Amanda Ross

Amanda Ross

Black speculative fiction author and campy fantasy heaux.

World Building 101: Reality

I love world-building.

It might sound weird, but anyone who’s ever written a book or a screenplay or a skit for their Barbies to act out knows the importance of creating a robust world. When I started writing To Astera, With Love, I wanted to create a world that was similar to ours, and I believe I achieved that.

The world of Astera has all the politicking, shady cops, and bitchy sorority sisters but with badass witches and an over-abundance of vampires. Since there are a few plot points happening at once (known as the “A” and “B” stories in screenwriting), I had to have every detail down, or else my readers wouldn’t buy the world that my main character (MC) Mercury and his friends were navigating. 

Creating a whole new world can be exciting, exhausting, and nerve-wracking. How can you put together so many moving parts to create a world as solid as Middle Earth or Wakanda or Sunnydale? Here’s your first step: 

Decide if your world is rooted in this reality

Are you writing a book set in our present reality or will you create your own? If you’re opting for our current (and unfortunate) reality, you must think about what time period you’re writing about and what events of that period you will include. Will you include the gains of the Civil Rights Movement if your book is set in the past? If it’s in the future, will you include the impact of Black Lives Matter or Trump or the coronavirus? 

Astera is set in this reality, and though I’ve treated the world as if most of the past events occurred, I threaded magic and vampires into the fabric as though they’d always been there. There are witches and vampires in government. Your favorite and least favorite world leaders were magical or had a bloodlust (literally). 

There are more things to account for when creating your own reality. It’s even more important that you make this world believable because your reader has nothing to anchor them with a reality they aren’t familiar with.

What’s The Approximate Time Frame?

Is your world centuries in the future or centuries past? Then, you’ll want to decide if it is taking place on Earth, in space, or another planet. In Children of Blood and Bone, for example, the action takes place in the kingdom of Orisha.

This kingdom feels like a time from ages passed, without modern technology and modern dress. The author accounted for the way people dress, the kind of food they eat, and what people do for a living — and you’ll want to do the same in your book. 

When I started writing Astera, I found this list of questions to think through when world-building. While there is a lot to consider, some questions that stand out to me are:  

  • What is the climate? 
  • What is the geography? 
  • Are there different seasons?
  • What is transportation like? 

Once you answered the question of what reality your piece is set in and answer the above questions you’re ready to move on to the next step — what are the rules of your world? 

I’ll cover this and more in the next blog of my world-building series. Find this tip useful? Sign up for my newsletter to get more tips.

One Reply to “World Building 101: Reality”

  1. Pingback:Writing A Large Ensemble Cast: A How-To Guide For All Genres

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