World Building 101, Guest Post by Patrick W. Carr

I am so pleased to have Patrick W. Carr, author of the fantasy novel “A Cast of Stones,” as my guest today as part of the blog tour hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer. Patrick not only writes, but he also teaches high school math in Nashville, Tennessee. Hooray for teachers! Hooray for authors! I enjoyed reading his insights, and I can already see one point I am going to take away from this…

World Building 101


When I set out to write “A cast of Stones” the first thing I did was set my time period. I didn’t want to invest in the ground-up kind of detail that a completely different world would take so I chose to go with a generally medieval setting. I chose 13th century Europe because I didn’t want to deal with cannon when I wrote my ship battles. Plus the use of that time frame dove-tailed nicely with some of the problems and challenges the church had to deal with prior to the Reformation.

The next thing I did was to draw a map. I’m not much of an artist, so Bethany House elected not to include it in the final book, but it was good enough for me to use for plotting purposes. Plus one of the things I’d like to do is have a map drawing contest once we release the second book. The person who comes closest to the map on my wall gets a free autographed copy of the third book or something like that. Another reason the map was so important was that it allowed me to keep track visually of where everyone was. In the second and third book, I have more than one POV character and at times they’re together, but other times they’re scattered to the four winds.


It became apparent early on, once I got a decent way into the first book, that organization was going to be a real challenge. My second son, Connor, is one of the most organized people I know. He came out of the womb that way. There is no way he inherited that gene from me (unless it’s recessive). I struggle with organization. However, I was fortunate in that my writer’s group, MTCW in Nashville, had a couple of sessions on writing tools. We talked about Snowflake and Scrivener. I finally settled on OneNote, probably because that’s what our group leader, Kaye Dacus, used and she could give me tips. There’s nothing like local tech support. 


Then I started doing research. Oh man. You wouldn’t believe how many little, inconsequential, annoying details go into a book. There were times when I wanted to scream at all the google windows I had open “Can I just write my book, please?” But of course, you don’t get to do that, because even a well-researched book is going to have a couple of slip-ups in it and one that hasn’t been researched will have a ton. Then the readers come and smack you in the head with your own words. It’s all really too gruesome to contemplate. Here’s a favorite example: You know all those movies where the horses are galloping like mad for miles and miles? Totally bogus. Think of it in people terms. You can’t sprint for very long at all before you have to slow to a jog. Horses can’t either. The fastest way for a horse to cover a lot of ground day-after-day is to trot. I had a horse as a kid (we lived on a farm). The trot is the most obnoxious gait for a rider. It’s an instant recipe for being saddle sore.


After I did enough research to get me going, everything from horses, to clothes, to castles, to herb lore, I was ready to start on my characters. For major characters I tried to picture someone I knew, either personally or from TV and film. Then I loaded their picture into OneNote and started writing their personal history. This step was crucial because one of the themes that I wanted to utilize in my book was that everyone has secrets. I felt this would help to make the characters more three dimensional. One of the ways I knew I was writing well was when my sister, who is my alpha reader, would tell me what she thought the character would look like and it turned out to be really close to the picture I was using.


The last parts of world-building took place after the first draft. For a single novel I needn’t have bothered but for a trilogy, it was a necessity. I went through the book and catalogued every single character, no matter how minor. I knew I was going to need some of them again, even if I wasn’t sure at the moment exactly how. I also devoted a few pages to the theology of the world I was creating and its history. The first draft contained some inconsistencies and this allowed me to smooth those out until I had a workable world.

A Cast of Stones

An Epic Medieval Saga Fantasy Readers Will Love

In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone’s search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty is near an end and a new king must be selected. As tension and danger mount, Errol must leave behind his drunkenness and grief, learn to fight, and come to know his God in order to survive a journey to discover his destiny.

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Author Patrick W. Carr

Patrick Carr was born on an Air Force base in West Germany at the height of the cold war. He has been told this was not his fault. As an Air Force brat, he experienced a change in locale every three years until his father retired to Tennessee. Patrick saw more of the world on his own through a varied and somewhat eclectic education and work history. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1984 and has worked as a draftsman at a nuclear plant, did design work for the Air Force, worked for a printing company, and consulted as an engineer. Patrick’s day gig for the last five years has been teaching high school math in Nashville, TN. He currently makes his home in Nashville with his wonderfully patient wife, Mary, and four sons he thinks are amazing: Patrick, Connor, Daniel, and Ethan. Sometime in the future he would like to be a jazz pianist. Patrick thinks writing about himself in the third person is kind of weird.

Blog Tour Giveaway
$10 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 1/31/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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