Tips on Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding-something that many writers either love, or dread. Why? Because there are so many amazing, unique experiences that you go through whilst making your very own universe. It’s one of my favorite things in writing, and so that’s what I’ll be talking about today.

Worldbuilding has a lot of parts, which adds to its complexity, but that also means there are a lot of opportunities to be creative and dig deep into your well of imagination. That’s what makes it so much fun.
I’m going to be discussing three parts of worldbuilding today that will focus on creating races, places, and landscape. Also, note that this is focused more on fantasy worlds, but can be applied to other genres as well.
First, let’s start with the people.
Human beings are amazing, diverse, and intricate beings, made with such complexity that only God could ever create us. Still, sometimes, when we are creating new worlds, we want to stray from our own species and make up our own, filling our stories with plenty of unique beings.
Sometimes we will use the base mythological and fantasy creatures that our culture and history have given us, like dragons or mermaids or any other well-known being. Other times, we want to create one that is unique to our story.
Usually we will have our minds pretty clear on what we want this race to look like. If not, take a few minutes to sit down and think about this. Good questions to ask would be where you want them to live and what you want them to be able to do. Make their role and abilities fit their appearance. Consider every detail of this new race. How long do they live? What colors can their skin, hair, and eyes be? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their commonly shared traits? 
Every little detail can make a story suddenly seem more in depth and realistic-even if the readers don’t know all of them.
The harder part of this comes when you try to create a name for your new race. Copyright infringement is something that has always terrified me as a writer, and I’m always checking and double-checking to make sure there is no way I can be accused of it. This means it’s a bit harder to come up with names that sound good for various species or things in my books.
My trick? Use Latin roots. Find words that fit the race/species, and find a combination. The roots don’t even have to stand out that much-just use them to create a name. My example would be from a fantasy novel I have planned out, in which there are many different races and creatures. One race within it are referred to as “Arborians” because they are similar to tree nymphs, in their own way.
The best thing to do is play around with words, until you find something that you like and that suits your story. Outside of that, it is up to you to create your own names and races.

Second, let’s move onto places. By this, I don’t mean geographic places; that falls under “landscape” in my book. By this, I mean cities and nations, wherever your people live and work.
Nations are more fun to make than you’d think. Not only do you get to figure out where they are and who lives there, you get to pick out every small detail.
What kind of government is there? Is it a monarchy? Do they elect rulers? Do they have a council that decides everything?
Then we move on to things like what the common architecture, clothing, and food looks like. Is it a place full of regal arches, extravagant colors, and busy markets? Or is this country more humble, with clay buildings, simple and convenient clothing, and meals made up of grains and meats?
Culture is just another aspect of a nation, as you decide what mindset the communities and people have regarding everything, from traditions to other nations. You can spend hours making up mythology and history that explains present-day traditions and beliefs.
I could go on for hours about all the little details that go into creating countries and cities like this, as there is so much that can be done. However, I think y’all have gotten the idea about now. Every part of society is available to take and shape however you please.
Naming cities is similar to races as far as my process goes. Depending on what kind of world you are creating, this will change. Some worlds will have names closer to real-life medieval names, and others will have more of a fantasy twist. The Arborian’s main kingdom is referred to as “Arborith”. Obviously, you don’t need to name a city or country the same as the people, but it’s what I happened to do in this world.

So, moving on to the last part of this post, we have geography. Now, choosing landscape in itself is not the difficult part. Many times we will figure out an idea as to what kind of terrain we want our story to take place in.
The hard part comes when we try to physically map it out in some way. Unless you’re great at drawing, it’s often pretty hard to make a map that you’ll be satisfied with. I tried several times with my world, before turning to the internet to try and find a better tool to use.
There are many map-making programs, but most require you to download them or even pay. I wanted a good mapmaker that was formatted in a fantasy style – like one of Tolkien’s maps. What I ended up finding and using was this little map maker, which works really well after you mess around with it for a few minutes.
There are a lot of better, more complex map makers out there, but this one is free, easy to use, and is great for getting a rough idea of what you want the world to look like.

So there we go! There’s a few tips I have to offer regarding worldbuilding. It’s an art in itself, which means that there is far more depth to it than I could cover in this post, but I hope something in here has inspired you to continue (or start) working on a world of your own. 

Until Next Time, Your Sister in Writing and Christ, 

~Arella Noreen

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