World Building: Romancing the Setting Part 2

Vocabulary is an obvious part of writing. And while we typically invest out time finding just the right words and phrases to set apart character dialogue and individual descriptions, vocabulary is also one of the best tools available to support the world building for the story itself.

Whether we realize it or not the words and phrases we choose enhance the mood of the setting, giving the reader an immediate point of reference. Sometimes when I’m reading the wrong phrase will just yank me right out of the story.

I learned early (thank goodness) that my natural writing voice and vocabulary leaned toward telling paranormal stories. When I had my first-ever critique session, I took along the first chapter of a mystery/thriller novel and was shocked to hear the suggestion that I needed to introduce the paranormal element sooner.

The words and phrases I’d used to set the mood and describe the general area of the contemporary Blue Ridge Mountain setting gave the readers of the critique group a certain impression. Like there would be vampires or werewolves coming along and causing chaos any minute. 

It was a valuable day for me because I had a solid example in my hands of what I’d written that created a paranormal feel as opposed to what I’d hoped to convey: more of a ‘real-world’ thriller mood.

If you were describing Chicago in the days of Mrs. O’Leary and her cow, you’d choose phrases and use vocabulary to convey the time period as well as physical attributes of the city in the late 1800s. If you were writing a contemporary mystery, you’d likely choose grittier phrases and use similar vocabulary that is so familiar to most crime show fans.

When I’m in the polishing stage of my Matchmaker series, I search out the strongest, most vivid words possible – to create a lighthearted, romantic mood. In the Shadows of Justice series, I look for the strongest, most vivid words that paint a dark and rather bleak Chicago of the future.

Authors create vast canvases and characters bigger than life with our vocabulary, flow, and phrasing working together from the first line, through ‘The End’. Each of us have unique traits in our written voice and the pacing we use, but the words we choose and how we choose to use them, put the reader in mind of romance, cozy mystery, or nail-biting suspense.

Choosing the right words for the setting can be a challenge – but it can be some of the most fun an author can have in the writing process, so spend the time to find the right words for your world.

Live the adventure!

Regan Black paranormal romance author


Today’s coffee art by journeyscoffee

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