Let's say that you finally have an idea for your writing and let's say you have even started to jot down your ideas on a regular basis to give them some shape. Stop! That is all sunshine and rainbows, but your characters and story need a world to give them shape. Without an engaging, believable, and even beautiful world, even the most complete and compelling stories can fall flat.
First, what is a world? It may sound like a foolish question, but it is one that has a lot of weight behind it. Go ahead and look around you. It is everything you can see. The ground beneath your feet, the sky, trees, buildings, streets, vehicles, even people and the way we dress and the color of our skin and hair and eyes. It is the coffee mug in your hand and the words scrawled across it to the furniture in your room to entire cities and countries.
It is everything you smell. The roasted coffee grounds and hint of nuts simmering from your mug. The shea lotion you rubbed on your hands an hour ago. The waft of fresh-baked donuts as you enter the donut shop every Friday morning. It is everything you touch, from the the firm clicks of your keyboard, to your cotton embrace of your favorite pajamas. It is everything you hear, from the birds chirping outside your window to the soft patter of rain on the roof.
A world is also culture. Every culture is uniquely and fundamentaly different. Each dresses, talks, and acts different from each other. Most speak vastly different languages and even varying dialects. Think about the modern American. Most wear a t-shirt and blue jeans. Compare this to an Aborigeni. The majority wear simple handmade rags, twisted grasses, or no clothes at all. They live in thatched huts and speak a language vastly different from modern English.
It is vital to craft a world as full of life and as complex as ours. Think about what you want people to look like and how you want them to dress. Is everyone yellow and do they all wear grass hoop skirts? How do they get around, on giant rabbits or on flying squirrels? Is anyone magic, and if so, how would your magic system work? Are there any repurcussions for using magic in your world, or does everyone use it as often as their toothbrush? How and why do people fight? Think as small as the buildings and the interior of the buildings. Why do they look the way they do (why does yours look the way yours does)? Think as big as their beliefs, goal, religion, customs, habits.
Your world can be a massive place, with dozens of languages and cultures and peoples, or it can be small in scope. Fit the world to the story and fit the story to the world. World crafting can be one of the greatest headaches in writing, but it can also be one of the most exciting and rewarding as well. If done right, it can help to produce a tactile and engaging experience for you and your readers.
There is so much to talk about with worldbuilding, far more than I could ever hope to relay in one humble blog post. Please check out these awesome links and more if you are interested in the subject, and as always, please contact me if you would like to chat!
Worldbuilding Links (All credit to their authors):