How do I create a fictional world

Creating a world

Often as "Worldbuilding" denotes, represents inventing a fictional world forms the basis for many books, films and games. No matter how big and strange it gets: you should already have defined the cornerstones of your new world at the beginning of your writing process. That doesn't mean that the reader has to get to know them completely on the first page. The main thing is that you yourself know in which world your story takes place and which rules this world follows. Of course, not all points are important for all genres and stories, but you should know what your options are define your world.

The reader will most likely notice if you haven't put too much thought into it. This is of course more important in a longer epic than in a short story. In the following I will go through the most important pillars of the world building with you. You have probably already considered some or even all of these points. This often happens automatically while you are conceiving your story. It's best to write everything down so that you can refer to it at any time. Perhaps the following paragraphs can offer you some incentives to further develop your world.

 

Which age is most similar?

It often helps if you look at the Human history oriented - no matter if your over Aliens, People or Orcs writes. The technology that is available to the majority of the population is more likely antique, medieval, modern or futuristic? Take inspiration from earlier eras or let your imagination run wild. It is only important that the reader knows what to expect in the world, what your characters take as normal and whether the spaceship behind the main character's house is something special.

You can of course always add new elements or mix eras, as long as the reader understands what to expect. You can of course break these expectations. You can read more about this in my post about exciting twists. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date. But first let's continue with the map.

It's best to think about it in connection with the age possible laws and moral concepts of your world to. These help you and the reader to understand what your characters might think in certain situations and how their environment reacts to their actions.

 

What does the world map look like?

If you already have a map of the world, that's great - one sketch is enough for that Worldbuilding often already. The areas that are in the focus of the story should, at best, be particularly detailed. That also helps me personally when writing and assessing Travel times in the world. How much of your map is actually traveled within your story is initially less important.

The more work you put into creating the world map, the more tangible your world can feel. Don't worry, the map doesn't have to be accurate to the meter. A rough division of areas and placement of important points is usually sufficient.

You can find out how to go about creating your own world map in my post on this topic.

 

Which peoples and factions are there?

You probably already have a lot of ideas here. Write down if there is different peoples there how People, Elves, Aliens and everything else you can think of. Life, for example People and Elves together or separately? What kind of Factions and nations is there? Is there war between them, are they fighting a greater threat together, or is your world consistently harmonious? Relationships with each other can have a huge impact on your characters' actions and make the world a lot more interesting at the same time.

Relations between nations can also change over the course of history. That may add extra tension to the story if it's done correctly. So don't just think about the individual characters, but also about the larger groups, their motivations and peculiarities. This makes your world livelier and this in turn usually makes writing the story easier for you.

For example, don't let yourself be limited by the classic fantasy peoples, but create new ones if you want. If you do, however, keep in mind that your readers may not have a picture of this new people in their heads. Then it is entirely up to you to let this creation come to life in the mind of your readers. "Orcs" usually just have less need for explanation than the new ones "Schmorks".

By now you may already have enough to move safely in the world. But there are no limits to your imagination. You can introduce a lot more things into your world, specify them and let the reader immerse themselves even deeper. Here are some examples of more depth.

 

What has already happened in your world?

Your story probably doesn't start at the beginning of time. Think about what happened before, if you haven't already. How did the factions come about, what did your characters do before and what are the most important historical events? You tell yourself old legends? How far do they go History records back? The more you yourself about that Past of your world know the better.

The reader doesn't need to be bombarded with all of this information, of course. Maybe some things are just for you. I love the past of mine "Kados" imaginable, even if my characters in the book don't know much about them - the Cadon probably didn't take historiography that seriously. But nevertheless there are always opportunities to let the little things flow into the story and to give the reader the feeling that there is more.

I wrote a post about pictures in books and explained there that sometimes it is better not to tell everything right away. In the worst case scenario, it will even bore the reader. You can do this occasionally, but it is usually better if the reader asks himself something before he gets the answer. Of course, that doesn't mean that you should keep the reader in the dark for as long as possible at all costs. It's hard to always tell when the time is right. The main thing is to find a middle ground and neither get an “I don't understand anything” nor a “This is slowly becoming too much for me”.

Ultimately, it is important that your world has a past and that you know it. How far you let them flow into the story is up to you.

 

Do i need a magic system?

Magic can be an accessory or a central element in your story. But if there is magic in your book, then you need a system. You should determine what this magical power can and cannot do. What can the greatest magician do and what can the smaller ones do? Who and what is magical and what challenges could there be in learning and understanding magic? Does it cost the magician mana, life force or willpower if he wants to do magic? What can you do and do with magic?

A Set of rules offers a good framework for the possibilities and challenges of your characters. If you don't lay down any rules and accordingly don't let them flow into the story, then the reader will find it difficult to understand whether the magical hero is facing a great threat or can clear it out of the way with a snap of his fingers. Don't forget: weaknesses make characters more believable, more interesting and more likely to create a bond. If you want to learn more about the details of character creation, I recommend my post on deep character development. The most important tips are summarized there.

The more thoughts you put into your magic system, the better you can usually work with it. Make sure that the reader can gauge what is possible. Then you can surprise him even better. Because a hero or villain can only achieve the impossible when it is clear what is normally possible.

In "The Legend of Kados" I don't use a magic system, but the principle can also be applied fictional resources, technologies and races apply. It is simply important to define properties, possibilities and limitations so that you can work better and the world is understandable for the reader. You can use a points system and work with numbers or just set rough guidelines - the execution is entirely up to you.

 

How bizarre can my world get?

Your imagination are actually no limits set. If you want to create a completely chaotic or consistently incomprehensible world, then you can do that. This can work in some cases. In most cases, however, your world should follow a few rules. Especially if you can believable fantasy worlds want to create, harms one a certain amount of down-to-earth attitude Not. Don't be afraid to step into reality - not everything has to be new and unknown. As an author, you can quickly get lost in creating an increasingly abstract world in which no stone is left unturned. At a certain point you should step back again and ask yourself whether you might leave a few familiar elements to the reader.

In most fantasy and also sci-fi worlds, for example, people walk around on their two legs. That is understandable and makes sense. Of course, they could just as well fly, teleport, or roll around, but is that alienation really necessary? That's not to say that there is no way your characters are allowed to fly - that was just an example. But even such a simple example immediately raises many questions that you may need to explain. What do the buildings look like? How high and how long can they fly? Why can they do that at all?

That can be fun and make sense - but the more so foreign elements one accepts into his world, the more complicated everything can get. As an author, you can really get lost in such things. Worse still, you might lose focus on the story. In most cases, it is this that first brings your own world to life and keeps the reader on the book. I just want you to know that you don't have to reinvent every aspect of your world. It's good when you can known elements finds again. You don't have to explain it in great detail - that saves a few lines in case of doubt and you will surely have a lot of other exciting information that you can weave into the story instead.

 

You set the rules yourself

You have surely noticed that you can really define every aspect in your own world down to the smallest detail. Often the world evolves during the writing process, you have new ideas and maybe even change a few things. Just make sure that you don't include contradicting information in your story unless it is part of the concept. Of course, you can design your world as you want - after all, there are no rules.

I hope my tips will help you a little further in your creative process. If you have any questions or would like me to go into more detail on a topic, write to me at [email protected] or on social media (@stubenvogel).