What is world building in books and writing?

In this post, we go in-depth in what is world building in books and writing.

What is World Building?

When you make up a world or universe for the sake of a story, this is called "worldbuilding." Creating a world that makes sense and is interesting to read about is an important part of writing fiction, especially fantasy and science fiction.

How do you make a good world? Good worldbuilding tells an interesting story with well-developed characters and sets the story in a world that is different from the real world in interesting ways. Good worldbuilding is clear and connected to the story's plot, characters, and main ideas.

Readers will expect more or less worldbuilding from you based on the subgenre you write in. For example, an epic fantasy novel should have more world-building than an urban fantasy book, a video game about World War II, or a short science fiction story.

Why is World Building Important?

World building is essential because:

  • It's fun for both you, as the writer, and your readers.
  • Any story, including its plot and characters, will be better with good world-building.
  • When you build a good world, you set important expectations about the time, the people, the laws, etc.
  • Many readers need to be able to picture your world to get into a book.

You must build a world in science fiction and fantasy because readers expect you to. Therefore, they will be disappointed if the story's world isn't fleshed out enough.

Every type of fiction can use a good world-building process to improve its stories.

For example, in a story that doesn't involve magic and takes place in a small town in New Hampshire, worldbuilding might include things like:

  • How people got along at the county school
  • Bringing up the town's only grocery store
  • Laughing about how small the park is
  • telling the history of a town
  • Talking about the people in a town

8 Tips to Guide Your Worldbuilding Process

Some authors combine real-world settings with fantastical elements. In contrast, others create fictitious universes with their own set of physical laws and internal logic, as well as populations of made-up races, creatures, and other species.

Finally, there are some questions about worldbuilding that you can answer (if they are relevant to your narrative) to help you along the way, regardless of how you choose to go about creating your world:

1. Choose where to begin. Choose the part of the world you're most excited to learn about, whether it's the people's language or the post-apocalyptic landscape.

2. Write down the laws and rules. The people who live in this world you've made will have their own lives. How do they run their country? Who runs the show? Do people in this world use magic? Who can use it if that's the case, and how strong is it? Setting limits helps make a world look and work more like the real world.

3. Set up the kind of world you want to live in. Choose a genre. Is this a dystopian or fantasy book (or both)? Does it happen on our Earth or in a different world? If you know this, you'll be better able to figure out the tone and mood of your world.

4. Describe the surroundings. How is the weather today? What impact does it have on the world or planet? Do natural disasters occur? Is there extreme weather? What natural resources are available in this location? How do people make use of the land? Setting up the environment and how it affects the life within it can be a helpful detail in creating your world.

5. Establish the culture. What do the people of this universe believe in? Is religion present? Is there a deity? Do they have any religious rites? What are they celebrating? Give the characters who populate this location a meaningful existence by giving them a meaningful existence.

6. Make the language clear. How do the locals exchange messages? Exists a universal tongue? Any "bad words" that are forbidden to use? Knowing what is appropriate to say and what is not in your world can be a good place to start a fight.

7. Find out about the past. How long has this place you've made been around? There haven't been any world wars, right? Are there enemies between the countries in your world? Is there more than one race? Is there only one bad guy? By telling your world's history, you can give it more depth and make it feel more real.

8. Use other works as inspiration. Read the works of famous authors again to get ideas. Don't steal ideas, but look at the work of other fiction writers to see how they build their worlds.

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.


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