I plan to do a whole series of posts on world building. This is the first of several. In future I will likely be including some links to assist you in your writing endeavors.
The beginning of world building is asking questions about your new locale.
Start with some basic details.
1. How big is your world. (Is it about the size of earth? Or Jupiter? or is it small like Pluto)
2. How is your world laid out? (Do you have an earth clone? or is it completely different? what is the terrain? Is your world a water world style or a desert planet (Aka Arakkis via Dune.) this is where you plan the general flora and fauna)
3. How is your world populated? (Is there just humans? or is there more races? If so how many are on there?)
4. How does the sky appear? (How many suns? How many moons?)
5. How far from the Star/Stars is your world? (This affects the temperature and weather on your world.)
6. How is your world as far as technology goes? How is it as far as magic? This affects how your cities are. Is it Steampunk? High magical fantasy? Diesel punk? Cyber punk? or perhaps Stellar traveling fantasy? This helps to set the expectation for the genre.
Once you have those details let’s get slightly more in depth.
*How do people get water?
Is the water sanitary and if not, how do they sanitize it?
*How does agriculture work?
Is it large corporations or individual farms?
*What sort of agricultural technology exists in your world and how does it affect food production?
*Are farmers wealthy or poor?
*What sort of natural resources does your world/country(ies) have and how are they obtained?
*How does this affect the average wealth of the country?
*How does this wealth affect the culture?
*What livestock or beasts of burden are most valued? Least valued? Why?
*What is considered a luxury good vs. a regular good?
Think clearly on each question. Visualize your answers. Go deeper.
- How does your world keep time (i.e. watches, sundials, water clock, etc.)?
- Does your world have a currency system, barter system, or something else?
- If you have multiple countries, do different currencies have different values across said countries?
- How does this affect travel?
- Do you have banks in your world and if so, how are they run?
- Who owns the banks? Government? Wealthy? How does this affect the economy and/or class system?
- How does credit operate in your universe?
- Does your world operate more on big corporations or small business? Something in between?
- How are workers/laborers treated in your world?
- Are there workers unions and if so, what are common views on unions?
- Describe your tax system. If you don’t have a tax system, explain why and how your world is affected by that.
- Can certain social classes not own property, certain livestock, certain businesses, etc.? Why?
- How are business records kept? Are business records kept?
- If your world has technology, does your world prioritize developing entertainment tech, communications tech, transportation tech or something else entirely?
- What does this say about your world?
- How does this affect your economy?
This speaks to the way society runs. This speaks to the way people function on your world.
Government / Politics/ Racial Divide
- How many races are there?
- Does the races intermingle? can breeding happen between them?
- Are there wars that go on between races? If so then why? what started it?
- To the closest approximation, what type of government does your world have?
- How are rulers/presidents/nobles put in place?
- How much power does an individual ruler have?
- Is there a veto process?
- If you have multiple countries, do they have different types of rulers?
- Describe any large-scale alliances (i.e. countries, factions, etc.) that are present in your world.
- How did they come about and how are they maintained?
- Are they strained or peaceful?
- How does it affect the greater politics of your world?
- Describe how wars are fought both internationally and nationally.
- Do methods of war differ between countries/races?
- What about philosophies about war?
- If there is a military, what is its hierarchy structure?
- How does the military recruit?
- Is the military looked upon favourably in your society?
- What weapons are used by each country/type of people during warfare, and how does that affect war strategies?
- Describe the sentencing system of your world.
- Is your accused innocent until proven guilty, or guilty until proven innocent?
- How are lawbreakers punished?
- If you have prisons, describe how they are organized and run, and who owns them.
- Does differing ownership change how the prisons operate?
- What are the major ways in which laws between countries vary?
- Do laws between cities vary? If so, how and why?
- How does citizenship work in your world? What rights and privileges do citizens have that others do not?
- Can certain classes or races not become citizens?
- Are there certain taboo subjects or opinions that artist/authors/musicians are not allowed to depict (i.e. portraying the official religion in a negative light, explicit sexual material, etc.)? What does this say about your society?
- How do people get around these censorship laws?
- What is the official hierarchy of duty in your world? (i.e. is family the most important, or patriotism? What about clan?)
- How many languages are there in your world, and how many languages share a common origin?
- How many people are multilingual?
- Which language is the most common?
- How is multilingualism viewed?
- How are different languages viewed? (i.e. is one language ugly/barbaric while another is romantic and sensual?)
Gather the answers. Next time I will link to a couple of good map making resources, But this is enough to get you started. What world will come of the answers? Will you create the next fun game? or will you use it to write a Novel that everyone will want to read. I will be adding more questions next time as well.