One of the most important components of fantasy writing is world building as your fantasy world must be grounded in a history, and should abide by certain rules in order to persuade your readers to suspend their disbelief when you introduce the magic, fantastical beasts, and other implausible elements. Before creating your fantasy world you should ask yourself the following questions.

Let’s start with where your story is located? Is it in the past, the future or in a place alternate to Earth; is it on another planet or in another dimension? For example, look at C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the child character of Lucy accidentally discovers a passage into a fantasy world while she’s hiding in an old wardrobe. This leads to a parallel world where there are different rules, laws, and power politics.

Next, ask who are the main intelligent inhabitants within your fantasy world? Are they human and the only intelligent species, or will they be other creatures, such as dwarves, fairies, elves, and more? Alternately, will there be species that you’ve made up? In the C.S. Lewis above-mentioned series, he features talking animals who help the protagonists navigate the dangers of their new environment.

What is the governing system in the part of the world you are focusing on? Will it be a monarchy, a republic, a democracy, a dictatorship, or maybe something else? Are the internal workings clearly described, or are they purposefully left hazy, (as in the rule of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings), so as to create a sense of mystique, and/or ominous tyranny?

What is the rest of the world like? What types of government and inhabitants will there be? What is the relationship between the people you’re writing about, and the rest of their world? Are they the dominant culture, or are they dominated? When you create your fantasy world, remember to include the types of societal differences that we find ourselves in, as this will add depth to your story.

What important historical events have led to the present situation? You need to decide on the past. What wars, alliances, or any other situations are relevant that brings the story into being?

Technologically. How will your fantasy world compare to say our world? Will it be more or less advanced, or does it have a mix of technologies? When creating a fantasy world, you should try to use small technological details where appropriate as they help to create a strong sense of your fictional place as a distinctive land in its own right.

What is the standard of living for average people? Will they be educated and how much? And, what does being ‘educated’ actually mean in the world you are creating?

Does magic exist in the world? If it does how is it to be regarded, and who will practice it?

What are the most important values of the society that you are writing about? Probably one of the most relevant questions here as to be what type of religion will the people practice, if any?

What about the class situation in the society you are focusing on? Will one gender, or race, tend to be favoured over another? Will there be differing levels of society in place?

When you create a fantasy world it needs to be extensive enough to create a plausible setting, as well as the background for your story. However, it cannot substitute for the actual writing of your book. In other words, please be careful that you don’t get bogged down in, or deeply fascinated with your world-building. Do so will lead you into neglecting the actual writing of your book. Remember though, your fantasy world is as free as your imagination use it wildly but also wisely. Good luck.

If you need help with your writing process then check out the Mentoring Writers website for details of the resources, workshops, other podcasts and services which we offer you or email us at contact@mentoringwriters.co.uk and we will endeavour to assist you.

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