When writing in the fantasy genre learning how to create a fantasy world that feels real to readers is easy when you follow these five steps.
How to define a fantasy book?
According to Wikipedia: ‘Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and usually inspired by mythology or folklore.’
5 steps to build your fantasy story world:
- Plan the lie of the land
- Give your fantasy world concrete rules
- Think about the tone of your fantasy world
- Plan magic, religious, social and political systems
- Learn how to create a believable world via plot
Plan the lie of the land
The reason some fantasy novelists use fantasy maps is because the act of physically mapping the world grounds or anchors it.
You don’t have to draw maps; you can make notes instead, but the point is that you need to have a sense of your world as a physical place that has boundaries. When writing fantasy, creating a wiki for your world is one way to keep details consistent.
You can create an alternate reality, a different version of earth even, showing how things may have worked out differently, exploring what these differences mean for people on earth.
Not all fantasy writers want to create a whole new world, though, and it’s perfectly fine to set your story on a recognisable, realistic earth.
Learn how to make an outline for a book and develop story elements such as setting and plot points.
Give your fantasy world concrete rules
Just because this is fantasy writing and not science fiction does not mean that your imaginary world can lack rules or simply have arbitrary conditions imposed upon it.
Maintaining consistency throughout your fantasy world building and writing is crucial.
This adherence to rules will permeate every aspect of your fantasy realm, but to start with, be sure you are consistent. Whether you base your fantasy world on legend or real history such as medieval Europe, feudal Japan or another culture, or invent it entirely out of your own head, every aspect must be consistent with the world you’ve created.
If your fantasy world possesses a technology that seems out of step with its background, you need to have a good explanation for this, for example.
If you are writing fantasy set in a recognizable historical time period, with real historical figures, be sure to include authentic details from that time, too. Here mythical creatures may reshape the destinies of your characters.
Build a World Readers Love
Build your story’s world in easy steps and grow a useful story outline.START
Think about the tone of your fantasy world
Another thing to keep in mind is the tone of your novel.
For example, if you’re writing a novel of high fantasy steeped in Celtic legend, you might write in a way that recalls the language of fairy tales and legends. Perhaps you want to try your hand at creating a special fantasy language for your story too? Or, create unique words than can be part of the language you write in, so that readers can easily follow. Be sure to provide a glossary.
Your readers do not necessarily want to begin in a world with its roots in ancient sagas and suddenly find themselves slogging through the bleak and murderous darkness of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. Maintaining a consistent tone is critical for believability throughout your fantasy novel.
This consistency of tone will be reflected in your characters as well. The values of the world will motivate your characters. In a world where honour and loyalty are considered of highest importance, for example, this will affect the choices characters make and social hierarchy. In a world that has other primary values, society might be organised differently. Consider what mystical creatures or mythical creatures might inhabit this world.
Of course, you can create characters whose values differ significantly from that of their world, but that difference is likely to be a source of conflict.
Plan magic, religious, social and political systems
Most fantasy involves magic, and rules are important here as well. You can create any kind of magical system that you like, but the key here is that it does need to be some kind of system. Whether it is based on numbers, plants, words or something else, whether characters study for years to become proficient in it or are born with the ability, it needs to be consistent. Characters cannot suddenly develop new abilities or go outside that system.
Some questions to consider around this: what is the social hierarchy in your world? What does this mean for the characters?
Is there a religious system, or is this a world without religion? What is the social system?
Learn how to create a believable world via plot
The key to creating a believable fantasy world is keeping in mind that ‘fantasy’ does not mean ‘anything goes’.
In addition to keeping rules and consistency in mind as mentioned above, the story also usually cannot rely upon a deus ex machina to resolve its conflicts just because it’s fantasy. ‘Deus ex machina’ is the phrase for a plot device that seemingly comes out of nowhere. This can be clumsily or more effectively done. Some have argued that the eagles’ rescue of Sam and Frodo at Mount Doom in Tolkien’s Return of the King is a deus ex machina.
Another example would be the frequent intervention of the gods in Greek myth. Contemporary readers may accept the former but would be frustrated by the latter. Use of a deus ex machina is always risky as it might stretch suspension of disbelief which can turn readers off.
The ‘setting’ section of Now Novel’s story builder will help you to come up with detail for your fictional world, making it easier to flesh out a fantasy world that feels believable and alluring. Find quick story ideas and see your fantasy world come to life.