Five things to kickstart your world building

How many of you have read a good book that had the most beautifully crafted fictional worlds around? I’m not talking the realistic fiction set in this time period, I’m talking Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia collection, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Roth’s Divergent trilogy, books like those. A story is only as good as the world it’s set in, and those ones in particular were perfected with so much detail.

In my own writing career (if you could call it that), I haven’t really strayed into fantasy or sci-fi or anything like that that would necessitate world building (creating a whole new world basically). But recently, an idea popped into my head that I haven’t worked on yet for one reason: I have to create a whole new world for it (and now a certain Disney song is stuck in my head). Sorry, ADD moment. Anyways, I have an app on my phone called A Novel Idea. Look it up, it’s been very helpful in this sense. I’ve had to create a map of the land, figure out how the government works, create a new way of schooling and add so many details to the way people live their everyday lives. I even have a running list of names that I believe would fit into the world. But the more I get into, the more interesting it becomes. I don’t want to make the government evil without reason, because behind (most) villains is a person who genuinely might be trying to do the right thing, just with wrong methods.

It’s definitely a new experience, but even so I would like to share some things for you to keep in mind if you ever find yourself starting from scratch with your setting.

  • Does their life resemble ours in any way (think dystopian like Divergent) or is it completely different (think fantasy like Narnia)?
  • If it does, then it’ll be easier, though you do have to tweak a fair few things depending on how far in the future things are and how much society has changed. If it doesn’t, then you’re in for a lot more work. That’s not a bad thing at all, but it’s gonna be a bit of time.
  • Keep in mind the terrain and the countries where your characters actually live. What is the weather like? The land? Is it flat and dry or hilly and rainy?
  • How does school work? Are children required? Is it a choice? Is there even school at all?
  • What governing system do your characters live under? Totalitarian? Democratic? Theocratic? Republican?

That’s just a few questions to give you a kick-start onto creating a world. As the ideas come to your mind, don’t hesitate to write them down, I know there’s been moments where I’ve either written something down and come back to realize I’d forgotten about it or not done so and forgotten important details. More on taking notes and recording details of your stories later, a school presentation calls.

Happy writing 🙂