Worldbuilding is, to me, the most exciting and fundamental part of writing fiction. Before one can even type Chapter 1, the author has to have a place, a character, a time, and hopefully a reason. But those are just facts, objects that have the slimmest of connections to each other. Worldbuilding is the process of defining the bits that connect the facts of your story and make the story become more than just empty words on a page.
I have a chapter in my book The Writers of the Universe entitled Dragons In Space. I have had this idea for a very long time to clash two things together that make no sense and are extreme opposites in the literary world. Dragons generally belong on earth and in Fantasy lore, Space is normally reserved for a bright future in Science Fiction novels. Worldbuilding is the mechanics of setting up a scenario where such a thing is believable and also interesting to the reader. By asking myself questions and with the answers I made up, I could build a framework in which both dragons and spaceships could collide in a coherent and semi-believable manner.
Some Worldbuilders like to start with a place. So ask yourself who lives there? Then making an example up off the top of my head I say The Karj are the biggest nation on the main continent. What food do they eat? The Karj mainly eat and hunt large elk-like cattle. Do inhabitants live by the ocean or desert? This nation is nomadic and roams over the large plains of the continent. What other species of animals live in this world? Are they hunters, prey, predators, free rangers, or bugs? Ask a question, develop an answer that sounds plausible for the world you have made and then refine the question with more specific ones until you are satisfied with that aspect of your world. Some start with big questions like planets, continents, nations. Others like to start with a micro world, for example a single village on the edge of a dark forest. In this way you can build up or down, expanding the richness of your imaginary world.
Now that you have defined a place where people, aliens, sea monkeys, and warlocks can all live in peace. It is time to put a character on the map. This doesn’t have to be the second step in your world building. It can be the first, or the last, whichever comes naturally to your own creative process. The first character does not have to be the main character for your story, nor does it have to even be a character that will be mentioned in your story. It only has to serve as information to enrich your world and connect the missing links between plot, places, and our understanding of your world.
These are the when questions. When does the king live/die? When is the major earthquake that uncovers the spaceship. When does character X meet character Y and fall in love? For my Universe of Chaos I have defined a timeline for the world of Aura as starting at the end of The Writers of the Universe. As I write more stories within this universe I plan on advancing the timeline so that I can go from fantasy to science fiction and have an understanding with the reader that this all happens but at specific points of advancement for the societies and nations of my world. You don’t have to do this, but I found it a nice way to connect events and objects of importance in shadowy ways that enrich the fables I am trying to tell.
Hopefully A Reason:
Some worldbuilders like to create a place where they can escape to and dream about. Some build RPG campaigns to play with groups of friends, Some like to only create Wikis (I recommend Ema personal wiki), others video game concepts. I like to tell stories, It helps me feel more normal as it is something I can totally escape into. My reason for worldbuilding is because it honestly keeps me happy and sane. It’s a tough world out there and sometimes the best way to fight it and understand it is to write about it. Hopefully a long time in the future when I hang up my quill for good, I will be able to say my writing helped others the same way it has helped me through my own troubled times.
Shout out to r/worldbuilding! Best community out there and the best place to ask questions if you are interested in pursuing any form of worldbuilding or are generally curious about this thing i do.