A Whole New World: 5 Steps to World-Building

Photo by James Wheeler 


Step 1.) Do research

While it is true that writers draw from our experiences, we also do research.

A lot of it.

We are living in the age of limitless information.

Answers to most of our questions are hindered only by the speed of our thumbs, but we still must do our due diligence.

Technology is a double-edged sword. We now have access to a wealth of information, but also a wealth of inaccurate information.

Why do I need to do research if I am creating my own world?

Even though you are designing the rule-book, you still need to have (and provide your audience with) a logical explanation for your rules.

This process is easier if you have a mental database of different cultures: their traditions, religions, agricultural feats, survival tactics, etc.

Just like the mechanics of writing, you have to firmly understand the way things work before you can go off experimenting.

Step 2.) Start outlining

Now that you have a mental bank of cool and interesting info, it’s time to start building!

Just like any structure, painting, or musical composition, you have to start from the bottom and work your way up.

Photo by Bidvine 

Here are a few questions that you should consider:

What is the landscape of your world?

What type of food can grow there?

How does diet affect the civilizations there?

How does the setting correlate with how your characters look, think, and act?

Of course, this is just the beginning.

Step 3.) Pull out the maps

This is a step that usually occurs in conjunction with the outlining process.

You do not need to be a world-class cartographer either.

These maps are not for your readers (though you can decide to include them in your final product).

You should create maps for each society as well as a larger map that shows how each society relates to the others.

This visual aid will not only help you fine-tune the intricacies of your land, but it will also help you stay organized for Step 4.

Step 4.) Solidify your world’s politics

Once you have a handle on the different societies, you’ll want to consider politics (how the different tribes, nations, worlds interact).

Not only will this help make your world feel real, but it will also help you imagine different conflicts for your future characters.

Confront your maps and society outlines. Take note of which countries are close and which ones have resources that others may not have, but could use.

Compare and contrast the cultures:

Are there distinct differences that could lead to societal disagreements?

Are there similarities that could help foster alliances?

Which form of government does each society use and why?

Step 5.) Consider your world’s history

This takes Step 4 and expands it further.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio 

Don’t just consider the immediate politics of your story’s moment.

Think deeper.

Which alliances had been made and broken? Why?

How did the current governments come to power?

What technological, political, and economic advancements have been made? By whom? Where? Why?

Photo by Ivan Samkov 

World-building is a crucial step to creating believably in your work.

It can be a bit overwhelming, trying to create a whole new world.

So, be sure to join us next week for our interview with the author of the Maldene Series, Mark Anthony Tierno.

Listen in as Tierno gives away his secrets to creating a realistic, magical world.

Until next time,

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