Author Elsie Chapman Guest Post and Giveaway!

DividedDeveloping Your Fictional World
by Elsie Chapman

Developing your fictional world is, at its heart, a very personal process for a writer. There are so many ways it can be tackled. I’ve read before that you should attack a new world as a block of marble, chipping away at the unnecessary bits until all that is left are the essentials—the guts that will drive your story. I’ve also read that you should think of a new world as a sand sculpture—what you want to do is add layers slowly, a bit here and a bit there, until you’ve added everything you need and no more.

Maybe it’s a more a combination of both. Fits and starts. Two steps forward and one step back. Worlds are aggravating and they’re moody. Some days they are buried so deep you think they are never going to see light—others, you are dealing with bare bones that will fall apart if you sneeze wrong.

Whichever method of attack, the end result needs to be the same—a world that’s well drawn enough that a reader can envision it in their head and understand how it works, but not to the point where it begins to fight your characters for attention. A good world, I think, knows when to sit back and let its characters be. A good world, I think, really is a stage.

Some questions you can ask yourself about your world as you work:

What’s happened in your world in the past to bring it to where it is now? You’re about to write a book with a plot based about certain events. But what happened to lead to those events?

Technology? Education? Religion? Politics? Language? Education? Transportation?

Description of everyday things will ground your world and make it believable to a reader looking for ways to relate. Think about your senses. Think about colour and sound.

How diverse is your world? Diversity can make or break a world when it comes to believability. Why and how is your world the way it is when it comes to diversity? What do its people look like? How do they work together? How do they relate to each other?

Not all of your answers are going to end up in your book because not all of them are going to come into play. You will probably be okay not describing in minute details the food your character consumes over the course of a day (unless, of course, your world actually is about food, eg a world where hunger is a huge factor, etc.). Sure, most of that information will end up being background noise, but background noise is better than the silence of not knowing. Not knowing often leads to plot holes and contradictions in your world; both are frustrating to fix after the fact.

Like any work of art, start slow.
Tread thoughtfully.
There’s no rush.
It’s as much about letting your world develop as it is about you developing it, really.


In Elsie Chapman’s debut young adult novel, Dualed, West Grayer trained as a fighter in preparation for the day when her assignment arrived and she had one month to hunt down and kill her Alt—a twin raised by another family. In Chapman’s much anticipated sequel DIVIDED (Random House Books for Young Readers | On sale May 27, 2014 | Ages 12 up), West is back and has to undergo one last test before she can be free to live her life . . . but will she survive?

“We need you to kill again. . . .”

West Grayer is done killing. She defeated her Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and proved she’s worthy of a future. She’s ready to move on with her life. But the Board isn’t through with her. Somehow they know her past as an assassin, and they offer her a deal that’s almost too good to be true: safety for her future children and a clean slate if she kills one more time. It should be an easy job. Except West recognizes her target: It’s her dead brother’s Alt—hauntingly familiar and yet a stranger.

The Board is lying, and West will have to uncover the truth of the past to secure her future. How far will the Board go to keep their secrets safe? And how far will West go to save those she loves?

Fast-paced action with surprising twists, DIVIDED is an exhilarating page-turner that delivers a fierce punch as West’s decisions kindle rebellion!


About the Author:
ELSIE CHAPMAN grew up in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, before graduating from the University of British Columbia with a BA in English literature. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and two children, where she writes to either movies on a loop or music turned up way too loud (and sometimes both at the same time). For more information, please visit Elsie at


Courtesy of Random House, I have a copy of Divided for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes, please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends July 11. I’ll draw a name on July 12, and notify winner via email.


Good luck!

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