DCW502 Writing and Contemporary Practice

5 Ways the build a believable world

Previously, I have had many struggles when it comes to creating a believable world but I find that the one thing that always helps is to jot down ideas. You need to be able to ask yourself what your world is really like and be able to answer it with certainty.

One of the worst things you can do when creating another world is to contradict yourself and drastically change your world from one chapter to the next.

Here are a few things to think about when creating your world.

  1. Take inspiration from your life

The best worlds are ones that feel real, this can easily be achieved by keeping some semblance of the real world in your writing. Take a look around you, what does this world look, feel, taste and smell like. Implement some of this in your world. If you have a favourite tree in your yard, use it in your novel. Or if you despise one of your teachers, turn them into a villain. J.K Rowling was inspired by her chemistry teacher Mr Nettleship to create one of her much-loved characters; Professor Snape.

It just proves that the real world can be more important to your novel then you realise.

Going forward, some things to think about are; what are the laws that govern your fantasy world? Do they have a religion they follow? What is the world’s history, were there wars and famine?

Answering these questions will help you get the overall feel of your world. Just remember to watch the world around you and draw inspiration from it. The best worlds are often the ones mirrored after our own.

  1. Draw a map

Don’t worry about your map looking like a piece of art ready to be hung in a gallery. It doesn’t need to be perfect and it doesn’t need to look good. Simply take a pen and paper and dot down ideas. Where is each place located, what are they known for and who are they ruled by?

You can draw your map out as many times as you need to until your drawing looks roughly like how you’ve imagined. Even if you don’t show it to your readers, your map will help you figure out what’s what and where your characters are travelling to and from and how the landscape will change along their journey.

  1. Name your regions

Naming your regions and the world in general will give you and the reader a feel for the world. Names have power, so you want to find the right name that fits. If your world is inhabited by trolls, for example, you don’t want to call your world something like ‘Edgefield’. Not only does it not fit into the story, but it doesn’t fit the characters.

Try to find a name that encompasses the overall feel of your world and the story you are trying to tell. Remember you can always go back and change the names later as your story evolves. It’s not set in stone.

There are plenty of random name generators on the internet so if you are running low on inspiration, consider giving one of them a go.

  1. Don’t go overboard

As I said above, don’t go overboard. Your world still needs to be believable but that doesn’t mean you need to go into detail about every single element of your world in order to make it feel real. Less is sometimes more.

  1. Have fun

It might seem silly to say, but the whole reason I love world building so much is that I have fun with it. Create what interests you. Build a world you would love to live in. It will make the process of creating your world a thousand times better. And if you believe strongly in the world you are creating, your readers will believe in it too.


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