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1. Make the world internally cohesive.
Transcript of 1. Make the world internally cohesive.
The worst thing that someone can do in making a fictional world is to have it contradict itself.
Example: Part of the world premise is that the air is poisonous, but no one suffers from breathing it.
2. Give the world a simple foundation.
If you can’t describe your world in a few basic sentences, preferably in one sentence, then it needs a better premise.
Middle Earth: An ancient world of races out of Nordic myth locked in a war between the Children of Iluvatar and the forces of Morgoth.
3. Make the world as large or small as the medium requires.
If your fantasy story only needs a single village, then that’s all you need to create.
If it spans an empire, create the entire empire. You need to understand everywhere that your characters go, are from, or talk about needs to know about.
4. Make the world original.
Middle Earth and Pern's dragon riders were original when they were created.
The world of
is too much a retread of the two worlds and concepts to be considered original.
Modern original world building:
5. Make cultures multidimensional.
Example: Blonde, pale-skinned, blue-eyed elves that are implicitly perfect not just boring, but racially questionable. (Especially when one is named Arya)
6. Make characters dependents on the world.
No one is born in a vacuum. Sometimes, there can be characters who seem so out of the ordinary for a world that it seems like the author just decided to put them in without considering if they would work.
7. Avoid the “face palm factor.”
a. Face palm factor: the certain element that makes someone want to cover their face in general wonder at how someone could do something so ridiculous. A more extreme form would be the head desk factor.
This happens when someone abandons logic to “jump the shark” or alters a well-known fantasy element in a way that is generally unwelcome.
8. Know the world completely.
a. It may seem like a simple thing, but there are aspects of the world that writers sometimes forget to include. Elements that are necessary to understand in context with world building are:
iii. Social structure
iv. Technology and magic
v. Food customs
vi. Physical and cultural geography
9. Even fantasy needs realism.
If you create your world without consideration for human psychology, geography, linguistics, or simple physics, then you'll end up making mistakes.
Even the impossible, such as magic systems, need to at least be plausible in how they are expressed.
Nine Rules of World Building
An introduction to (fictional) godhood