Creating a storyworld is an art. Whether it's a contemporary setting in your own town, or a mystical forest on another planet, getting the sense of it on paper, so your reader is there, is a tough job.
One exercise that helps me, is camping out in my storyworld. What that means is I will choose a day in which I experience everything just as if I lived in that setting.
If I'm watching the sun come up, I imagine what it would look like in the world of my story. Are the colors I see touching mountain peaks or a smog-filled cityscape? How will my main character view this particular sunrise? Is she resigned to another day, untouched by the beauty, or does the scene remind her of someone in her past?
If your story is a fantasy, you’ll wonder other things. How many suns are there? How often do they rise? What colors can you imagine for such an alien world?
Even if you’re pouring yourself a cup of coffee, think through what your characters will have to do to get a hot drink in your story. Whether it’s hitting the local coffee shop because their ratty apartment doesn’t have a coffee maker, or trying to start a fire on the Icelandic tundra, it will help you live the lives of your characters.
Don’t forget your villain. They live there, too. You might be surprised to discover that your “bad guy” tears up watching a mother and child on the playground. Or that someone taking the last spot in the elevator will bring your antagonist fits of rage. These storyworld experiences will have you asking “why”. They’ll help you get to know your characters more deeply.
Each of us is affected by the world we live in. How crowded or uncrowded it is. What kinds of transportation we use. The methods with which we choose to communicate. The ease (or lack thereof) of obtaining the necessities of life.
Why not try walking through today in your storyworld? The experience might bring dimension to your descriptions, and depth to your characters.
It’s worth a try.
The photo above is one I shot while backpacking at 11,000 feet elevation a few summers ago.