World Building Research and Execution


Research is fundamental.

In order to build a multi-dimensional, realistic world for your story, world-building research is necessary and vital. You have the germ of your idea. Now you need to plant it and help it grow. The setting your world takes place in is a great area to start.

The Tools

In true KISS (Keep it simple stupid) fashion, let’s just go with the assumption you’re going to use a free, but awesome, service like Google Docs to write your world building bible. Regardless, you will need a place to put the words. A lot of people find that handwriting this part works, using a blank journal you can pick up from most retail stores.

The only other thing required is patience, focus, and a bit of imagination.

Write a Short Premise

Let’s write a short premise to your world. To do that, let’s start with the location.

Location gives you an easy starting point for your research. In the very best stories, the world itself generally plays a role. You have to consider everything from politics to social justice to law enforcement, but the city (or town, whatever) usually feels like a character itself. So, let’s treat it like one.

A short Exercise

For this exercise, begin by addressing the physical aspects of our world. Here are some questions to ask yourself while brainstorming your locale:

  • What is the major location of your story?
  • Why is it important?
  • Does your location work?
  • Does it create conflict in the story?
  • What makes it interesting?
  • What makes it unique?
  • What impact does your location have on the story?

Next, work on your Main Character

There’s a pretty good chance that you’ve already dreamed your main character into existence long before now, so let’s fit them into this new place.

Always keep in mind, your world will reflect your character and vice versa. They are integral to one another to set tone and characterization that remain consistent throughout your story. If they don’t fit together you should consider your choices. This is where you make mistakes before pushing on to the long haul.

Another short exercise.

Now, consider the following and record an appropriate response:

  • How does your world affect the appearance of your character?
  • Can you enhance the appearance to make the character more interesting?
  • What are your defining characteristics that make your appearance unique?
  • Does your character have any ink or other identifying traits?
  • How does the character rank in the community based on their appearance?
  • Does the clothing reflect the environment?
  • Do you have any additional questions about your character you need to research?

The Final Exercise

Using all the info you gathered from your research you will now write a scene using your location and world setting. You’re going to want to answer all the questions above in your story.

  • Write a scene that uses a location in your world in 1,000 words or less.
  • Utilize your research to help guide your narrative.
  • Consider if your narrative addresses most of the questions above.

Bonus Prompt:

Having a hard time coming up with the world setting itself but still want to toy around with the ideas presented in this week’s exercise? No problem! Let’s go to the planet Olympus. Here’s a breakdown:

A space station spins hundreds of miles in orbit above a strangely inhabited planet in the part of the galaxy called the Outback. Cultures from all over the galaxy are represented here. It is a crossroads above the Terran home world of TCP1138, otherwise known as “New Olympus.” The planet below gifts certain settlers amazing powers that defy physics and logic. They stalk the lands and seas below, demigods among the remnants of humanity after the long exodus from the dead planet Earth.

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