This is a suggested question by Monica Cellio, who I want to thank for providing. I hope I kept the idea in spirit as possible.

How to build a world that can still be reused if the associated work to be published is rejected?

For example, I may write a story that is incorporated into a world I built. If the story fails to publish, I do not want that failure to also make other stories associated with that world also un-publishable.


2 Answers 2


If you've created a world, nothing can take it away from you (well, unless you sign it away). Same for your story.

Rejection by one publisher doesn't mean your story, much less your world, is dead in the water. Some authors got rejected by every publisher, and eventually one came back around and took a story (years later).

There are plenty of options to self-publish nowadays too.

Yes, maybe the editors are rejecting your world - in which case no story set in that world is going to sell to that editor. That can happen. Best I can tell you is that that's not every editor. And, unless there's a conceptual design flaw that makes your world completely break everyone's disbelief, someone out there will like your world (I mean, you like it right? That's one in the bag).

As advice for what type of world to build: Build one that you can write a number of different stories in. And different types/styles of story as well. That'll mean you can reuse the hard work you've put into the background, as well as make for a universe to tie all your work together.

I'd wait to do one-off worlds until you've sold a novel. (Unless the monkey on your back tells you to).

If you're just writing shorts, you're not going to go to the trouble to build a whole world.

  • $\begingroup$ Plenty of famous stories were rejected by the first publisher approached, for example Harry Potter was rejected. $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2015 at 10:22

I'd say start with the world, not with the characters or the plot of your story.

If you start by creating a world around an idea for a story or a character, you will find yourself having the world indulge the needs of the story or character.

Instead, you should start by thinking of a world that makes sense not only for the characters, but for everyone living in it. Think about geography, vegetation, lifeforms existing in your world, stage of development of humanity (and/or other dominant races), political and economical system, conflicts (on a large scale; i.e. wars and such), history of the world and the people/races living in it, and stuff like that. Once you have a world that has an internal logic, you can start by thinking about what people might do, what problems they might have, which stories could develop in your world.

Of couse, this might be difficult if your story is gonna be a Monomyth, i.e. a classical hero-saves-the-world story, which in many cases contains an issue that endangers a large amount of people who can only be saved by your protagonist. Take away the hero and you have a problem ...

I hope that helps you!


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