So You Want to Write a Novel- Part 5: World Building

world building

Photo from: earthobservatory.nasa.gov

With Camp NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I thought that I would continue my So You Want to Write a Novel series, to help me (and any of you who are doing it).

Setting is yet another necessary element of writing a novel.

If your setting doesn’t feel authentic (even if it’s made up), your book won’t feel as authentic. It won’t resonate with readers as much as you would like it to.

World building is essential to writing a novel. Authors should know a bit about their world and who lives in it before they start writing, even if they are pantsers.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling didn’t do world building when she wrote the Harry Potter series. Would you have been as emerged in the magic of it? Would you have wanted to go to Hogwarts? Well maybe, but the series may not have resonated with so many readers of different ages had Harry’s world not been so rich with detail.

So let’s think about this a little bit. What time period or place is your story set?

Is it a real time and place? Or a Made Up Setting?

  • Whether or not your novel takes place in a historical setting or a contemporary one, you probably want to do some research. In fact, you definitely do.
  • Getting the details right about a certain region or time period will help with the immersion into the story. Even if it’s a made-up place, you don’t want to get something essential wrong because you didn’t research.
  • Even if you’re tweaking some of the details, it’s a good idea to research.
  • Research can be world building.

World building fleshes out the setting to make it real for the reader. You have to consider what is important to this world and the people that live in it.

  • What is the history of the people? Have there been any conflicts in the past that effects the lives of the characters now?
  • How do your characters fit into their world?
  • What is the society like?
  • What politics are there?

While it’s important to start with the larger details here, the smaller details are just as important. They bring the world you created to life. Think Harry Potter and the Divergent Trilogy.

What other books or series have created a world that sucked you in with their details?

One great resource that has world buildinghelped me with world building is The Imaginary World of ______________ by Keri Smith (author of Wreck this Journal). This has some wonderful activities that help to create a complete picture of the world your characters live in, whether it is real or fictional.

Find The Imaginary World of on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local or favorite Independent Bookstore!

How do you go about world building?

See the rest of this blog series:

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