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Just the Basics- World Building #1

World building is essential when you’re planning a fantasy or sci-fi novel. Especially if your story is set in another world.

In this blog post, I’m going to go over the basics you’ll need to start planning your world. For more depth and detail, you can watch this video here. There are links at the bottom of the page for more related content.

Let’s begin.

There are two ways to world build-

Top- down: Start big, finish small. Beginning with your continent, filter down through the countries, kingdoms, cities, towns etc, creating them with as much or as little detail as you feel you’ll need. It will take some time before you can start writing your novel, but your world will be better integrated.

Bottom-up: Start small, finish big. Start with your setting, give it as much detail as possible and then filter out to the neighbouring cities and towns, the kingdom, the country, the continent- giving fewer details the further you travel. You reach the point of starting your novel faster, but there might be inconsistencies.

World building is a massive undertaking, so I’m splitting it up into four different sections. This week, we’ll talk about Civilization, Geography, History and Climate.

Civilization:

  1. The Stage of human social and cultural development. Which is seen as the most advanced.
  2. The society, culture and way of life of a particular area.

A civilization isn’t really a separate aspect of world building- it’s the culmination of every building block you’ll use when creating your world. Everything we learn about world building is going to help you create your civilizations.

Remember that every aspect of world building affects another. Keep that in mind when creating your world.

History:

The easiest way to build your history is to ask yourself questions.

How was your nation established?

Has there been a war?

Have there been any environmental disasters?

Are there any relevant myths or legends?

Remember that with history, it’s the big events that shaped your civilization into what it is today. The ones that had affects on society and culture as a whole. The events that changed the way we thought, or acted on certain issues.

Geography:

The lay of the land. Here are some more questions:

Is your country on a continent or island?

What type of terrain?

Are there any landscapes?

Where are the oceans, and rivers?

Climate:

Your climate directly affects where your cities are built, and how your citizens live their lives.

Is your country hot or cold? A mix?

What are the seasons?

Plant and animal life?

Has the climate changed?

History, geography and climate, together will give you the land on which to build on. They are the foundation. They tell you how and why your civilization grew to what it is today.

Despite the fact that you’re essentially making up a world, there is a fair bit of logic involved to make it somewhat believable. If there’s anything that goes against the basics of building an Earth-like world, there needs to be an explanation within the plot as to why. Your readers will be less likely to question it if you do.

Map making

World building #1 worksheet

Join me next week where I’ll be talking about Culture, Government, Religion and Politics

Good thoughts and happy writing!

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