Werewolves in one book can have a completely different origin than another author's werewolves, and yet the reader can enjoy both stories equally. World building is absolutely key to invite the reader into the story and keep them engaged with your character's adventure. It can be subtle twists on a known skyline, or a whole new landscape as foreign to readers as the moon's surface.
When my first full length paranormal romance novel came about, it planted itself in Chicago, a city I love, in the year 2096. Setting the book in the future set my imagination loose. I enjoyed taking certain liberties with Chicago landmarks and what parts of the city survived and what parts morphed into something new.
Looking at where we were then (2005) I built my world anticipating where current trends might lead. I never really believed the American government would outlaw refined sugar and regular coffee, but I could totally see a defense department that fed soldiers a battle enhancing formula disguised as vitamins. Of course recently the culinary capital of New York City has been battling those who would legislaste salt content in restaurant food...
While world building for my 2096 I started with a few key details and let the story and characters spin out from there, adding more layers and details with each revision. I can't abide a morning without coffee and knowing I'm not the only one, naturally a coffee smuggling ring showed up in my books.
Of course, world building for paranormal romance means more than landscape and backdrop. A fully developed world includes rules applied by the author and broken only with good reason (and/or proper physics). If you have a world where vampires can enjoy garlic, you can't slip up and make it a repellant during a key battle. By the same token, your vampire may be allergic to garlic like I'm allergic to pine pollen. So what his comrades find innocuous, he finds appalling, but for a whole different reason - a reason with comedic potential.
If you're writing a political thriller, you probably won't care about coffee, or garlic (unless a state dinner leads to offensive breath during a critical moment on the dance floor). Instead you'll emphasize other critical details that show the reader the worldview, moods, and intrigues your characters are venturing through.
World building for a paranormal romance novel is as personal and unique as the author crafting the novel. What matters to me, what I choose to emphasize in the story, will differ from your story. That's fantastic news for creative authors willing and able to write characters and creatures who push the envelope of humanity and imagination.
Live the adventure!
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