EelKat's Guide to
World Building For Fiction Writers -
What is your world like?

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What is your world like?

Think of your setting, your city, your planet, your realm as though it was a character in your story. Why? Because like any other character in your book, your world is going to effect your main character and his story.

Like a villain, your world could through a hurricane at your main character and delay his journey, causing him to miss a very important meeting. Or like a great god, the hurricane could send the villains ship out to sea, buying the hero his much needed spare time to escape. When creating your fantasy world, think of it as though it was one of your main characters. Think of all the ways it could affect your characters, both the good ways and the bad ways, and how it will affect both heroes and villains.

The questions in this section could apply to your entire planet, or just one city... your world, your choice.

  • Does it look like earth, with mixed realms, deserts, swamps, forests, fields, jungles, seasons, warm, cold, everything all mixed together on one planet? 
  • Or is it nothing like earth at all? 
  • Is is barren rock like Mars?
  • Is it a single environment realm: 
  • ice realm, 
  • fire realm, 
  • swamp world, 
  • sandy wasteland, 
  • other?
  • What type of people live there? 
  • Do they resemble humans? 
  • Alien insects? Reptilian? 
  • Green skinned humanoids? 
  • Faeries?
  • What type of animal life is in your world? 
  • Mammals? 
  • Birds? 
  • Insects? 
  • Fish? 
  • Reptiles? 
  • A little of each? 
  • A lot of one and none of the others?
  • What kind of plant life is there in your world? 
  • Lots of lush greenery? 
  • Are plants rare? 
  • Plentiful? 
  • Fruit bearing? 
  • Thorny? 
  • Pretty but deadly? 
  • Edible? 
  • Poisonous? 
  • Are plants "alive" and eat people?
  • Is there much water in your world? 
  • Large oceans or only small streams in a sandy wasteland?
  • Are there many forests or is the woodland quickly disappearing? 
  • Or is it a place where trees could never grow at all?
  • What season is it during the time of your story? 
  • Or, let's expand this: 
  • What seasons does your realm have in it? 
  • Are they Spring-Summer-Fall-Winter? 
  • Time of Rain and Time of Harvest? 
  • Always summer? 
  • Always winter?
  • What type of weather does your land have? 
  • Lots of snow? 
  • Raining fire? 
  • Long stretches of dry weather? 
  • How do weather patterns affect your characters? 
  • Does acid rain keep them hidden in caves for weeks at a time?
  • Don't forget history. 
  • What was the geographic past like? 
  • How did it affect the present? 
  • What does the future hold? 
  • Did giant glaciers create canyons? 
  • Do volcanoes create islands? 
  • When? 
  • How? 
  • Where?
  • What kind of architecture is there? 
  • This includes such things as streets, houses, home decor, landscape gardening, etc. 
  • Don't forget that each city/town/village is going to have different styles, tastes, and culture too.


This article was originally written on: April 2006

This page last updated on: November 2013

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