World building is an important and really, really fun part of writing fantasy and science fiction novels.
Of course, since fantasy and sci-fi occur in worlds that do not actually exist, you need to world build in order to know where and what and how your characters will be doing whatever they need to do.
What are some of the main areas of world building?
- Map making
- Political systems
- Social groups and interactions
- Education system
- Language creation
- Industry and agriculture
Are all these things necessary to create a believable fantasy or sci-fi world?
This is where the world building trap starts to slam shut.
Some fantasy and sci-fi writers – me included – have delved into building the world of their novel so deeply that it becomes a distraction from writing the book. I have spent a week on a map. I have studied linguistic systems and created my own languages. I have outlined royal successions for dozens of generations, and written brief histories for each one.
Did doing all this make my stories better?
Yes, I think it did.
Was all of it necessary? Was all of it used?
World building is fun. World building is important. But 95% of the world building you do will not make it into your novel. It may be vital to know the history of the kingdom and how it affected the trade routes, but chances are, that will not make it into your book.