• Claerie Kavanaugh

World Building: Relate Everything to the Plot



Last time we talked about two main ways to kick start your world-building process. Working from the history outward, or the character inward. Today, we’re going to talk about how to avoid spending time on world building things you won’t actually use in your stories.

My number one piece of advice is, (and I may get some flak for this), outline as much as you can before diving into any kind of intensive world-building.


I know, I know, this may seem counter intuitive, but here me out. I once world build an entire society on the above-ground part of an island, only to realize once I completed the outline that my characters were actually going to spend the majority of the book in the underground society… which I knew nothing about (facepalm) Can you say frustrating?


So, I’m speaking from personal experience when I say the basics of what you need to world build are already there in your idea.


Don’t believe me? Let me show you.


Check out this random prompt generated from One Stop for Writers: Your character is staying in an old hotel and discovers a hidden passage in the back of the room’s closet. Write what happens as they set off to explore it.


What world-building questions do we need to know?


1. Why is your character staying in this hotel?

2. Where is the hotel?

3. What’s special about the hotel? (Is it haunted? A historical landmark? An old family property?)

4. Why is there a hidden passageway?

5. How did it get there?

6. What does it lead to?

7. When was it made?

8. How does the MC find it?


The list goes on. All of these questions need to be answered if I truly want to make a story out of this prompt. How did I come up with these questions? Using the five Ws and H strategy. Who, what, where, when, why, and how.


Prompt: Write a short summary of your own story and write down questions based on the five Ws and H strategy. Post them below!


Need help with your own world building? Schedule a 60-minute writing consultation!

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© 2019 by Claerie 

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