Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on creating a master worldbuilding worksheet. It’s taken so long because the list is so extensive – I hope to have it ready for both you and me in the coming weeks, but it occurred to me this morning as I began worldbuilding for a new story that an abbreviated checklist might be useful. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you sit down to write and realize you have to build a world from the ground up. Where do you start? How detailed do you need to be? Where should you focus your attention initially? Are you writing a story or an encyclopedia?
There’s no need to go all Tolkien with worldbuilding, at least not at the first stage. So, here are the things that I develop first:
Draw a rough map. I’m really bad at drawing. Like, really bad. But there’s something gratifying and unbelievably helpful about having a map on hand as you write. So take a deep breath, look up some tutorials and sketch out your world. No one except you ever has to see it, and it doesn’t have to have anything except the barest of geographical features and markers for towns and cities. Even if your mountains and forests and cities are all just shapes. You need a map. Trust me on this one. Continue reading