World Building: It’s Not Just for Fantasy with Heather M. O’Connor

Setting is more than a pretty picture. It grounds the reader in a distinct time and place, whether that’s present-day Toronto, Egypt in the time of the pharaohs or a colony ship headed for Mars.

But that’s not all. Setting can also boost and intersect with other literary elements, deepening conflict, motivation or theme. For example, a river can function as an impassible barrier or protection from enemies. It can symbolize the road to adventure or offer an escape to freedom. It can be a threshold to cross, a journey, a fresh start, a baptism.

To harness the power of setting, you need to know your character’s world as well as you know your own. Can you take a walk in the neighbourhood? Do you know what foods are sold in the market and how much they cost? What social and economic pressures tug at your characters?

Learn how world-building techniques can layer realistic detail and literary depth into your fiction, memoir and non-fiction. Come with a setting in mind or a photo that speaks to you. (Extra photos will be available.)

 Heather M. O’Connor finds stories everywhere. News about match-fixing in soccer inspired her YA novel Betting Game (Orca, 2015). Greenbelt legislation prompted the eco-fable “Buried in the Green” (Urban Green Man, 2013). The BC wildfires sparked her Fire anthology tale “Phoenix Rising.”

When she’s not turning fact into fiction, Heather writes cool news stories for schoolkids. She also enjoys giving workshops and presentations that help other writers discover their stories. Find out more at

Workshop will be held on Sunday, October 14th, 2018 from 1:30 to 4:30pm at the Newmarket Public Library.

Please note: WCYR meetings are strictly for ages 18+. Teens from grades 7-12 are welcome to join our youth group at








Venue Phone: (905) 953-5110

Venue Website:

438 Park Avenue, Newmarket, Ontario, L3Y 1W1

  • Oct 2018 Worldbuilding
    October 14, 2018
    1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Details Price Qty
Pre-register WCYR Member $15.00 (CAD)  
Pre-register WCYR Non-Member $20.00 (CAD)  

Written by

Kim McDougall has been using Scrivener since 2006, when it was still in beta testing. She is an author, fiber artist and photographer who writes dark fantasy fiction. Under her married name, Kim Chatel, she also published 6 books for children. As co-founder of Castelane Inc., Kim has produced over 400 book trailers. Kim is also the meeting coordinator and speaker wrangler for the WCYR.

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