Creating your own fictitious town, island or world #atozchallenge

Many authors write about fictional places. They create their own towns or even whole islands as a place to set their stories. And for some fantasy or science fiction writers, you have to create your own world or universe.

CToday is the letter C on the A to Z challenge, and I wanted to write a little about creating your own fictional setting. Please note that I am a fantasy author so many of my references will be for a fantasy novel, but you can easily adapt them for creating your own town or island in your romance or mystery novel (or really whatever genre you are writing).

Creating my own world is one of the reasons I love being a fantasy writer. I am in control of everything – names of cities, geography, culture, religion, systems of magic, history, creatures, you name it.

My advice is to make sure you have your world (island, town or whatever) fully developed BEFORE you begin writing. It helps to create a map if for no other reason than for your visual reference as you write. This way if you can’t remember if the jewelry shop is three or four streets from the inn, all you have to do is refer to your map. Knowing these little details helps your reader believe that this is a real place in which your characters live.

This one has notes on it from when I wrote DESTINY.

This one has notes on it from when I wrote DESTINY.

The maps I draw are for my writing reference only. They will not be included in my book, so I don’t need to worry about making them perfect. And since they are just for me, I can make them as elaborate or as simple as I wish. You may also need to do more than one map – perhaps one of your country and one for the major city (or cities) where the action takes place.

I think it also helps to have a map so you can figure out travel time (or distance) from one location on another. You don’t want to make the mistake of having someone travel a week to the capital of your fictitious land and then spend only two days to return home. (Or for you non-fantasy writers, you don’t want someone to stop at the gym on the way home if it is all the way on the other side of the island/town and not something they would pass on their way to their house.)

Of course if you are building a world or an island, you need to consider the terrain – are you in the mountains, the forest or the hot open desert. Knowing this will also give you an idea what type of weather may happen in your story.

If creating a whole world may also need to develop a religion and populate your world with people and creatures. And don’t forget some form of government.

It can be a fun but daunting task to build a world (town/island) from scratch. Just remember to completely develop your world BEFORE you write your story. It will be better for you – and for your readers.


10 thoughts on “Creating your own fictitious town, island or world #atozchallenge

  1. JP McLean says:

    I have a terrible sense of direction and often refer to those maps when they’re included in books. Along those same lines, I sketch house plans, boat plans and even fight scenes. Maps are a great tool.

  2. jenbradlee says:

    What a great resource and practical advice for authors who are creating their own worlds. World building can often times be the most overwhelming, frustrating, and exciting part of writing. Looking forward to seeing what else you have in store for the blog challenge this month. Kudos. 🙂

  3. Shelley Munro says:

    Great post! I’m busy creating my worlds for a sci-fi series. I haven’t drawn a map, but I think I will now. It will help keep things straight as you say.

    Shelley Munro

  4. I’m not very good at writing scenes or specific details, but I like brainstorming on this level. I could be a fictional map maker.

    Visit us during the A to Z Challenge. We’re highlighting authors who are more than writers. Click HERE.

  5. Sarah Allen says:

    Ah yes, world building can be so hard. Its why I don’t write fantasy 🙂

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, With Joy)

  6. World building is such a huge part of what I do. I tend to start out with an idea but flesh it out as I write. It makes for fun times in rewrites and edits but that’s what works for me.

  7. I love world building, though I do have a tendency to figure out the big stuff before I start writing and fill in the details as I go. Makes for some interesting rewrites and edits.

  8. […] Fictional Setting – This takes more work. You will need to create the place and make it believable. Since your readers have not been there, you will have to add more descriptions. The type of world (or city) you build will determine the reactions and behavior of your characters. As a fantasy writer, I spend a lot of time developing my own fictional worlds. […]

  9. […] and styles of that time. If it takes place in a fictional world, you will need to spend some time developing this world. Even if you are writing a story that takes place in your hometown, you need to make sure you have […]

  10. […] love to read romances and mysteries, but they don’t call to me the same way the idea of creating fantastic lands with mythical creatures. I love creating whole new worlds. Yet, I have shied away from science […]

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