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Worldbuilding and World Development
Maybe you lived among elves and hobbits in Middle-earth.
Perhaps you glimpsed a Cheshire smile in Wonderland.
…Or feared the Wights in Westeros.
However you made the journey from Reader to Writer, you probably fell in love with some pretty amazing places along the way. Places so believable they may have shared space in your mind’s atlas with your own childhood home.
It makes no difference whether you are building a brand-new multiverse, or simply a sleepy one-grocery-store town. The heart of your world, as well as its believability, live in the details.
The details of your setting: the food, animals, and descriptive beauty of your destinations are just as much a part of telling your story as the narrative. If you don’t take the time to get to know your own world, it’s going to fall flat.
I’ve heard that J.R.R. Tolkien had created extensive designs and plans for Middle-earth long before he ever got to work writing The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien was a lover of history and ancient cultures before he was an author, and it is clear from his books he was just as invested in the history, genealogy, and culture of his people and places as he was his story.
Sure, he could have written a story about a man named Frank who throws a magical ring into a volcano. But would the journey have been near as magical, or believable, without the stunning landscapes and quaint villages? Sans rich, believable characters, and creatures?
Read through these 100+ Questions about worldbuilding in the Best- Ever Worldbuilding Questionnaire.
Hopefully, this will give you some ideas about the kind of things to consider when worldbuilding.
Remember, you don’t need to know everything about everyone who has ever lived in your world.
Also, your character doesn’t need to know everything, (hint: they shouldn’t. Do you know everything there is to know about the world you live in?) nor does your story need to disclose everything. But it is amazing how easily things fall into place when you understand the world around your characters and how it affects them.
Johnny run out of gas?
~ Is there a station nearby, or is the closest one in the next galaxy?
Emma got shot protecting her love?
~ Does she go to the E.R., the Shaman, or is she, like all characters in her world, destined to die from superficial wounds?
Christopher stole a plane to escape his pursuers?
~Does he have pilot’s experience, or does everyone know how to fly here because the only transportation is planes?
Alright, now that you’ve got some more to think about, go get writing!
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More in the How To Write A Novel Series:
What do you take into account when worldbuilding?