If you’re like me and love fantasy, often finding yourself working in a fantasy universe, you might encounter some issues when you world build. It can be difficult to create a world that makes sense, that lives and breathes as a world all its own. Whether it be a world filled with magic, or a world that’s lost touch with the mystical elements, you need to make sure it feels alive. Hopefully I can help you with that today! Check out some of the tips below!
Pick Your Starting Point Clearly
Yeah, its pretty obvious to say, but it’s actually a little bit more complicated than “and let there be light!” You need to pick a tone, a style, to venture forth with before you even create your origin stories – and I know you want to make 500 pages of lore based on that alone. Is your world gritty? Is it filled with magic, or lacking it completely? Does it take place on Earth or another world entirely? These are important things to consider before you put pen to paper.
Try to Avoid Representations of Real World Cultures
This is a fantasy universe, people! And unless it takes place basically under-the-scenes in our world, such as The Dresden Files from Jim Butcher, its unlikely that cultures will mirror ours. It can be hard to avoid having your European-look-alike not be nobles or peasants similar to those found in medieval Europe, or exotic traders from the “East” look like Arabs or Asians, but try to avoid caricatures or tropes. Tolkien and Martin might have popularized it, but it doesn’t mean that’s the rule.
Avoid The Info-Dump
Its likely that you know the ins and outs of your universe, down to the last detail and name, but your characters will definitely not. Unless your character is an All-Knowing God, they likely only know things around their field of expertise, with some more stand-out figures and information being wildly known. This would include historical figures of importance, locations of legend, etc. Even then, your warrior-type likely doesn’t know the name of some celebrated Bard-Hero from the Northern Wastes, or something.
Why is Your Story Happening?
Why is your tale being told now? What tensions, what strange tidings, have created the right atmosphere and situations for this story to be told. Have the nations slowly been edging to war? Has the dragon/dark lord/big bad finally awoken or finished preparing? Why does it affect your main character? Why – the most important question for your story.
Think About Your Map
Where is your story taking place? What sort of cultures, architectures, lifestyles, etc, do the people in such an environment have? Can you create a map for this area? You don’t need to create every village, interesting building, valley, etc. Just jot down things that should stand out. Especially the local climate and environment. A desert will play out very differently than a tundra, after all.
These are just five things that I recommend you take into consideration when you’re designing your fantasy world. Some of these tips can be applied to other genres, of course, but I focused on fantasy because that’s what I’m passionate about. I hope you found this useful and please comment what you think!