Language is important in world building. In paranormal stories finding words that give an other world flavor can be difficult as well as confusing. I’ve read some books with glossaries but constantly turning pages to decipher meaning can turn a reader to a different book. Also using too many strange words can turn prose into gibberish. What you need to do is find words that hint to what the characters are tasting, seeing, hearing, touching and smelling.
If you say. “He raised a con of lug and sipped, the reader’s brow will furrow. But if you say He raised a mug of kafa, the reader will think coffee.
I have three reference books I use. One is a seven language dictionary and the other is an etymology. They have helped me find the words I need. When writing the
For historical stories the wrong word can jolt the reader out of the story, Also too much usage of the right words such as dialect can send a reader searching for another book. Sometimes the word can be right but it seems too modern to the reader. Take pothole. There have been potholes that were called just that during historical periods as well as today. A friend had to change pothole in her book because an editor felt the word was modern. Also remember when you’re searching for a word to use is that words can change meaning.
In contemporary stories language plays a role in creating the dream. Every career choice, region of the country have specific words. There’s argot, cant, slang whatever you choose to call these expressions, using one of these words can point to a specific area or career.
For example, I’m from
If a character says “Heart attack:” we might think lay person but if "Cardiac arrest,” is used we think of medical personnel.
He aimed his piece, or his gat or his gun or his Glock. Those words can change an opinion of a character and of the world he or she inhabits.
One good thing about writing a contemporary story is there are experts to interview who can provide language and information to help build your world. These people are almost always happy to talk to a writer.
Actually when doing an interview I had an interesting event. How I was nearly arrested for murder.
A few hours later he returned the call. “What’s wrong? What can I do?” he asked.
“It’s about this woman I just murdered. How long before she can be buried.”
Then I heard. “No, Guys settle. She’s a writer.” There was a pause. Then he said, “Ma, I’m at the station. You’re on speaker.”
Another aspect of world creating, particularly for those writing historical or paranormal romances is the history of the world or the era. The reader needs to know some of the background if it’s important to the story.
Now, sharing every detail of the world is tempting but the readers want action not a history lesson.
There are also rules of the world you’ve created. Most of us know the rules of the contemporary world and we can learn about the ones of the historical one. When writing a paranormal story the rules must be known to the reader. This is your world and you need to know them. These rules must apply to the characters and be established as customs in the world you’re inviting your readers to enter.