Creating a Whole New World
It is said that God created the world in seven days. Well let me tell you that creating a fictional small town take a lot longer than seven days.
At first it started in my mind with my core couple. I knew I wanted the heroine to be new to the small town and to open a bakery. She was going to fall in love with a local hottie who worked with computers. Before I knew it these two characters were becoming individuals with their own voice in my head. I would be sitting in traffic and small pieces of their story would run through my mind. Next thing I knew I had the whole story outlined in less than a week just by taking small notes on an ever-growing pile of Post-Its. I started carrying these notes back and forth to work incase something inspired me, I could write it down and work it out on my next break. It was a disorganized multicolored mess. Imagine your 2 year old being proud of gluing together a bunch of construction papers together and then carrying it around for a month. Here is a tip for everyone: Post-its are great for sticking on walls but not for making impromptu note books.
I had my story but still needed to create the world around them. First, I needed a setting, and then people who lived in this new world. I always knew I would have the central 8 characters to start with, 4 boys and 4 girls. After peeling apart my notes, I got a journal and started my encyclopedia of the town and residents. Naming my characters was like naming a child. I couldn't name them certain names due to real life people I knew. Even if it was a pretty and romantic name, if that person was mean to me in grade school they were not going to have the same name as one of the core heroes. You know the difference between naming your child and a fictional character? Now you have to create a last name too. Easy right? Nope. At one point I was going to name the primary hero Tyler Davidson. I always liked the name Tyler and Davidson just came to me naturally. I was super happy, that is until one day I was watching a sporting event being played in Cincinnati where I grew up. Then there it was in all it's beautiful glory... Fountain Square (for those who don't know it's a big deal there). The name of the fountain is Tyler Davidson Fountain. No wonder I liked it. So, now our swoon worthy hero is now Tyler Ashford.
When I take a look at my little fictional town of Blossom Hills I know it is ever growing in people and size with the more I write. My encyclopedia is now filled with characters names, descriptions, occupations and a couple maps to keep my consistencies in line when describing the town. Here is what I have learned. First, I can't draw maps. Seriously, I know fifth graders who could have done better. Second, remembering the physical descriptions and names of all your characters is nearly impossible. Notes will save your life, especially when you are in the middle of writing a great chapter and can't remember what eye color you gave a character earlier. Finally, maybe only other writers can understand this, but sometimes when you write, your characters take on a life of their own and don't do what you originally planned. It is often these moments that shine brightest.