Lay down the law
Even in fantasy worlds, rules exist, and including these in your worldbuilding will make your story more realistic. Who is in power? Who isn’t? What conflict does this create? If you have a magic system, are there limitations on its usage? Consider too how these worldbuilding rules can build characterisation.
Map it out
As with rules, understanding the natural and built environment of your fantasy world also increases the realism. Climate, landscape, borders, urban areas, natural resources, geographical features – work out them out, and most importantly how they interact with and impact your characters. And, if you’re more of a visual person, draw a map to help worldbuilding.
Consider the culture of your world. What are the social norms? How are the people of your fantasy world expected to act, and who enforces these expectations? Culture is also defined by religion, education, leadership, history, class hierarchy…the list goes on. Take inspiration from real-world cultures, but remember you can remove elements from your fantasy world that are common in the real world.
It’s all in the past
The present is built on the past, so enrich your story with the history of your fantasy world. Start by mapping out a timeline to keep track of the chronology of historical events. Your timeline might be pockmarked by real-world events of wars, the rise and fall of leaders, the building and destruction of nations, and environmental catastrophes. But history is also threaded with myths and legends – and these can reveal a lot more about individuals and social groups than real-life history.
Communication is key
You don’t have to be a linguistic like J.R.R Tolkein, who created around fifteen languages and dialects for his novels, but if your fantasy world has different societies and countries, then decide what languages they speak during the worldbuilding process. Use ancient and modern languages as a starting point. Blend them to create your own invented names and words. Make sure these are consistent and suited to the people who speak them.
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