How to do Worldbuilding:

A Guide on Crafting Your Story Universe

Old tavern in a fantasy style

Introduction

Exploring the art of worldbuilding and creating a story universe from scratch opens up a realm of endless possibilities. Whether undertaken as a solo endeavor or as a collaborative effort with friends, the process can be incredibly rewarding, allowing for the creation of worlds as simple or complex as your imagination allows.

A great skillset to have for any author, illustrators, game developer, tabletop roleplaying gamemasters or anyone looking to create a captivating immersive stories.

Background

With over a decade of experience in worldbuilding as a personal hobby, I've delved into numerous projects, each offering valuable insights and lessons. While I haven't embarked on any large-scale endeavors, my experimentation has equipped me with a wealth of tips, tricks, and resources to aid fellow enthusiasts in their own creative journeys.

Content overview

In this guide, you'll embark on a journey through the intricacies of worldbuilding, structured around key components essential for crafting vibrant story universes. Each section is designed to equip you with valuable insights, practical tips, tools and resources for each part of the process, to unleash your creativity and breathe life into your imaginative worlds.

Preperations

Welcome to the Storyteller's tavern.
Sit and have a drink, while I tell you all about the skill of crafting an immersive world and telling a story. There are many ways of doing it, but this one is mine.

It all begins with an idea and a notebook, a sketchbook, or a folder titled with the name of your story. "Storyteller's tavern" for the sake of this example.

You'll also need tools for your creative mediums of choice.

Picking a setting

Social paradigms

Is your world a utopia — a perfect place where everyone is happy—or a dystopia, where everything is grim and bleak? Perhaps it lies somewhere in between.

Genre

What genre defines your world? Is it fantasy, sci-fi, horror, steampunk, solarpunk, or something else entirely?

Time period

Does your world exist in the past, the present, or a future yet to unfold?

Picking the right setting for a world is crucial to helping yourself paint a picture for your listeners, and immerse them in your story universe. For the sake of this little story universe we're building, let's settle on an "Utopia, sci-fi, set in the present with fantasy elements". Make sure to note down your own choices.

Creating a hero

Every story universe needs a hero — A host, an introduction, a main character within the world. Today, our hero is "The Storyteller", owner of the Storyteller's Tavern — Yes, it's this place.

On a new document or a piece of paper, make up a character sheet for your own main character of your story. Include easy-to-read bullet lists with any info about the character you deem relevant — Remember that you can always come back to it. For my little example, we've included name, title, looks, a home location and an empty spot for relatives. We could also include a small summary of their history, but I've decided to keep the Storyteller a mystery for now.

You can spice up your character sheet with a small sketch of your character to get a visual of them. If your main skill is elsewhere than illustration, you can use AI tools like the Bing Image Generator, or commission an artist to generate or make an image of your character and maybe advance your ideas.

If you go the route of AI, or commission and artist to do it for you, make sure to give them all the information you've gathered about the character so that they can make or generate an informed image of your character.

A note on AI image generators

While it is out of scope in this guide to discuss why, I can not recommend the use of AI generated images at this point for a finished product unless it is specifically trained on data that you're the sole owner of.

The Storyteller

Owner of the Storyteller's tavern.

  • Looks: Bald, pink eyes, with teal-colored eyebrows and a long goatee beard. Always wearing a pink robe, with a big book of stories hanging from his side, strapped across a shoulder. Always bare-feet.
  • Home location: Storyteller's tavern
  • Relatives:

Making friends and foes!

Now that we have a main character, it is time to populate your world.
A great place to start is thinking about who your main character would know and interact, you can think a bit about:

How?

  • How do they travel
  • How old are they
  • How do they sustain themselves
  • How do they know (character)

What?

  • What are they
  • What ways do they communicate

Where?

  • Where do they call home
  • Where do they stay away
  • Where do they wanna go

Who?

  • Who are they
  • Who do they know
  • Who knows them

Why?

  • Why do they do they act like they do
  • Why do they dress like they do

The friend

Calm giant.

  • Looks: Big, broad shouldered with dark messy hair. Wears his trusty helmet he made out of an iron bucket and some decorative hog-tusks.
  • Home location: On the road
  • Relatives: Unknown skinny big brother

Try and come up with other more specific questions for your characters you develop them, for example, for the Friend above: "Why do they carry a sword?". Once you've created a couple of characters go through them all with fresh eyes tommorow and pick up the rest of the guide then.

Expanding your story universe

The cast is in place, but where do they all live?
Using the same process of asking yourself one question after another, go through with the places that they all live in. Start connecting some dots, between characters, locations and everything else you might add and start thinking about your first creative endevour with whatever creative medium you decide.

Sound

The strength of audio, is that it can set the mood in an instant. Think about incorporating sound into your story universe, to help immerse your audience. It can be simply audio effects if you do a read-up of your story universe, a music composition on social media to help promote your story universe, or maybe your main way of telling a story is through music?

Writing

Writing can give us insights into the inner thoughts of your characters. It is the traditional way of storytelling, but by no means the only way of doing so. Writing can be used as a main way of introducing your audience to your universe, or use it for tidbits of lore scattered through out a website, game or other media. Maybe short stories is a thing for you to try?

illustration

An image says a thousand words. Visual storytelling is a powerful tool for worldbuilding, giving you the option to show an event unfolding, without having to spend a novel explaining the details of it to your audience. Even if it is not your main skill, try out sketching some rough ideas using stickmen?

How to implement different media types into your worldbuilding

Implementing music

Let music set the vibes on your social media posts that includes video, or read a story with sublte music running in the background. The example is composed by King Musical Mel, with my direction in 2016.

How to use writing in worldbuilding

Writing can be used as the glue that hold together the rest of your media. Be it on an interactive website full of tidbits of lore and material from your universe, or be it a book series with a nicely illustrated cover.

Tower building in a fantasy style

Visualizing your world

Your world is more than words and sound. Use sketches, or full illustrations to help liven up your world in social media posts, or as your main way of building up your world. Comics or animations is a lot of work, but can be a good way to break up a longer narrative into something a little easier on the audience.

Helpful resources

Our little worldbuilding session has come to and end, but before I leave you to building an amazing world for others to enjoy, here is some helpful links to resources and paid artists, who can aid you in the making of your world.

Tools

Commission an artist

Web devs (Front end)

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Web devs (Back end)

Writers

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Text editors