Worldbuilding

Six Sources of Conflict for Your World

Cover art showing an injured owl.

Conflict is necessary for a good story, and it can arise from any number of places. You can generate conflict through the plot by making your story about a rebellion against an evil empire. Or, you can generate conflict between characters: the hero is all … read more »

Five Ways Gods and the Afterlife Change a Fantasy Setting

Castiel with shadow wings from Supernatural

Ever since I wrote about how high magic should logically change a fantasy setting, people have been asking me how the proven existence of divine beings and life after death would change a society. This has been a much harder task; at least magic imitates existing technology in … read more »

Should I Use a Masquerade?

questions and answer talk bubbles

I’m writing fantasy for the first time, specifically historical fantasy, and I was wondering if I should keep the magical and mundane worlds separate like in Harry Potter, or fully integrate them like in Sorcerer to the Crown. What are the pros and cons of … read more »

183 – World Versus Plot

The Mythcreant Podcast

Balancing plot and worldbuilding is a tricky business. You might want a world where magic is light and fun, but then want a plot about how magic is dangerous and needs to be hidden away. If that’s happened to you, then congratulations, you’re in good … read more »

Five Common Worldbuilding Mistakes in New Manuscripts

A planet that's half habitable and half toxic wasteland.

Worldbuilding is central to speculative fiction, but it’s also hard. Really hard. Experts in every field still debate how things in the real world work, so you can imagine how easy it is to make mistakes in a fictional world. I see such mistakes in a … read more »

Creating a Magic System for Superpowers

Anime showing man with creepy mask

Since I posted my instructions on creating rational magic systems years ago, I’ve gotten questions from readers on how to make their magic systems more rational. I found that in many of these cases, the asker was creating a magic system that was more like … read more »

170 – Technology in Fantasy

The Mythcreant Podcast

This week, we’re discussing how technology functions, or doesn’t function, in a fantasy setting. Of course, we get into Harry Potter first, because it’s absolutely critical to know what kind of water-management system Hogwarts has. But it’s not all about the Wizarding World, we promise! … read more »

Creating a Mountain Setting

Of all the possibilities for building worlds, the same few types appear over and over again: desert worlds, grasslands, globe-encompassing seas. Despite being passed over, mountainous biomes, whether old and eroded like the Blue Ridge range or “new” and towering like the Himalayas, have a … read more »

Six Illogical Genre Aesthetics

Beyond the plot-critical elements of worldbuilding, there lies aesthetics. Aesthetic options don’t have as big an impact on the narrative, but they are still important for establishing atmosphere. Middle-earth wouldn’t be the same without primal forests and endless grasslands, and Star Wars is well known as … read more »

How to Make a Fantastical Creature

Diagram of a six-legged animal with a thick tale and pointed beak.

Every world needs animals to give the setting life. I’ll focus on creating realistic and semi-realistic creatures and aliens, but these techniques can also be used to create races, plants, and other organisms. As an ongoing example, we’ll be making a creature as we go. … read more »

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