In preparation for National Novel Writing Month, I'm going through 30 Days of Worldbuilding, a free resource that helps you base your novel in a somewhat realistic environment so that you aren't writing characters into a blank world.
That got me thinking -- what do you incorporate into a story (short, novella or novel-length) to give depth to it and allow the reader to sink into another world? Because that's ultimately the goal -- we read to escape, even if we end up being exposed to truth or ideas worth thinking through along the way.
Descriptions -- although this can be very overdone (especially in new writers' stories), a few succinct descriptions about the weather, landscape or buildings will help cement the character in a world, one that with a little help, the reader can imagine (and escape into).
Tone/Consistency -- you don't want to say the city was gritty and then later say it was pristine. Being consistent with word choice helps the world seem more solid (This could apply to the weather, the landscape, the types of people, the food, etc.).
Familiar Items/Landmarks -- highlighting one feature in the landscape allows the reader to recognize and remember how something 'looks' (The Shadow Fold in Shadow & Bone is a great example).
Senses -- allow the reader to experience your story through more than one of their senses -- describe the smell of a dinner cooking, or let them 'hear' a rock concert with your characters. Touch, sight, taste, smell, sound: be creative in using several of these.
Anything else to add?
I'm going to be studying a few books for just this purpose -- I'm including a list below, of the books that have made strong impressions on me (I can picture their settings without taking a peep into their pages) and would therefore help me in my quest for the creation of a realistic world:
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
A Series of Unfortunate Events (selected chapters from books 1-13) by Lemony Snicket
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
I would love any recommendations of books that left you with a strong impression of setting/mood/tone.
Thanks and see you on Friday for First Lines!