World building tools and tips

Status
Not open for further replies.

Nikky Lee

Nikky Lee
Full Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2018
Location
New Zealand
A great fantasy world can captivate, suspend disbelief and make the places within the pages feel real. I've listed a few world building tips and resources that have helped me, but I'm keen to hear how other writers manage it.

https://www.nikkythewriter.com/blog/magic-made-real-6-world-building-tips-for-writers

If you spend a lot of time world building, what resources do you use? Are there any that are your go-to? (For me it's the English-Norse dictionary).
 
This is all really good advice.

Usually I've thought about a world before I start writing. Then I start writing. Maybe I'll get more organized but that's how I do it now.

I think about units and measures a lot ... and get confused.

Why would a fictional world have any unit and measure we currently use? How do I describe how big things are or how far away they are? It hurts my head.
 
Why would a fictional world have any unit and measure we currently use? How do I describe how big things are or how far away they are? It hurts my head.

I know, right?! I'm planning on writing another blog on ancient measurement systems later as I find it quite fascinating (even though I struggle to wrap my head around the distance of a mile compared to a kilometre). I need a graph of all the different systems (ancient and modern)! Maybe I'll try and make one... but that might involve quite a bit of maths... ugh.
 
@Nmlee , I always enjoy your blog posts a lot, this is no exception; in fact, it's possibly my favourite yet! I feel I need to print that out so I can read it over and over, allowing my brain to expand on each point in its own good time. My sons are into playing Dungeons and Dragons and they are going to teach me, sounds very like this in many ways. Very fascinating. But, yes, my head hurts too, trying to do the logistical calculations of world building and trying to get it to all "sit down" to make it appear real.
 
I always enjoy your blog posts a lot, this is no exception; in fact, it's possibly my favourite yet!

You have just made my day :) So glad you liked it—sometimes it feels like I'm shooting off ideas into the void.

My sons are into playing Dungeons and Dragons and they are going to teach me, sounds very like this in many ways. Very fascinating.

I haven't played, but I do like the idea of it. I have used D&D apps and tools before to help world build, so there is definitely a lot of overlap. Give us an update when you do try it—I'm curious to see what you think the similarities and differences are.

yes, my head hurts too, trying to do the logistical calculations of world building and trying to get it to all "sit down" to make it appear real.

How it often goes (for me):

World: "Ok, I'm all set. Write away."
Writer: "Excellent, let's get started." Starts writing.
World: Taps shoulder. "Hey, not to judge, but I think we could use some higher stakes here. Why don’t we make the kingdom on the brink of war?”
Writer: Sighs. "Yes, I suppose you're right." Writes some more.
World: “You know we should definitely have a secret organisation of some kind.”
Writer: “… Alright."
World: "I'm bored. Can I have a dragon?"
Writer: “No. No dragons.”
World: “Monsters?”
Writer: “Ugh, fine. I'll squeeze a few in."
World: “Oh goodie! What about some—"
Writer: “WOULD YOU JUST SIT STILL?!"
 
img_1066.jpg
 
@Nmlee , I always enjoy your blog posts a lot, this is no exception...
I agree, and this one is brilliant!

I'm a big fan of VE Schwab. She has a video somewhere on YouTube where she talks about worldbuilding, about it being a character in its own right. She also says (and this is the bit I've stolen from her) that she prefers to make windows rather than doors. Fantasy writers who open doors and lead their readers through have meticulously detailed worlds and nothing is left to chance – they open the door and lead us through with their hand on our shoulder. Writers who show their worlds through windows, on the other hand, show us glimpses and give impressions – glimpses that hint at more and impressions that blossom in our mind. That way of doing things appeals to me a lot, not least because it leaves you space to build as you go – just like (for me at least) building a character.
 
The newsletter for a proofreading blog I subscribe to had an article on world-building Wikis for crime writers, which contains tips applicable to any genre:

World-building wikis for crime writers

I realised, that it's something I've been doing for my Cornish Detective series, with separate folders storing such information as regular character's birthdates, allergies, phobias, likes and dislikes and catchphrases...all in an attempt at continuity. Reading the article, I was startled to realise that C. J. Sansom's Shardlake series, set in Tudor times, are indeed crime novels. I've read them all, but had never thought of them in that way owing to their strong sense of time and place.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Back
Top