RESOURCE Worldbuilding Tips and Tricks from fellow Worldbuilders!

Discussion in 'CREATING WORLDS & SETTINGS' started by Malkuthe Highwind, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. Alright folks! I think it's about time we had this thread.

    I open the floor to any worldbuilders out there and to all of our guildmasters. Post tips and tricks that you have for any part of worldbuilding, be it culture, language, religion, flora and fauna, or just the process of worldbuilding in general. We have a lot of workshops, yes, but I think we lack a resource where there are just small tips and tricks for aspiring worldbuilders out there.

    NOTE: To all people who will be perusing this thread. If you see a post that you like, rate it either "Thank" "Like" or "Love." If any tips get sufficient attention, we're going to ask the poster if they would be willing to expand on it!

    Alright worldbuilders! Let's do this and help each other out!
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  2. Build the characters first, then the world around it.

    You'd think it'd be backwards, but you can technically "map" where your characters travel as they're doing it. This saves you work wondering where point A and point B are, and then later you can peruse it and go, "well that was west of here, so if I draw a line going this direction, then that'd be where this city would be." You can keep track of almost anywhere like this, and then flesh out what that individual city or town looked like later after they visit it.

    Doing details as you go keeps you from focusing on all the technical stuff that goes into making a world while you get to do the fun stuff like character development and conversation... but it also builds the worlds alongside them too. .D
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  3. I'm going to extend Jester's tip here, because my process works the opposite direction. xD.

    Jester's method I think works particularly well for personal worlds and not ones that are built to begin with for RP, because you tend to have your characters there first. I tend to create worlds tailored for RP so I begin with a broad plot and premise and build the world around that, bringing in locations and aspects that I think will be pertinent to the plot down the line. I like to be as detailed as I possibly can, because even though the characters may not ever visit those locations physically, they can be used for plot points.

    Now that being said, one of the biggest tips I can give to worldbuilders is to let go of the idea that "I have to be original! I have to put a spin on everything to get noticed!" because frankly you don't! Let your creativity run wild and borrow from other worlds you've come across in the past if you have to. In this day and age, nearly nothing is original in the world of fiction, but you can put things together in a way that is uniquely you, so have at it! Build a world you would love and others would love it after you.
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    • If you build your characters with enough depth, you'll hardly face that terrible moment when your mind is just blank, and you feel stuck in your story. If they arrive in a given moment A, and you don't know how to procceed, you can just trust in them; imagine the scene, the interactions, the dialogues. Let them act by themselves, according to their drive, intentions and behavior, as you were an expectator, and make the world react to these actions. Your creation will find a way where you can't, but only if you know them enough to understand them.
    • When creating a scenario, think of all possibilities to explore it. If it's urban, think about everything you can use in it later: dark corners? Tortuous alleys? Noisy avenues? About the buildings: are they regular blocks, or a wild maze, with confusing constructions? Are they tall? With or without balconies? Huge building, with just small windows? Wide spaces, or claustrophobic? The scenario will be a solid base to your story, and if it's really remarkable, will be so entertaining as the characters themselves.
    • It's true that plot twists, secrets, hidden intentions, ulterior motives, etc, can make the plot go deeper and things more interesting. But do not exaggerate! It's important to keep a few simple things, and non-problematic situations. If every character has a powerful plan, their intereactions will so full of interpretations that all the story will be fragile, built over layers and layers of lies. Besides, a cast made only with sharp devilish minds and members of secret sects will be very unrealistic.
    • Avoid too-simple-answers. As in: 'I like my character shirtless, with only his tribal necklace, but he's traveling to the icy tundra. Ok, he's very strong against the cold, because he's wild!' No. He will be a wild popsicle. If there is a thing you just don't want to change, make the story in a way that you can keep it to the end. Transforming your human character in a dragon to resolve all problems is boring, too. That's very hard when writing with other players, as they will change aspect of the story. Be prepared to adapt. Even fantasy needs a minimum of realism to keep consistency.
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    • Give your world a purpose before you put anything to paper. Is your world for X type of roleplay? For Y book you're writing? For Z fun silly times? Remember that. Make a note of it. Make the purpose into the big neon-colored stickynote above your work area. It's like a pep talk you give yourself before you even start, and it'll help pull you through most obstacles.
    • When you're starting a map, don't stare blankly at a screen until you want to cry. Instead, grab some chalk (or crayons that aren't too dark) and make broad strokes to indicate where different 'biomes' are. Suddenly, you have a basic geographical map! Just take a picture or scan it, and then tidy it up in your imaging editor of choice (I used SAI for the lines and colors, and then moved to photoshop for POIs). Best thing about this method is you can start with the gut and then get technical, rather than being stuck dealing with both at the same time.
    • Sign up for Wikia. This might seem an idea meant for later, but if you make a Wikia and set up and index with everything you want, you can take notes right on the page and worry about filling in more and prettying it up later. No need to have disorganized notes, and it's free! There are other free wiki choices out there, but Wikia is the one I have experience with.
    • Practice envisioning the world from above, zooming in and out, and using your mind to tweak details as though you're molding it with your hands. Not only does it give the world more of a personal feel, but it also helps stabilize the image of the world in your mind, making it easier to map and explore.
    • Don't be afraid to play with dolls-- some of my best major NPCs have come from playing with online dollmakers, and they've shaped bits and pieces of the world around them. It's easy to just think about what looks good on a doll, and then step back and suddenly you have the basics of a character in front of you.
    • Remember, worldbuilding is about creating a setting. Sometimes you need a universe, sometimes you just need a room. Make what is needed for the story, and anything else is extra. There is no set size to worldbuilding.
    Hopefully these tips are helpful. I used to run a world-building room on another RP site I was on, and it feels good to see other people with similar interests.
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  4. Nerd it up! Build graphs for your characters and compare your consistencies. You don't want your story to be about 4 people and theycr all blonde haired, blue eyed, extremely fit and musically talented females who r left handed. Bc let's face it, the majority of people are right handed, very few people have blue eyes and not everyone is very physically fit. So make a graph or chart and it will be easier to see what you've done wrong or right.

    When you're stuck, come up with 10 memories or opinions on controversial topics that the reader might never know and it will bleed into your writing making your character feel more real and believable.

    Look up jungian archetypes. See if any of your characters fit in with the list and why. Sometimes it's good to go a little old fashion in character (ever heard of "an oldie but a goodie"?). And sometimes if you don't want to be typical it's good to help with avoiding stereotypes.
  5. Although this is solely for one's own preference, I think keeping notebooks that are labeled with each step of your world building process will really come in handy! Binders too!