World Building: What is World Building

What is World Building?


This is a question I had to face when I took part in my first ever NaNoWriMo novel and again last year as I sought to tackle a South African historical fantasy fiction, based off my own people; the Batswana people.

The idea of world building is to create the very realm where your story takes place. In fact, every story ever written involves world building as this expresses the environment, the economics, religions, cultures and other aspects that define the people and their ways. All of this, in turn, affects both your story and the characters within it.

These are a couple of factors to consider when delving into World building;

Is it Existing ?


This is the world we are currently living in, and what we know and see in it. Although the story is fictitious, the landscape, money, clothing, history, etc. follows our existing world.
Is it an Alternate version?
This is a world or universe very much like our own but different in many ways. Perhaps here people have superpowers or are all born left handed or with three eyes instead of two – and these are the norm. How does that affect their economy, environment, government, religions, etc.
This can include Historic, Futuristic, Dystopian, Utopian etc fiction and anything that is different to how history, the present or the future was/will be. How does this affect the realm they live in?
This could also be an existing universe such as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, The Marvel or DC Universe, etc.

Is it a new Creation?


This is the creation of a completely different world, race, people, flora and fauna – planet. This does not exist at all and will need you to define its laws, cultures, traditions, races, history. Everything.
Taking these first steps in understanding the world where your story takes place, helps to bring depth and quality to your story. That is the purpose of world building.

What worlds do you find yourself visiting often? Have you thought about the details of the world?

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