As a fantasy writer and reader world building is very important to me (tip – world building can be done to whatever depth you need or want) so here are a few things to consider when doing world building. I’m firstly going to reinforce making a map of your country/continent which I spoke about in my previous TWP post (here)
I love maps, I’m pretty sure you can tell that. Even if you’ve made a map of your land I would highly advise making a map of the city, a map of the house, a map of the garden. Basically make a map. It helps me to figure out distances and how I’m going to describe a place, what options are open to me and what things could happen there.
Magic System (or Science I guess)
Another very important part of world building in a fantasy novel is the magic. Maybe people are just every lucky, maybe there are elemental powers, maybe there are amulets that can create illusions. It’s up to you. If you are writing sci-fi, historical, even contemporary (and of course fantasy) you have to figure out what level of technological development the area is at. This doesn’t have to have had at the same progress as Earth, maybe they have guns but not cameras. Again it’s up to you however you need to consider the effects of your changes.
Government and Legal Systems
Your government is going to have a big impact on your story. Are they corrupt? Are they actually trying to help? Are there elections? How are thing run? You have to know the processes and values of your world, the common trains of thought, things that are so different yet never questioned. These are what makes your world unique.
Animals and People
Which Earth animals are in your country can have a big impact on the feel of it. Are they exactly the same or are they slightly different? Are they completely different? Which ones are domesticated? Which ones are used for transport? Which ones are eaten? You also have to know the physical or moral differences between the different countries, races or species in your world because that will impact diplomatic choices and relationships.
Language and Slang
These are important as they will help you know how your characters speak. What terms (formal and informal) do they use for things that don’t exist in our world. Do they call things that we also have the same as us? What things do they have lots of names for (e.g. snow in a cold place, the sea or weather in a fishing village) what things don’t they have many or any names for (e.g. snow or rain in the desert). What do they use as curse words? What to they pray to?
Manners and Customs
What things are considered polite? What things are social faux pas? What celebrations do they have? What things are valued in this society. Knowing these things is important to make your world more authentic and to make it feel complete. Your world’s customs aren’t going to be the same as the city you live in so it is important to know and portray the differences.
Hopefully this has helped with your world building considering nanowrimo is well underway. Please let me know if you want to hear more about how I do my world building because I have a lot to say. I might end up doing a whole blog series on it.