There are a few major elements to consider when beginning a new creative writing piece and one of those is world building. It’s crucial to your story, whether it’s 100 words long or 100,000 words long. While Fantasy was created to escape the reality of everyday life, readers want your world to be as realistic as possible (well, in a sense). Basically, if your world isn’t believable, your readers will only feel distracted instead of immersed. What I mean is that you (the writer) need to know the world you are creating inside out. Here are some ways that I go about researching the worlds I create.
Create rules for your world
Once you’ve got an idea about what kind of world you want for your story, you can start creating rules. Things like whether you have magic in your world or not and if so, how it’s used. Whether you have creatures like dragons or Krakens and if they can be tamed or if they are rare. Whether you have time travel or space travel and how it’s used or even if it’s legal. I mean, the possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
Think of all the things you know about the real world. There are so many things to consider: The people (races like humans, trolls, elves, mermaids, or any other mythical creature you want to add), the educational system, the government, transportation, living conditions, the work force, financial system, etc. These are all things you need to discover about your world. Then, you move on to the smaller things like what people do for fun, what’s popular (fashion, music, food, movies, games, public attractions), etc. The more you know about the world you are creating, the more realistic it will become to you, your characters, and your readers.
“World Building.” Pinterest, http://www.pinterest.com/marismckay/world-building/?lp=true.
Inventing the past
This is so important! Every world has a past. Even if your story starts at the dawn of time, your world has a past. How was it created or formed? How did the people get there? You need to know what has happened in the past to know where things are in the present and where they could be in the future. What I mean is, if there was a World War 10 years ago, tensions might still be high. Your government might still be on high alert to make sure there won’t be any retaliation. However, if the world war was 100 years ago, there could be peace amongst once fighting nations. These things are vital because they determine what the laws might be, how the government has become what it is, and why the people (characters) fight for what they do. Everything and everyone has a past. Don’t neglect giving one to your world.
This is the show part of world building. Here, you get to create a visual representation of what your world looks like. Maybe it’s a planet far away from the sun, so everything stays frozen year-round. You’d get to describe lots of ice and snow. Or maybe it’s full of great forests with giant trees covered in moss and vines. Lots of green. Maybe it’s completely covered in water and you’re dealing with sand, water, coral reefs, sunken ships, etc. It’s entirely up to you, but leave no detail out. Even if you don’t use that detail in the story, it’s important that you know it.
*Something that I do that helps me, is I draw maps of my world. I do this for building layouts, cities, continents, whatever I need to remember where everything is.
“Middle Earth.” https://www.lostkingdom.net/tag/history/.
This is a fun one for me because I love words. One thing you’ll need to do is figure out who speaks what language. Obviously, like in the real world, different people speak different languages. Even with America and the U.K., we both speak English, but it’s different forms of it including different slang. Heck, even in different parts of America, people use different slang. You’ve heard of the You guys vs. Y’all debate, right? Same with your world. A Dragonborn will probably speak a different language than an elf. You don’t have to go so far as to create your own language, unless you want to, but knowing what languages exist in your world and who they belong to is a great asset to your story.
World building is all about asking questions. Make sure that you ask as many questions as you possibly can and then ask more. You want to make sure that even if you aren’t including some of these specific details into the final draft, your characters are following those rules. When you don’t flesh out the details in the beginning, plot holes start to form which only distract your readers from enjoying the amazing story you’re trying to tell them.
The thing to remember is that most of your work building this world won’t make it into your story, but your characters will be able to interact with your world more realistically because you’ve done the research. You know what makes your world go ‘round and therefore have made it more believable.
** Another fun thing that I do to flesh out my world is I call up my friends and tell them about my world. They ask questions, sometimes ones that I hadn’t thought of. It’s super nice to have other input to help me make sure this world is complete.
If you have anything to add or just want to talk world-building, please leave a comment. Also, let me know what you’d like me to write next. I love reading your comments and discussing all things writing with you!
Thanks for reading,
Cover Image – “Middle Earth.” https://www.lostkingdom.net/tag/history/.