5 Tips: World-Building Template

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Droemar's avatar
EDIT: If you like this journal entry, check out The Sarcastic Guide to Writing ebook www.amazon.com/The-Sarcastic-G… for exclusive content on world-building, character, and dialogue!

Capital City:
Colors: (An example would be red, white, and blue)
Symbol: (An example would be stars and stripes.)
Races: (The races that inhabit the area, whether or not they’re native.)
Government: (Feudal system, caste system, oligarchy, parliament, democracy, plutocracy?)
Religion: (Monotheism?  Pantheism?  Atheism?)
Resources: (What does the country export?  Import?  Make?  Is famous for?)
Description of Major Cities: (I do this to get a feel for the areas the characters will be visiting.)
Quote: (What someone from this area would talk like, or talk about.)
History: (Everyone comes from somewhere.  People just don’t up and appear on islands and such.  I mean, even Native Americans walked across a land bridge way back in the day. Europeans came from Romans and Greeks and Celts and Gauls and more.  Very few people bother to look at this aspect of world-building, and they really should.  Even if a civilization has been around for two thousand years and are elven dragon riders, they came from somewhere.  Even if their mythology says they crawled out of the earth: they came from somewhere.  Examine it!)
Physical: (The ethnic description of your race: skin color, hair color, builds, dress)
Mannerisms: (The likely way someone behaves if they’re from this place.  Because believe me, a fur-wrapped barbarian behaves in a very different way than a Greek statesman.)
Weather patterns: (Tropical?  Stormy?  Cold?  Earthquakes?  Climate in general?)
Magic: (How it is treated by the country.  Whether hated and feared, harnessed for industry, or nonexistent within it’s borders, if magic has a presence in your story you ought to look at how it affects the larger picture than just your heroes and their journey.)
Language: (This is kind of a big one for me, because I’m always very careful to point how and why my characters can understand each other, especially if they are from different countries. Language in the real world is a hell of a barrier, but even if you have a Chinese dragon, an Arabian unicorn, a French knight, a Mayan princess, and a Japanese ninja, they can all talk to and understand each other without explanation. Double I-call-BS-points for someone from another world or time!  Anyone who has ever toured Europe can tell you why this is complete bull.  Take a closer look, especially if you’re modeling anything after medieval Europe; only the Church had a universal language: Latin.)
Cuisine: (What do people from this country eat every day?  On festival days?  As delicacies? Taboo?)
Leisure: (What do people here do in their spare time?  For fun?)
Transport: (How do people move things?  Armies?  Crowds?  Goods?  Animals?)
Weapons: (What weapons are manufactured here?  Commonplace?  Rare?  Forbidden?)
Greetings: (What is considered an acceptable greeting?  In formal setting?  Among friends? Family?)
Customs: (The habits of a people that make them unique.  Google it if you’re confused.)
Superstitions: (Knowing the power irrational explanations have over a populace can sometimes be good story material.)
Beliefs: (Do I really have to explain this one?  This alone can be your story.)
Rituals: (Birth? Coming-of-age?  Marriage?  Death?  Justice?)
Festivals: (What do people celebrate?  What are considered holidays?  Why?)
Education: (How are children taught?  Skilled workers, like architects or brewers?  Is there public education?  Higher education?)

Just in case you’re wondering: yes, I really do fill all of this stuff out.  As a matter of fact, I think that too many world-building templates out there are way too big and convoluted, the kind of thing sure to give world-builder's disease to your story.  I have a physical journal and a working text file, and split the template between the two of them and eventually get things done.  This isn’t just inane busywork. If my world-building is completely brand new because the story is, on average I take anywhere from three to six months to world-build.  But by the time I’m done, I can assure you that my characters, arcs, and plot are all filled out, too.  World-building gets the juices flowing and will solve a massive amount of your plot problems (the only known cure for writer's block is world-building and character-building.)  And yes, all of this is writing before I even begin to write.  My working text files tend to be about 30 pages long after everything is done, in addition to my journals, which can be about 20-30 pages, too.  (I usually have multiple countries and multiple characters in addition to other notes.)  I’m not saying everyone should do this.  I’m only showing you what works for me.
© 2010 - 2021 Droemar
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thank you this is amazing i couldn't find one with enough detail so thank you.

