First Step: Research
World building has two things to build a great and believable world. Creativity and research. When one researches, one must remember that you do not need everything you research. In other words, you must figure out what to read. If you're using historical parts in a fantasy novel you probably don't need the most credible sources. Although it's also good to make sure you have true facts in case you end up using something that makes you sound like you don't know what you're talking about. But even if you're creating your own version of a culture, you'll still need to use your imagination.
Even though one must be careful about how much you research because it can quickly take up your writing time and you may never end up starting the story, how much one researches depends on how closely you want your story to relate to true facts. If you want your story's culture to sound like something from Ancient China, you may want to research that culture unless you want to loosely base your culture off of it.
But besides researching historical facts, researching scientific facts and other things will make you sound like you know what you're talking about. You might ask why you need all this researching if you're writing a fantasy novel, but you see, there's these things called plausibility and realism.
Plausibility vs Realism
Plausibility is making your fantasy sound real, as if you're almost there. Realism is using facts from the real world to help make your world sound real. Without real facts, you might end up making your work harder than it has to be.
Tips to help your world:
- Make a list of rules and stick to them: If your world uses time travel and you can hyper-jump to a planet, make sure that if so, you can hyper-jump during any time of the novel unless there's a reason why. If your spaceship can do so during one chapter but can't the next, why?
- Create maps and research them: I love making maps. They can be very helpful in not only knowing what your world looks like and deciding where things are, but they can help with traveling. They can help you decide what routes to take, where buildings, towns, and geographic features are. How long does it take to get to the next town? How far apart is one town from the next? Knowing where deserts commonly are found and why can be useful. Knowing weather patterns and what causes them are the same.
- Stick with real things or have a reason not too: If you decide not to have gravity or some universal rule, make sure you have a reason why. Maybe a gaint spell came along that caused the world to loose its gravity. Or it has something to do with being closer or farther away from another planet or maybe it's less dense or more dense.
Three tips to decide what flora and animals are normal in your world:
- There are no created animals, all the animals and plants we know of exist.
- There is part created creatures/plants, part animals we know of existing: Creatures that don't really exist live in the same world as animals and plants such as deer and coconuts. Remember that the animal kingdom is arranged in a pyramid with large predadors at the top and a larger number of smaller creatures at the bottom.
- There is no creatures that we know of exist: In other words, you created all of your creatures and plants. Remember that your creatures should fill the same roles as earth animals. Like horses. Although your creature that has a horse-like roles can do things horses can't like flying.
Creating your culture's government is very important. Every society and culture has some type of government. And characters are often a part of something government related. Some types of government can be:
- city state
And then these governments can be separated by even more things like:
And within these are even more things your people can be apart of. States, armies, secret societies, government agencies, guilds, and other things ran by governments.
Many things help create culture, things like:
- Religion- What someone believes in can greatly affect the culture. How often do the characters pray? Are they deeply religious or not so much? If your culture has religion, recall that religion usually affects every day life and almost everything that people do. In Christianity, most people might go to church every Sunday or some people go once in a while. Muslims pray several times a day.
- weights and measures- Things like pounds, miles, and quarts are part of the system that America and one other country uses. Everyone else uses things like the metric system. The American system was based on how long the average person's arm or foot was, while the metric system is based on the number ten. How do people count time? By the postion of the sun or the moon? How much does something cost? And what do they use to decide that? Coins, feathers, shells?
- sayings and slang- What people say, how they say it, and what they mean by it differs from culture to culture. Where I live, people say something is "breast" when something is awesome or cool. My cousin says "cool beans" when something is cool. I bet people over in Africa have their own slang for when something is cool.
- diet and food- What does your culture eat? Meat, just veggies and fruit, or both? Also remember that many cultures have different foods from other ones. Italian is very different from Chinese food. Or something that's a common dish in Africa would be exotic in America.
- music, art, and pop culture- Music and art all say something about people's culture. The Egyptians are famous for their hieroglyphs and the sarcophagus that hold mummies. While the Olmec in Ancient America carved giant heads.
- prejudice/racism/tolerance- Back in WWII there were many anti-Jewish feelings. People were racist or against Jews. People can be prejudiced against fat or malformed people. Some people tolerate certain groups of people but view them as like second class citizens.
- manners- Is it polite to bring food when you visit another home? How does your people greet each other? Its important to know what is rude and what isn't. As is how to show respect to someone of higher rank. Do they bow or salute?
- clothing- The type of clothing and how they wear it contributes to culture. People in India wear saris while the traditional dress for the Japanese is the kimono. Is their outfits made out of cotton during the summer and wool in the winter? Are bright colors worn in the summer and spring while dull colors are worn in the winter and fall?
So what are your favorite created worlds?