This is an essay I wrote after giving a talk to my daughter's fiction writing class on the subject of world building in fantasy writng
World Building 101
World building is a vital but often invisible art in the process of fantasy writing. The superficial view of a fantasy world is as the environment in which a story or stories takes place. Looked at from this perspective, the most important things in the world are places for events to happen. Superficial world building focuses on appearances: what does the terrain look like, where are the cities, and so on.
These questions miss the most important element of world building. A world is not just where things happen, it is how things happen. A world reveals its nature in how things happen.
This gives a great opportunity in writing because the nature of the world becomes a character in a fantasy novel. The ways of the world can carry at least as much meaning as the personalities and choices of the individual characters.
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