This initial primer to World Building will be followed with weekly excerpts by published and emerging writers in our World Building Wednesday blog series. If you would like to contribute, please feel free to submit excerpts from your worlds. Please subscribe to our blog to make sure you get all the wonderful and weird things Introvert Press has to offer.
I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in worldbuilding. Many people build worlds for different reasons. The most common ones I’ve encountered are for tabletop RPGs or personal fantasy world. I find the ladder super interesting, but I won’t get into that. Personally, I’ve only encountered a few people who are building worlds for elongated, story-telling purposes.
Those people seem to know what they’re doing. I often feel like my own world is inferior to say, Middle-earth or Elder Scrolls. And that’s what I want to talk about it.
When you are first building your world, design so it pleases you and only you. Obviously, through the writing, editing, and publishing process you will have to tweak the setting, characters, and plot so it is coherent enough for your audience to read and enjoy. But I’m talking about when you are starting from scratch when you are endeavoring on the long, frustrating, and hugely rewarding process of building your very own world.
Don’t listen to what others are saying, or what they would say. Create only what you find beautiful, what you find stunning, what you find undeniably cool.
If you want to have unicorns and aliens in the same world, so be it. If you want your character to switch gender identity three separate times, go for it. This is the time where your imagination can explode into the infinite colors and creation of your own design. Nobody else is looking over your shoulder unless you let them. This is something you can build without any physical effort. It’s something you can create on your own without having to hammer down walls and cut up wood. It’s something expansive and beautiful made from the musings and daydreams of your mind. So treat it like you would be tending your own garden or decorating your own house. Fill it with things you love.
Take it from me, if you try to create your world with more consideration on what others think instead of you think, eventually the world you’ve built will feel dull. It will feel hollow. You could have a solid plot, a solid world, solid characters… but if you are designing it to please anyone else but yourself, eventually, that world can lose its colors. It can lose its life. You will look at all the stuff you built and something inside you will be whispering you don’t want to write what you have created.
That feeling is so heartbreaking.
It’s devastating, but it’s a strong learning experience. You kind of get a “screw it” attitude and you grant yourself the freedom to create what you want to create.
I like to think your audience can sense your passion through what you create. I like to think that’s why titles like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones do so well because the person who created them poured all of their creativity and all of the passion into their own paper-and-ink worlds. The transfer of passion from writer to reader is a really important and intimate experience. I think that’s a big reason why creators should start off with what makes them happiest.
A piece of worldbuilding that I’m proud of and I’m passionate about in my books is this clan of elves called the Solvaryn. Along with other elves in my verse, they are very protective of nature. The one thing these elves hold sacred to their heart is a special, isolated grove filled with an arboreal plant-life called the “Sun-Spilled Trees”. These trees collect sunlight in their dew early in the morning, reabsorb the light into their systems and at night, they glow with the light they absorb. They aren’t blinding, though, they glow like those calming, yellow lights you see around the holidays.
I’m really proud of them and so is the Solvaryn clan, because they protect those trees fiercely. They rarely ever allow any outsiders within the fold and when they do, those outsiders aren’t allowed to touch those trees. These trees are fragile and rare because people cut them down to mine the sunlight from their systems. But the other thing that is a big enemy to these trees, the only trees left in the world, is the season of winter.
Going off of this, next in line to lead the clan is a male half-elf named Ro, short for Rowan. He’s witty, charismatic, dutiful, and loyal to his clan. The clan, and Ro, only know that his father is an elf. Blood purity isn’t a big thing for these people and up until the day before his coronation, they had no problem with Ro leading the clan. However, that night, there was an assault on the grove and in a last act of desperation, Ro pulled out this surprise winter power that only he knew about. He managed to save everyone and everything in the grove.
Now, the Solvaryn clan is pretty progressive. Before Ro, there was a female elf leading the clan. They don’t care about blood purity or gender/racial superiority. But when it comes to those damn trees, everything goes. Even though it wasn’t his fault for having winter abilities, even though no one was more dedicated to the clan than him, even though not a single tree was harmed by his powers, within the hour of using his abilities he was banished from the tribe.
He has two brothers; Dillon who is a full elf and Morgan, who is half-elf, half-tree nymph. With Ro’s banishment, the crown is handed to his younger brother Dillon. Morgan, however, had always had an aloof attitude towards the clan and towards his brothers. So when he saw his oldest brother show a secret that got him banished, Morgan left with him because it humanized Ro for him.
Ro is different from my other characters in that even though he is suffering, he tries his best to be funny and positive. He tries to keep a smile on his face and bring light to the people around him. Morgan and he grow closer in exile and despite how much he misses his clan, Ro now has this great opportunity to explore a part of himself that he always knew about, but never gave himself permission to understand.
I am very proud of everything I just shared. However, I’d say the most important part in all of this is Ro, my character. Pretty trees and special names are great, but the characters are what catches the attention of the audience the most—at least that is what happens with me. I think the passion the writer feels is delivered to the audience through the characters and the more relatable they are, the more the audience will care about the world that was built.
So seriously, have fun with the project and the world you are building. You are doing a favor for yourself and a favor for your audience by choosing to focus on what inspires you because your audience will get the very best of you and what you can create.
* * *
Victoria Folch-Pi is a dreamer and has a tendency to pour her fantasies onto the page. She’s got a proclivity for the emotional and the fantastical, but she still explores different avenues of writing (and life), even if it’s scary. She has been everywhere from Boston to England in her studies of writing, receiving a B.A. in English from UMass Amherst for this very purpose. All in all, she ultimately hopes that what she writes—fiction or otherwise—will inspire others on their own life’s path, wherever that may lead.