View Full Version : World building-Some things to think about!

06-11-2013, 02:38 PM
Hello everyone! This is one of my first posts here, though I've been lurking quite a while. Today, I’d like to share some things worth thinking about when it comes to world building. Please be aware of the fact that I’m not any sort of published author; take this all with a grain of salt if you wish. My aim is to simply help you by making you think of things you may have previously overlooked.
This is not meant to be an overall guide to world building.
So let’s get to it.

#1-The world itself.
You’re probably thinking “Well duh!” but the world itself is a VITAL detail that is often overlooked in many ways. I’ve always found that creating a map first helps greatly with this aspect. So . . . being on a cartography website . . . go build a map ;)
Things to think about:
• Is it our Earth in a different timeline?
• Does your world even remotely resemble our world?
• Is your world a totally different world?
Got that down? Great! Now you’re ready to really sink your teeth in to the fun part.
#2-The people
Without people, your planet is nothing. I personally don’t go so far back as to detail in history the evolution/creation of my people, but you can if you wish. I tend to stick to about 10,000 years of history or so, mainly revolving around kings, alliances, battles, etc.

An often overlooked element of any story is the calendar.
How many months are in a year?
What are the names of the months?

Unless you're Tolkien, you might find it hard to create your own full language. However, you can probably create the words you need to move the story along.
Is there one commonly spoken language? (A trade language perhaps?)
How do the languages differ?
Is there a language that only royalty is allowed to learn?
Are orders issued by commanders in battle in a different language as to throw off the enemy?

#2A-The leaders
Unless your story takes place in some sort of hellish anarchistic world (best of luck if it does) you probably have at least one or two leaders. Remember that unless your leader/leaders were created by magic or some other sort of unnatural means, they have a history. They have parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins . . . you get the idea. When designing characters, I like to take a look at myself. What do I have? Well, I have:
Devilish good looks (heh heh, sorry I just had to.)
Remember that, unless your main character is some sort of divine deity, he/she isn’t perfect. Imperfections are what make a character interesting.

#2B-The people (continued)

So now you have your grand leader, be it a king, queen, or whatever you want. How did he/she rise to power? Did he/she assassinate the previous ruler? Was he/she simply lucky enough to be born into the right family at the right time?
Remember that if a ruler wants to stay in power for a while, they need an army. An army needs to be loyal. What are the benefits for the soldiers earned in exchange for their loyalty?

#3-Customs and habits
Customs are very important if you want your races to be believable. Is it customary to offer guests food/drink when they enter your home, or are they supposed to bring you something? Is it customary to tip the stable boy, or the knight’s squire?
How do the women behave as opposed to the men? Are they the quiet, home caretakers? Are they warriors? Are they allowed to be a knight of the king/queen?
Think about your main kingdom/clan/tribe or whatever you choose to write around. Are they powerful? Why or why not? Did something happen a few years ago, or a few thousand years ago to make them the way they are? Remember that typically the bloodline of the royal family spans for hundreds or thousands of years. Have there been betrayals in this time? Who/what lands have the royal families conquered in that time?

One of the defining characteristics of fantasy is magic.

Who has magic? Are only wizards gifted? Does everyone have a little in them?
What are the types of magic? Is there elemental, light (Paladin-like) shadow (necromancy?)
How do people generally feel about magic/each form of magic?
Is there a price for using magic? Does it slowly drain someone’s life/soul?
Is there a limit to how many wizards (or what you choose to call them) are in the world at the same time?
Can magic be stolen from someone?

Unless your characters are magic-wielding gods, there needs to be some rules.

What can one do or not do with magic? What is it possible to alter with magic?
Where does the magic come from? Within a person? Do they borrow the energies of the planet? Is there some divine god or goddess ruling over magic?
Are spells instant, or do they require some time to prepare?
Are sigils/symbols/ingredients needed to cast spells? (Chalk, different herbs, things of that nature.)

Are there social consequences for using magic?

Religion is a sticky subject, even in fantasy.

What is the name of the major religions?
Who are the gods/goddesses of said religions?
What are the rules of said religions? (Celibacy, strictly against magic, etc.)
What is the penalty for disregarding such rules? (Death, damnation etc.)
How to people generally feel about said religion? Do they love it, hate it, resist it?

That’s it for now. I will update it when I have more time. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your creations. Feel free to add in your own ideas.