How to Build Beautiful and Realistic Worlds


In this continuation about world building, I wanted to focus in on a few specifics, as well as the ways in which getting down to the details can actually lead you into a deeper story – both for the sake of your readers’ experience ,and how it can affect your plot, character development So here’s a few suggestions, just to get your imagination rolling.


What kinds of buildings make up the majority of your world? What materials are available for use? Do brick buildings fill your cities, or metal skyscrapers? Are the villages full of huts made of grass or straw, or giant insect parts scavenged from the Great Forest?Who does the building? How did the people come to decide upon the “best” way of building to suit their environment? How does climate affect how homes and workplaces are organized? There’s great variation in our world and history when it comes to architecture, but move beyond what’s been done on Earth!



Where does the fabric come from? Is it grown or woven? Is it taken from animal furs or hairs? Are there giant breeds of silkworms that create silk in such excess that it’s a common material in the world? Breaking it even further down:

1) Accessories: jewelry cut to store one’s powers, hats with hidden compartments, scarves knitted with color codes hidden in the design, canes, umbrellas, and maybe glasses that see into other dimensions;

2) Necessities: hand-me-downs with personalities, heirlooms that keep (or share) secrets, clothing that emotes to the wearer or to those around them, shoes with special properties,

Don’t be constrained by these ideas – they’re just starting points!



Sometimes the weird methods of transportation people have come up with on Earth seem odd enough that copying them just seems logical – or we’re so stuck in the normal, understood ways of getting around that we get trapped and can’t come up with original things.

Use the real world as a jumping off point – think of hot air balloons – but the wind they’re inflated with is alive. There are boats and bicycles and cars and motorcycles and trains and even all kinds of brooms (if you’ve got some magical folk around) But there’s still so much more!

Traversing the deep sea in a transparent whale. Being bounced up the mountain side by magnetized bubbles… you get the idea.



Culture, history, philosophy, religion, diet and climate all play a part in forming languages, especially over time. Even if you’re writing in English for your readers, you might want to create new words that reveal the aspects of your created world that are separate from what we know – encompassing new concepts that are impossible to translate into English and therefore help the reader feel that the “original” translation has been kept in the “text” they’re reading.



I mentioned this a little in my last post about eating aliens, but what if in your world, the characters really do eat aliens? Do they distinguish between alien animals and alien people? How did they come to differentiate between what is food and what is not? Maybe they don’t – in which case, is that considered cannibalism in your world, or is it normal? Or maybe they’re vegetarians (and there is no such term since that’s normal). What do they call those who dare to eat meat? Maybe they are able to photosynthesize starlight, and the very idea of eating a plant is anathema to them? In which case, do they interact with other people who have different dietary practices? How do they get along? Or are they at war?

That last question leads us more into Politics, which we’ll continue in the next post about world building…



Katie, signing off!


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