Hey, ya’ll! I’m Breyonna, a developmental editor dedicated to helping aspiring authors build their skills and improve their novels. For more about me, click here.
(And for more about perfecting the worlds you’ve created, keep reading. 😊)
A critique of your novel that says, “I loved everything except the worldbuilding; it was too confusing and didn’t make sense” is one that needs to be taken seriously. In both fantasy and sci-fi works, proper worldbuilding can be essential. An enthralling setting can keep readers eyes glued to the page— unless it’s bogged down by infodumping,
or isn’t thought out enough,
or doesn’t make sense,
or seems unoriginal—
In truth, any number of things can make the beautiful world in your head seem a little dull on paper: like a blurry photo compared to a bright painting. Oftentimes, worldbuilding is what separates a good book from a great one.
Now I’m sure you’ve found many guides on how to outline your world, with countless workbooks of varying help and forums filled with contradictory advice. But my series isn’t about crafting and outlining new fantasy worlds, it’s about editing pre-existing ones.
So, plotters and pantsers pull up a chair. For the upcoming weeks, I’ll be doing a short blog series on fixing worlds that didn’t come out quite right in the first draft. This compilation of knowledge I’ve gained as a reader, writer, and editor — as well as careful research (a key component of most worlds) — will bring you some tips, tricks, and tools you can apply to shore up your speculative setting.
Before we begin, I do want to clarify what I mean (and don’t mean) when I say “world-building.” When I say world-building, I am not talking about the 4 walls your character has a couple of conversations in. The location alone does not build a world. Communities, weather, flora and fauna, technology, and yes, physical features all combine to create a vivid setting.
This is where your story takes place. This is your world.