Writing has been an important part of my life since I was in middle school. Creating characters and the events they encountered has been one of my favorite things ever since I started that very first story. I started out writing things I knew. I set my stories in the real world and added elements as I needed.
After more than two decades at this, my world building is a little more sophisticated. I plan the world of the story so that it can help drive the narrative, motivate the characters, and sometimes so it can be a character in its own right.
I’ve been working on my series for several years now, and developing the world it’s set in. You can find more about that world specifically in my post about how the setting came to be.
Recently, I’ve been working on a new project, and I’ve rediscovered the joy that comes with world building.
I enjoy working out what languages I’m going to use, how the character names are structured, how magic works in the world, and what the political and economic landscape looks like from the character’s point of view. It’s like putting together a puzzle without knowing what the picture will be.
The new project is set in a fantasy world I’m still creating. I decided I was going to use real languages rather than create my own (that really takes a lot of time and knowledge that I don’t quite have). The main ones I’m using so far are English, Latin, and Arabic. I’m doing this neat thing with character names where the number of syllables in your name signals which of four social classes you were born into.
My favorite part of creating a new world is building the magic system. Deciding where the magic comes from, what limitations it has, how it manifests, who has it, and all the other tiny details that make up the magic system bring me so much joy. I’ve been developing this system slowly, since I’m still discovering what the story itself is going to be about. I think I have a vague idea of what my end game is now, which is about all the plot planning I’m capable of during the very first draft (I am allergic to pre-writing outlines after all).
What’s your favorite part of world building? I’d love to hear what other writers enjoy in the process.
Not a writer? What’s your favorite fictional world? What makes it unique?