What makes good world building?

In this post, we go in-depth in what makes good world building.

Create a compelling story by evoking vivid images in the minds of your readers through detailed worldbuilding. Once the reader has entered your world, they can suspend their disbelief and participate in the story from beginning to end.

But how does one go about doing so?

Worldbuilding may appear intimidating, but it can be broken down into simple steps that make the process thorough and enjoyable.

It is critical to consider how the world you are creating will be unique to your story ideas. It is, however, equally important to consider how your world will serve the plot and affect the characters.

While the specifics of each fictional universe may vary, the characteristics that make them all the same, remain constant. There are five key components to any story that is worth honing:

What Makes Good World Building

1: GEOGRAPHY

To put it simply, geography studies the earth and its features. Think about important physical features like these as you design this landscape:

  • Boundaries: Where do your world's continents and countries (planets and solar systems) start and end? Remember that natural and manufactured borders are not always the same. The sizes and shapes of your world's territories should be different.
  • Most living things, real and made up, need water to survive. It's important to know where the water in your world comes from, like oceans, rivers, springs, lakes, and bogs. Think about how these water sources affect the land and people there.
  • Natural Features: As you made the borders and water sources for your world, you may have started to add things like mountain ranges and deserts. Now is the time to grow these landmarks and add plains, hills, forests, cave systems, and other natural features to your world.
  • Climate: As you work on the above, you should consider the climate. Which places stay hot or cold all year? Which experience some or all of the seasons? Are there bad storms or tornadoes in some places? How does the climate of a place affect the natural resources and animals that live there?

CULTURES & SOCIETIES

There are thousands of modern and ancient cultures and societies in our world, and each can give rise to a fictional version of itself. When creating the cultures and societies of your world, keep these five things in mind:

  • Power: Almost all societies have a set order of power. The government has a part to play in this. But don't forget the part that privilege, bias, and suppression play. Most power structures are based on gender, race, religion, sexuality, health, physical and mental ability, and beauty. Who will have power and honor in the cultures and societies of your world? How do these things decide who is in and out of society?
  • Government: How do the people in your made-up societies get things done? Do they live in a democracy, a monarchy, anarchy, or a dictatorship? Who makes the laws and makes sure that they are followed? What rights do citizens have, especially when participating in society and the government?
  • Religion: Laws and social norms are often directly affected by religion. If your world has religions, you should consider what the religion teaches, who (and how) it worships, and how its beliefs affect everything else in your world.
  • Art and Entertainment: Cultures are often shown by how people express themselves and have fun. What kinds of art are a big part of the cultures in your story? Who makes the art, and what does it mean? Which games, races, or sports are the most popular? Are there artists and entertainers who do this for a living? How do people use art and fun in their daily lives?
  • Relations: Cultures and societies don't live in bubbles very often. After you have made these parts of your story's world, think about how they might affect each other. How do different societies depend on each other for business? Which rules and laws are respected in one culture but hated in another? Which cultures often fight with each other, and why?

HISTORY

The past is essential to understanding the present. Therefore, consider creating historical occurrences that continue to affect the world in which your characters live, such as the following examples:

  • Power Shifts: Unrest on a social, political, or religious level almost always has far-reaching repercussions for the entire world. Are there any particular events from the past whose repercussions directly affect the lives your characters lead on a day-to-day basis or the adventures they go on?
  • Traumatic Events: Tragedy, such as battle, famine, or the spread of a disease, can also leave a sizeable imprint on history and the characters you create. These occurrences may cause a power dynamic to shift within your fictional world. Alternatively, they might affect laws, social norms, religion, social classes, technology, etc.
what-makes-good-world-building

MAGIC SYSTEM

Your world doesn't need to have magic. Still, there is no denying the prevalence of magic systems, extraordinary skills, and superpowers in fantasy and science fiction works. If any of these powers are going to be wielded by your characters, here are ten questions you'll want to ask yourself to design an efficient magic system:

  • Who in your fictional world has access to magic?
  • How does magic work? What is its scope of action?
  • Can magic be developed and controlled?
  • Does using magic come with a price? In what ways does it affect the user?
  • From where does magic originate? Where does it get its energy from?
  • Are tools like wands and staffs necessary to use magic?
  • What rules apply to magic? How do spiritual leaders feel about magic?
  • How is magic perceived in society? Is it revered, forbidden, or feared?
  • Are there various kinds of magic?
  • How can those who possess magical abilities be destroyed or subdued?

TECHNOLOGY

Technology can be just as complicated as using magic when creating a world. So whether you are basing the technology of your world on a specific era of human history or you are developing a world that is set in the future, here are ten questions to ask:

  • What modern tools are people using for communication?
  • What modern tools are people using to travel?
  • What role does technology play in people's daily lives?
  • What entertainment-related technologies are there?
  • What are the prices of common technologies? One who can afford them
  • What kind of technology is employed in battle?
  • What types of resources fuel popular technologies?
  • Who develops and controls how technology is used?
  • Does the government monitor or regulate its citizens using technology?
  • What effects does technology have on your characters' lives—both good and bad?

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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