ZebraSpeedster's avatar

Thank you! I really needed this, the one i was planning to use before was stressing me out ^^;

138cm's avatar
Hello! I absolutely love this template! May I post this on another platform? I might adjust it and add a few additions to make it more detailed. I assure you I'll credit you and link to this post.
Droemar's avatar
Sure, if you could link back that'd be great!
j142g857c's avatar
Thank you. This is helpful in organizing all the tiny detail I so prolifically generate as I build my story. I just read your last paragraph. Tell me more, if you will about that three to six months of worldbuilding before you start.   I'm new to writing but have lived in my own head fantasy for decades.
Droemar's avatar
I'd recommend Stephen King's On Writing; I kind of took a page from his book, so to speak. He says enthusiasm for an idea runs out in about 6 weeks, so if you don't finish the rough draft by then your enthusiasm wanes and the possibility of finishing kind of falters.
I've found that to be fairly true about my novels. Prewriting takes care of a lot of obstacles that slow that potential momentum: things like 'Oh wait, what's a random name for this walk-on character that fits with the world? Wait, how would the government feel about the heroes doing this? What's my plot again? What are my character's arcs?"
For me, prewriting is like preparing for a rockclimb. Maybe there are experts out there than can run right up a mountainside with no gear. But I need to check and recheck all of my gear to make sure this difficult climb is as easy on me as I can make it.
Vexisss's avatar
Definitely using this on my map if that's okay with you!
Droemar's avatar
Vexisss's avatar
ChatLunatique's avatar
Finally! Why did it take me so long to find this?  Now I have a guideline and no more excuses to not to organize my stacks of foolscap and post-its into a proper world design.
Thank you!
You should make a template for writing fictional religions.
wiccanangel12's avatar
Thank you so much for this, it was exactly what I was looking for!
DarkcanxD's avatar
This template is really cool. I have already tried it out with one of my fantasy countries and it is really helpful.
xWolfie36x's avatar
Featured on the home page of www.youngwriterssociety.com

Thanks for your writing tips! :D
Droemar's avatar
Thanks for the feature!
MaxFeathers's avatar
After many, many attempts at world-building and several months later I find this goldmine.
You are awesome. 
10 pages and 4674 words later, my template for the major country in my novel is done XD
Anceo's avatar
Good and simple guideline for world building but there are two things in that description I don't use.1.Magic because I prefer science fiction.2.Complete creation of constructed language(conlang) but different people speak different language so I place few description about their languages.I have no interest in conlang at all.
gulnan's avatar
Thanks, this will be a lot of useful!
AzrielMoha's avatar
WARNING! Carry on reading! Or you will die, even if you only looked at the word warning!
Once there was a little girl called Clarissa, she was ten-years-old and she lived in a mental
hospital, because she killed her mom and her dad. She got so bad she went to kill all the
staff in the hospital so the More-government decided that best idea was to get rid of her so
they set up a special room to kill her, as humane as possible but it went wrong the
machine they were using went wrong. And she sat there in agony for hours until she died.
Now every week on the day of her death she returns to the person that reads this letter, on
a Monday night at 12:00 a.m. She creeps into your room and kills you slowly, by cutting you
and watching you bleed to death. Now send this to ten other pictures on this one site, and
she will haunt someone else who doesn't. This isn't fake. apparently, if you copy and paste
this to ten comments in the next ten minutes you will have the best day of your life tomorrow.You
will either get kissed or asked out, if you break this chain u will see a little dead girl in you
I'm am so scared of this stuff so I'm so sorry
Droemar's avatar
Seriously? I'm a sending a dead little girl to your house.
AzrielMoha's avatar
ParadoxJester739's avatar
Oh my goodness, I'm making my own setting for roleplay/story and this helps an incredible amount, thank you for putting this together!
The-Shellcat's avatar
Mwahahahaha! This is going to be fun :D 

I know you have the book but thank you for keeping still free.
When you just want one chapter and not the entire thing it can be a pain in the butt...

thank you :)
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