NaNoPrep: Building Worlds


One thing that is often overlooked while preparing for NaNoWriMo is world building. It is easy to forget about planning your world as well as your plot. But there is nothing worse when you’re in the flow of writing, than being pulled out of your book to work out what a town is called. That’s not to say that you have to draw up an incredibly detailed map that shows every little village and patch of trees. But taking some time to work out some of the characteristics of your world can save a lot of headaches later on.

The least you need to know before you start writing is where your story is set. If you’re creating a world or a town, give it a name. If you invent a capital city, give that a name too. Name any other major landmarks you know of. Make a list of the places you have named and give them each a short description so you can easily identify them later. When you’re in the middle of writing, you don’t want to have to go scrolling back through your novel looking for the name of a small town that got five sentences of screen time. The added bonus to making this list is that you can keep adding to it as you add more settings while you’re writing.

If, like me, you don’t like to go in for heavy world building at the start, or you don’t have time to work out much about your world, then on top of working out these basic details, also take a few minutes to brainstorm a list of place names. With this list on hand, any place can be named in a matter of seconds while you’re writing, which means you won’t have to struggle to think up a name in the middle of a scene.

If you do have time for world building, or world building is your forte, then there’s lots you can do to prepare. Think about the main settings. Write a description of each place. What are the people like? What is their main trade? How important a place is it? What are the important buildings? Where do people spend their time? What are the surrounding towns or countries? Try summing each place up in one sentence. A word of warning though. World building can end up being quite addictive. Make sure that you’re not doing more planning of your world than you are of your book. It’ll do you no good to start NaNoWriMo with an incredibly detailed world and no idea of the plot.

Whether you like world building or not, making a few preparations now saves a whole lot of time later on. And when you’re in the middle of NaNoWriMo trying to hit a world count, the easier you’ve made it for yourself, the easier your month will be. As an added bit of help, here are a few resources I have discovered, which you might find useful when building your worlds:

Springhole Generators: This website has whole lot of random generators that are great for country and town names. It’s also a big help when you need to brainstorm a list crazy objects for quests, or generate a random race or setting.

Fantasy world building questions: This website has a whole list of amazingly though provoking questions for world building. It’s an especially good resource if you want to do some in depth thinking about your setting.

Seventh Sanctum generators: This is another website with some useful random generators that are very useful for quick world building ideas. Just looking through some of the generated suggestions can spark ideas sometimes.

Tumblr blog with nature photos: Need some picture inspiration for your world building? This Tumblr is filled with amazing photos of places. It might be useful for helping inspire new places for your book.

Pinterest boards: Among other incredible boards, this Pinterest account has some amazing boards dedicated to settings of all types. Perfect for inspiring world building ideas.

Do you like to world build? What are your best world building tips? Got any good resources to share?

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  1. Great post! Aaaaand you reminded me that I still have to work on my worldbuilding for my NaNo novel...I don't usually write fantasy so it's not something I think about as much as I should.

    1. Fantasy is one of those genres where you have to have a little idea of what the world is, isn't it? I write a lot of fantasy (who am I kidding, I write more fantasy than anything else), but the world building sneaks up on me every time. There's still time to plan your world a bit though.

  2. I'm going to make a map for my fantasy world *-* but I love the tumblr/pinterest suggestion! It would really help out.

    1. Good on you making a map of your world. I'm sure it's going to be really helpful. If I had any sort of map drawing talent I would love to do that too, but alas drawing is not my forte. I've found Pinterest really helpful for inspiration. Just don't get too lost on there. It's so easy to spend hours looking at all the pretty pictures.


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