Sunday, 23 March 2014

Things to consider in creating a fantasy world

As promised, I said I'd share some ideas and information with you regarding my current novel. The novel is set both in our world and another realm so the main focus of my research over the last week has been to expand on my ideas and flashing images of what the realm is like and adding depth and believability to the setting.

So here's my top list of things to consider in your fantasy world...


  • Is the world totally separate from Earth (think George R.R. Martin's 'Song of Ice and Fire' series), does it have pathways to link it to Earth (think C.S. Lewis' 'Chronicles of Narnia') or does it coexist with our own world (J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' series)?
  • What is the terrain of the world, think about land and sea but also features like desert, mountains, jungle, forest, ice.
  • Are there any mysterious wonders or phenomenon which cannot be explained?
  • What are the plants and animals like in the world? Similar to our own or different?
  • Think about the history of the world, evolution, whether it has been generally peaceful or there have been many wars.
  • Weather and climate - hot or cold, rain or sun etc?
  • Languages - Do animals/creatures talk too?
  • Are there many different cultures or just one type or race of people?
  • Leadership - Are there separate countries, are they democratic or dictatorships?
  • Hierarchy - King, Emperor, President? What rules are in place?
  • Who creates and enforces laws and deals with emergencies? Think about the equivalent of our Police service, Fire and Ambulance services, are there Judges and Courts to decide if people are guilty for crimes and also an army or other national protection?
  • Health - Medicine man, doctor surgeries or hospitals?
  • Education - Passing on knowledge to children.
  • Transport - Sea, land, air or rail travel? How are vehicles purchased and fuelled?
  • Food - What types of food do people eat, how do they obtain the food? 
  • Churches and religions - do people worship one or many gods, or no god at all? How are spirituality and faith explored? Are there folklore, myths or legends handed down?
  • Imports and exports - does the country or world produce anything rare or valuable themselves? Are they self sustaining or do they rely on trade with other countries or worlds?
  • General maintenance - Is there anyone to look after the mundanities - Dustmen, sewerage treatment, street cleaners, park wardens?
  • News and communication - Is there any type of media? TV, radio or newspapers, do people send letters or rely on modern technology?
  • Entertainment - Theatre, sports, festivals, events, libraries, restaurants, hotels, shops. Has society evolved to sustain businesses or is entertainment more rural and undeveloped?
  • Clothing - What do people wear? Are there different outfits based on demographics?
  • Residential properties - Where do people live? How are homes built? What is their design? Poor or rich? Basic or full of gadgets? How many people do homes generally accommodate?
I hope this has helped with getting the creative juices flowing! During my research, these are the things I found to be the most important to consider when writing a novel. Some things may not be required, other things have been included to help add depth to the story. It may be that you have no intention in conveying how rubbish and waste are dealt with in your chosen world, however, by thinking about this it may spark an idea to use within your novel. It will also help you to get to know your setting better, and therefore create a more believable universe.

Let me know, did you find this information helpful? Can you think of anything else to add to the list?


  1. I've always liked having more questions than answers to help my mind consider lots of different answers. I'm also going to write a fantasy novel with a dash or so of science fiction. Thanks so much for your article.

    1. Thanks for your comment Lauren! I hope the novel incoming along nicely! Unfortunately the blog has fallen by the way due to my own novel writing, hoping to pick it back up again in 2015!