I hope that I can offer some help to those of you in the midst of world building, as well as the rest of you scaredy cats that shy away from it. That’s right chicken littles, I’m talking to you! It’s not that I don’t understand your terror, starting a book without a world is like looking at a blank piece of paper. It creates instant writers block.
Oh, Oh! Or maybe I’ll take an entire city hanging from cliff sides with a river running through the middle. I’m thinking maybe a castle at the head of the falls, a few flying steampunk planes, and one thriving silk import business. Please make sure the city was originally formed by refugees but include a ruling class that rose to power leaving the refugees trapped again under the same tyranny they fled. Oh, and I almost forgot, one rising rebellion.
See how fun that is!? Do you see what I’m offering you? This is the one place where if you can write it, you can have it. There is no movie producer telling you that your budget can’t handle that. No readers will tell you that you messed up a few details. This is freedom!
Say it with me, FREEEEEEEEDOM.
Don’t forget though, creating worlds is not all about the scenery. It’s about creating a land, a people, customs, foods, language. What about a party, the local holidays, jobs (are they henchmen, outlaws, blacksmiths, farmers?). Guys there’s so much, SO MUCH! You can add religions, government, rules of magic, etc. Round out your creation to include it all.
Once you’ve done all of this and your head and paper are simply bursting with information please remember, don’t explain everything. You simply don’t have to establish the entire backstory on exactly how that city got there. When you do that you are begging the audience to believe you. Once you beg, you’ve lost them. Give backstory when needed and only when needed. The rest of the time write your world as if it were as natural as the one you live in, as if it were reality. Because that’s exactly what it needs to be.