World building is the base of your fantasy novel. Any amount of imagined something will need to be built to ensure your world will not topple down if someone blew on it.
I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your world down!
You need to make a steady world and world-building websites might not always give you all the resources you need. Sometimes you have to figure some stuff out yourself and if you haven’t gotten there yet, don’t worry, I have you covered.
First, let me just get this out of the way. There are some fantasy world-building websites I’ve found helpful:
- Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions By Patricia C. Wrede
- 7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding
- Creating a fantasy world? Ask 10 questions
- Elements of fantasy: Writing a more magical story
- Worldsmiths: Fantasy World-Building Resource Book (A Wattpad book with various topics to consider for fantasy world building which, yes, I compiled. These are based off of my own world-building experiences and other’s experiences.)
So much! How can this one be any different?
Here’s the thing and this is my selling point; not every world-building website can tell you everything. Some things you just need to figure out that you need all on your own. It’s up to you to realize, “Hey, I didn’t know I should be thinking about this!”
Especially when it comes to making a solely imagined world sound like it could exist.
That’s a pretty big task 😛
The extent of how detailed you want to go is up to you, of course.
Enough rambling. You’ve put up with my
talking writing long enough. Here are some things which world-building websites may not always touch upon. Note that some of these will depend on what kind of fantasy story you’re writing and what is influencing the plot.
I don’t mean who the ruler of such and such country is or who he’s up against in what war. I’m talking about the current political deal in your story at the time the events of the story are taking place and how it came to that point.
In order to understand how something political is working now, we need to understand how it came to this point. I especially had to think about this for my World of Elgana books because whatever politics that were happening at the time of the story were heavily influenced by what was happening prior.
So ask yourself, why ever and how come.
Example: Why ever were Edglings excluded from the political power of the world? How come they didn’t retaliate then? Why didn’t the King do something? Why didn’t the Humans want to work with anyone else? How come Humans feel politically superior today?
No, I’m not talking about if the world has A.I. or if everything is archaic or partially built on steam tech.
Someone once told me not to “date” my writing. Don’t use Twitter or Instagram or iPhone because what if your book does get published and then those social medias become non-existent, people will come to associate your book with the 21st century early technology.
And then your book might sound old.
Even if you do come up with something that is similar to Twitter and Instagram or a phone that resembles an iPhone, you should be careful how you phrase it. It should be familiar enough people know what the real-world equivalent is or it should be described in a way that even if we can’t really imagine what it looks like, we at least know what people use it for.
If it’s totally original, it should also reflect the era your story takes place in. If it’s common for people to own it or for people to see it around town or the city, that should be made clear as well. If it’s not a common item, you should show why it’s not common (e.g., only rich people have it, your character had it in their possession from childhood, your character found it, etc.).
No, not talking about making your own conlag. I’m talking about swear words. Swear words can differ from the city to the countryside. They can change from culture to culture. Then can also differ depending on the age of your characters and the characters’ experiences. They can even change overtime. Take a look at these if you feel like it:
“Smothering a Parrot” and 51 Other Fun Victorian Slang Terms (PG), A Dictionary Full of Victorian Slang (PG)
You didn’t think I’d be talking about swear words, did you? 😉
I have a character that says “Shih tzus” when he swears. In this world there has been a shift in culture as many people from all around the world had to come and live together. A lot of words soon got lost and people started to develop a new set of slang terms which are often based on animal names.
Swear words seem like just a little thing, but it can really make a difference. Especially if your characters decide they’re going to swear a lot 😉
Up in the Sky
Look! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s Superman!
Seriously though, what is up in the sky in your world? Characters can look up and see any normal sky, but this is an opportunity for you to make the readers realize we are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
What is up in the sky? In The Gold of Charmteller, we are told we might not be on Earth
The evening was beautiful with stars speckling the sky like diamonds and there were the two moons… (The Gold of Charmteller)
Putting anything slightly out of the normal in the sky can really give someone a sense of the world you built.
What is considered as valuable? Is it money? Is it resources? Maybe knowledge? It’s good if you could have a moment where the character has to buy something from somewhere. We can get to see what the valuables of this world are. We can also get to see what is considered common goods and what is considered rare.
One of my worlds, milk is considered as rare and expensive. Copper is seen as valuable. We find this out when the character needs to go get some metals to trade in for food. The rarer the metal, but rarer food he can afford.
Those are some things that were on the top of my mind. World building doesn’t always mean making up some epic scenery and describing the heck out of nature or a fantasy species. You are building a world which won’t be much without the details I just talked about. Those little details may be essential for the world you create.