5 Top Tips for Realistic World Building

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A good writer creates believable fiction that incites interest from the first sentence. Stories must be convincing and resonate with the reader, especially if your story is fantasy or science fiction. They must have faith in your ability to conjure up interesting worlds from scratch, creating visual elements that appear larger than life but also seemingly real.

While the plot must be well-formed, there are many details to consider when world-building. If done correctly, these tips will help to bring your creative world alive.

  1. First, set the basics of your world. Consider the type of houses people live in, how they live day to day, and what they look like. Think about the essentials, the very foundations of society; the currency, the government and people’s opinions about it, popular pastimes and foods. Why does the society exist as it is? Make sure you understand why so that your world is credible. Strong characterization is essential and your reader needs to visualize these characters within your created environment.
  2. Now, indulge in the creative process. Think over your world creation plans before you start the actual writing process. If your world gets invaded by the villain, make detailed notes on why your world has been taken over by an evil being and consider what drives this character to treat the inhabitants cruelly or unjustly. These may be examples, but you must be aware of the reasons so you can portray them to your readers. Why is this the status quo of society allowed to continue? Who do you have within the framework of your story that can cause change?
  3. Now that we have the villain, spend time working on your main characters. Each one must have their own unique traits. With these characters in the societies you create, those locations will be more than one-dimensional too. Every aspect of the story must be multi-layered to incite interest. Reveal aspects of this multifaceted society a little at the time so the reader remains intrigued as their knowledge of your world increases.
  4. This is the one important point that separates amateur writers from great writers: show, don’t tell. This might work for any aspect of writing, but in a layered society, you need to write scenes vividly to turn your readers into active participants. Let them experience the warm sun and clouds that hang low over sharp stony peaks that pierce turbulent skies. If you have characters that lurk in the shadows, reveal their furtive movements, how they smell or sound as they mutter words of intent under their breaths. To be able to craft engaging content, you must know the fabric of your world as if it was real.
  5. Finally,  every word counts. Your words must progress the story. It’s not enough to tell the reader that the world exists; they must believe in it, and you must be able to use human emotions and scenarios to make the readers connect strongly to the story. Never add sections as filler while you struggle to take the plot to the next level. Re-read your words and assess your direction: have you gone off tangent? Is there an errant paragraph that tells the readers nothing? If so, be ruthless. Cut out those sections.

So, to recap: set the basics of your world, then layer it with elements you’d use to describe the natural world around you. Show us how the current status quo of that world came to be, and then set up characters that bring more depth to the story and the world around them. SHOW us, don’t tell us, what’s going on, and make every sentence count. All aspects must be carefully considered before you craft the story that will capture the attention of all who read it.

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