MPL Writers Group

The World Is Yours…To Create!

Victor Hugo, author of notable classic works such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, once remarked “A writer is a world trapped inside a person.” He is not wrong whatsoever. Most writers daydream figuratively about their inner world(s), and this had led to guides and analyses of how to create a world and each writer’s process for creating their own world(s).



The worldbuilding I am referring to is primarily in the fantasy/science-fiction realm. They can either stand side-by-side with the real world or they can be completely imaginary with their own rules and quirks. The world can even be an “alternate history” of events that happened differently, or if fantastical/sci-fi elements were introduced and radically altered the course of human history. Of course, even non-fantasy/sci-fi can include worldbuilding, with even fictional towns and countries that resemble real world equivalent towns and countries being featured in the story.

It is not easy crafting a unique world but what sets good worldbuilding apart from bad worldbuilding is the storyline, solid writing, and the characters that populate the world. The right story and characters can help writers craft a world that readers would want to venture into. 

One way for effective worldbuilding is drawing from real-life locations and cultures. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels for example draw from real-world cultures such as medieval Britain (Westeros), ancient Rome (Valyria), and the Mongolian Empire (Dothraki). Inventing strange customs also helps draw the reader in (For example, in the Harry Potter novels, everyone is afraid of saying Voldemort’s name because of how terrifying the villain is) and immerses them into the worldbuilding. 

As a side note, while it is acceptable to make a world based on the Middle Ages in Europe, keep in mind that a lot of fiction has gone down that road and this worldbuilding has developed its own tropes and clich├ęs. A key tip is to not only make the world you are creating different, but also to make it yours to where readers can recognize the world based on its uniqueness and whoever created it. Same can be applied to space opera stories. It never hurts to draw inspiration from works you love, but it is also important to make your own mark and create the most unique world possible to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The most important aspect of the worldbuilding comes with logic: list the rules and laws. Describe the inhabitants’ governing system, the magic system, how technology in the world works, if there are more than humans that populate the world, and so forth. Be sure to set up boundaries to help with realism and make the world believable. How do characters communicate? Is it with languages based in real life or is it something entirely fictional? What is the weather and environment like? Are natural disasters common? Do research on real-life languages, weather patterns, and other aspects of life and bring them into your own story with your own twist (with logically sound explanations, of course!).

If there is anything that makes worldbuilding effective, it is the characters. The characters you create for your world are the ones that readers will follow so character development is key. How does the world affect how they grow up, or their current status? Are they rich or poor due to the world they are in? What are their goals based on the world they live in? This also relates to another tip: don’t go too deep into the worldbuilding. The more you focus on the worldbuilding, the more you get tied up with the rules related to the world. It takes time away from the actual writing but also creates a rigid system of rules that can hinder the plot. The main plot and its characters come first and you need to allow yourself as much freedom as possible to make necessary changes to the story and the world, if need be.

There is no right or wrong way to build a world as long as the main story, its character, and its plot are engaging and makes the reader want to visit that world again.



Additional Resources:

Kindlepreneur – 15 Worldbuilding Tips for Writers

Masterclass: 10 WorldBuilding Tips

Writer’s Digest – 6 Tips for World-Building in Your Fantasy

Now Novel – World Building Tips: Writing Engaging Settings