Welcome to the Kite Tales Writing Prompt: #KTWriteOn. Each writing challenge is crafted by a kid-lit publishing professional to help spark ideas and creative energy. This prompt was created by author and director of the Genre MFA Program at Colorado University, Fran Wilde. She’s sharing a part of her master-level lecture on worldbuilding, for all genres from literary to historical to fantasy and sci-fi, with us today! Dig in!
Hello SCBWI! Thanks so much for having me here.
As I’m writing this, it’s that liminal back-to-school moment when everything seems new and teetering on the edge of discovery. I love it, AND I remember how my nerves kind of went scrunch every year because I was so excited and maybe a little anxious all at once.
Naming, categorizing, and timelines are part of what school’s all about. When we walk into Maurice Sendak Elementary or Ursula K. LeGuin Middle School, we’re tasked with sorting things into different containers. That’s because names — category names, place names, object names — have so much power.
One of my favorite worldbuilding and brainstorming exercises (it can work as either or both) has to do with place-names, the feelings they invoke, and the deeply layered stories they can tell.
When considering a setting for a story, or creating a new one, sometimes place names get left for last. With this exercise, we’re going to unpack the stories these names can tell, either as layering details or as historical timelines all their own. Continue reading