** This blog post comes with a warning that it may contain spoilers from Under Fire **
The 3 steps to easy world-building are:-
1) Convince your other half that it’d be a really good idea to holiday in [nominate location of your choice] this year
2) Buy airline tickets, sort out accommodation etc
3) Arrive, soak up atmosphere, build world
I hope that if you’re a writer of any discipline, you have lots of memories from your travels around the world, together with photos where possible to help with your world-building. You never know when a particular location is going to come in handy for a scene.
For instance, I’ve spent the past few days wandering around different locations in Malta. I first came to Malta in my childhood with my grandparents, who wanted to show me around the island where my Mum grew up. The memories of that trip provided the basis for many of the scenes in my latest thriller, Under Fire, and yesterday I spent some time retracing my steps from all those years ago.
First stop was the safe house to which Dan Taylor retreats while on the run. This used to be my grandparents’ house while my Grandad served with the Royal Marines based at Ghajn Tuffieħa.
True to my memory, the narrow track leading up to the house from the old barracks is still overgrown, and the house is looking neglected but the building is solid – made to last with concrete and steel.
Meanwhile, I’ve also spent time walking along some of the narrow roads of Valletta – these and the streets of the ‘silent city’ of Mdina were the basis of the pedestrian chase scene.
Apart from reminiscing and checking my memory served me well for Under Fire, this trip has also been for research in relation to a standalone thriller I’m currently drafting – one of many projects on my plate.
By travelling well-worn bus routes, exploring narrow streets and devouring information the museums here have to offer, I’m bursting at the scenes with
Actually being here, where my characters and story will be based, is fuelling the writing engine over and above anything I could achieve were I still at home, surfing the internet for information.
Sometimes in order to research, you really do have to leave the comfort of your own home, put away the computer and explore the world.
Only then will you achieve a real sense of ‘place’ in your writing.