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How to Deepen Your World Building

Photo by Aksonsat Uanthoeng on

For me, world building tends to be a double edged sword. It’s cool and fun, but also overwhelming. Especially when you have giants like Tolkien and Brandon Sanderson to compare yourself to.

Unfortunately, with world building, you just kind of have to dive in and do it. It might take some noodling, but — trust me — you’ve a billion beautiful worlds rattling around in that brain of yours. You can do this.

However, there’s an easy(ish) trick that can help deepen the world you’re creating and make it seem more three dimensional.

Add Random (Kind of) Details

Stick with me — I know that’s a dumb heading. But think about it. Our world is full of weird, random details that make it so much more interesting than it would be without them. Sure, God didn’t strictly need (at least, I don’t think He did) to create peacocks with their massive, flamboyant tails, but I’m sure glad He did. They inject beauty, variety, and humor (because, honestly, those tails are a bit ridiculous), and they have inspired the fashion industry in many different ways (peacock feather hair ornaments, anyone?).

(Side note: That’s another detail that’s interesting. Fashion in our world often tries to imitate the natural, wild beauty of nature. One aspect of your world will tend to affect other aspects, and remembering that will add realism.)

When creating your world, be sure to focus on the macro level, but don’t forget to put in fun, micro level additions. They might not always be necessary, but they will add a richness and color to your world that it would not otherwise have.

Consider the hobbits in Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t exactly necessary to the plot for them to have things like “second breakfast” or to be short and merry or to be homebodies, but those features added layers to them and helped drive home the point Tolkien was making.

Or think of the Star Wars universe. Despite its technological advancements, it is full of glitchy holograms, beat up droids, and malfunctioning equipment. This choice Lucas (and others after him) made gave the whole universe a sense of weight and age, which set it apart from other sci fi stories. Sometimes, all it takes to make your world unique and memorable are a few well-placed details.

Obviously, it’s important to figure out how your world functions broadly, but figuring out how it works narrowly is important as well. What are the most popular hairstyles? Culturally relevant foods? Fashion and modesty sense? Is it a gritty, old-seeming world like Star Wars or shiny and new like the MCU often feels? So many questions that, if answered, quickly lend realism and depth to your world.

Little things can have a big impact on your world building. Maybe you’ve got a pretty standard fantasy land created (nothing wrong with that), but you want to give it that spark of individuality. Or maybe you’ve got the outline of your world all figured out, and you want to give it dimension. It’s all in the details!


Detail-focused world building can be used to:

  • Enhance and deepen the world
  • Add realism
  • Emphasize the theme/purpose of your story
  • Set your story apart from the crowd
  • Draw your reader in

I hope this helped you! Let me know in the comments what your favorite parts of world building are!


3 thoughts on “How to Deepen Your World Building

  1. This is interesting. For me, worldbuilding is primarily done through the characters and the story. I often have the same experiences readers might (though probably in more depth, since I know every detail more intimately) of finding that something dropped in in one places has a previously-unsuspected relationship to something of great significance – or that something that I wasn’t quite sure how it fit and how consistent it was, when I learned the larger/longer history of the land/people suddenly became not only consistent, but expected.

    Liked by 1 person

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