Everybody has a different way of starting the process of building their own world. Some writers start by drawing a map, detailing how everything looks and marking down key locations. Others begin the process by writing up characters, building up their personality and then molding the world to fit around them. Personally, I always start with the history of my world. Feel free to disagree with me here, but I’d say history is the most important aspect of world-building as a whole. “Why do you think that, Daniel?” I hear you asking me... or maybe I’m mishearing you. Oh well, doesn’t really matter because I’m answering that question whether you like it or not.
The driving force behind this belief of mine is that history provides answers to all sorts of different questions. Say you want to focus on the languages spoken in your world, and you want to know why the people of a certain continent speak a different language than their neighbouring one. You’ll find the answer lies in its history. Or perhaps your world is filled to the brim with bards and storytellers. Where did they get these songs to sing and stories to tell? You see where I’m going with this?
History can also help you drive home the hook of a story you might want to write. Maybe your story revolves around how history is repeating itself, and the people in power are making the same mistakes their ancestors did thousands of years ago. Better yet, the main character and their friends have to save the world by awakening a slumbering god that was forced into a deep sleep long ago.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that starting with the history of your world is the best way to begin the world-building process. Every writer has their own method, and none of those methods are wrong. After all, a world wouldn’t be very interesting without cool locales or compelling characters. I just find that history often serves as the backbone to the ideas writers have when building up their worlds and the stories that take place in them. Maybe you agree with me, or maybe you think I’m full of shit and built this belief on a foundation of sand. Regardless, I hope that this at least gave you, my dear reader, a different perspective on an important part of world-building.
Daniel is a second-year student of the Professional Writing Program at Algonquin College with a terrible sense of humour and an interest in all sorts of music. Whether it be due to raw talent or absolute dumb luck, he’s somehow made it this far and is ready to subject more unsuspecting students to his opinions.