World building over beer

Your story is YOUR story. Doesn’t it sound like a marvelous free-for-all, especially when it comes to world building? Oh, how I wish it were only that simple. I’m a very visual person and love descriptions so much that I typically use double-adjectives, according to my CP. While you do want to leave some descriptions up to the reader’s imagination, you still want to be the ruler of your world and help your reader see what you see.

On a business trip to London with my husband, we had a conversation about my novel at a British pub. He was curious about the world I was building for my story. As I described the world aloud for probably the first time, the questions started pouring out. We changed some things, he asked pertinent questions that questioned my ideas. I liked the hard criticism especially when it makes me say, “Wow, I didn’t think about that.” I highly recommend discussing your world with someone in person because it really helps your world come alive

How to work on World Building:

  • Invite a guest into your world.
  • Discuss your world over beer (or your drink of choice).
  • Imagine yourself and your guest in your world and be observant of your surroundings.
  • Describe your world out loud, as if you were a tour guide, showing your guest your world for the first time.
  • Have an open mind and let them ask questions. I repeat. Let me ask questions.
  • Reflect on their questions (take notes). You don’t always have to implement every comment, idea or criticism that passes you.
  • Edit, revise and review!

Questions to ask yourself about your world:

  • Is it magical or realistic?
  • What is the time period?
  • What is the history of your world? Yes, you have to invent the past.
  • Do they have technology or not?
  • What is the language?
  • What sounds do you hear? Birds? Wind? Water?
  • What is the weather like? Cold? Hot?
  • What is the season?
  • What about the sky? The sun? The moon? The stars?
  • What is the landscape like? Trees? Beach? Mountain?
  • Are there structures, buildings?
  • What are the people wearing?
  • What is the government like? The law? The rulers?
  • How are people treated?
  • How does your MC fit there?
  • What about the other characters?
  • What is everyday life like there?

On crafting names:

  • As you craft names for places (and people), say those out loud.
  • Can you pronounce them yourself?
  • Write out how you would pronounce those names.
  • Research the meaning of words. (This is super important for all the obvious reasons!)

And finally, get ideas from other worlds and periods of history and twist it into what you want to see in your story.

“Stories start working on you in a thousand different ways.” ~ Orson Scott Card

One Comment
  1. michele

    I love this list. Especially the point about being able to pronounce your names. I would add make sure your names follow some consistent spelling rules as well, and the average reader would know those rules.

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