Making our worlds come alive: Sunday ROW80 check-in

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about world-building, trying to determine what the ingredients are that make a world one we’re not likely to forget, those things that make a world so rich, so vivid that we can imagine ourselves there.

One of the keys, I’ve noticed, is that worlds that leap off the page are rich in detail. All those small things—the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter, the wayward pines in the Sword of Truth, the sights, sounds, and smells of the world that lives on the page—those are what brings the world to life.

I’m currently reading the first book in what promises to be a wonderful series: “The Hunter’s Moon,” the first book in O.R. Melling’s Chronicles of Faerie series. Melling took courses in Celtic studies in college and is originally from Ireland, so the details in the story are amazing. It really feels like I’m there with her characters, backpacking through Ireland and being drawn into the faerie world. It’s not a new series, but I’m glad I plucked this book off the bookshelf.

As I revise one of my own stories about adventures in the faerie realm, I’m carrying all of this with me, slowly digging deeper into the world. For me, revising is all about layering. We’re adding layers and depth to our stories. Bit by bit, the story reveals itself.

What about you? What is your favorite detail from a book? What makes a world memorable to you?

Writing goals

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Wrote 7,960 words in “The Phoenix Feather” and “Stolen by Magic.”

2.) Read four books on the craft/business of writing. 2/4. Continued reading “Beginnings, Middles, and Ends” by Nancy Kress.

Social media goals

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Goal met.

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met.

3.) Comment on three-five blog posts daily, Monday-Thursday. Goal met.

Life goals

1.) Do yoga or tai chi or meditate three times per week. 1/3.

2.) Do morning pages in journal Monday-Friday. Goal met.


A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Fantasy & paranormal romance author. Witch. Tarot reader. Possibly a woodland sprite. Debut release TANGLED ROOTS now available. Magic awaits at

12 thoughts on “Making our worlds come alive: Sunday ROW80 check-in

    1. Absolutely. Strong character development and a sympathetic main character are vital to making a book come alive. We love Hogwarts, but we love Harry and Ron and Hermione even more.

  1. I understand it’s more important in short stories because your limited in words, to a degree. The action needs to start right away. The details have to be concise and to the point. No time for fluff. I am working on world-building as the action progresses. Not an easy task.

    1. Good point! The details are key, but they also need to be sprinkled in, not in long passages of description. I don’t believe in including details for the sake of details. They should play some role in the story–helping to develop characters or setting or to advance the plot. In the two examples that I mentioned, the Sorting Hat and the wayward pines, both play key roles in the plot. They’re not just window-dressing.

  2. Your post resonates with me. I always felt the details were what make stories come alive. When I first started writing I went overboard with the details. Any and all story halted while I described the room in as much detail as possible or people in the story (even those there just to leave a drink and never reappear). Nowadays, I try to keep the details to what matters (being vivid while being more straight to the point), because I still feel they matter, but story momentum matters too. 😉

    Keep up the good work with your goals!

    1. I think long passages of description tend to slow a story down. I’m a big believer in sprinkling details throughout the story, a little bit here and there. And they should help develop the world, the plot, or the characters–so they have some function in the story.

      Thanks, Gloria!

  3. I love that you are a deep thinker Denise. That’s just shows how well it will come across in your writing. I love being drawn in by great description. But the connection with the character is what I love the most. Hopefully someday, that will show in my own writing. Hopefully. Until then, I keep marching on. Like a snail, but nevertheless, marching forward. Thank you for the encouraging post! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Karen. Connecting with the characters in a story is definitely key. We have to really want them to overcome the obstacles the story throws in their path. Description helps, but character is key.

      I’m a big believer that slow but steady wins the race. Those words we write every day, every week add up in the end. Bird by bird…

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