Envisioning the Future: Worldbuilding in the Memento Nora Series

This week we're celebrating the conclusion to Angie Smibert's Memento Nora series. Today I want to point out one of my favorite features of this book series--the worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is an essential tool for any writer, even in a contemporary novel where the world is similar to the one we live in now, but it's often key in any sort of speculative fiction.

Angie does two key things in the Memento Nora series with worldbuilding: making a realistic world, but leaving it up to the reader to build upon it. These two things need to be in perfect balance to make a world work.

Making a Realistic World
This comes from thinking logically through the next steps. In the first book, Angie made Nora's world something that we're very close to having now: a government that disregards privacy, a society that would rather choose ignorance, and a world that is dictated through terror rather than peace.

It's a bleak world, made brighter through the glimmer of hope Nora and her friends provide. But the key is that it's a world that logically follows through with what our world currently is. We're on the cusp of this sort of society, and it wouldn't take much for this world to become our reality.

Leaving Details to the Reader
To me, this part of worldbuilding comes from respect: respect from the author for her readers. This is also, I find, one of the hardest parts of writing--knowing when to leave part of the story empty, and letting the reader fill in the blanks.

The simple truth is, the reader's imagination is far, far richer than anything the author can create. Angie tells us what we need to know about the world of her stories, but she doesn't hold the reader's hand, and she lets there be room for the reader's vivid imagination.

Like I said, this is a hard balance to find: showing enough detail to make the world distinct yet realistic, but still holding back enough to not block the reader from entry into the world. If you want to see worldbuilding done right, though, pick up Memento Nora and its sequels--especially now that you'll be able to read them all!

AND DON'T FORGET: check out Angie's post yesterday for a chance to win the complete series and to donate to the Feeding America drive. 

1 comment:

Karen Clayton said...

World building is both fun and a challenge. Maybe that is why I enjoy writing urban fiction. I get to dabble in it without getting overwhelmed. I had fun creating the magical realism needed for my novel, Mason Davis and the Rise of the Storm Makers. I have been doing research for a spin off series to the Mason Davis collection and that series will have much more world building so your blog has given me some insight into the intensity needed. Thanks.