Lesson 2 of 5

A Worldbuilding Warning

Don’t get carried away. Worldbuilding can lead to extreme procrastination. Why bother writing something as tricky as a story, when you’ve got to design the plumbing for a medieval fantasy city? No! Unless you’re writing a novel about a band of heroic fantasy plumbers, we don’t need to get into that kind of detail. Worse still, it’s a distraction that can dupe you into thinking you’re being productive. There’s no point sketching out that plumbing system unless it’s key to the story.

The story must be served by the world. Not the other way around. Tell your story, and support it with wonderful nuggets of worldbuilding.

Let’s start with something simple… like lunch.


Here’s a simple exercise to get you thinking about worldbuilding. Imagine your main characters are having a meal. Think about the following:

Where did they get the food? Is it fresh from the hunt, bought frozen at a supermarket, eaten in pill form?
How do they prepare the food? On a spit? In a microwave? Eaten raw?
How do they eat? As a family? On the move?
How big are the portions? Meagre scraps? Or a bounteous feast?
What are the rituals? Do they give thanks to a deity? Do they wait till everyone is seated? Do they have servants?

Answer these simple questions and you’re already worldbuilding. You’re telling the reader so much about the world of your story through a simple meal. More importantly, you’re worldbuilding through drama. This isn’t just bald exposition, your family could be having a dramatic scene at the meal and you, the cunning author, can be slipping little bits of worldbuilding without the reader even knowing it.