Worldbuilding 101

One of the many important aspects of storytelling is world building. When done properly they can evolve into a tome or volume of their own. Simply think of your favorite author who released a sourcebook or atlas of some sort after completing a nine part epic saga. More likely than not the bulk of this was finished before the first novel went to the publisher. Also just as likely, many revisions as well as additions are made after completion. However, the fact remains worldbuilding is essential.
Take this into consideration, it is better to have more information than you need than less. After all you can always leave out details as you wish. Another factor to take into consideration is your story must make sense. If a dwarven army is on the march, you should know how long it would take to get to their destination
(if only to determine whether to elapse the journey or describe it in detail). In order to accomplish this, you should have a basic map (with bodies of water, settlements and other landmarks) to show what they’ll encounter along the way. A detailed topographical map isn’t necessary, but it will help as will meteorological data (if you once described an area as rainy,it won’t due to have characters dying of thirst; unless a warlock thought that was the perfect place to cast a drought spell as characters might forego carrying excess water). Knowing your world will explain the actions of your characters. More importantly,it will allow you to explain these actions to yourself, allowing you to plot (strong hint) the path they will take in a way they could realistically be expected to behave.
Once the physical environment has been chosen, you can now tackle the cultural and political and economic aspects. The physical environment determines what sort of people thrive and this will determine culture and invariably religion. Take Presbyterianism, started in Switzerland and the Confederation of the Rhine, it is a denomination that speaks to the mountain peoples of the world and quickly spread to Scotland and now has many adherents in Korea as well. It stresses hard work and that man is deserving of little, a fine survival tactic where the terrain is rugged and the resources sparse. Furthermore, the isolated nature of the Scottish Highlands led to a proud and independent clan culture. A culture which would give rise to a kingdom that would be absorbed by and a driving force behind the military might of the British Empire. A similar phenomenon would occur in Korea, after Japanese occupation the Korean military culture would transform that of Japan leading to the adoption of the curved sword. The only difference between a gum and a katana is that the former is inscribed in Korean and the latter in Japanese. Swiss pikemen from the independent canons would not only fight off the Austrian Empire, but would also determine the fate of kingdoms selling their services as mercenaries. Their austere lifestyles allowed them to be disciplined soldiers and likely led to the large amount of capital in their banks to this day (both the ability to earn and save).
I hope this has illustrated the benefits of world building. I will post more on this topic at a later date. I am also available, to design a world for you, e-mail GHWright.author@yahoo.com for a quote.

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One thought on “Worldbuilding 101

  1. Take Star Trek and Star Wars two very developed universes. A recent sfgate article by Alyssa Pereira sheds light on the level of devotion both series fans possess, although this is not the point of the article. It actually goes on to discuss the grammatical precision of both groups as I summarize below.
    A 3.6% margin (98.2% for ST vs. 94.6% for Star Wars) a clear lead. Star Trek uses much morecomplex terminology. It requires knowledge of grammar as well as science to follow.
    Regarding Star Trek fans discussion of Star Wars at a rate nearly four times that of Star Wars fans stems from the fact that at the core, Star Trek is a story of exploration. It is a tale of physical exploration to fulfill mankind’s desire for adventure and to expand his general knowledge base; where Star Wars focuses on philosophical and ethical dilemmas coupled with a fast moving plot. Essentially using the moral fortitude of the characters to explain their often violent courses of action .
    Basically Star Trek fans are compelled to look outward while Star Wars fans tend to search within.
    This is proof that you must prepare to have not just characters, but a world as detailed and nuanced as the one we live in.

    Like

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