We all create worlds in our writing. Whether it's drafting something as simple as a letter to a friend or as complex as a novel with a thick plot and multiple characters, we are in the business, as writers, of constructing unique spaces for our readers to inhabit temporarily. There are almost as many techniques for doing this as there are writers. Some of us, as poets or narrators of fiction, write very descriptively about the physical world; some reach down deep for apt and unexpected metaphors to describe an emotional or spiritual world; still other's rely on cleverly constructed dialoque to do the job of constructing and describing worlds in their writing. Each writer does something unique. Moreover, each writer makes decisions about what she wants her writing to accomplish, and selects a method to achieve that end. How important is it, for instance, that your reader be able almost to smell the fresh apple pie baking in granny's kitchen? Or are other things more important to your narrative, like your main character's feeling of emotional distress? Are relationships the most important component in your story? If so, perhaps dialoque between two characters would be most effective in fleshing out the world in which your story takes place. A lot depends, of course, on whether your story is plot centered or character centered, and it often it makes a difference whether your narrative mode is 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person. A plot centered narrative may not focus as much on any particular character's internal dialoque, for example. But, on the other hand, if this narrative is written in 1st person, it may have the inverse effect, and emphasize the protagonist's mental processes, more than it otherwise would. These are not hard and fast rules, however, and experimentation in creating literary settings is part of the fun of being a creative writer.
What about you? How do you construct settings in your writing? Do your characters' mental and emotional environments inform the narrative more than the physical or social aspects of their world, or vise versa? What methods or techniques do you employ to accomplish the goals of your narrative? What methods are most helpful to you? Shoot me a comment or start a discussion with me about it here!