What is worldbuilding?

What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say “worldbuilding”?

Maybe it’s a world, or a single location where a story takes place. Perhaps it’s the small details that seem to bring a story world to life, or the large ones that appear to support the plot.

Whatever you imagine, the truth is that it’s all worldbuilding!

And because worldbuilding has so many different sides and facets, it can be challenging to explain how and where to begin when you want to world-build for the epic story you plan to write.

Why world-build?

In my last blog I talked a little bit about worldbuilding:

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.

Treehouses & Foundations

Another example of trying to write a story with no worldbuilding is if you tried to build a treehouse—but without a tree. 

Without the tree, you have nothing to build on. The same is true when you write a story without any world-building.

That being said, not everyone wants to spend a bunch of time worldbuilding when they could be writing and getting their plot on the page, and I totally get that! That’s why some writers that I know refuse to write anything that they think requires too much worldbuilding.

But that brings up a different question…

If you don’t write fantasy, historical fiction, or sci-fi do you still need to world-build?

Absolutely! As I said, worldbuilding is just a foundation for your story. Even if you wrote a modern-ish tale about a child and a dog, you still need to know a few things. Does the child live in a house? Does the dog have a park where he likes to take walks? Does the child have parents, and if so, is there a place where they work or visit? Does the child have any friends? Where do they live?

Worldbuilding sets up the rules, expectations, and geography for the world your story takes place in. Without these rules, you may find yourself lost in your own story.

Where to begin

So, how do you get started with worldbuilding if it’s so ridiculously complicated?

Well, before you sit down to create your fantastical new world, you’ll want to figure out what sort of worldbuilder you are.

The 3 Types Of Worldbuilders

There are three main types of worldbuilders:

Planners: Need to know everything about their world before they start writing.

Storytellers: Prefer to write first and add their worldbuilding while they write, or after they’ve written a draft or two.

Creators: Enjoy worldbuilding and get ideas for their stories from the world/s they created.

Going Deeper

Once you know what type of worldbuilder you are, it’s easier to know what to do or avoid when starting down the world-building path.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be taking a closer look at each type of worldbuilder.

Strengths, weaknesses, and how to make worldbuilding work for you.

Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss the next article!

Before You Go…

What sort of worldbuilder do you think you are?

Let me know in the comments below!