How to Start Worldbuilding

A great story has a great setting surrounding the plot. How do you create a believable, consistent world for your story?

The genre of your story will determine how in-depth you need to worldbuild to create a believable setting. Sometimes a barebones, “basically earth with different cities/countries” or “actually earth” will suffice. If you’re writing fantasy, though, you probably need to create a new world or at least rules for how the fantasy elements interact with the world. “Earth plus magic,” for example, has a lot of possibilities.

The questions you should ask:

  • Is this earth? If not, you’ll need to decide if your story takes place on a planet or just a country/region of a planet. You may not need the whole planet, but you could name it and create vague areas. Only put the detail work into the areas you’ll be using.
  • If this is earth, what year is it? How has earth changed between then and now? For futuristic fiction, decide on some general events and changes that have taken place. Flesh out the ones that will affect your plot. Have a timeline in case you need to make more history.
  • Do you need or want to create a language? Who speaks that language? Define the people group or context for the language. For example, in the Middle Ages most written work from educated people was in Latin. The Catholic Church services were in Latin. At that time, Latin had a specific context even though the majority of people did not speak or understand it.
  • Are the people human? If not, how are they different? How are they similar? Are there humans in this world? Will there be humans in this world? If you have multiple species consider how they interact with each other and why.
  • What religion do the main characters adhere to? What religion(s) are common among the people in the city/country/region/etc? Do they believe in god(s)? Are the god(s) real in this world? What are they like? What are the religious practices or rituals, if any? Religion plays a huge role in culture and has a large influence on people’s lives.
  • Who is in charge of the government or power structure? Are either of those present? Do the majority of people like the officials? Why or why not? Do the main characters like them? Why or why not? Have the officials influenced the city/country/etc positively or negatively? How?

These are some basic starting questions. As you create, more questions and their answers may come to mind. Feel free to create as much or as little detail for your world as you want or need.

Just don’t get so caught up in it you forget to start writing your story.

Life Is What You Make It (5)

I frequently think about my life, what I want to accomplish, what I’ve done so far, and how long I have to do everything I dream of. This is a series featuring things I’ve written about such things, both poetry and prose. The previous parts are here.


It’s my anniversary with my boyfriend. We’ve been together a year. A whole year! I can’t believe it’s been so long.

The past is important in shaping us into who we are today.

We live out each moment, each day, each week, each month, each year… But sometimes we forget where we came from, what shaped us into the people we are now.

Our memories are imperfect, sometimes even fabricated.

We’re able to record our thoughts, our actions, our lives more easily than ever before. People post on Facebook, and the next years, Facebook shows it to them again. They get reminded of their memories because they recorded them.

I’ve always loved journaling. For a while I hoped my journal would matter to others in the future. Now my past journal entries matter to me. I have a window into who I was in years past, a clearer view of how I’ve changed. I wrote about what was happening in my life. I might not remember a lot of that otherwise.

I can clearly see because of my recordings how time has passed, how my life has changed. I can track where I’ve been to see how I got where I am now.

We all need to know where we’ve been to understand where we are.

I journal and blog and date all the creative work I do.

How do you remember?

[Self-Scripting Poems] Sands and Words (Poem)

This is a poem from Inside a Writer’s Head. Read more from and about the collection here.

Why do I so often

write poems about poems?

Why can those words

not stay locked inside my head?

I don’t know,

but they find their way to paper

on their own when they make a flow,

a river of words

etching into my mind,

my internal fabric.

Sometimes past poems

will flow again, partially,

never in whole.

Yet somehow I avoid writing

the same lines twice.

Amazing how that can be

when sometimes creativity

it is fleeting and fleeing.

But something springs up,

gains life and warmth,

later depth and breath,

gaining a voice I cannot control.

The words, the words

on their own

have always flowed

without my personal intervention.

I don’t know how,

but everything

writes itself,

though I may have said such before,

I cannot place quite when.

The words are

my Power,

but the sands of time

is all they bring.

“If Projects Were Children” (Poem)

This is not part of Inside a Writer’s Head, but it is the same flavor as the collection. If you like this, be sure to join the collection giveaway. It’s totally free to enter, you just have to interact with posts on social media.

It’s been a while

since I sat and wrote,

I got distracted

By all I’d spoke

and all else I was

involved in.

I neglected this writing

in favor of

my other offered flavors,

And projects more complete.

Not that it was wrong,

but if my art were

my child, I’d be in deep trouble.

I’m lucky my projects

are not literally my children,

for I have too many

to properly care

For them all.

How I Work

Location: St. Louis metropolitan area

Current gig: Crafts or Toys associate at Walmart, blogging here and at Over the Invisible Wall

Current mobile device: iPhone 6s

Current computer: I’m not sure, but I run Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver”

One word that best describes how you work: Prioritization

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Google Drive, notebooks and pens or pencils, Gmail, Facebook messenger, my phone calendar with notifications

What’s your workspace like?

Messy. Clutter tends to pile up as I prioritize my work for Praxis, blogging, and other projects over putting away the binder I got out two days ago and finding a more permanent place to store some other things.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Write down what is done and the next step before switching to a different task.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

My notebook and gel pens. I also have calendar notifications for hard and fast obligations for the day. I made a larger list of ongoing to-dos in a Google doc which I’m still refining.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

Probably my fitness tracker, headphones, and webcam. If non-electronics count as well, my notebooks and pens.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Creative problem solving, thinking outside the “box” to find or make a solution that may be unconventional when the conventional solution is not possible or available.

What are you currently reading?

Niche Down by Christopher Lochhead and Heather Clancy. Other books I’m in the middle of: Eldest by Christopher Paolini, The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller, The Last Safe Investment by Bryan Franklin and Michael Ellsburg, and How Could a Loving God…? by Ken Ham. There are probably others that I started reading and forgot about.

What do you listen to while you work?

I mostly don’t listen to anything while working because I find it distracts me more than it helps me focus. I probably just haven’t found the right kind of music for that, but I prefer songs with lyrics most of the time. I might try making a playlist of instrumental songs and listening to it while working to see if it is distracting or not.

I would welcome any suggestions for instrumental work music, leave your recommendations in the comments and I can make a follow-up post reviewing my experience listening to them while working.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

I like to spend a lot of time alone and working on projects in my own space. I like spending time with people, but I get drained by long periods of in-person interaction even when I’m having a really good time and want to be socializing.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I stay up late and get up late, except when I have to get up early for a shift at my job. I tend to be up past midnight and get up around 9 am if the money making is in the afternoon.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The quickest way to improve at anything is to work at it every day, even just a little bit.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I consider how I make money work, my projects work, Praxis obligations work, etc. Anything I’m not doing “just for fun” is work. That doesn’t mean it’s unenjoyable or not fun, though. I spend the mornings before my shifts at Walmart working on my blog, Over the Invisible Wall, other projects, or stuff for Praxis. It’s work, but it’s fulfilling and satisfying rather than tiring and draining.