I'm currently in the process of writing my first novel and have started to work on world building. Since I am new I'm not sure where to start. I was hoping you guys could help me by posting questions you think would be good to ask when building the world. (Alternate Earth)

So far I only have a map of a really specific city.

There is also magic. It well known in the world and not uncommon.

Thanks, everyone let me know if you need any more information or if I need to be more specific about my world in particular.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think, way too broad a question. Have you tried reading this site? Go diving in the archives (search on keywords). I think I'd start with the ones on magic systems. Since it's alternate earth, you don't have to do any planet or solar system design, just monkey with some history; depending on the specifics of your magic system. $\endgroup$ – user3082 Sep 27 '15 at 8:57
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @user3082 Rather than calling this too broad, it would be better to make it a duplicate of some existing question, e.g. How can I break down the task of creating a world into manageable chunks? There's also the Creating a Realistic World series of questions. $\endgroup$ – Brythan Sep 27 '15 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you both for your answers. I have checked out the site and have been browsing other questions to see if I could use any of the information for my own story. $\endgroup$ – Nina Sep 27 '15 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ The links you provided did prove to be of some use so thank you @user3082 $\endgroup$ – Nina Sep 27 '15 at 21:08

These are some points I think are useful to have a general idea of:

1. Story

  • What is the main storyline of your novel?
  • What are the main events that will occure?
  • What events that happen inflict your main story?

2. Protagonists

  • Who are your main characters? What are their backgrounds?
  • How do they think, react?
  • What are their main character traits?
  • What are their character flaws?
  • Their bonds and weaknesses?
  • How are they involved into the society?

3. The world around them

  • What time does your story play in?
  • What technology level is present?
  • How is your world governed? Is it a monarchy? Democracy?
  • Is it in a state of war or are there any local conflicts?
  • Are religions playing a role? Which one?
  • What kinds of religions/gods/ deities exists (are believed to exist)?

4. Magic

  • How popular is magic in your world?
  • Is spell casting a day to day activity, that everybody does, ore do only a few gifted wizards and sorceresses exist?

These are just a few questions that could help you get an Idea of how your world could look like. You should note all this Information in some organized way, maybe some local Wiki on your computer?

Whenever you think of new features for your world, look at them in comparison to what already exists. Does it seem fit? Does it contradict something?

Further reading: Consider reading this article. It seems to provide some useful tips about writing your novel. Have fun writing, and don't forget the Party point on the list!

More on the wiki thing:

I recommended using some sort of local wiki. For the point of which one to use, I recommend having a look at this article on Wikipedia (how convenient :). Personally, I use DokuWiki for my Dungeons and Dragons sessions, as it is lightweight and simple to set-up (doesn't even need a mysql-database), easy to use and free...

The reasons why I recommend one are majorly simplicity. For example, I like the opportunity to categorize descriptions of different characters or geographical locations by their families or countries etc. You could do this with a Text-File as well, but If you go into detail on your descriptions, that file will shortly become very big and confusing. A wiki enables you for an easy search and versioning of your thoughts. And offers possibilities to easily associate different articles. You sure can do all of this with a single word document, but from my personal point of view, using a wiki makes it much more organized.

  • $\begingroup$ When you say local wiki, what software are you considering/recommending? And why might you think that's better than just revising a text-file? $\endgroup$ – user3082 Sep 27 '15 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ Have a look at my edit. I added my reasoning why I would prefer a Wiki. $\endgroup$ – T3 H40 Sep 27 '15 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much. I already have 1 and 2 answered and am now working on 3 and 4. I think the questions you provided in section 3 are exactly the kinds of questions I was looking for. $\endgroup$ – Nina Sep 27 '15 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ I am happy to hear that! Consider voting for the answer and accepting it, if it was helpful to you $\endgroup$ – T3 H40 Sep 28 '15 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I'm new to this site but I think I accepted it, it's good to know thats an option. $\endgroup$ – Nina Sep 28 '15 at 10:02

When you are writing a novel, a rough outline of the story should probably come first. The world must be built to serve the needs of the story.

Take a part of your story and consider if it would work on present-day or historical Earth. If not, what do you have to change to make it possible? What do you have to change to make those changes possible?

  • $\begingroup$ I do have an online of my story, I'm just working out the smaller details and making sure everything fits together and transitions smoothly. $\endgroup$ – Nina Sep 27 '15 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ In fact, the city in which my novel takes place mostly finished but I heard that the more details you have, even if it doesn't end up in the novel, the better for your story. Plus if I turn this into a series then I would like for the setting to also be in a different location. $\endgroup$ – Nina Sep 27 '15 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed. First you need the rough outline of the plot, then you build a world where that plot makes sense, then you draw on that world to fill in non-essential details in a consistent manner. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Sep 28 '15 at 5:25

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.