Even if your novel has a contemporary setting, you will need to create the world in which your characters exist. World building involves creating the general and detailed settings in which the novel’s characters live. Even when your novel has everyday settings, you need to give your readers a sense of place. Reward your readers by giving them a world that engrosses them in the story.
Why World Building Matters
World building is necessary because your characters need a setting, even if the world is much like your own. Settings can enhance the tension of the story as well, such as aboard a doomed ship or airplane, or a building on fire, or a car careening on the highway, or some other tension-inducing setting.
The world in which your characters live is almost like another character in the tale. It will have its own environment and a life of its own. Yet, it will provide the background for your characters’ scenes. If you are a pantser and plotting is not your style, then write notes as you create your story. This will help you when you need to edit your draft later.
Unleash Your Creativity in World Building
You have lots of freedom in creating your world, even if your novel is not set in a fantasy world. Details count in making scenes realistic for the readers. The quality of your details will affect its believability; and your intimacy with it will be reflected in the vividness of the story you tell.
Making Realistic Settings
Even in a place as mundane as the protagonist’s home, you need to make it realistic. What kind of a home is it? Does it match the protagonist’s income level? If it is more luxurious, explain why it is affordable. Describe the location, layout and style of the premises. For your own purposes, a more detailed description and/or floor plan can be useful in plotting scenes.
Creating a Whole New World for Your Fantasy Novel
World building is especially important for historical and fantasy writers. If you are writing a fantasy novel, your world will be more realistic the more defined it is. Create the full spectrum of your fantasy world, including its geography, mythology, governing system and other aspects. The more depth there is in the world your characters inhabit, the more engaging your story will become for your readers.
Keep it real at all times. Do not make jarring mistakes by putting your characters into awkward settings, for instance by putting modern details in a different time period. No matter how deeply engrossed you become in creating your characters’ world, remember to keep the balance. Your world should help your story move along, instead of bogging it down.