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World building

Updated: Jan 5

World building plays an essential part in any piece of writing, especially in fiction. When you first think of world building, your mind will most likely lean towards fantasy fiction and places such as Narnia, Hogwarts or Panem. Of course these authors would've had a tremendous amount of world building for these stories, but world building is actually very important in all types of writing and genres.

World building is the creation of the world you are writing in. Whether it's something more realistic or a completely new fantasy world, every writer will have to build some kind of world for their readers. It can seem overwhelming, especially if you're not sure how your story is going to turn out, but planning before you write is the most efficient way and will help to prevent any holes appearing in your story.

Tips for world building

Plan, plan, plan

Start simple and set your scenes. Where are the key parts of your story happening? A character's home? In the woods? On a space ship? This are the bigger details that need to be worked out before you start to write as these will play a major part in your story. If you still have a lot of ideas that need narrowing down, then a mind map is a great resource to make for yourself.

The next step is focusing on the bigger picture. What does this world look like? Are there any laws, rules? What do the people there look like? Are they even people? What is the history of this world? Are there are social or cultural structures we need to know about? Anything that may have led up to your story. These are the details that will have an impact on the structure of your story. How do all these things fit into your storyline, the plots, solution etc.

The last step is to focus on the smaller details, this could be looking at what kind of food they eat, what clothes they wear, anything that might make this world different from ours. Although these details may not have an effect on the story, this is what makes it unique, memorable and will make it feel real to your readers. These little details can be what makes your world, just remember not to get too mixed up in them. Butter Beer in Harry Potter is a great example, this beverage has no impact on the plot lines of the series, but adds to the magical world JK Rowling created.

This process will take longer for certain genres, for example if you're writing a fantasy novel there will be more to think about, whereas if you're setting your story in our 'real life' then these details will be quicker to figure out and will need less building for your readers.

Time to Write

Once you have planned out your story as much as you can, it's time to start writing. You may never feel like it's time to write, but you can't stay in the planning stage forever. Just remember that if you start writing and feel like your story still needs some planning, there is nothing wrong with going back to the drawing board.

It's so important to note that when you're world building, your readers are seeing this world through a character's or natator's eyes. All of these details you have planned are important but it's also important that they are coming out at the right time and not just thrown onto the reader at the beginning of the story. For example, you wouldn't talk about their food right at the start, you'd wait until the characters are eating. This is why planning is so important, it allows you to get your ideas out there, and plan for the perfect time to put them in your story, you may also miss out on opportunities if you're just writing from scratch.

World building can be a very exciting stage to your writing process. As an author, you will be living in this world too, so make sure you are giving all of your ideas justice by doing it right.

World Building Key Takeaways:

  • Planning is key

  • Timing is everything

  • The small details is what makes your world unique

If you have any questions or need any help with your world building process, please send me a message and I can help you.


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