Creating a World Your Readers Want to Read About

Jason Link
A free video tutorial from Jason Link
Writer, Instructor, Speaker, Storyteller
4.5 instructor rating • 6 courses • 10,554 students

Learn more from the full course

Writing Great Fantasy: World Building Workshop

Writing fantasy: The step-by-step method to writing a believable and compelling world that will enchant your readers

04:03:36 of on-demand video • Updated August 2019

  • Build a believable and compelling world for a fantasy story
  • Map out your world -- natural features (mountains, rivers, forests, etc.) and people made features (countries, cities, and roads)
  • Create fantastic creatures that survive in your world's habitats
  • Develop peoples and races and establish their societies and cultures
  • Plan out your world's timeline to get the big picture of your world's story
  • Form a healthy relationship between your world and your story
  • Learn crucial concepts used all throughout the world building process
  • Learn how to establish rules for your world so your world is more believable
  • Learn how to create a world of depth so your world is more compelling
  • Learn how to create meaningful names for the various people, places, and things in your world
English [Auto] To create a world that readers want to read about this is perhaps the main reason why we write fantasy to take people places they have never experienced before worlds that exude wonder awe and maybe even a little fear we can think of the fantasy worlds created by Master storytellers worlds that have CEdit us worlds that we wanted to get lost in perhaps after experiencing those places we thought to ourselves why cant I make something like this too. Or perhaps the world we dream of comes from the walls of our own imagination whatever the source of the world. We begin building in our heads. We've come to the point where we want to share it with others. We want to lay out this world for them in the form of a story. So how do we do this well. How do we do this so that audiences will find our world compelling and intriguing just as the master storytellers created worlds that we wanted to get lost in. How do we present our worlds to our audiences with that same effect. In truth there is no formula for conjuring up wonder. It's an art not a science. And like any art there are no hard fast rules that can guarantee success in this area. We have little control over the emotions that our audience members feel. We have no control over their taste what they like what they dislike. We cannot make them find our world compelling. Therefore there will be people who will find your world uninteresting. This is inevitable because everyone has different tastes. The people who love Frodo's Middle Earth may dislike Alice in Wonderland and vice versa. Both fantasy worlds are completely different from one another and will be received differently by different audiences. Therefore you need to accept that the world you create will not be liked by everyone. You can't please everyone. When you do accept this fact and we need to move on. If we cannot make people find our worlds compelling What can we do. All that we can do is create the greatest opportunity for our audience members to find our world compelling. As I said before there are no formulas for doing this but there are guidelines that can help shape the process. Here are some guidelines that will help you build a world that your audience will find compelling. Guideline number one. Put yourself into your world. Consider it good news that you can't please everyone. This means you are free to be yourself. The world you're making gets to come out of who you are. You get to decide. You get to use what you find compelling. It is true that what interests you you might not interest others but tapping into your interest is the best way to create a world. Their audience will find compelling. Don't base your world building process off of what is popular or what sells well to the public. There are at least two things wrong with going after popularity. You trade your creativity for a cookie cookie cutter mold and two you cut yourself out of the process. Fantasy worlds that come from a mold have no human personality or emotion behind them. They may be entertaining for a little while but they are ultimately empty and quickly forgotten. If you try to make your world out of everything and try to make it for everyone your world will end up as nothing one of a sop's Fables tells of a war between the birds and the beasts. For many years they fought sometimes the beasts would have the upper hand and sometimes the birds would. There was one creature that was always on the winning side however and that creature was the bat when it looked like the birds were winning. The bat would side with them and when the beasts were winning he would go over to their side and fight for them. As the war raged on the back kept switching sides always keeping with those who had the upper hand. At last the war ended and the bat thought to himself. The birds and beasts will surely make me their king. I was everyone's ally during the war when he came to the gathering of birds and beasts. He found to his surprise that none of the animals wanted anything to do with him. Trader. They called him. You were loyal to no one. In the end he was everyone's enemy. And the moral of the story is you can't pledge your allegiances to everyone in the art of world building. If you try to make your world liked by everyone it will be liked by no one. You cannot be loyal to the masses. You need to be loyal to your side who you are that which is cliche and overdone is not compelling what people find compelling is a world with personality with its own quirks and nuances it's own biases and subjectivity. In short they are compelled by a world that has a human individual behind it. And for your world that's you. Guideline number to use what you find compelling. This relates to guideline number one. But I believe it needs its own distinction so as to emphasize it in worldbuilding use what you find compelling for the simple reason that if you don't find your world compelling How can you expect others to find your worlds compelling. And think of this excitement and wonder is often contagious. People are more likely to be intrigued by what you present them. If you yourself are intrigued. Guideline number three create a world of depth a compelling world seems to have no end to it. The more we learn about it the more we learn that while there is more to learn think about our planet. Much of it is discovered but there are still frontiers yet to explore the depths of the sea caves underground and even the microscopic world of cells. Bacteria and atoms and is the history of our planet to explore things yet to learn from artifacts and fossils still buried underground and beyond our planet. Theres the vastness of space with billions of galaxies and planets we dont even know about. We live in an extremely compelling and intriguing reality because of its never ending depth. People can also be intriguing because of the depth they possess. Their complexity makes us want to learn more about them and when we think we know everything there is to know about who they are. They surprise us by doing something that shows us there is more to them than what meets the eye. We want to create that same sort of experience for our readers when they enter our world the world of our stories. We want to show them a world that has more than what they see on the surface. If you want the world of your story to be compelling for your audiences then they need to get a sense that when theyre reading your story that they are only getting a small taste of it a small taste of the world you've dreamed up the world you created is so vast and complex it has so much depth that you were only able to give them a sampling of it within the pages of your story. This kind of world is compelling because it leaves your audience wanting more. They will want to go deeper. Guideline number four stretched the bounds of your creativity when dreaming up our fantasy worlds. There is a good chance that what comes to the top of our heads is that which is cliche and overused. We need to resist the temptation of using these pulmonary thoughts as they are not the best we can imagine. As one of my creative writing professors explained to me once coming up with ideas is like shopping for produce at the grocery store when grocers put new vegetables in their proper place. They dont just simply put the new on top of the old. This would mean that the old tomatoes for example would remain at the bottom of the pile and never get picked. They would rot at the bottom of the container. So what grocers do instead is that they put the new tomatoes at the bottom and the old on the top. Most everyone picks from the top because thats the easiest to pick from. But if shoppers want to get the newest freshest tomatoes they need to ignore what is easily presented to them and reach deep into the container. We as road builders need to select our ideas in the same way we can't simply take the idea that first comes to us. The idea at the top of the pile. That's what everyone does. If we want to get fresher more original ideas then we need to reach deeper into our imaginations. That's where the fresher and more original ideas lie. And just as we find fresh tomatoes are better tasting than all tomatoes. Our audience will find fresh ideas more compelling than old overused ideas. To conclude this lesson. I'd like to quickly go over the four guidelines one more time. 1. Put yourself into your world to use what you find compelling. 3 create a world of depth and for Stretch your creativity. As I said before we cannot determine the tastes of our audience members but by following these guidelines we can give them the best opportunity of finding our worlds compelling.