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Worldbuilding 101 - Where to even start?

by J.E. Keys 28 days ago in list

Seven tips to get you into gear to build that world!

Have you ever sat down to work on your story’s world only to feel completely overwhelmed? It's natural. Creating an entirely new world is a massive undertaking! Even knowing where to start can be daunting. So, we’re going to break down some great tips to get over the fear of too much, and on to creating the world of your dreams. Or, at the very least, of your story. Here, I break down seven tips to help get you going :) 

Tip #1 - Break it down and work as you go!

The most important tip is to worldbuild as you go. There is no need to know every single detail before you get going. Part of the fun of writing is to discover as you walk through this otherworldly place in your imagination.

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Tip #2 - Write down what you already know, and what you know you need to further develop. 

Keep an outline, or a series bible to give yourself a place to make notes, and organize all the details about your world. This can grow alongside your writing and creating process. Start out small, make a single folder for your notes, and expand your organization from there.

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Tip #3 - Do your research! Yes, even if it’s fantasy, you still need to do research.

Don’t just assume you know everything. No matter the depths our creativity may run, everything in life is governed by something. For instance, your world will have a government. Now, that form of government may be unique to that world, but odds are it will follow one of the many models of governments we have already studied. Research them, and decide which model fits your world’s style, and then individualize it from there.

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Tip #4 - Work in layers. 

If the first time you pass over a portion of your world, it’s okay if you don’t get every detail. Sometimes, we don’t notice everything the first time we’re somewhere, either. How many times have you had to use directions to go somewhere before you could do it without? Worldbuilding is the same way. If a detail isn’t important at the time in your story, you can always further develop it later. 

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Tip #5 - Be creative! 

Don’t feel that you need to stick to the norms of our reality. If there are parts of our world that you’re not a fan of, you do not have to include them in your writing. This is your chance to build a better society! Take it. This goes not only for stereotypes, and the treatment of certain subsections of people but for all the details of your world as well. The possibilities are endless. Be sure to consider how those details will weave themselves into your story, as well. 

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Tip #6 - Your worldbuilding should work for your story, not the other way around.

When it comes down to it, your worldbuilding is only second to your actual story. Readers will not pick up your book just to experience the world you’ve made, they’re going to want to experience the story you’re writing as well. So if there are bits about your world that are just not working with your story, don’t be afraid to take them out or change them to serve you better.

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Tip #7 - Don’t forget to have fun.

Writing, and even worldbuilding should be fun. If there is a part that you’re dying to work out, don’t feel you can’t work on it because you’re not there yet. You will be, and future you will be grateful. When you’re stuck on parts, think about what is holding you up. In most instances, a bit more time spent researching can help iron out those tricky details. As a last resort, play the Ask Me About My World Game with a trusted friend or family member and have them ask you questions about your world until something sticks.

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That’s seven tips to kick off your worldbuilding and beat the fear of too much! Worldbuilding should be a fun, and enjoyable part of your writing process and not something that overwhelms you. While it’s a natural feeling to have when facing such a monumental task, remember these tips and keep writing!

Looking for more?

Hello Wordies! My name is J.E. Keys. I write space adventures, post writing advice articles, shorties, example outlines, and spend way too much time talking about words!

I also host a daily vocabulary series, Words365, where we define an uncommon word every day!

I post new articles and short stories all the time!

Be sure to follow me on social media to get all the updates. 

You can find all my profiles here: jekeys.com/connect

And if you want to explore my backlist of publications, you can find links to them all here: Author Library 

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J.E. Keys
J.E. Keys
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J.E. Keys

I write space adventures and spend way too much time talking about words. Writing is a hobby for me. I’ve been crafting stories, dreaming up worlds, & making characters for so long I decided to share what I have created with the world.

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