December 21, 2021

Nostalgic Moment with Susan Reichert on Why Build a World for Your Story?



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why Build a World for Your Story?

By Susan Reichert

Believe it or not, most times, the setting we choose for our story is like a character. We must create that world. It may look like the world you live in, but it will have its differences.

This world is going to need its own look, sounds, and smells.

Even if you choose a setting like where you grew up, you will still add stores, houses, malls, a river, or stream or mountain that did not exist in your town.

The characters you create will need certain locations. You may need to create the places they work, the restaurants where they eat, or a diner they visit every morning for breakfast. You may want to put a particular church or a hardware store.

All these things you could create and place in this world.

This world will have a feel about it that is different from other places. Real or imagined.

This is the place your characters are going to come to life. The more you know about this world, the more you bring it to life for your reader. Even though you may not use everything you create for this new world in your story, by just knowing these things it puts more richness in your story.

Take it a few steps further, you could develop a little history for this new world. What are its laws, rules, does it have folk lore?

The most important rule of all when creating your world, is show, do not tell the reader. Open the door and bring them into this world you have created.

Some authors draw maps of their towns and surrounding countryside and put them in their books. Having read some of those authors, like Lin Stepp, it made it much more interesting and just delivered me into the world she created. As I read other author’s books I could picture the towns, a post office if they had it, where the general store was . . . across the street, with its red roof and black writing on the front of the store. I can follow the street a character takes to walk down to the bait shop and know that when the character is walking up Main Street they will run right into the courthouse. It creates for the reader a picture in their minds drawing them into the story feeling like they are there.

What all can you add to your new world you create for your story? What about the type of weather in that location? The flowers and fauna you find. Everything is usable in the world you create. The secret is to make this created world seem real.

However, you do not want it to overshadow your story. So, think about what type of world you want to create and how you can help your reader enter that world and be part of what you have created.

Susan Reichert, author of Listen Close, Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. Published numerous magazine articles and stories in 9 anthology books. Speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. She is the retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine. Reichert has a passion for writing about God in devotionals, prayers, and inspirational works.

She and her husband live in Tennessee. They have four grown daughters with families of their own. Susan is a member of the DAR and a member of the First Families of Mississippi

Visit Susan at:,, , Amazon -


  1. I always do, whether it's a real place or imagined. Then I include a map in the book. I know I love them, so I hope my readers do too.

  2. Thanks Ane for including your maps. I love them.

  3. I'm doing this for the first time with my new series and its fictional town and county in the Southern Cumberland Plateau around Chattanooga. ;-)