Creating a fictional world may seem like an intimidating task. You’re building an entire world from scratch, after all. While it’s true that building a fictional world takes a lot of time, effort, and planning, it’s really not as impossible as it seems! Here are a few tips that you can use as a guide for creating that fictional world that exists in your head and that you’d like to share with the world:
1. Build Your World Around Conflict
Don’t simply introduce conflict into your world. Instead, build your world entirely around conflict. Conflict is the beating heart of your fictional world. Your world may be beautiful and alluring in many ways, but it cannot be a utopia. It should be flawed in a way that presents a major challenge to your characters
A fictional world should involve some sort of large-scale external struggle. For example, the land of Middle Earth is embroiled in a war between good and evil. On the other hand, Westeros is a land of many conflicts between characters who are not entirely good or evil, but capable of both. Note that the way you present conflict will create fictional worlds that feel either idealistic or authentic.
2. Establish The Rules
Believe it or not, even fictional worlds have rules. If your world has never had magic or FTL travel, you can’t simply say that magic or FTL travel existed after all and allow your character to cheat their way to a happy ending. If magic or FTL travel do exist, they must have some sort of boundaries that prevent them from being a fix-all, end-all solution to every problem.
Once you establish the rules of your fictional universe, don’t break them. Otherwise, you risk breaking your readers’ ability to suspend their disbelief and they won’t enjoy the world you’ve created.
3. Populate With Diverse Characters
Huge, monolithic groups are boring, so avoid them. Instead, diversify your world by inhabiting it with different groups full of unique people. You don’t necessarily have to populate your fictional worlds with alien species or fantasy creatures. You can inhabit it with human beings who are racially diverse, but diversity extends beyond race. Groups tend to have their own cultures and traditions, too, and remember that even among groups, not everyone will fit the same mold.
4. Establish A History
Unless your world suddenly popped into existence at the very beginning of your novel, you’re going to need to write some history. Remember, history influences the way that things are in the present. If your fictional setting is currently a dystopian dictatorship, for example, how did things get that way? What went wrong? How did the ones in charge seize power? Also, think about how your characters can learn from the past and apply it to the present.
5. Establish The Details
Once you have everything else out of the way, you can start getting down to the nitty-gritty. If conflict is your world’s beating heart and the people who live there are its lifeblood, then the details are the spark that brings your world to life. Some details you may want to think about include language, government, religion, politics, infrastructure, technology, and military. Think about anything that affects people on a large scale, and then think about how you can apply it to your created world and how it will affect the people who live there.
6. Don’t Forget The Small Details
Small details are precious: they can help your reader truly start to believe in your world and relate to its inhabitants. However, this is where things get a little tricky. Detail should never come at the expense of the story you’re trying to tell. If a detail isn’t important, you may want to consider leaving it out or you’ll risk bogging down your narrative with too much unnecessary information. If you want to explore the minute details of your world, a good place to start is to remember the five senses: what do your characters see, hear, smell, taste, and feel? Use the small details to build a smaller world around your characters as they move through the world at large.
What fictional world will you create?
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