Guest Post & Giveaway: Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris
Fantasy gets blessed with discussions around world-building but we all stand here today, living in a world we’ve built. We asked Rachel Harris to talk about worldbuilding in contemporary and LOVE her take on the worldbuilding in Eyes on Me! Check it out and be sure to enter her giveaway in partnership with Entangled at the end of the post!
Guest Post: Deep in the Heart of Texas
Worldbuilding is definitely one of my favorite aspects of reading fantasy and paranormal novels. I love losing myself in a world unlike my own, and the creativity the authors use in not only creating but keeping those worlds straight is crazy impressive. The rules of life are often different, transportation is sometimes unique, heck, everyday things like food and even language could be unusual. The shift can be so dramatic that when a reader switches to a contemporary novel they could be tempted to believe worldbuilding ceases to exist.
I’d argue that worldbuilding is just as vital in contemporary novels…it’s simply a different take on the concept.
Eyes on Me is set in small-town Texas, in a high school very similar to the same brick and mortar building readers attended…but that very familiarity is what makes the worldbuilding so tricky. If any part of the experience rings false to a true Texan, or a current or former high school student, it can rip them from the reading experience. We don’t have that problem when reading a novel set in another galaxy or even an American town overrun by vampires. We expect things to be off from the norm.
One trick that ensured authenticity was creating a calendar that ran the length of the novel. First, I grabbed local calendars for local high schools and made note of school holidays and events, added how often football teams were home vs away (Stone is a QB after all), when Homecoming landed, as well as dates for report cards, SAT testing, and application deadlines for early action. Then I took my plot plan and placed all the key moments on the calendar at times that made sense, moving things around if needed. As a reader, I’m constantly keeping track of when things occur, and I wanted other readers who did the same thing to rest assured their mental calculations were on point. An unexpected bonus: I often got ideas for plot points as I’d note how much time would pass between events.
Another worldbuilding trick was playing up key scenes that had naturally dazzling scenery and/or would be memorable. I searched my plot plan for any scene I believed would play cinematically or be key if my book were turned into a movie and then turned up the details for those scenes, making them as vivid as possible through description (using all five senses) and emotion. For Eyes on Me, I had several scenes that got a dose of extra special treatment—a small-town festival, a high school dance, a family barbecue, a sleepover/party, a couple football games, and, of course, a few special dance scenes.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a talk about worldbuilding in Eyes on Me if I didn’t talk about the dancing itself. It was a tightrope walk, giving readers who love dance enough meat to sink their teeth into, without overdoing it for other readers who came for the hot football stud and fun opposites attract aspect who could care less about the technical dance elements. Also, it must be said—writing scenes where characters are learning dance moves is a CHALLENGE! Describing the steps in such a way that a reader can understand without seeing it AND not making it a bunch of dry facts AND keep the romantic tension high AND working in scenery and emotion and dialogue to keep the scene grounded and the story moving…let’s just say it wasn’t easy. Keeping each dancing scene unique was an added challenge. In the end, however, each of those scenes added depth and interest to the story, and if I did it right, the dancing element exposed a new dimension within Lily and Stone. Plus, they’re just so much fun!
What do you think, dear reader? What are your favorite examples of worldbuilding in contemporary novels?
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We want to see your moves! We are celebrating the upcoming release of Eyes on My by Rachel Harris with a #giveaway! Show us your best moves and enter to #WIN! Tag us in your Instagram story showing off your best dance moves using the hashtag #ShowMeYourMoves and click the link in our bio to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card. This is international, so show us what you've got. ??#justdance #eyesonme #bookish #bookstagram #yalit