It will probably surprise no one that worldbuilding is my favorite part of writing fantasy. I love sitting down and asking questions about the cultures I’ve studied, places I’ve been, and stories I’ve heard. It’s always exciting to feel the new place take shape, and to discover my protagonist’s role in it.
So I’m thrilled to reveal that now when you subscribe to this blog, I’m able to offer you a cool perk: Creating Stunning Worlds. This is a short PDF that includes my worldbuilding tips, a questionnaire to help you brainstorm, prompts to help you focus your brainstorming, and recommendations to avoid infodumping.
Below, I’ve included a sampling of questions:
20 Questions for Worldbuilding
- What environment is the main story in? (Desert, mountain, forest, island, etc.)
- What limitations does this environment place on your protagonist? In what ways is the environment stifling?
- What form of infrastructure connects your world? (Examples: Pittsburgh is connected by bridges, Venice by canals, Tidewater Virginia by rivers)
- What is your protagonist’s house (castle, spaceship, yurt) made out of? (Protip: If your protag is home often, you might make a floorplan to help you choreograph indoors scenes.)
- What is one item (either local-craft or from abroad) in the home that your protagonist values above everything else?
- What are five things your character knows about his or her home that a foreigner wouldn’t?
- What government figures would your character run into in an average month? (Law enforcement, lords, tax collectors, etc.)
- What’s one thing this government is super good at?
- What’s one thing this government really sucks at?
- Who is the cultural or racial majority?
- Name two minorities.
- What prejudices does each side have about the other?
- What does traditional dress look like? Is it common to wear, or do only certain people adhere to it?
- Who has invaded this country in the past? What marks (traditions, laws, ruins) have they left?
- What’s one custom in this country that really annoys or offends a neighbor?
- What superstitions and traditions surround birth? (When is the baby named? Who delivers the baby? How much do people know about childbirth in general? Is the father present during the birth?)
- What superstitions surround burial? (For instance, do you have to be buried in a church yard? Is it bad luck to be buried at sea?)
- What is one myth that everyone knows? How does it reflect the way the world works?
- Name two constellations and the stories surrounding them.
- If magic exists in this world, what societal expectations surround the magic? (For instance, is it rude to perform magic during tea? Is it rude not to offer your host a magical gift when you pay a call?