Lola’s Ramblings is a feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews where I ramble on about a book related or a non-book related topic. These are discussion type of posts where I talk about a topic and readers can weigh in on the topic in the comments. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like tours, cover reveals, memes, challenges, recaps or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are discussions of a certain topic and my point of view on them. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.
If you follow this blog for a while you probably know that I love world building. Especially in books that take place in a different world this is very important to me. I love it when the world comes alive and I can imagine how things look there and how everything works. With world building I primarily mean a world different than our own, but also the pressence of paranormal creatures or sci-fi elements and how the author explains and describes those aspects. When I talk about books that take place on our own planet or world I often use the word setting in my review to describe how the author made the town or location come alive. In my opinion world building and setting are different, although they are also similiar in some ways. Today I’ll focus on world building.
What Makes for Good World Building in my opinion?
- Details. I think details are one of the most simple and most important ways to create a world. Details can make the world feel more real and alive, they can fill in blanks and they can be interwoven into the story. The more details about a world or supernatural creature there are, the better the world building.
- Able to imagine how the world looks. I want to be able to form an imagine in my head of how the world or the supernatural creatures looks. I want the world building to have enough details and descriptions so I am able to visualize it. I visualize everything when I am reading so when there aren’t enough details I can’t adequately visualize it and I find that annoying. Yes sometimes things can be mysterious, but in the end of a book or series I do want to form an imagine of the world or creatures or at least have part of an imagine.
- Original. Sure you can have another planet or world that’s almost the same as ours, but in general I prefer worlds that are vastly different and original. I want to see a world with different rules and that’s different from what I’ve seen before. Although I am also a fan of urban fantasy books where the world might be common, but the paranormal or fantays aspects aren’t. That’s okay too. I like it when authors do things original or take a common concept or paranormal creature and add an original twist.
- Show not tell. While I am not against an info dump or two, overal I think showing people the world works better than just telling them about it. If a character experiences the world and we learn more about it from what happens and we see around the character that leaves a better impression and I remember it better than one info dump explaianing how things work.
- Subtle. I think good world building can be subtle and I think it’s often the subtle details that make a world come alive. It doesn’t always have to be vastly different from our world, sometimes subtle changes can work just as well. Many dystopia book for example use this, the world looks the same but it isn’t. Something happened and the world is differnet.
- Rules of the world. To get a good feel for a new world I think knowing which rules apply to that world are very important. Like how does magic works? Which laws of physics are there? Which things are similar but different than here? What is who’s role in society? Is space travel possible? How does it work? And much more. And if there are rules everything and everyone has to follow those rules. I think getting a feel of how a world works and what the rules are is very important for forming an udnerstanding of the world. Another important one is not breaking your own world building rules. Nothing bothers me more if first we learn that A is never possible and then suddenly it turns out A is possible, due to a reasoning that doesn’t entirely make sense.
- Makes Sense. This might be one of the more important ones. I want a world to make sense, to have the pieces fit together and everything works and fits. I want a world to make sense, not have plot holes in them. I want things fall on it’s place and not me pointing things out which don’t make sense. I want explanations for the unusual things that happen and not be left guessing.
- Answers my questions/ enough information. With good world building my questions about the world are automatically answered by how the world works. I like to have little questions left about how the world works. If it’s a series I don’t mind waiting for the answers for a bit, but at the end of a book or series I want to have most of my questions answered. If I am left with too many questions, I feel like the author didn’t do a good enough job of world building.
- History, Society and Politics. I think a good world building includes giving us a feel of history, society and politics. What happened in the past to get here? Why are things as they are now? How does the society works? What’s everyone’s role in this society? How do things work together? Who rules the planet or society and why? What are the relationships with other countries or planets? It depends on the book how important these individual aspects are, but I think giving an general feel and answer to each of these aspects helps a lot in giving a feel for the world.
- Consistency. I think this one is very important too. Without consistency your world doesn’t make sense and being consistent in how you describe things or how things work is very important for good world building in my opinion.
- Limitations. I think having limitations at what is possible can be vary valuable in world building, especially when it comes to magical powers and such. Like for example how often and how much magic use is possible, having limitations to what is possible makes things more believeable and more interesting.
- Consequences. Another feature of good world building is that events need to have consequences. I also love magical system where using magic costs something or has a drawback. I think consequences is one of those things that make a world and story more believable.
I am very critical when it comes to world building and I hate it when I find flaws in world building or things don’t make sense. I like poking holes into plot lines or world building rules and will rarely praise a book for it’s world building. Having said that not everyone one of these aspects needs to be present to have me like the world building, but the more of these aspects there are present the more I will like the world building probably.
The biggest issue I have with world building is often when there aren’t enough details, the world doesn’t come alive or things don’t make sense. With the last one being the one to anoy me most. I rather have vague world building where the world doesn’t come alive than a world that doens’t make any sense. As long as an author can avoid those three things I usually will be okay with world building.