Hey guys! So forever ago I did a poll on my Instagram asking if anyone would be interested in a blog on worldbuilding. It has literally been so long that most of those people have probably forgotten that I even mentioned it. -facepalm-
But I didn't! I've actually been using some of my spare time to put together as many of the resources that I used as possible, so that I could be of the most help. (And some was slacking, yes, because I'm a procrastinator by nature ;) Plus I'm genuinely terrible about keeping a blog up. xD ) I really did compile a fair chunk of resources though, so I hope they're of some help! <3
So the thing I found when I looked into worldbuilding for my own story, is that the resources are few and far between, and they're scattered to the wind. There doesn't seem to be a lot of collective information on worldbuilding and a lot of what you will find is super generalized and doesn't really lend to helping writers understand what they need to make a lush, living world.
First. You need a map. You can hire a professional cartographer, or as I did an artist, but often especially for a from-scratch design this can take a chunk out of your pocket. In the beginning, I highly suggest just doing the design yourself, then decide if you want a more professional piece of art from there. Even if you're using a modern, existing setting, download a map of the location. Know where you're going.
I scoured the internet when I set out to design a map. I downloaded free cartographer software and taught myself to use it. I was never thrilled with the results, but I used them to the best of my ability. Interestingly enough though, there isn't a lot of information about how to design your map in the writing community, and if there is I didn't find any. What I did find was that one of my other hobbies, Dungeons and Dragons, lends itself quite well to writers looking to build worlds and stories.
Dungeons and Dragons is a game literally based around creating a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience for a group of people. If you're a writer of fantasy or sci-fi and haven't tried D&D, I highly recommend. You learn to be quick, to think in the moment, and you learn that sometimes things don't go as planned... and you learn how to adapt. (Which by the way is excellent if you, like me, are a serial pantser who absolutely never knows what's going on.)
Long winded intro aside, I found this incredible channel on YouTube called WASD20 and this awesome guy LAID OUT how to create a fantasy map. His tutorials are in-depth and literally perfect for writers to at least make something quick. Because maps are imperative. If you don't know where you're going, the reader can tell. I got lost in the catacombs of my own book because I didn't map it out during the first run. It was a mess! xD Anyway this guy will literally teach you step by step how to design your own map and even if you don't do the exact same thing, I found his videos incredibly helpful.
So you have a map. Now what?
Here's the thing, the reason I say start with the map is because now you know the lay of the land. You know if you have coastal cities. You know if there's a tiny town in the mountains. You know the central paths that could be used as trade routes, you know where each place is situated in regards to commerce. And that's what you need to figure out next. Roads, safe paths, dangerous paths, primary form of income... But I have something to help with that too! ;)
So this handy little guide asks twenty specific, guided questions that will start you down the path to fleshing out the political and economic needs of your world. I know. This part is no fun, and it actually requires a decent amount of research. What kind of ruling party does your world have? How do they rule, and how does that effect the other regions? Are they a beloved leadership, or no? But even if you never explicitly state the information in your story, YOU know it, and thus you'll stay on a guided path when writing your world. A port city isn't likely to be the poorest in the kingdom, for instance. Between travelers, fishing, and trade, they're probably at least moderately well off. Unless your ruler is a tax fiend. ;) But even if you never say that they're a well off city, you'll know that, and you'll know in building their setting that the buildings will likely be in better shape, the people wearing slightly finer clothing. It all helps. ;)
This set of questions is slightly more in depth. If you really hate worldbuilding, you could probably slide by with just the 20 questions. But I highly recommend at least skimming through these. Maybe you'll see something you didn't think of. :)
Now, those of you who follow me on Instagram have probably heard me reference at least once the Worldbuilding Bible that I've been poking at for several months. Simply put, the whole thing is a compendium of all my notes on Araenna and The Thanatos Trilogy in a one inch binder. More specifically, I've divided it off into sections and organized the notes based off what topic each set of notes is related to.
Now, mine isn't complete. I hand write all of the notes and that takes a LOT of time, because what I have is well. There's a lot. Because when I have an idea or think of something worldbuilding related I punch it into a word doc and save them for later. There's literally no organization to my word doc notes at all, which is part of the reason (I think) that I'm utterly incapable of outlining. But! That's for another day.
In my Worldbuilding Bible I have every piece of information I currently know, or could need to know, about my characters and world. I even sketched out a room-to-room detailed "map" of my protagonist's palace. The best part? I built the entire binder off of a template. Merry Christmas! xD
Again, it's pretty in-depth. But I don't find myself lacking for the information I need to just keep writing. Maybe I do have some organization in my bones ;) Want a video? Boom.
Another thing I've been doing in prep for this blog was building a Worldbuilding Pinterest board. I collected as many useful resources as I could and dropped them into this board. Now, some might be repetitive. Some might not be any help at all. I'll keep updating the board as I find new goodies. But for now, I hope it helps.
Also consider your religious system. The humans in my novel used to worship a singular deity, but over the centuries they've evolved their religion into something that follows more along the lines of Hellenistic Polytheism. Figure out what works for your people. Has it always been that way? If it changed, why? Religion is an important part of any society, and it's doesn't have to be the same religion you yourself follow. I don't have any resources for religions, unfortunately, but take what you know and embellish. You can do it ;)
After you've got the technical sides of your world built, you can start to do the fun stuff — building aesthetics, deciding on period styles, etc. I know that the actual building part sucks but I promise your world will be so much better off because you know it better than anyone. And it WILL show in your writing.
Want to digest some of this in video form? I've got you covered there too! Here's a collection of some of the best videos on Worldbuilding that I could find.
And because I'm absolutely in love with this channel.... ;)
So yeah. I know this was crazy long and maybe a bit of a mess but I hope that you find some help here. Or maybe even just a start point. <3 Worldbuilding is daunting and I know when I started that just finding resources was a task.
If you have any questions, or would like to see anything else included in this, feel free to tweet me @Tyffany_H or message me on Instagram @Tyffany.h !!! <3