Guest Post: 5 Tips on World Building

I’m very lucky to have a guest today. She’s sharing some of her secrets. Let’s welcome my good friend, Lori L MacLaughlin.

Thanks so much, Anna, for having me over!!

One of the fun parts about writing fantasy and science fiction is that you get to create vast new worlds with whatever kinds of topography, history, and peoples you like. You can keep things similar to Earthly civilizations from whatever time period, or you can go all out of this world with green skies, pink trees, and characters with multiple heads and limbs.

Before you start putting words on paper, it’s a good idea to do some serious thinking about the world in which your story will take place. What races of people will live in your world? How well do they get along (or not)? What horror is threatening them?

One of the best articles I’ve read about world building was written by Chuck Sambuchino on the Writer’s Digest site. He lays it all out in a way that’s not overwhelming, which is great because, let’s face it — the thought of creating a new world or civilization with all the details right down to what ceremonial outfit the priest wears on religious holidays or what elves eat for dessert is daunting, to say the least.

Here are some basic tips for world building as suggested by Sambuchino:

  1. Start with the conflict, the pro-and antagonists. What sort of environment/society is needed to create the conflict you envision?
  2. What races live there? Do they live in villages, cities? In the mountains, on the seacoast? How do they interact?
  3. Think about the history and customs of the various races. What made them the way they are today?
  4. Imagine as many details as you can, but don’t get so caught up in building your world that you lose the story. Include just enough description — sights, smells, sounds — to make the reader feel immersed without drowning them. You need to know all the details. The reader doesn’t.
  5. And my favorite tip — draw maps! They don’t have to be complicated. Rough drawings can help you envision the landscape, the locations of the different societies/races, and where the action takes place.

The more depth you give to your world, the more rich and alive it will be to your readers. And that’s what it’s all about — drawing the reader in until they live and breathe your world.

Check out these links for in-depth guidance on world building:



road in steppe receding into the distanceTITLE: Trouble By Any Other Name

Sequel to Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble

AUTHOR: Lori L. MacLaughlin

RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2016

GENRE: Fantasy


About the Book:

Tara Triannon is no stranger to trouble. She’s yet to find an enemy her skill with a sword couldn’t dispatch. But how can she fight one that attacks through her dreams?

With her nightmares worsening, Tara seeks answers but finds only more questions. Then her sister, Laraina, reveals a stunning secret that forces Tara to go to the one place Tara’s sworn never to return to. Her troubles multiply when Jovan Trevillion, the secretive soldier of fortune who stole her heart, is mentally tortured by an ancient Being intent on bending him to its will. And worst of all, the Butcher — the terrifying wolf-like assassin she thought she’d killed — survived their duel and is hunting her again.

Hounded by enemies, Tara sets out on a harrowing quest to discover the true nature of who she is, to come to grips with the new volatility of her magic, and to defeat the evil locked in a centuries-old trap that will stop at nothing to control her magic and escape through her nightmares.

Buy Links:

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Kobo        iBooks

About Lori:

Lori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry LoriLMacLaughlinBrooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She’s been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up.

She has been many things over the years – tree climber, dairy farmer, clothing salesperson, kids’ shoe fitter, retail manager, medical transcriptionist, journalist, private pilot, traveler, wife and mother, Red Sox and New York Giants fan, muscle car enthusiast and NASCAR fan, and a lover of all things Scottish and Irish.

When she’s not writing (or working), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.

Contact Links:

Website/Blog        Goodreads    Facebook    Google+    Pinterest

21 responses to “Guest Post: 5 Tips on World Building

  1. Thanks again, Anna, for hosting me! 🙂

  2. World building isn’t easy. I did a lot more planning for my fourth book and it did help. I made a checklist of what I needed to know, researched, and filled in the blanks.

  3. Great world-building ideas, thanks. I write fantasy for tweens and I spend a lot of time on this stage but then, afterwards, I have to spend just as long eliminating most references to it in the actual story!

  4. I’ve never tried world building and am intimidated by it but maybe someday I’ll give it a go. Thanks for these tips!
    Great to see you here, Lori. And hi, Anna! 🙂

  5. Thank you for the great information on world-building. I don’t write fantasy, but I do draw maps of locations and buildings. I had to figure out the blue print for a funeral home and a map of how the streets and parking lot were in relation to the building in my latest mystery and that was fun! These tips work for building a setting and story in almost any story.

  6. Cool covers and definitely some good advice! New writers tend to go one way or the other when it comes to world building: pages of description versus total ambiguity. Balance is key!

  7. Great tips. I’ve been stuck on world-building for a new idea I have.

  8. I love it when authors create those totally different worlds that I can believe actually exist. Thanks for posting about the “how to” steps.

  9. jennifer@badbirdreads

    Hmm, a lot more things to think about next time I am world-building.

  10. Great tips and Congrats on the release.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

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