Writing & Blogging

How To Build a World Like a Pro

When you write a fantasy or sci-fi novel, you generally need to build a world to go with it. I’m doing this right now for Novel 3, and there’s a lot that goes into it. This process is called world building, and it is exactly what it sounds like: creating your own world for a story. Even if your world is very similar to the current one, it can be a lot of work because you need to decide how things work, what’s different and what isn’t, etc. But it’s also a lot of fun! And it’s necessary to get it all done before you start writing because if you run into questions or issues that you haven’t considered, it can derail your productivity.

If you're writing a sci-fi or fantasy novel, you probably need to build a world in order to succeed. This is called world building, and these are the resources I use to build my own.

Notebook

Why a notebook? This way all of my notes are in one place. I have a different section for each element of this world, and by having sections, I can easily find something when I’m writing.

What sections are there? In mine I have setting, characters, magic (because my fantasy world has magic), government, culture, words, plants & animals, and other. If you’re doing something along the lines of LOTR, maybe you would have more sections on the different types of creatures.

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Worksheets

Worksheets are great because they help you work through the different elements of building a world. There are some aspects that you might think of one element of it but you really need to know all of the other elements. For example, what’s the government like? Not just the type of government, but are there parties? What are the controversial issues within it? How involved are the average people? These are the questions the worksheets can help you answer other than what type of government there is.

I’ve gotten a lot of worksheet from E.A. Deverell, who makes worksheets more weeks. All of the world building ones are here. There’s everything from history to rites and rituals.

Looking to do some brainstorming? Check out these worksheets from Mackenzie Butts.

Vivien Reis has a whole big post about world building – with a workbook of worksheets!

If you really need to get to know your world, check out this series of worksheets from Tanya Gold.

And last but not least, here is a list of world building worksheets from Jessica Cauthon.

All of the resources you need to world build like a pro.

Other Resources

Kristen at Well-Storied has loads in general. Check out her post An Introduction to World-Building.

Now Novel has a big long list of websites to check out if you’re building a world.

Little Novelist wrote a fairly general post called The Art of World Building, which is great is you’re not familiar with it.

Want to build a map of your world? Check out this post called Worldbuilding by Map on a site called Fantastic Maps.

Similarly, if you’ve building a fictional city, check out these questions to ask yourself from Quill Pen Writer.

The Invisible Author wrote a great post about creating fictional cultures, which is definitely important when world building.

On a much more specific scale, here is why the details of world building are important and which ones you need to know.

What are your tips for world building?

Like this post? Check out:

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  • These are great. World building is the most difficult and it shows in whether a book has a greatly developed world or not.

    • Thank you! And I agree, which is why I’m working so hard on it before I start writing. It’s definitely difficult, but luckily it’s also a lot of fun!

  • Since my life is “simple” and so is that of my associate, we find writing fiction from REAL LIFE experiences makes the world building a bit easier. But over the past 5+ decades we did journal heavily which also makes the creations less challenging