Why Do We Love Stories?
Do you love stories?
I certainly do. When I was a little girl, my mother read all sorts of things to me. Fairytales, fables, mysteries… I loved it all!
And that inspired my love for reading, and eventually, storytelling.
What is it about stories that capture our attention and intrigues us so much?
Is it the characters? Plot? Themes? The world-building? Or is it a mix of all four?
Stories that are well-written can transport us to different worlds, engulfing us in the lives and cultures of different characters until we feel as though we’re a part of these worlds.
A whispering forest, scorching desert, or dense jungle can become as real as the book in your hands with the right descriptions and rich worldbuilding.
Where To Start?
But creating a story world with complex characters, inspiring themes, and memorable worldbuilding can seem completely overwhelming! Especially for fantasy and sci-fi storytellers.
With so many things to consider as you prepare to tell your story, there’s also the very important question of “where to begin?”.
Every story starts with an idea, and grows from there.
Small steps are still steps forward, and there’s no wrong way to write, create, or tell a story.
The Four Keys
That being said, there are some methods that work better than others, and success with certain methods will vary from person to person. Trying out different methods will help you figure out what works best for you and your temperament—so don’t be afraid to experiment!
As I mentioned before, there are a few key things that make stories special:
In this blog, I want to focus on the worldbuilding side of things—and not just because it’s my favorite part of writing stories.
Picnics & Worldbuilding
Let’s say it’s a nice day, and you and a few of your friends decide to go on a picnic. When you get to the meadow, you don’t just put all your food down on the grass. You put a blanket down, and then set out the food.
Worldbuilding is the blanket that you set your characters, plot, and themes onto. You can try writing a story without worldbuilding, or have a picnic without a blanket, but chances are that it’ll feel boring, or wind up covered in ants.
Worldbuilding influences characters, plot, and themes, which is why working on your story world is a good place to start once you have a premise for the story you want to tell.
Understanding The World
So, where should you start?
Look at the world before you write a single word. As a fantasy writer, I’ve found that drawing inspiration from the world God created is the best way to create my own story worlds.
After all, how can you create a great story world without first understanding how a world works?
And how do you start to understand the world?
Whether you write fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, or any other genre, you can’t go wrong with research! Explore the shelves at your local library or bookstore for books that inspire!
I recently read Putting The Fact In Fantasy, and all of the articles inspired me!
It went over various subjects, such as how horses are portrayed in movies and books vs how horses actually react to different situations. Or how civilizations form, or how food can actually play an important role in your world and even in your plot.
More Ways To Research
Of course, reading books isn’t the only way to research a subject. Nowadays, the internet has a ton of information that’s available to us within seconds. You should definitely double-check your resources, but surfing the web won’t hurt!
Another way to research would be to talk/write to experts. Say you wanted to learn more about marine life because you’re writing a fantasy story about merpeople. Try connecting with a marine biologist who can answer any questions you have.
Or say you’re writing a story set in a desert. Find someone who has been to one or lived there before.
A fourth way to research is to go to interesting places yourself!
Step away from the computer, and into the sunlight! If you can, go visit the desert yourself. Travel to Europe and visit a castle or some old ruins.
Even if you can’t travel out of the country, see what your own community has to offer.
Visit state parks, zoos, the woods in your backyard, a farm, hiking trail, the beach… any place that you think will give you inspiration for the world you’re creating.
But don’t just visit these places… take notes, pictures, videos—anything that will help you remember what you learned, saw, and experienced. It’s a terrible feeling to go somewhere amazing, get tons of inspiration, and go home to write about it, only to realize you’ve forgotten the sights, senses, sounds, and smells that inspired you in the first place.
It’s just about impossible to fit everything there is to know about story worlds into one 900-word blog, so I’ll be going deeper into this subject in future blogs.
Before You Go…
Do you enjoy worldbuilding? What is a story that inspired you?
Let me know in the comments below!
Read last week’s blog here!