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World Building for Dummies

No, this isn’t a tutorial. In this instance I am the dummy being referenced in the title of this post.  I have spent the better part of the morning researching and developing the world I intend to use as the backdrop for a sci-fi/fantasy novel trilogy I’ve been dancing with. I can’t get this place or these people out of my head! The story is rich and full of twists, turns and feeling. The characters are as real to me as any person I talk to (I realize, that make me sound like a nutcase and I don’t care. I am. Probably.)

But the concept of what goes into good or strong world building is mind-boggling. The actual act of world building may take me the rest of this month if I can remain focused (highly unlikely) and can carve out an hour or two to write each day. It took me hours of research just to get the elements of what’s needed outline. Filling in the blanks is a whole other story…

The feeling I am getting is something that feels like frustration, excitement, worry and joy wrapped up into a nervous stomach. I wish this could move faster, but the act of putting this world and these characters on paper (I’m old school. I have to outline on paper then move to the computer) is beyond calming. Now all I need is chicken fingers and fries. And maybe a walk around the block to clear my mind of the extra stuff (like the idea I got for a short story while in the shower or the mental list of things I need to pack for my next trip home to visit my family). Gah! I hate rambling posts, so I’m going to stop.

Okay, maybe not (LOL). I am going to ask of the other writers out there – What resources have you tapped for your world building exercises? Links, outlines, books – I’ll take any help you can offer!


Published inUncategorizedWriting

  1. World building is a really interesting topic and I’ve been trying to coax other writers to share their thoughts and tips (see a couple of tweets I sent this week which were roundly ignored!). I’ve been doing a lot of work on the location in my book and am hoping to write a blog post on how I did it in the next week or so. Like you, I’m not sure if I’m going about it in the best possible way! Maybe we can share some ideas. For starters, I posted the following earlier today which kind of half goes towards what you’re talking about – at least it’s a technique I’m hoping to use from now on:
    Let me know what you think – good luck with the writing!

    • I found this site, that describes the elements of world building ( It gave me a good launchpad for what I need to think about in regards to world building. At this point, I’m putting my ideas on paper and plan to go back once I address each element and do a formal outline. I read quite a bit of sci-fi and fantasy novels, so I have a pretty good idea of what i want to give the reader in terms of imagery, but I’m still working through getting from point A to B.

      I’ve been lucky of late – work has been slow (45 hours a week rather than 60+) so I’ve had the energy to write something daily. I’m slightly OCD so there is no way I could stop writing mid-dialog! It would make me crazy 🙂

      • Sounds like you’ve got some structure in place for this already – good stuff. I’m at the completely-unorganised-notes-everywhere stage of writing my book! Hopefully all coming together soon.
        I’ll check out that website and see where i get to. My one other question is about mapping your world – do you draw a map (even if you don’t plan to publish it), or stick to words on the page and let the reader make up the rest? Is a map a bit passe?
        Btw, I’m not sure if I could stop in mid dialog either – it would probably keep me up all night!

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