In my previous post, Worldbuilding I rambled on a little about what worldbuilding is, mentioning, in passing, a few essential elements that are required to make your story world feel real.
However, there is a little more that goes into creating a whole world out of nothing than that, and I thought I would write down one or two elements that are – at least in my opinion – required for constructing an imaginary reality for your characters to inhabit.
For me, there are two types of detail when it comes to creating a story world from scratch. There are the ‘large’ details – the most important information about your world – and the ‘small’ details – the not so relevant information, or the information that the reader would not miss if you left it out. As I’ve said before, I am not an expert and this is just my own opinion of what is and is not important, but it should give you an idea of some of the things you need to think about.
Who runs your world? Is it split into separate countries with different rulers, or is there just one who rules over the whole world? And what kind of a ruler are they? Are they fair and just or are they evil and cruel?
What is the geography like in your story world? Are there several continents, one large continent or several small islands surrounded by water? Are there mountain ranges? What is the largest lake or longest river in your world?
What sort of society makes your world go round? Are the people technologically advanced? Is your society a democracy? Is it a peaceful society?
Does your world have many religions or any religion at all for that matter? Are the people of your world as divisive about religion as they are in our world? How do the people of your story world think it was created? What do they think their purpose in life is?
Is science important in your story world? Do the people rely on the laws of physics or is it a magical world? Do ghosts exist? Are vampires, witches, and werewolves prevalent in your story world?
What do the people, including your characters wear? What are their clothes made from and where do they buy them? Or do they make their own?
What type of food do your people eat? Is your world an agricultural one where people grow their own food?
What sort of money system does your world have? Does it even have one at all? Do people barter for what they need?
What type of buildings populate your cities? What materials are they made from? Do they all look the same, or are they all made of different building materials. How are they built, by people or by machines?
Remember that although these things may be important for you to know about your story world (they also may not be – your story world may have none of these things), you do not necessarily need to put them all in your story. Knowing everything about the world your characters live in, down to the minutest detail can help you when you are setting your scenes. It might also be helpful for you to draw a map of your world to give you more of a visual reference.
These are just some essential elements of the world building process that make up the backdrop of your story, and these are just the ones I start with. You might start with different things, or you might not plan your world out at all. Some people do not. I do think it is easier to have some sort of ‘world outline’ that you can reference when you are describing your characters’ surroundings.
Once again, I seem to have gone on a bit, but as always I do appreciate you taking time to read my words so thank you for that.
Until next time,
© 2017 GLT
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