I have a really big problem. When I am in love with a story and convinced by my characters, I have a difficult time accepting that they aren’t real. I like to consider it a form of immersion. It is, but it can be so much more than that. I see the world to the point that I feel like I am in that world. It can be very relieving and emotional, but it is worth every last moment.
This leads to why I believe that proper worldbuilding is vital to a story. In order for me to be immersed, I need to believe that the world I will be stepping into is real. I need to feel like everything is set up and the world exists in parameters that I can understand. A poorly built world is difficult to understand and delve into. If i need to create too much of the world around me, I feel like I can drift away from the story at hand.
A well built world, feels full and unique. Most importantly, an immersive world feels like there are stories that exist other than the story currently being presented. The world will fill like it is full of options. If a world is full of options, I can then insert myself into that world and become a part of it. If a story is too tight for that to happen, the story is less likely for me to retain. This says nothing to the quality of the specific story being told. It can be beautiful and compelling, but a story that doesn’t allow me inside.
The other thing that can make a story immersive is character. If I am presented a bevy of interesting characters who lead lives I would want to be a part of when the story is over, it is easy to throw myself into their world. This requires the author to not just display the characters in only the plot that moves the story forward. It also needs to allow me to see how they normally interact with the world around them. An interesting character has the ability to draw me in and make me empathize with what goes on around them. I want to help and become part of the supporting cast around them.
Everyone is different. Some people prefer to read stores that allow them a freedom to fill in the blanks of the world around the story. For some people, the world isn’t as important because it is merely a way to build a story. To give a story a framework, a place for the story to live, with the intricate characters inside make a story whole. Each person approaches it differently. Some people will enjoy a story with a well established world, while others prefer more strongly established characters. One thing is positively certain. Both elements, worldbuilding and character, are vital to a story and must be built up.
What makes you want to immerse yourself in a story?