If you’ve read my books or spent any amount of time talking to me about them, you’ll know worldbuilding is my favorite part of writing, and one of the biggest reasons why Epic Fantasy is my genre of choice. It’s also the most complimented aspect of my writing. Because of this, I often get asked what my biggest worldbuilding tips are.
Thus, I have decided to make a blog series about worldbuilding.
I could spend hours talking about worldbuilding and the different ways of going about it, but today I wanted to start at the very beginning …
Here’s 5 tools you need to build an inescapable world.
If you have a world where history is important (spoiler alert: any world you want to make deep and inexhaustible will have a large and important history!), writing down simple timelines that lay out major event’s character’s births/deaths, civilizations, wars, etc. when and where they take place and how they relate to one another, will be a huge help in keeping all over your history consistent. It is also extremely inspirational for making companion novels, making up religions, cultures, and more!
Even if you plan on hiring someone to make a map for your published book, it’s invaluable to have your own made so you can keep track of traveling, geographical obstacles and distances, cities, and country borders. This is the same concept as the timeline, just for space. It’ll help you keep track of whether or not the characters are traveling into the sun in the morning, or away. You can even make maps of cities or homes where you add a lot of description or where placing is important. Now do these maps have to be fancy or artistic? Not at all! They can be as simple as a few words and some scribbles, as long as you can keep track of what’s happening physically in your world.
3) Pre-plotted Side Stories/Companion Novels/Character Backstories
This is possibly one of my favorite worldbuilding tools. If you want deep worldbuilding where everything is significant, the past heavily affects the future, and no character is a plot device, you’ll need you to get your ducks in a row when it comes to major side plots that weave closely into the main plot. Having entire side stories already plotted out that feature side characters, locations, religions, etc. will allow you to weave beautiful authenticity into the main story line while also being consistent.
4) Notes on Your Worldbuilding
This might be a no brainer, but I don’t think writers actually do this enough. MAKE NOTES OF YOUR WORLDBUILDING. Yes, that shower thought you had about a certain magic law for your world was very important, no you are not going to remember it till later. WRITE IT DOWN. Even if something doesn’t seem important, you never know how it will come into use later. I’ve written down bizarre worldbuilding notes, stuffed them in my worldbuilding folder, forgot about them for years, and then miraculously found them, only to realize it’s exactly what I needed to fill a plot hole. Use that notebook collection for once.
5) Character/Concept Art
Sketch some landscapes, draw a couple swords, or hire and artist to do it for you. Having art of your own world and characters can help you keep a clear image of place and people and also helps with writing them consistently. It’s also hugely motivational to see your world to come to life.
These are all tools that I use constantly for my worldbuilding. Like I said, this is my favorite part of writing so not all writers go this deep, but if you’re writing epic fantasy and want to create a world that has endless opportunities and that readers never want to leave, these tools will get your there.
I do have one bonus tip:
Spend time in your world. You will be surprised at how much you can learn about your world is you live there for a little. Don’t be worried if your worldbuilding is taking a long time. Mine took 8 years and I’m still expanding it and learning more. The more you talk to your characters and immerse yourself in the world, the more you’ll understand about it and be able to draw your readers in the same way.
Be consistent and be patient. The world will build itself with time.
Thank you so much for reading! I really hope this was helpful and is a good start for your worldbuilding journey. I will be writing more posts like these going into more depth on how to world build, so make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out!
May the suns smile upon your presence,
—Effie Joe Stock