World Building Template – Jericho Writers
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World Building Template: Free Download For Authors

If you are planning to write a science fiction or fantasy novel, one of the first things you need to consider is the world in which your story takes place.

This is why we have created the ultimate world building template and guide to building a fantasy world!

Simply fill in your details and you will receive a comprehensive checklist of all the things you need to consider when creating your world, including all the worldbuilding questions you need to ask yourself before you get started.

Alongside our world building template, below you will find our comprehensive guide to fantasy worldbuilding – including why you need to understand your world, examples of sci fi and fantasy books that feature unforgettable worlds, and top tips on how to create great characters and settings.

How To Use Our Worldbuilding Template

Our world building template is a detailed list of everything you need to know about your world – from what it looks like, the people who live in it, and how their society functions. Simply answer the questions asked, including as much detail as possible, and watch your story come to life!

What Is Fantasy World Building?

Fantasy worldbuilding is about creating a setting for your book; a place in which your characters live and where your story takes place.

Fantasy writers often fall into the trap of thinking their world needs to be extravagant and complicated, but that isn’t the case. World building just means understanding the rules of the place in which your story is set, and how your characters interact in that world.

Even if that world is our own, very real, and slightly less magical one.

So, if like in the Blood Web Chronicles series (by Caedis Knight) you are filling the real world with vampires, witches and werewolves, ask yourself how that works. How do they keep hidden? What laws do they abide by? Do they have underground organisations?

If you don’t do that, your readers will be left asking so many questions they will struggle to connect with the characters and the plot.

Why Is World Building Important?

As a fantasy writer, you need to have a clear idea of the fantasy world featured in your book. Because if you don’t understand it fully, your readers certainly won’t!

Fantasy world building isn’t easy, but it is important if you are writing a novel set in an imaginary world that isn’t our own. All sci fi genres, as well as high fantasy novels, are set in places that only exist in our imagination – this allows the author to introduce mythical characters like dragons and fairies, or to create scenarios that couldn’t happen in the real world (such as looking for a cursed gemstone by travelling through a magical portal).

But, even for magical realism stories set in the real world, world building is still vital. If you are going to mix reality with the fantastical – then you need to know the kinds of lives these characters live. If you don’t do that, your story will fall flat and…quite frankly…be very boring.

So how do you captivate your fantasy readers?

Start With Your Characters

Characters are everything. Of course you can throw a bunch of boring humans into an imaginary world and see how they fare, but where’s the fun if you don’t add monsters or magic?

Remember anything is possible in your world, so shock and enthral your readers!

Some of the magic is in the little details. You don’t need to make your monsters huge and scaly, you could have a bad guy look like a very normal, average man – except maybe his nostrils shoot bullets.

A great example of this is Edward Scissorhands. He lives in what is meant to be our world, interacting in a very safe suburban corner of America, yet the twist is that his fingers are made of scissors!

People feel comfortable when they can relate to a world or a person. This doesn’t mean that your fantasy world has to look like ours, or that it has to be full of humans just like us, but the best way to ensure readers connect with your characters and their story is to make them relatable.

So even if your fantasy world is all scaly and green, and your characters are ten foot squid-like monsters, if your hero is living under a tyrannical regime and needs to fight against powers larger than them, readers will have sympathy for them and root for their cause because it’s also a very human situation.

world-building-template

Ask Yourself The Right Questions

So when it comes to building your fantasy world and the characters in it, where do you start? The answer is, that you have to ask yourself a lot of questions (all of which are outlined in our world building template).

Here is a little taster along with fantasy/sci fi world building examples from books and movies.

Population

Who inhabits this world? Is it full of humans, but it’s simply a different dimension or planet? Or are the inhabitants completely alien to us?

In Tolkein’s world, he filled it with different types of creatures – from elves and orcs, to dwarves and hobbits. Some of these creatures are already recognised as part of myths and legends, and others he invented himself.

So ask yourself whether you need to create the population from scratch, or whether you can incorporate inhabitants based on the kind of creatures and people your readers will already be familiar with.

Geography

This is the part where you may want to draw/include a fantasy map!

What does your world look like? Is it split into different territories? Or do we only see one part of it? Is it rocky, flat, sandy, or jungle-like? Are your characters equipped to survive this terrain?

In his Game of Thrones series, author George R R Martin created different kingdoms – some of which were very similar to our own landscapes on earth (Mediterranean-looking, icy tundra, medieval walled cities etc).

In her Court of Thorns and Roses series, Sarah J Maas included a map to show her kingdoms. A map that looked suspiciously like the UK and Ireland!

And in Dune, Frank Herbert set his action on a desert-like plain inhabited by scary giant worms and sci-fi machines.

But it’s not just the vegetation or landscape you need to consider, also think of where in the solar system your world exists. Is it a secret world on planet Earth, a planet we are familiar with, or somewhere completely alien?

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is set on a flat disc world sitting on top of four elephants astride the shell of a giant turtle named Great A’Tuin. So don’t worry about being too whacky!

Society

How does society function in your world?

Is there a clear hierarchy like the different districts and the Capitol in The Hunger Games? Or perhaps there’s a secret and evil force controlling everything, like in Maze Runner?

History

What is the history of your world? If you are writing dystopian fantasy, what brought the people to the world they now inhabit?

