Adding Depth to Your World Building

This week we continue to talk about world building. We started with the basics of world building and diversity in world building. Today let’s talk about some more things to keep in mind as you craft your world and add depth to it.

  • Conflict is at the heart of story. What sort of place best shows this conflict? How can your environment come to play in your story? This is a great place to begin thinking about your world building to make your story more dynamic. Choose the best background and structure for your conflict to take place in.
  • Do your research. If you are basing your world on ours (past, present, or future), your details have to be accurate to create a realistic world. Even if you’re creating a world with fantastical elements, you still need to have universal rules on how things work. So if magic is a part of your story, you have to outline how the magic works, its limitations, and who can and cannot wield it. Research the history of the time, the clothing, the language, the customs, the religions, and the daily habits of that period. If you are creating a new world, you can base it off our own by doing your research.
  • Use all five senses. Immerse your readers into your world by taking advantage of the five senses and detailed descriptions. What sounds fill the city as your MC goes about their day? What smells greet your MC on their quest? What do they touch or feel? Give us these details to round out your world and each scene. Use strong verbs and concrete nouns. Be specific rather than vague in your descriptions. Don’t rely on adjectives. Paint a picture. But be careful not to bog the reader down. Give a sense of a greater world and move on with your story.
  • Give glimpses of the past in your world. Key historical figures being discussed and events that shaped the world. How long that city or port has been standing there. Conflicts between people and how they got started. Most of these details won’t make it into your story, but you should have them figured out and hint at them.
  • Figure out the daily stuff. What do they eat? How do they get their food? How was their city built? How does it run? What is their government? Do they trade with anyone? How? What are people’s occupations? Is there a social hierarchy? You need to know these details to make your world believable.
  • Go beyond setting into philosophies and religions. What holidays do they observe and why? What rituals are in place in their culture? What religions exist and who in particular believes in them? Go beyond the basics and make complex thinking systems and beliefs. If you base a religion on a real life one, be sure to move beyond the stereotypes which can be harmful or demeaning. Add depth to their religious beliefs to add depth to your story.
World building? Use all five senses to immerse your reader into the world. #amwriting… Click To Tweet

These will help you add depth to your world building. What are your tips for world building? Share below and happy writing.

Julia

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J.K. Allen

Columnist/Illustrator at Our Write Side/OWS Ink, LLC
Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.
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