World building is just like building cities with Lego. Except it's ten times more difficult.
That's it. That's the end of the chapter.
But, no, for real! Let's talk about building worlds in our stories!
Normally, people think world building applies to big, fantasy worlds. Worlds with dragons and faeries and squids that know how to use swords. However, that's not at all the case! Every story requires some form of world building and description; after all, each story is set in a world! And we need to build this world so that it works for our narrative.
Even if your story is set in New York City, and it's just a rom com, you have to remember that not all your readers are from New York City. So, you have to assume your readers are from some underground tunnel in Antarctica, and you have to know enough about the setting to adequately immerse your reader into your setting.
Now, a few people have told me that they never know what world building entails. Honestly, this is so valid. It can be super overwhelming to introduce worlds to your story -- especially when it is a brand new world, with new concepts and systems. Where do we start? What do we need to think of before we write?
In this chapter, I'll throw some ideas at you about the things you should consider when creating your world. Then, we will discuss some overall advice.
First of all, when creating your world, these are the things to consider:
- Who is the governing body? Who is in charge? What are their boundaries?
Imagine a countries run by a dictator. Or just imagine... countries that already exist on our planet that I am too afraid to name.
Just kidding! I have no fear.
Imagine North Korea.
Arrest me. Now. I dare you.
Anyways, now imagine a world that would be run by me. I would be very focused on freedom of speech and inclusivity, as well as kindness and story-telling. And lots of dancing noodles. And marshmallows. Squids with swords.
Now, imagine a world if you were the governor. What would that look like?
What about if your worst enemy was the leader? Or your sibling? Or that one teacher who gave you a bad grade because you didn't agree with her opinions on pillow cases?
Completely different vibes. So, leaders are important! That, or having no leaders -- also very important difference.
- Is there magic? Who can use it? What is stopping the magic from taking over? What are the magical boundaries?
Always make sure you have some element of realism to your magic. Can people just fly non-stop without getting tired at all? Can every single person in your world shoot fire from their hands, and yet somehow, no dangerous person has burnt down their own home? You have to think about the limits and boundaries to your magic.
- What is the environment like? The setting? The weather? Are there seasons and natural disasters? What are the natural resources? How is the land used?
This one is pretty straight forward! What does your world look like? Is it based off something? I know lots of authors like to take inspiration from real life countries that are underrepresented, or they like to take a slice of history and create this into a new world. What does your world look like, if I stepped inside it? What would my five senses experience?
- What jobs are there? What jobs are valued?
Imagine a world where dentists are the most important and valued job in the world. Imagine how shameful it would be to have rotting teeth in those worlds. Or, alternately, maybe dentists are so valued and hard to come by that no one has nice teeth.
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