World building bible series. Part 1.
What is a story world?
A story world is the accumulation of settings your character visits or is taken too throughout your story. The world can encompass many worlds in a universe or one bedroom in a house. Even if you base your story in a bedroom. There should be more to the room than just white blank walls with no furniture. Even then the world will probably be based on the memory or the imaginings of your protagonist. There will still be a place that needs to be mapped out so it makes sense to your readers.
What is world building?
World building is thrilling and the depth you go to create the world can linger on the minds of readers for the rest of their lives. There are no limits to what you can create. It should be proportional to what you are hoping to achieve with your story. It is no good spending all the time creating a huge world if your story is set in one village. Unless, you have intentions of exploring the rest of that world in future books.
It is used by most writers in one form or the other. Whether they store the information in their minds, in a world-building bible, a filing cabinet, Scrivener or another writing program, on sheets of loose paper or anything else the writer can grab quickly to make notes.
Creating the world of your story should be exciting. But if you are not organised and if you do not keep track of everything in your story it can lead to a disaster and a break in the reader’s belief of your world. Details like the lipstick the lady in aqua was wearing in chapter 2 page 57, to the petrol the antagonist used to burn down the villa. Not only that, it could also list, made up brands, where the character purchased the item or who gave it to them, even down to the ingredients if the writer chose to make the lipstick poison. No detail is small enough for the writer to store. The reader will never need all the details of the world but the writer should know.
A world building bible also allows the writer to keep track of timelines of everything in the story. Right down to the parallel information of the whereabouts of non-essential characters and their own timelines.
It can contain information like when the homes were built, trends and disasters in the lives of the characters. Everything that will help the writer build an amazing world for the readers to dwell in.
Why create a story world?
Creating a story world grounds your characters in a relatable way for readers to recognise similarities between their reality and the story world.
When creating a world for your story you are creating a parallel and memorable setting for your characters to play out the scenes of your book. In the storyworld you will need to know the where everything is. Where the character’s journey begins and ends, who your characters interact with, what they see, what they use, how do they eat, what do they wear, how do they travel, how long does it take and many other hundreds of potential questions that need to be answered.
You will know around 80% more about your characters and about the world then your readers ever will. But you need to know this because it creates a virtual reality that suspends the reader’s belief. The deeper you can write the layers of your world the more memorable your book will become. The more your characters can do and the more choices they will have in solving the story questions.
If you look at Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter these worlds suck you in and you remember so much about them. Writers like Tolkien and Rowling created great examples of world building in their books. They put a lot of thought into the world of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. They both did a brilliant job of describing their worlds so we, the readers, can think fondly of these worlds. As if they are part of our world.
What are the benefits of world building?
The deeper you go into creating your world, its history, the people, the myths or anything else that is relevant to your story and even some that is not, the more memorable it will be to your readers. Creating a fantastic world provides you with opportunities to write other books in the same world. You can establish a reader following that can grow beyond imagining if you are strategic in your planning of your story world.
What are the negatives of world building?
There are always negatives. Creating a story world takes time, lots of thought, lots of research, lots of notes and can drive you nuts thinking about the possibilities and the vastness of the creation. How much work and detail you put into your world is totally up to you and your story concept.
If you create a world that isn’t relatable or doesn’t have the basics for character life and survival, like: food, oxygen, resources, accommodation, transport, other life forms, then you will alienate your readers.
World building comes down to writer’s choice and motivation. It also depends if you want to pump out quick novels to try to make money or if you want your books to live in the memories of readers for ever.