Creating a whole new world is one of the most exciting parts of being an author — but it can also be the most grueling. With two YA fantasy series under her belt, Cinda Williams Chima knows a thing or two about worldbuilding. And with The Sorcerer Heir, the latest book in her Heir Chronicles series, hitting shelves today, we wanted to know what tips and insight Cinda has for worldbuilding. Here's what she had to say:
People associate worldbuilding with fantasy writers, but all writers need to master it. For example, if I set a novel in a small Georgia town or coastal Maine, I have to make that setting real to people who’ve never been there. Fantasy writers have the additional challenge of building a magical system alongside the setting.
My goal with the Heir Chronicles was to make the magical world of Ohio accessible to everyone — even people who are not regular fantasy readers. The key is to layer in description with a light hand. I believe that a reader with a few questions is more likely to keep reading than one who feels like she is hacking through a thicket of words.
After five books, I know the magical landscape of the Heir Chronicles really, really well. That doesn’t mean that it all makes its way onto the page. I like Hemingway’s iceberg theory of fiction. He says that seven-eighths of what the writer knows stays below the surface, supporting the world that the reader sees.