What is your world building process?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Lstorm, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. There are a lot of articles out there on how to create one's worlds, not to mention that the World Building Guild is also dedicated to helping out those who would like to establish their own settings. They are good points of reference, but in my opinion, everyone has their own way of doing things and their own way of making a setting. What is yours?

    For me, I usually start out from a story what I want to write, or an idea which I want to incorporate into the setting depending on my mood. I then collect the concepts which will be absolutely essential to the setting and define them as needed, then based on them, I establish the 'current' state of the setting, which usually means building the world as it is at the starting point of the story. I then move onto history, working my way from the earliest possible date which is unknown to the reader, or if I would like to deliberately obscure some details of history, I start at the first date civilizations have in their collective memories. Then I work in-depth on the various cultures, religions and other things of the setting, slowly building them up from the ground until I feel they are ready. I usually move forward my world-building as the story I started out with moves along, but that varies for every world I create.
  2. Eh, this varies for me. If I am purely world building, I generally try to get an idea of the overall culture then go from there, working my way down. I normally have a picture of the state of the world and work from a planetary scale to continents, countries, peoples, and eventually individuals. However, sometimes I will go the other way. I will create a particular piece of the world and build outward from there. Either way, my world comes together in bits and chunks. This is because, at some point, it starts to write itself and add in details that are inspired in one section but belong in another. The last step for me is usually making sure everything is tied together and all my notes are resolved.
  3. Most often I start with a simple story, and build a setting around it. As I add things to the world and it gets more developed, the story gets opportunities to take advantage of it's setting and become more interesting, too. If I had to outline it into a process...

    1. A story that usually calls for a certain setting (EG: it has to have dragons, there is a cursed forest)

    2. Developing the how-it-works of that setting usually calls for a construct of some history. Coming up with the mechanics of a world also gives new ideas (this power could be used for vehicles, too!) and gives me some ideas of what to put into the other parts of the world, like the cities and other essential facets of a habitable realm

    3. I draw out a map of my world so far. Depending on how far back the relevant back-story goes I may come up with the history of the world while drawing (could be just the past ten years or so, or all the way back to how it was settled, why certain areas are more heavily populated, etc). While drawing I also come up with a visual of what kind of animals and plants populate the world.

    4. I bring John and Jane Doe in. These don't have to be real characters for the story (though they often evolve into characters or background NPC-type people), but I come up with a man and a woman (if gender roles are prominent for day to day life) of each race/culture present, and write up a day-in-the-life type sheet for them. It can be a list-profile form, or I may write a short story about how life goes on for them. This is usually where I get most of the culture worked out. What kind of food John Doe had for dinner; did he make it or did his wife? Is he married? Is this expected? Does he have kids? How do they spend their day? Do he and his wife raise them or does the whole village pitch in? How many wives does he have? How is he treated by other people when he goes to work/errands? What kinds of tools/gadgets does he use day-to-day? Is it rare/expensive to have those?

    As the day goes on, I come up with more questions and the culture gets more developed.
  4. To say that my worldbuilding has even the slightest semblance of a process is an extreme overestimation. Of course, I am quite organized in how I embellish a world, but the building itself is quite chaotic.

    This is usually how it goes:

    I get an idea. I dwell on it a little. I file it away for future reference.

    I get further ideas on said idea and I make sure to note them.

    More ideas later and I'm fairly convinced it has to be done.

    Even more ideas come and I begin a sketch of a world.

    Satisfied, I elaborate on it.

    Then I say screw it and find a good possible plot.
  5. I like that idea about making a daily life write up! I hadn't thought to do that, though I often do little NPC profiles and story fluff.