Writing 101: How to Do a World-building


When you are writing a story, you do not just create a story, but you create an entirely new world. You could see yourself as some kind of god that creates and controls your world. When you are making this world, it does not have to be logical, but make it make sense. What does this mean? For example, magic is not something that can be comprehended with logic. However, in a world where magic is some kind of energy that everyone uses, just like how we use electricity, magic is just as natural and makes sense as it is to electricity in our world. A good world-building will create a good story, and it will help a story progress logically by minimizing the chance of accidentally creating a plot hole. World-building can be tricky, but you can start with these three simple ways.

First, define the geography of your world. To achieve this, you need to ask yourself a lot of questions. How do you want your world to be? Especially the settings where your characters live or going to have a journey; how many continents are there, and what are their characteristics? To what extent is human interference involved in the story? By doing so, you will have a clear vision of how your world will look. Even better, there are a lot of free map generators on the internet that you can customise according to your liking. Defining the geography of your world will help so much for the actual story because you know for sure what kind of environment your story took place in, so it will not feel too artificial or has a weird geographical structure.

After defining the geography, this will lead and correlate to defining people and culture. Just like how the real world works, geography will affect the culture and people significantly. People who live near a coast will depend a lot on the sea as their sources, so most people would make a living by being a fisherman. On the other hand, people who live in a forest will depend a lot on forest sources. This will then correlate to their culture, like how they dress, how they practice some beliefs, and so on. When you are doing world-building, you cannot just focus on your characters. They are not just a character but a part of a bigger community as a whole, so defining people and culture is one of the essential steps to creating a solid world.

When you have established some essential things in your world, you may begin to define the society. How does the society where your characters live see things? What is considered taboo, and what is not to them. To make it easier, you can divide on how the society in your world sees things from the aspects of gender, race, age, and class. Even though your story is not about character vs. society, creating a solid society is important and cannot be separated from building characters. One simple example is that magic can be seen as something forbidden and taboo in a story, while in the other story, magic is an everyday tool that helps people in everyday life. The correlation between defining society with characters is that you help create motivations for why some characters do things. Without this aspect, the motivation would be weak. 

The last simple step that you have to do is to describe how things work. You have to be able to explain why certain things are there and what their function is. Let us take a look again at the concept of magic. Sure, a lot of stories have used magic as a concept, but when you are adding a concept of something in your world, you have to be able to elevate how it works. For example, take the concept of magic as some kind of energy, and magic tools such as magic wands and spells are the tools needed to be able to manipulate and use that energy. Next, how is magic used in that world? Is it used as energy to support technology, or is it just some power used for combat. You cannot just add the concept of magic and say that it is there because it is there. 

Creating a story means creating a whole world, and obviously, you want this world to be solid, just like the real world. World-building is the most important thing when you are creating a story. Of course, it will not be easy, but you can start with simple things by defining geography, people, culture, society, and how things work. This will help you a lot to avoid plot holes. A good story will have good world-building. Imagination is the key, you can create any world that you want, but remember that it does not have to be logical, but it must make sense.

Writer: Steven Andrew S.
Editor: Febby Cahya Diva