Writing Fantasy How to Start World Building

Writing a fantasy novel often means world-building, even when you’re basing it off a real-world location. I have a love-hate relationship with world-building. It’s fun but it can be difficult and a lot of work. Sometimes, just thinking about my novel can be a little overwhelming.

I refused to turn one short story into a novel because I knew the world-building would be a nightmare. Unfortunately, the story had other ideas. It’s becoming Book 4 of The Merging Worlds series and the world-building is ad difficult as I expected.

How can you start world building to finished writing your fantasy novel?

Create a Plan

I don’t create a detailed outline. But, if they work for you, it would probably go a long way in helping you realize what you need to figure out. In my notes app, Evernote, I’m listing all the things I need to research/flesh out.

Writing a Fantasy novel, planning your world building

You Don’t Need to Figure Out Everything

I rarely dive deep into religion and politics because they don’t often play that big of a role in my book. I only world build what I need to write the story. How do you figure out what you need? Some people find that out in the outline. For a panster like me, I start writing. If I’m having trouble writing a certain part of the story then, I stop and figure out why. Usually world building is the answer.

Do A Fantasy Artwork Search

If you’re following this blog, you know I rely heavily on images for my world-building. On Pinterest, I keep boards for general fantasy settings, weapons and character designs, plants and clothes.

fantasy writing world building inspiration

Then, I’ll create a board for images related to specific stories. You can find images by doing a simple Google Search. You could also visit DeviantArt and Artstation.

Image search expand the imagination. I often find myself sticking to a lot of real world weapon and character designs. But, it’s fantasy. You can make anything normal

Draw a Map

I’m a visual person. Drawing a rough sketch of the locations helps me better picture the layout. I like making maps in general. The terrible drawings usually turn into maps I put in books or simply share on social media.

creating a fantasy map in Photoshop

Use a World Building Template

Certain websites will have detailed guides about things to consider when world-building. They’ll list questions you need to ask. ReedsyBlog has a pretty good template. Google “fantasy world building templates” and see what come up.


Writing a fantasy novel or any book is an adventure. Figuring out how to make that flame blade believable to my world is fun. I love scrolling through Pinterest for design inspiration. Create a plan. Tackle one thing at a time. Find a part of world building that you enjoy and focus on that.


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