World-Building Tips For Writers

By on April 8, 2021

The worldbuilding process is a vital part of any successful story. Without a vivid world that your readers can picture in their mind’s eye, it will be nearly impossible to place or ground your characters, making creating an exciting story something of a challenge. 

There are endless ways that you can build your world and endless possibilities of what you can do with it. Whether you want to create a world that’s entirely fantastical, entirely real, or combine real-world and fantasy elements, these world-building tips will ensure you do so successfully. 

Settle on your genre and pick your world

Establish the type of world you want to create. Select your genre. Is this a dystopian or fantasy novel or a mixture of the two? Does the story unfold in a place on our Earth or on a different planet? Knowing this will help figure out the tone and mood of your world.

Create rules and laws

Your world should have certain rules and laws that remain consistent throughout. This is particularly important if the world is more fantastical. Make sure you set these from the outset and make a note of all of them so you can always refer back to them when needed.

Define the culture. 

What do the inhabitants of this world believe in? Do they follow a religion? What are their customs and traditions? Do they have festivals or special days celebrations? Do these factors change the way the inhabitants think or behave? Answering these questions can spark so many ideas and help your characters feel unique and fill them with life. Giving them a meaningful existence is key.

Select the language

Do the inhabitants of this world communicate differently? Is there a special language or many different ones? Are there things that are forbidden to talk about? Understanding the restrictions and idiosyncrasies of the language and the way the inhabitants communicate will help to create depth and can be used as a source of conflict too. 

Create the history. 

What is your world’s history? Have past conflicts or natural disasters shaped the world as it is today? Do the lands within the world exist harmoniously or do they have enemies? Providing the backstory to the world you create will help make it feel more real. 

If in doubt - look to the greats

When you are feeling a bit stumped, you can always look to your contemporaries for inspiration. There are so many famous and celebrated authors out there who are masters of world-building. If you feel yours is lacking something, look to other authors to inspire you.

Be detailed but careful

If you start to get lost in the minutiae of your world, you might never get around to writing the story. So make sure you have the structure and roles and details of your world down, but if you find yourself agonizing over tiny nuances that don’t matter to your story, make sure you pull yourself out and get on with the real work!

By following the above you can create an imaginative, immersive world for your characters to inhabit and from which your story can develop. The world-building process can be intense, but the more effort you put into it, the better it will be.

About Beth Cadman

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