All posts by Jeff Salyards

[GUEST POST] Jeff Salyards on Avoiding Tired Tropes When World Building


Jeff Salyards grew up in a small town north of Chicago. While it wasn’t Mayberry, it was quiet and sleepy, so he got started early imagining his way into other worlds that were loud, chaotic, and full of irrepressible characters. While he ultimately moved away, he never lost his fascination for the fantastic. Though his tastes have grown a bit darker over the years. Jeff lives near Chicago with his wife and three daughters. By day, he is a book editor for the American Bar Association; by night, he will continue to crank out novels as long as there are readers willing to read them. His debut novel, Scourge of the Betrayer, will be published by Night Shade Books in May.

Avoiding Tired Tropes When World Building

All writers play demigods-it’s part of the job description. We invent out of the ether, populate our worlds and stories with characters we create and control. However, readers still expect the author not to be a sloppy or lazy deity.

If a thriller writer sets a novel in Cleveland, she better know the ground, because without fail, Clevelanders will cry bloody murder on blogs far and wide if so much as a street name is off. If a highbrow literary writer crafts a scene in the Texas badlands, same dealio-he better not claim peyote was legalized there for religious ceremonies in 1960 when it was actually 1970. Someone somewhere will delight in pointing out the discrepancy. Get messy or apathetic with the facts and you better have some thick skin to survive the backlash, especially if you’re a routine offender.
Continue reading