Worldbuilding! What's in a world? A LOT. Ultimately, you can read posts like this all day, but many ideas might not come to you until you sit down and start writing. Still, there are plenty of things to think about beforehand, especially if you require a solid foundation before you start writing a story. Here are a few things that rumble around my brain when it comes to creating worlds.
- Think about your magic system. This one is hard for me, because I don't know all the bits and pieces of my world until I write the book. Then I go back with knowledge in-hand and revise. But you still need a general idea of the rules of your magic system, its limits and costs, and its availability across your world. Just remember that too much planning on this part can possibly create boundaries that come at an expense to the story. So a little freedom might help.
- Language: And I don't mean spoken language, although that's a given. In my novel, The Witch Collector, the ancient language is Elikesh. It's spoken completely different from the common tongue. It's also how the witches in my story create magick, and my heroine, who was born with the inability to speak, uses a hang language to communicate AND build her magick. So yes, language in that sense is critical to grasp. But also your story language. Consistency and uniqueness. Words that make your story YOURS and not like everything else. I have a background in history, so I pull from that knowledge for setting and word choice. I wanted my books to feel familiar and yet foreign at the same time. Word choice is so important. I can't stress it enough. Pay attention to those types of details when you read other books. They're what make a world come to life. Don't call it a glass bottle if it can be a cruet. That type of thing.
- History and Lore: Every culture has a history and their own lore. Consider what your world's history and lore and legends might be. A fun exercise is to sit down and put yourself in your main character's shoes and point blank ask them what their world was like 100 years ago, 500, 1000. And just free write. It's an amazing experiment. Your brain will likely give you a great background to begin with.
- Religion, Society, and Politics: Who worships who? Who doesn't worship at all? What is society like at large? How do people trade, source food, clothes, etc? What are the world's politics? Who rules? How do they rule? This list can be long, and again, I advise letting your creativity guide you after you have a fairly solid understanding of how the world works.
- Consider diversity. Writing a diverse world can be a little intimidating, because if you're like me, you don't want to do any harm. You want the world in your stories to look like the one you live in, but more so, like the world you WISHED you lived in. We CAN create worlds with cultural, sexual, and gender diversity, we just need to do it well. In my fiction, I write characters of all stripes, and I wanted to have a world where being something other than cishet isn't taboo or sinful or any other negative labels that get painted on members of the LGBTQ+ community in our everyday life. Instead, they live, love, and fight like everyone else, and everyone else thinks nothing of who they kiss or don't kiss at night. Being LGBTQ+ is part of the norm instead of the exception, and it's respected. I also color my world. And again, I don't make being white the default. If you only ever describe the skin tone of people of color, then you're actively saying that white is the default and needs no clarification. So be careful, do your research, and use sensitivity readers, but please consider diversity.
Good luck and have FUN!
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