Hello word lovers! Today I thought we would discuss the lovely topic of World Building. Those two words can strike fear into the heart of many writers, while others get so much joy out of all the possibilities. If you’re anything like me, you find yourself somewhere in the middle getting ripped to shreds.
Oh, the ideas are swimming and flowing, I get excited with every little detail that my brain comes up with. But the sheer mounting task of creating a whole world, it tends to be a little nerve-wracking. What if I create a crater of a plot hole? Or my favorite, what’s the point if the reader will never know every detail?
Plot holes are just something that will happen, so you just have to do your best to fill those jokers in with Grade A cement. Well the other point, if you know everything about this world you create, trust me it comes through in the story without you having to explain every detail.
Since I am currently in the middle of revising my world building for the next story, I thought why not talk about some of the things I ponder on. So here are fifteen things to think about when you are world building.
This is where you can make or break your story. A good origin of where this world comes from is vital to your writing. Of all things, I feel like if you have this down then your story can flow a heck of a lot smoother. It can be daunting to come up with the origins of an entire race of people. But do not on any circumstance get skimpy on the details.
Depending on how far down the rabbit hole you want to go with this world of yours. Folklore can add an extra layer of enchantment to your story. There are books that I can read over and over just because they’ve added folklore with their own little flare to it. Like taking some Irish folklore and tweaking it just a little to fit why your character reacts the way they do in this world of yours.
Me personally, I hate this part. It can play a big factor of why your characters make the choices that they make. Some stories I find that this can take away from the story if done wrong. But, again if you have religious extremist that is the cause and effect of your story, you need to nail it down. There are some writers out there that feel like on a planet of a billion or so beings, there should be more than one religion. But I say whatever floats your boat, if you want one religion or twelve, just remember to tie up the loose ends as to why and how they worship.
As we see here on planet Earth, we have 6,500 different languages in the world. Let’s just take English for example. English in itself is a bastardized language do to occupation. But there are three main categories of English based on region: American English, Australian English, and of course the original, English of the United Kingdom. To add to that, there are dozens of subcategories in each country. So it’s ok if you want to make it difficult for your characters to communicate when they go into a different part of their world. Or you can just keep it simple with one main language, just establish early on what it’s going to be. Especially if you are putting an earthling on an alien planet.
I will be honest, I am bad and describing the area my character is in. But I swear, I’m working on it! In the writing groups I’ve joined on Facebook, this has been a hot topic button this month. How to nail down the world so when you’re describing it, you know what street or back ally you’re writing about. I have run across a handful of suggestions. If you own the Sims, some have suggested creating a world in there. Minecraft was another game that was thrown around, I’m not a big fan of this game but I have seen some awesome screenshots. There are a few websites that come up with ‘World Building Maps’ google search, I haven’t personally used them so I will be leaving them nameless. But seeing how I am in the thick of world building, I will probably list a few in the next post.
Depending on your genre of preference, this can be a sub-theme of your story. You find it a lot in your romance/erotica stories with heavy undertones to them. A lot of stories do add it in, mainly because that’s just the way we as humans have seen it in our world. How heavily you delve into this particular topic is up to you. Just know which genres lean more heavily on it than others and for different reasons.
One thing that might not ever make into the story. But if you are doing some type of space travel or creating another realm, description will become important. There is no denying that when the character is lightly explaining a plant or a cool and/or scary animal, that it can add depth to the scene you are writing.
I think this is pretty self-explanatory. It honestly can be wrapped up in geography kind of. Just like our planet has different weather patterns depending on the region, you should at least work out what the weather is like in this world. Does it rain every day? Is the rain that falls from the sky red like the blood of your protagonist enemies?
Does this world have technology that surpasses what we have here today? Or would you consider the technology to still be in the early 1800’s? This is a vital part of your story and should not be looked over, even if its a modern day romance. How do they communicate? Are the cars self-driving or do the fly? Robot Butlers? Simple things like this can either create an interesting world or leave a gaping plot hole in your story.
Once again, this is something that helps paint the picture that, depending on your genre can disrupt the story flow. Do the women only wear full-length dresses? Do they walk around barefoot? Are hats a thing or are is taboo to cover your head? Small details always matter and it shows in your storytelling.
This is a favorite of mine… but it’s also a big headache. You want them to be able to do everything, but if they can do everything with no effort it can lead to a boring story. How does the magic work? Do they need an object like an amulet or a staff, maybe a spell book? Does using magic cause them any physical strain, do they get tired after using it? Can it cause them to go crazy if they use it too much? Are they born with magic or can anyone learn it? There are so many combinations that you can try to show the good and the bad of using magic.
Creating a functioning government is crucial in world building. Mainly because a lot of stories have to do with something that the government does/do that is the catalyst that thrust your unwilling hero on their journey. Just remember no government is perfect and they always have an opposition waiting to unseat them. They may even get overthrown by your hero.
At some point in your story, you’re going to have to let your character stop and cry over a meal. They either have trouble finding food or the food they have is pretty horrible. Or you could be nice and let them eat with the king! Either way, you need to decide how the world feeds themselves. Is it transported from just one region? Do they only eat fish and bread? Does fruit exist? AND this one ties in with plants, animals, and geography! See how that worked.
Jobs play a big part of any world, even if your character is a handsome prince, he still has duties that he has to perform. Do most of your jobs fall under technology because your world is very advance? Is there a royal guard or an army and who is allowed to join? Farmers? Seamstress? How people make a living to support themselves is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Finally, the last piece of the puzzle! In some stories, this won’t be that important. You’ll find some stories this never goes past the grandparents. But, I am a true believer that figuring out the bloodline of your main characters is important, especially for fantasy stories. You need to narrow down the timeline and this is one way to help. There is some free genealogy software that can help you create this.
Wow, that ended up being a lot longer than how I planned it in my head. But if I helped you on your quest to build an awesome world, then it was worth. Later word lovers!