Stocking Stuffers for Writers: World Building

We know time is in short supply, so each day leading to Christmas, we’ll offer 5 simple, smart tips on an important topic to writers, helping with craft enhancement, revision and social networking!


Today’s Stocking Stuffer: Honing your mad WORLD-BUILDING skillz:

1–See your World as a Supporting Character. If you’re going to create a brand new world, it needs to be memorable, clearly-defined and believable. Set a goal for yourself that your world will be as well-drawn as your characters, and your readers will be as enamored with it as they are with the people who live there. To do this, you have to…

2–Be Thorough. As well as you know your characters, you have to know your world even more. Before drafting, create a questionnaire that will address every important nuance of your world (religion, history, fashion, rules of magic, physical landscape, climate, etc.) A great place to start is Patricia C. Wrede’s Worldbuilder page. You are the god of your world. You need to know every aspect of it if strangers are going to want to come and stay awhile.

3–Be Inspired by Real Life. You want your world to be cool, but some things may not need to be reinvented–gas lighting, ink and paper, the wind-up clock, wheels. If reinvention is going to be super-complicated and an existing something will fit just as well into your world, spare yourself and your reader the trouble. For the mundane, everyday things, keep it simple.

4–Story First. As awesome as your newly-created world is, remember that it’s a part of the story, not the other way around. Too many fantastical elements will detract from the story. As with every other aspect of writing, choose your material carefully and edit with care.

5–Follow the Rules. Once you’ve decided what the rules are, stick to them. Just like any other element of writing, if there are inconsistencies, your reader will see through them. So make sure your world makes sense–to you and the reader–before dropping your characters into it.

Image: PublicDomainPictures @ Pixabay


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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9 Responses to Stocking Stuffers for Writers: World Building

  1. Great Five for us Fantasy writers, thanks!

  2. I love fantasy, and most of my favorite books have settings that I feel almost an emotional connection to. I’d love to be able to create a world like that, that young readers fall in love with. Don’t think I’ve accomplished it yet, but these points are a push in the right direction.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

  3. ralfast says:

    #5 is by far the most important. I hate when people toss out the rules for convenience sake. It makes for plot holes, idiot balls and sloppy writing.

  4. AubrieAnne says:

    1 and 5 are so important. What’s the reason in creating a new worl if it will not come into play anywhere in the story, if it will not support your characters in some way? Also, our world has limits, a fake one should as well. It’s a great way to make things believable and consistent.

    Great post.

    AubrieAnne @

  5. PJ Hoover says:

    Love this post, and I think you guys rock the world. Just wanted to make sure to let you know!

  6. Stasia says:

    Terrific post. I write about performing arts environments and though they’re not fantasy, your post made me realize that I do rather think of them as characters — a neat perspective. Thanks!

  7. Heather says:

    These are great stocking stuffers! I especially love Be Inspired By Real Life. That adds such depth to any world! And #5 is oh so important, you’re right we have to stick to the rules! Thank you and happy holidays!

  8. You have such a gift when it comes to World Building, Becca. Thanks so much for these.


  9. Deb says:

    I love Patricia C. Wrede’s world building sheets.

    And you five tips. Have I mentioned I’m printing all of these off? Oh yes I am.

    Happy Holidays to you Book Shelf Muses. All the best in 2011!

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