5 Tips for World-Building


This Sunday, I will be giving a talk on world-building at Prospero’s Bookshop. If you’re local and would like to attend, click here for tickets. The event is titled “Get Lit” and is put on by a local literary magazine called the Blue Monday Review. For this week’s blog post I thought I would give you a short teaser and share with you a few of the tips that I am going to be divulging in my talk this weekend.

World-building is a complex and pivotal step in the writing process and it can truly make or break your story. I tend to think of world-building in two forms. The macrocosm and the microcosm. If you want to know more about that, you’ll have to attend the event on Sunday. 🙂

Without further ado, here are some quick things to keep in mind as you build a world for your characters.

  1. Our world is complex. Therefore, the worlds you create are likely to be so. Remember this as you world build and don’t slack.
  2. Create a sense of place. Even if you are not building a new universe, you need to give your characters a place to exist.
  3. Remember history. Your characters, or at least their ancestors and their world existed before the chapter one begins. Use this opportunity to develop your characters, their people and their stories. How did the world get to the state we find it in when we open up to page 1?
  4. Use your senses. When I go on vacation, I play a game, noting the new sensations around me. Over time, I think this has made me a better writer and has helped me to add unique details that make the worlds I write about feel more alive.
  5.  Don’t overwhelm your reader. You are going to do all this research and pre-writing. Don’t force it into your story or you’ll just sound like a history book and your narrative will get lost.
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