World Building 101
by Lee Masterson
You are the
ultimate creator of your fictional world. No matter where
or when your story is set, regardless of what events
unfold, and despite the characters you introduce to your
readers, they are all products of your unique
"But I write romance set in the near future right
here on Earth," I hear you cry.
It doesn't matter whether your story is set in 16th
century Middle Europe, or the 28th century Altarian
star-system, your story still belongs in a world created
entirely by you. So, even though it can be great fun to
invent strange sounding planets in distant galaxies,
complete with lethal atmospheres and budding alien
life-forms, there are still writers out there who would
much prefer to deal with Earth as we already know it.
The good news is you still get your chance to put on your
megalomaniac's hat and play God!
Regardless of where (or when) your story is set, YOU have
decided your characters' destinies for them. As their
creator, you selected what they eat, where and how they
live, what the weather is like around them and who their
But there's a whole lot more to world-building than
simply creating a nice backdrop for your characters to
parade against. Your world must accomplish many things,
but the most important is that your readers must be able
to immerse themselves so deeply in the situations and the
characters you've created that they'll willingly return
In short, the fictional world your characters live in
must seem plausible to your readers.
Ask yourself these things about your characters and your
- Are the seasons consistent?
- Is the weather a factor?
- Does the scenery change consistently with the
- Is the air they breathe polluted?
- How do your characters travel?
- What mode of transport is usual? What is unusual?
- Does everyone travel the same way?
- Is there a political/hierarchical system
- Is there a religious/superstitious belief system
among your characters?
- What unit of currency is predominant?
- How do they purchase or obtain necessary items?
- Is fashion an issue?
- What other creatures inhabit your world? (Pets,
livestock, insects, birds etc)
These details do not play much of a part in the unfolding
events of your story, but they will flesh out the world
you are creating. Your readers will gain more insight
into the times and places your characters must deal with,
and this in turn gives your story a more believable
platform to spring from.
Copyright Lee Masterson. All rights reserved