20 Questions to Ask for World Building

20 Questions to Ask for World Building
May 23, 2017 1 Comment For Authors, Writing Advice J.K. Allen

This month we’ve been talking about world building and so today instead of talking about the general subject, let’s talk about questions you can ask yourself to get started on world building. So here’s 20 questions…

  • What is the geography like? What is the terrain like? How does it differ from other areas?
  • What is the climate like? How does it affect the land and the people? How does it differ from other areas?
  • What do your people eat? How do they acquire food? Do they grow it? Trade it?
  • What philosophies exist? These include ways of thinking, ways of learning, and ways of fighting.
  • What religions exist? How did they develop? What rituals do people perform? What holidays do they observe and why?
  • What languages do your peoples speak? Remember that humans have developed thousands of different languages so don’t oversimplify and have one language per race. Also include things like dialects and accents.
  • What is your technology like? Are they in the Iron Age or in the future where the technology is very advanced? How has technology benefitted the people? How did it develop?
  • Is there magic? You’ll have to develop a magic system if there is. How does it work? What are its limitations? Who can or cannot use it? Where does it come from?

[bctt tweet=”20 questions for world building in your #writing: is there magic? What are its limitations and who can wield it?  #writingtips ” username=”hijinkswriter”]

  • What is the government systems of your people? Who are enemies? Who are allies? How do laws get passed? Who are the key governing people both past and present?
  • What is the history of your peoples? What wars have been fought? Which sicknesses have plagued the people? Major events that shaped the present?
  • What is daily life like for your main characters? For the average citizen? What do they do? Both occupations and hobbies.
  • How do people dress? How do they get their clothes? What are their clothes made of?
  • Are there other races besides humans? What do they look like? How do they communicate? Are they peaceful? Warlike? How do they compare and contrast to humans?
  • How is your world populated? Where are the big cities? Are there more big cities than small villages? How are the cities run and maintained? Who is in charge of them?
  • Who are the key figures in your world? How do they affect the world and your main characters?
  • What are the different cultures like of your world? Are they based on real life cultures? If so, be sure to do your research to portray them accurately. What practices do they keep? What do they value most? How do they interact with their environment?
  • What legends and myths do they believe/tell? What morals do they teach?
  • What is the economy like? Is there money? What is the money made of? Do they barter and trade?
  • Does your world building go beyond the world? Are there alien races and other planets where life is found? How do they differ from your world? Are they hostile? Friendly? How do races communicate with each other? How do they travel between worlds?

These 20 questions should get you started on your world building. Remember to figure out the details to build a complex world. What questions do you ask when world building? Share below and happy writing.


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J.K. Allen 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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