In The Handmaid’s Tale, and Children of Men, we get a very clear idea of the horrors that brought humanity to this new reality.

Nature

What natural resources does your world have, or not have? In the movie Avatar, we see a world which revolves around natural resources and conservation. Whereas in the dystopian novel, Dry (by Jarod and Neal Shusterman) we see California in a future devoid of any water, and the effect that has on the people trying to survive.

Language

What language is spoken in your fantasy world? Perhaps you call the language a name, but write it in English? Or, like Laini Taylor in her Strange The Dreamer duology, you have certain words in your made-up language? Or why not go full Tolkein and create an entire language from scratch?

Technology

What part does technology play in your novel?

In The Martian (by Andy Weir), we see astronaut Watney struggle to survive in spite of minimal supplies and harsh environmental challenges. Whereas the main character in Ready Player One (by Ernest Cline) lives in 2040, a terrifying version of our future where people escape reality by getting lost in simulated computer games.

Magic Systems

Is there magic in your fantasy world? If so, how does the magic work? Are you going to have a hard magic system or a soft magic system?

A hard magic system example is the Marvel comic book/film franchise, or the Grisha Universe in Leigh Bardugo’s trilogy. The characters in those books all have very different magical powers such as Corporalki, Etherealki, and Materialki. The entire story revolves around these powers.

A soft magic system example is The Path Keeper trilogy by N J Simmonds. Set in our own world, only the hidden angels have magic and even then it’s nothing too crazy or destructive. Although the book is set in real time, in this world, the angelic realm lore still had to be established including their history, magical system and hierarchy.

Harry Potter, on the other hand, falls somewhere between the two. Although the books aren’t only about magic, there’s a lot of it and it’s very varied.

Where To Find Inspiration And Ideas

It’s extremely difficult to create something out of nothing. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that everything in fiction, even the most original and creative imaginary worlds, has in some way been inspired by something real and tangible.

Here are some places where you can look to ignite your own imagination…

Other Books And Movies

Of course, never copy a world by another writer, BUT there’s nothing stopping you from combining some of your favourite worlds. You could have a mix of Harry Potter and The Hobbit – a magical school for elves and dwarves, set high upon a dark and dangerous mountain, but only those who complete the quest can join.

Or why not have your book set on the moon, but it’s filled with dragons.

Or mix Charlie And The Chocolate Factory with Stranger Things – a world that’s the mirror image of ours, except everything is edible (if it doesn’t eat you first).

Everyday Life

Inspiration is all around us.

Go for a walk in the forest and see what inspires you. Follow that bird and squirrel – are they taking you to a magical tree? Is the gnarly hole in the tree a secret doorway to another realm? What if all the flowers and leaves were sentient? What if, in this world, the people grew roots but the trees were free to roam?

The beauty of creating fantastical worlds is that there are no rules, nothing is too absurd or silly. Let your imagination run wild!

Nature

When it comes to creating monsters and other sci fi or fantasy characters, look no further than real-life animals.

Have you ever looked at bacteria, bugs and tiny microscopic organisms under a microscope? There are many beautiful (and terrifying) organisms that we are not capable of seeing with the naked eye but, if they were bigger than us, they would be absolutely terrifying.

Likewise, look at animals and sea life. Did you know scallops have 200 tiny eyes? How many creatures have eight legs? What if you mixed a human with an octopus and it had 200 eyes… except the eyes were on its tentacles?

Myths And Legends

The idea of worlds unlike our own is nothing new – in fact, people have been drawing pictures and telling stories about made-up places and scary creatures for thousands of years.

For inspiration, take a look at myths and legends. From Greek mythology and Roman Gods, to ancient Egypt and regional stories such as the Loch Ness Monster and Arthurian legend.

What if the sword your hero is looking for is in an English lake, guarded by a mermaid and a monster with many heads, because every time one was cut off two more sprung up in its place? Or a winged angel that could turn people to stone with a stare, but could only go out at night because the sun burned its wings?

Top Tips For Fantasy World Building

Don’t Use All Of Your World Building

World building is like an iceberg. You, as the writer, need to know everything; you have to in order to make your work believable. But your readers only need to know about the tip of the iceberg, otherwise, it’s overwhelming, irrelevant and distracting.

Make Sure Your World Makes Sense

Keep a note of all your world building information (this is where our template is useful) so your book is consistent. Especially if you are writing a series!

Make Your Fictional World Relatable

Even though your world is fictional, it’s important to draw inspiration from real life. Not only does this make it easier for us as writers (it’s hard to invent a mode of transport, for instance, without thinking of the transport we have as a template) – but it also helps readers imagine and care about your world and those in it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Build A Fantasy World Step By Step?

The answer to that is use our handy world building template. Ask yourself all the questions above and more, dig as deep as you can, then only use what is needed. No one wants a major info dump.

What Does World Building Include?

When you are building a world for your fantasy or sci fi novel, it’s important to include everything your reader needs to know about characters, geography, customs, history, language, society, magical systems, and technology. Although, of course, you can take it a lot further than that.

Build Your World

You now have everything you need to create an unforgettable backdrop for your fantasy, sci fi, horror or dystopian novel – as well as all the inspiration you need to create unforgettable fantasy characters.

Time to get lost in your creation, explore, discover, and most of all…have fun!