Basics of writing: World Building
Posted by Chris
This week in the basics of writing, we will be covering World Building. Well, world building within fiction anyway.
So what is world building?
As the name implies world building is a building of the world in which your story takes place. Setting the stage for the reader. Forging a world to get lost into.
So it’s like, the supporting details about the places the story takes place in?
Yes, and no.
World Building is far more than just a couple of lines that set the atmosphere. It does much more than just describe the difference between scenes. The goal is to make this land of fantancy feel just as impactful as the world in which you read the book from.
Which gets us to why it’s important.
Character dialogue is great inside a story. Epic conflicts, growth (physical and emotional), and accomplishments are all awesome to read. None of these and more, have any lasting impact without effective world building.
If you don’t believe that the place exists, how are consequences meaningful? Can you achieve something in your mind only? No, not really. Yet stories can make you feel accomplished, despite not really existing outside your mind. This is due to effective world building.
So we have covered the what and the why of this subject. Now let’s dive into the how.
This is something that is easy to mess up when starting to write. Books especially require well thought out world building to keep a reader hooked. This can be solved by trying to find natural ways for your story to answer some questions about itself.
Those questions could be like:
- How do people earn money in this area?
- What are common modes of transportation?
- What does the political scene look like?
- What do people eat?
- What are the species of this world?
And the list can go on forever. The point is, don’t be afraid to draw paralels and contrasts to our world. Don’t force it though, that can break emersion. For instance:
Say people can’t ride horses in this country. A poor way to explain that could be.
“It is illegal to ride a horse in this region. We’ll have to walk.”
That sentence doesn’t help develop more out of the world, rather it just places the obstacle and tells you people ride horses. A better way to do this would be:
“Riding horses in this region became illegal some time ago. It is due to the king becoming gravely injured while riding a horse as a child. It would be best if we simply walked instead”
You see the second does a few extra things (besides just increase the word count). It establishes a monarchy in the region. A passage time is implied, which builds a local history. It can be assumed that the ruler of this region is cautious, and wishes to keep his subjects safe (albeit in an overprotective way).
World Building answers questions the reader might not have known to ask. It keeps you thinking about the settings and characters within the story. These are key to keeping interest of your audience, and crafting an emersive world.
Well that’s all I have about the basics of writing when it comes to world building. Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.