Simple steps to World building
When I first started writing my first novel The beginning of the end, my characters were in a very plain world without structure or context. My Beta readers could not picture the world within my story or any of the races, so I knew that I had some major work to do.
Make the characters in your story feel as if they were born and raised in the area that you have created for them. Or if a certain character’s storyline tells of them being a foreigner, you need to show that in the way they act and talk.
The reader doesn’t want to be told that the protagonist comes from far away, they want to judge it for themselves when they see the character’s behaviour differ from those around them.
The best stories can easily transport you to another world, and make the reader wonder about what it would be like to live there without telling then how life is in that world.
If you really tap into your world and write it properly with the different settings and landscapes, the readers might even want to visit this world.
The larger setting is the general setting for your story, and you will be able to use this when talking in broad terms within your novel. But as the storyteller you also need to know all the smaller details as well.
Where in your world are you going to start your story with your characters, and at what stage of their journey. Because not all characters will be introduced at the start of their journey.
When you think about describing your smaller settings, for example, a small town. Close your eyes and walk down every street and alleyway until you have covered every inch. By the time you have finished, not only will you have seen all of the streets and buildings, but also the characters of each area, write everything down for each place.
The important thing about this exercise is knowing the small details that make each place the characters visit unique in their own way.
Different roads to travel
You will need a lot of different settings in your novel as they will be very important in the journey of the characters. This gives the story a chance to grow for the reader as the hero takes their journey, it will make your world seem bigger than it really is.
Your character will need to travel to at least ten different places in their journey. In the first manuscript of my novel The beginning of the end I only had a few settings, then added more in the redraft. This made the story a lot more interesting and engaging.
Where, what and who
Where are your characters going to go to, where are they coming from, and what interesting places will they visit or travel past?
What different types of people will they meet, and how will this affect them on their journey?
What interesting things will happen to my character, or around them that will impact the story?
What settings can you create that will allow the readers to become totally immersed?
If your novel has the following, there will be an endless amount of trouble your character can get into, and your character getting into trouble is what adds drama and tension to your story.
Rivers, large and small: What type of terrain, landscapes and life surround these places?
Forests and plains: These two different types of settings are so much fun to play with, they can support a whole vast of different life forms.
Hills and mountains: You can have anything from the smallest hills to the highest mountain ranges, what type of obstacles will be in your character’s way as they try to pass?
Towns and small hamlets: Will your character stay for a while in these places, by-pass them, or just quickly travel through? This opens up different scenarios for you to play with.
Cities along the coast or inland: As with the towns, cities will all be different depending on where they are located. One of the main themes will be the transport of goods in and out of the said city. If inland they will use caravans, and port cities will be using ships.
I had my characters travel through each one of these in the first novel, which really helped the flow and pace of the story.
Naming the places
What names would sound cool to you? Write down names that would make the reader curious enough to want to go and visit these places that are in your story.
You need to have at least fifty different places that your characters will travel through, or visit in your story. With towns and cities I like to draw maps as a reference to have a better idea where they will go and what they will do, this is also helpful when I look back at certain places for the storyline.
But you as a writer need to describe these places in a way that the reader will not need a map, but will still believe they are walking throughout that place alongside the characters in your story.
Think of the history and the culture of the places your characters visit, because even though you might have several towns in a section of your world, the culture and people can be vastly different, which makes for an interesting story.
This is what I discovered writing my novel, The beginning of the end.