across the street are alien shapeshifters. (Actually, I suspect they might be.) The “what-if” factor is such fun!

  3. The Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire. It so seamlessly blends present-day CA with the faerie world in a way that is organic and believable. And the way the characters interact with both worlds is also really well done.

    +1 blog follow

  4. I do really like urban fantasy, where the real world has to deal with supernatural/paranormal stuff.

  5. Humm.. that is very difficult to zero in on. I really enjoyed the twilight series because of what these vampires tried to accomplish..they were dangerous but decent.
    I really like the middle ages of Princes and Princesses and Knights in shining armor.
    I also like the nice fairies and elves.
    I think I like the idea f honor, respect, and all types can make the best of who/what they are.

    • One of the great things about fantasy, both urban and traditional, is the universal themes. As a writer, I always try to keep the hero and heroine’s moral compass pointed toward true north–or at least their idea of true north. Although, yeah, well, my elves are not so nice, I’m afraid. THEY think they’re nice, but…not so much 🙂

    • Agree! One of the things that I find fun about my Sentinels series is there’s the preternaturals hanging around in New Orleans, but there’s also the underbelly of “Old Orleans,” that’s like a warped version of the real thing…without the humans 🙂

  6. I like urban fantasy/PNR that is a twist on our current world, so things may be a possibility. Anita Blake, Harry Dresden, BDB, Penton vampires, Kate Daniels, Mercy Thompson are good examples.

    I liked the items listed in creating your own world. Lots of details to think about!

    Blog follower

    • Well, you know I agree, Liz 🙂 If I had to credit one author with getting me started it would be Jim Butcher; a second would be Simon R Green, whose Nightside series is sort of like Dresden on Acid. (Scary, right?) In a good way, of course. And the Bhrothers….sigh. That series is interesting to me because I could almost draw you a map of Caldwell, New York, it’s so well described…and it doesn’t exist!

  7. The book cover is quite interesting. It gives an impression that the story of water vs. land kind of theme.

  8. Really loving all of your comments, thanks so much for stopping by everyone!
    Even before I started writing, and as a little girl, I always enjoyed reading about worlds that co-existed with ours, and I loved imagining such stories were actually true.
    Wishing you guys all the best of luck in the giveaway, I’m so excited to share it with the lucky winner!!! 🙂