NaNo Special: World Building

It’s that time again today. That’s right- it’s time for a NaNo Special! Today, I felt like talking about something I worked on for a good chunk of September and October in preparation for this year’s NaNo: world building. It’s a difficult and tedious task depending on how you go about it, but in my experience, it can feel so worth the time and effort!

One of the first things I worked on, personally, was religions. I only knew one religion on the world my story takes place in, but I also knew that my characters followed something different. So, I had to come up with a new religion or two. With that responsibility comes the requirement to note down things like their myths, their holidays, their rituals- and to be honest, I didn’t finish as much as I intended to. It can be pretty hard to come up with all those details! But as of this moment, the world I’m writing in has three religions. I hope to use all of them in the stories I write someday!

The next task, to me, was to make a calendar. You see, my stories take place on another (made up) planet. Time moves differently there. And naturally, the religions and countries have their own holidays and things to celebrate throughout the year. So, I made a calendar. A calendar full of the world’s important dates highlighted.

That calendar was a pain in the ass to make, however. It was tediously daunting, and I had issues with my local spreadsheet programs eating and just deleting the calendar after I finally got it all prepared. In the end, it’s on my google sheets, and will eventually be put in my writing planner when I feel it’s filled to the brim with important information.

Another major task was getting to know the countries of this little world of mine. I had to know not just their names, but their layouts, governments, and other details relating to local vs broad spectrum holidays and such. I drew really crappy maps, set up the sections with numbers, colored the maps with a key for the different terrain, etc. I set up holidays for single countries and the world as a whole. I set up a monarchy, and two distinct forms of democracy of sorts. I laid out some of their laws, and up to 400 years of history depending on how far back I felt I’d need to deal with my immortal heroine in this year’s NaNo project.

With all that said, there’s still a lot of things I need to do. I need to adjust character birthdays, which are currently set on the Gregorian calendar. I need to finish fleshing out rituals and holidays, and write more lore of the land in detail. I haven’t plotted out the resources that are abundant or lacking yet, and while I’ve named all the primary politicians and capitals, I haven’t laid out where on each map the stories are set when they’re not capitals or anything of the sort.

As you can see, world building has a lot of details it can include. I think it really depends on the writer as to what details to focus on and how to go about planning things out. I put so much work into it the past months because I felt having the world better set up would give me more to work with when I write my stories in it. I get stuck with a lot of plot holes and writing blocks when I’m working on a story- but I think maybe, just maybe, better knowing the world will give me ideas of what could happen, or at least become good dialogue.

So today I have questions separate for my readers and writers out there. Readers, what do you consider the most interesting or important information to have about the world you’re reading about? And writers, how do you prepare details about your world? Do you use spreadsheets, make maps, or a number of different things? I want to hear this topic from different perspectives. Please share anything you’d like or can, so that I can learn it from you!