The Basics of World Building

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When you are writing fiction, you need to work on your world building. It’s about the place where your characters live and go on quests; the place where everything happens. It also covers everything your characters wear, eat, and enjoy along with the set of rules that govern the world.

Where to start?

It’s best to start from the very basic, that is to decide on the genre. Once that’s set you can work on the premise while taking into account the overall theme of your work.

A premise is just one short paragraph narrating your world so you can get a feel of it. Remember, your world doesn’t have to be huge to be interesting. It can be as small as a lush paddy field where villains come to ponder about their past deeds or an imaginary town where things seem surreal.

Here’s an example:

“Kabutan is a smallish port village on the far western edge of Java. It is perpetually covered in thick fog, hence its name. The village is surrounded by a unpassable stretch of thick forest likening a dragon both protecting and isolating the village from the outside world. Despite the gloomy surrounding, the dwellers are always vibrant and energetic. Kids play all day while waiting for the adults coming back from hunting pirates for their bounties.”

Avoid info dump

You may be tempted to reveal everything from the get-go or dedicate a chapter where everything is explained. Please refrain yourself from doing so. A good world building is like a steady drop of water filling a bucket. Give enough for your readers to understand what’s going on, and no more. As the story unfolds, reveal the details bit by bit.

Look for inspiration

Still stuck on how you should approach things? Grab an idea or two from your favorite books. How did the authors go on with the world building? Take note on what made you go awestruck on how brilliant they were.

Be consistent

It’s easy to contradict yourself as you write. As the story progresses, you may forget a thing or two. Little mistakes add up and your readers will notice them even when you’re not.

Keep note of where everything is, what laws govern your characters’ interaction with the world, and what role does each element in the world has in the story.

Draw a map

Try to draw a rough map of what your new world would look like. It will help greatly in visualizing your it. You can draw it on a piece of paper or your computer.

As your characters move from places to places, having the map in front of you help to keep things consistent too. For instance, if your main character is gazing to the eastern side of the village while the beach is on the western side, then you know you cannot say that he’s staring at an unfamiliar ship closing in.

World building is a staple in story-telling. As a writer, you should practice it often. Why not start by describing your surroundings. Be detailed that yet add something obscure about it just to get your creative juice flowing.