Five Don’ts for World Building

Five Don’ts for World Building
May 30, 2017 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice J.K. Allen

Now, all month we have talked about world building here at OWS. We talked about the basics, diversity and world building, adding depth, and which questions to ask while world building. Today, let’s talk about some don’ts to avoid because good world building is not just what to do, but what not to do.

  • Don’t forget about the every day. Include details about your characters’ daily lives. What do they eat; what are their jobs like; what do they do for fun; where do they go? Make your characters’ everyday life real to your readers by knowing these answers and sprinkling these details into your story.
  • Don’t rely on stereotypes and two-dimensional characters. I’m not talking about background characters and I’m not only talking about characters. This includes any cultures represented in your fiction as well. We want realistic, three-dimensional characters, not caricatures created from stereotypes and ignorance. If you represent a real life culture or character from that culture, do your research and portray them accurately and respectfully. Even if you are making a culture up, you still need to make it realistic and three-dimensional by carefully brainstorming your culture and figuring out the details. The people in your story world need to be well-rounded.
  • Don’t forget the past. The past is a big part of what happens now thanks to cause and effect. So you can’t just neglect big events and famous figures from the past. Why are your events of the day happening? What led up to this and created this environment? The past will effect not only history, but politics, economics, and society. Be sure to develop them all.
  • Don’t make everyone in one group the same. By group I mean culture, religion, or organization. People don’t just agree on everything and all accept the same rules and tenets. There are always different types of people in a group and they all have different opinions. Reflect that.

  • Don’t neglect setting. Setting is a huge part of world building, but sometimes authors forget to include senses of a place in their writing. What does it looks like; what it smells like; what does it feels like; what it sounds like; what are the tastes like? Does your main character have a favorite place to go to in order to unwind? Did you describe that place so that it comes to life for your reader? Evoke the story world so that your readers can really experience the places in your world firsthand.

[bctt tweet=”World building? Don’t neglect setting. Use the five senses to evoke a sense of place #amwriting #writingtips #OurWriteSide ” username=”hijinkswriter”]

Those were five don’ts to keep in mind while world building. What are your don’ts? Share below and happy world building.


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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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