This is a cross-post from the guide I posted on Wattpad; figured I’d bring it here just to have it on record. If you’re interested in world building but don’t know where to start, or maybe you just need the inspiration to get going, feel free to take a read! I hope this gets your inspiration brewing.
When we write, sometimes we can sit down and start tapping out our steady stream of consciousness without having to sit back and think about what we’re really writing. Other times, we stare at the screen and find ourselves procrastinating, getting distracted, opening up social media and scrolling for a half hour before remembering what we had set out to do in the first place. If this sounds a lot like you, fear not: the rest of the internet has a tendency to face these problems as well, and they have come up with a few great solutions to the issue of constant distractions and the inability to focus.
When developing a story, organization is key. It isn’t enough to just whip up a plot and start writing the whole thing out. That could work for some people, but those people are often extraordinarily gifted savants who were born for the sole purpose of writing things, and while we applaud those people for their wondrous talents, we aren’t them. Sometimes, we just need a little bit of a hand getting our stories in order, and that’s okay. It is absolutely acceptable to go back to everything we learned in English class and pull up a diagram of the standard story arc, separate our story into chunks and classify them as “Rising Action”, “Climax”, and “Falling Action”. It’s even better to divide your story into even smaller chunks based on even more complicated story arc templates. Having a hundred notepad files with all your story ideas is literally fantastic.
But no matter how much you try to organize your story on your own, you’re always going to lose track of storylines, forget tiny details or character features, and go off on a tangent so extreme that you’ll find yourself wondering how you’re going to get back on track.
A huge part of every great story is the world it takes place in. A story isn’t a story without it’s setting, and it’s hard to envision one without being able to place characters or cities, mark journeys across vast lands, or place actions into an environmental context. Readers will always rely on their imagination when visiting another world for the first time, but wouldn’t it be great to give them all the tools necessary to imagine that world exactly how you do? If you know how to flesh out this brand new world, then you can bring it to life just as easily – for this reason, it’s important to think of the world itself as just another character in the story. And every character needs depth and a rich background.
Let’s all be real for a second. If there’s anything roleplayers love to do besides roleplay, it’s read about roleplaying. There’s just something about other people acknowledging our weird little hobby and knowing that we, and our tight circle of friends, aren’t the only ones that do it – not only that, but seeing the sheer diversity of people that do it. Reading the opinions of people far outside our own online social circles gives us insight to what people who play in different genres think and it makes us truly realize how vast, and common, the hobby actually is. Not only does it allow us to validate our weird little hobby, but it encourages us to empathize with other people regarding certain issues in our respective roleplaying communities. Reading about roleplaying can help expand your knowledge of writing tactics and social approaches to subjects you might not have known how to handle. It’s also a great time waster, and can get the creative juices flowing – especially, and unfortunately, if you aren’t currently in a roleplay.
Sometimes, when you want to write, all you need is a pen and paper. Or a smartphone. You tap out your first few words and if you’re lucky, you can write until you’ve exhausted either your mind or your hand, all with a nice neat little story that you have effortlessly composed. For some people, it really is that easy, but for most of us? Not so much.
The truth is that it takes a lot more than sitting down and just writing away. Some people need a push in the right direction to get started, others need to refresh their memory on the expansive selection of literary devices they can use, and everybody needs to whip out a thesaurus every now and then. Don’t feel ashamed to admit that you get stumped in the middle of writing something. And especially don’t feel ashamed when you realize you know absolutely nothing about what you’re writing about, how to write it, or simply the writing community and industry as a whole.