Creating Fantasy Worlds—Without Throwing Out Facts

Worldbuilding for fantasy stories is a lot of fun. You get to put all sorts of interesting places, creatures, cultures, and technology in your stories. Not to mention, you can bend the laws of nature without shattering a reader’s suspension of disbelief—that is, if you do it correctly.

Geography & Geology Aren’t Useless In Fantasy

You don’t need to know everything there is to know about water currents, tectonic plates, or the easterly and westerly winds, but you will want to do enough research to make sure the geography of your world makes sense.

Fantasy world or not, readers will only suspend their disbelief so much.

Short of some magical or supernatural reason, you will likely never find a hot desert right next to a freezing cold tundra, but you will often find a lush jungle next to a hot and dry desert. 

If you want your fantasy world to have a swamp, you may want to know where and why swamps form, so you don’t place your muddy swamp in a place that you’ve already decided is going through a drought.

(Also, just so you know, swamps and marshes are two different types of ecosystems.)

Get Your Story Straight

Even if you don’t have a detailed map or extensive list of all the locations in your world, you should know the basics. 

If your characters travel from one side of the continent to the other in just three days, but it took them an entire week just to walk eight miles to a neighboring kingdom, then you’re going to confuse your readers.

But don’t worry! Plotholes like travel time don’t have to be your enemy!

You can fill these holes with world-building details that will make your story more interesting and exciting to read.

Filling The Plotholes

If you really need your characters to get from one side of the continent to the other in just a few days, then walking is out of the question—unless they have super speed or something. 

Maybe in your world traveling by sea is a lot quicker because of the currents, or maybe your characters rode a dragon or some other fast-flying mythical creature. Or maybe your world has underground cavern systems that are used to travel long distances in short amounts of time.

And on the other hand, if your characters simply must take an entire week to walk several miles to a neighboring kingdom, then perhaps they’re walking on foot, but one or more of your characters are injured and have to rest often. 

Or maybe your characters’ kingdom is at war with the neighboring kingdom, so your characters have to more or less sneak into the neighboring kingdom. Which would mean finding a way into the neighboring kingdom that isn’t any of the main roads—perhaps up a mountain, or through a swamp—a way that takes more time and is difficult to travel on.

Make It Make Sense!

The point is, whatever you do, make sure that it makes sense! Coming up with “reasonable” solutions to fill your plotholes will show readers different details and aspects of your fantasy story world, and add more action and excitement to your plot.

There’s no need to sacrifice reality for fantasy if you make fantasy the reality of your story world.

Before You Go…

Do you write fantasy? If so, what do you have the most trouble with as far as worldbuilding is concerned?

Let me know in the comments below!

Check out last week’s blog here!