The beautiful thing about writing a sci-fi or fantasy novel is that you get to create a whole world unlike any other for your novel. The terrifying thing about writing a sci-fi or fantasy novel is that you have to create a whole world unlike any other for your novel. If you’re about to take on a worldbuilding endeavor, here are a few resources to help you get started.
1. Limyaael’s Rants
I’ve read through a lot of Limyaael’s writing advice, and I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s read just about every fantasy book out there. She’s got some great advice on what’s been done, what’s not been done, and what’s usually done poorly. From figuring out what servants do when they’re not serving the all important noble main characters to putting yourself in the shoes of the merchants your lovable scoundrel has just robbed, her suggestions for worldbuilding will take you out of the box and really flesh out your novel.
2. Advice from io9
io9 is a site for all things nerdy, with a focus on science but also quite a bit about fantasy and sci-fi novels, video games, and movies. They’ve got some great worldbuilding advice. If you’re looking for a quick and dirty way to jump into a new world, I’d recommend this article to get you started. Once you’re picking up steam, this great list of questions will help you decide on the structure and limits of your magic system. Finally, there are (according to io9) seven deadly sins of worldbuilding. Check out how to avoid them here.
3. Drawing a map
I love to open my copy of The Lord of the Rings and trace with my finger Frodo’s path to Mordor. Any fantasy novel, whether it’s an epic journey or a heist set in a single city, could benefit from a map.
Drawing a map might seem like a complicated task, but this handy guide will help you start with the basics like landmasses, then pull you in further by creating things like tectonic plates and weather systems. It’s got a pen and paper tutorial, perfect for those of you who aren’t comfortable with drawing software, as well as a guide to making the maps in Photoshop.
Whether your heroes are shivering in the rain and snow on their epic journey, or collapsing from heatstroke in the desert, understanding the climate is an important part of worldbuilding. Check out this site, which has many different types of weather systems, as well as a guide to what kind of terrain would result.
5. Primitive survival
Fantasy worlds lack the technology we rely on everyday. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what the hell people would do without them. From starting a fire to making a blanket out of rabbits you skinned yourself, this site has a guide for a number of primitive skills.
6. Worldbuilding questions
Patricia C. Wrede has created a truly impressive number of questions about your fantasy world. If you can answer each and every one of them, I’d say your world is ready for the real world. She’s covered in great detail everything from your system of government to your population’s daily lives. You’ll come away with not only a better understanding of your world, but a few plot ideas too.
Have I missed any great worldbuilding resources? Leave me a comment and throw them my way, because I’m probably going to need them!