5 Tips For Worldbuilding

5 Tips For Worldbuilding

The quickest way to get a reader immersed is through the world.

When I sit down to write a novel, especially genre fiction, one of the most important parts of that is the place and location of the story. It’s important for me to iron out where exactly the characters live and go throughout the piece, because the surroundings affect and influence the story. Here’s a list of important parts of your novel’s world to think about when writing.

1. Ethics/Morals

No matter what genre you’re writing, it’s important to think about what is “right” and what is “wrong” in context of the location. While it may seem rather black and white, it’s important to think about how others might see it. Is there a religion that a majority of the population follows? Is there a certain standard of living? What kind of rules and morals might they have that differ from your own? Think about it from a practical standpoint—try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who believes in something you might not believe in, and figure out what circumstances would make them believe that. This will help you come up with other facts and pieces of the world around your characters.

2. Ecosystem/Setting

While you know your own hometown very well, other towns (especially made-up ones) are going to have different features such as weather and wildlife. What sorts of nature surround your location, and how does that influence the society? If you can visit a place that’s similar to your story’s location—whether that be in temperature or urbanization—that would help you figure out how to describe it in writing.

3. Music/Arts/Culture

The way the arts is treated in different places is a great way to establish a unique setting. In your fantasy culture, art may primarily involve musical art performances that tell stories—it may be reveered, or it may be a talent that many don’t use. You can get extremely creative when it comes to creating a culture and what kinds of arts come out of it. It’s also very important to do your research if you’re basing it off a real culture.

4. Race/Class

Unfortunately, prejudice is very real in human society—there are lots of different ways this can be portrayed. It’s important to note what sorts of features of a person may make their life more difficult and how it makes them treated. Is there a class system? Is there a heavy prejudice against a race, gender or religion? Take your time to think about what sorts of influences these things may have on your character.

5. Laws of the Universe/Magic

One of my favorite pieces—and perhaps one of the most difficult pieces—is figuring out how the universe can interact with the characters. This is mostly a focus for if you’re writing in genre and are creating most of the world. Think about the universe your character lives in and what sort of abilities they might have. You should be able to explain why your character can do something—if your character can shoot fire out of their hands, there has to be a good reason. Maybe everyone has these powers. Maybe your character is a special exception. Either way, there must be some aspect of the universe that makes it possible. While you don’t have to be super picky about planning all your rules out down to the T, it would be good to have your baseline rules. Establish what is and isn’t possible as early as you can—therefore when a character breaks these rules, you can incorporate this into plot. The most believable way to create magic and laws of the universe is to make sure the reader understands what’s normal and what isn’t. Then, when they see a character that defies the rules, it draws attention.

Cover Image Credit: i naina _94 on Flickr

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.

Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Things To Do When You're So Bored All You Want To Do Is Cry

Do something artsy


Everyone has times when they have nothing to do and boredom strikes way too hard. From experience, I have found some top things to do when you literally have nothing else to do!

1. Clean

Not super fun, but will keep you busy.

2. Netflix

Find a new show to binge watch. Watched them all? Rewatch something you haven't seen in a while!

3. Shopping

Retail therapy can always keep you busy.

4. Make a home cooked meal

Spend some time in the kitchen and make something yummy! Even invite some friends.

5. Visit friends/ family

Pop in on some people you care about that you haven't seen in a while!

6. Write

Writing is something we all do and is a great way to express ourselves!

7. Exercise

Hit the gym or go for walk, do something to keep you nice and fit.

8. Volunteer

Go to an animal shelter, food bank, museums, or anywhere in your area that needs help.

9. Look for a job

If you're bored, maybe getting a part time job will keep you a little occupied. Plus it's extra money in your pocket.

10. Draw/ do something artsy

Even if you think you're a bad artist, drawing is something fun to do! You'll get better in time.

11. Join an Odyssey Team!

Writing articles through the Odyssey is an amazing experience and can always keep you busy!

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