Fictional World Building


Image by Crea Park from Pixabay

Welcome once again to my little corner, and it is literally a corner, of the writing universe. Today I want to talk about the most important considerations for an author when world building.

What is World Building?

World building is the process of constructing an imaginary world in fiction. It tells the reader where the story takes place. Building a world is important when writing science fiction and fantasy. However, it is not exclusive to these genres. It conveys to the reader the kind of world in which the story takes place and how it looks, feels, traditions, laws, and politics. It should tell a reader everything about that world. This imaginary world may be the same as the one we're living in or completely different and alien to a reader.

History and Geography

What does this imaginary world look like? Does it differ vastly from Earth? Perhaps is it similar to Tolkien's Middle-earth, or CS Lewis' Narnia? Is this world surrounded by sea or space? Anything can be part of your world. It doesn't necessarily have to be familiar. An author imagines how they want their world to be. They convey this by how it looks and feels. It can differ vastly and even have its own language.


Is the world surrounded by mountains, forests or seas, or is it, like Terry Pratchett's Discworld, something completely different from what we know? Terrains can be familiar or something out of this world.

Image by Roy Snyder from Pixabay

Fictional Maps

Fictional Maps show where the story takes place. An author could make a point of showing on the map the towns, cities and terrain. The map can help a reader visualise a world, its terrain, who inhabits this world and the locations of key story points

Magic Systems or Science?

Does the story involve real science or physics?  Worlds can have a magic system of real or imaginary science. A creation of a solar system with stars and planets can be developed as part of that world. The magic system and/or science have to be believable for people to understand the story. It has to be solid. The magic should be consistent in every chapter in order for readers to believe in the story. There has to be a reason for how it works and why it works.

World Building Foundations.

World building is the foundation of a strong story. The story has to be believable and to achieve this it has to have a well-built foundation. Whether an author is a planner or a pantser (writing by the seat of one’s pants) the story foundations need to be well-founded.

A Sensory World

The imaginary world needs to be a sensory experience. Make use of the five senses. How does it smell, touch, feel, taste and sound? Sensory is a very important part of writing a story. It also helps to convey feelings.

Show not Tell

One of the biggies in writing is show, not tell. I'm sure you've heard it many a time. A world needs to be shown. There is no need to tell readers everything about it. No info dumping, it should speak for itself. The world needs to be revealed to the reader through the characters, particularly what they see. Nonetheless, they don't need to be spoon-fed.

Image by Merlin Lightpainting from Pixabay

  Who Inhabits the World?

What kind of people inhabits the world? What are the class systems, races and genders? Once again, all these are important factors in building a fictional world and making it believable to the reader.

Below you can find my YouTube video on this subject.