How to build a fictional world – Kate Messner

How to build a fictional world – Kate Messner


In J.R.R.’s world, Gandalf is one of five wizards
sent by the Valar to guide the inhabitants of Middle Earth in their struggles
against the dark force of Sauron. Gandalf’s body was mortal, subject to the physical
rules of Middle Earth, but his spirit was immortal, as seen when he died as Gandalf the Grey and resurrected as Gandalf the White. According to the Wachowski’s script, an awakened human only has to link up and hack the neon binary
code of the Matrix to learn how to fly a helicopter
in a matter of seconds. Or if you are the One, or one of the Ones, you don’t even need a helicopter,
you just need a cool pair of shades. Cheshire cats can juggle their own heads. iPads are rudimentary. No Quidditch match ends
until the Golden Snitch is caught. And the answer to the ultimate
question of life, the universe, and everything is most certainly 42. Just like real life,
fictional worlds operate consistently within a spectrum of physical
and societal rules. That’s what makes these intricate worlds believable, comprehensible,
and worth exploring. In real life, the Law of Gravity
holds seven book sets of “Harry Potter” to millions of bookshelves
around the world. We know this to be true, but we also know that ever since J.K. typed the words wizard, wand, and “Wingardium Leviosa,” that Law of Gravity has ceased to exist on the trillions of pages
resting between those bookends. Authors of science fiction and fantasy
literally build worlds. They make rules, maps, lineages, languages, cultures, universes, alternate universes within universes, and from those worlds sprout
story, after story, after story. When it’s done well, readers can understand
fictional worlds and their rules just as well as the characters
that live in them do and sometimes, just as well or even better than the reader understands
the world outside of the book. But how? How can human-made squiggles on a page reflect lights into our eyes
that send signals to our brains that we logically and emotionally decode
as complex narratives that move us to fight, cry, sing, and think, that are strong enough not only to hold up a world that is completely invented by the author, but also to change
the reader’s perspective on the real world that resumes only when the final squiggle is reached? I’m not sure anyone knows
the answer to that question, yet fantastical, fictional worlds
are created everyday in our minds, on computers, even on napkins at the restaurant
down the street. The truth is your imagination
and a willingness to, figuratively, live in your own world are all you need to get
started writing a novel. I didn’t dream up Hogwarts
or the Star Wars’ Cantina, but I have written some science thrillers
for kids and young adults. Here are some questions
and methods I’ve used to help build the worlds
in which those books take place. I start with a basic place and time. Whether that’s a fantasy world
or a futuristic setting in the real world, it’s important to know where you are
and whether you’re working in the past, present, or future. I like to create a timeline showing how the world came to be. What past events have shaped
the way it is now? Then I brainstorm answers to questions that draw out the details
of my fictional world. What rules are in place here? This covers everything
from laws of gravity, or not, to the rules of society and the punishments
for individuals who break them. What kind of government
does this world have? Who has power, and who doesn’t? What do people believe in here? And what does this society value most? Then it’s time to think
about day-to-day life. What’s the weather like in this world? Where do the inhabitants live
and work and go to school? What do they eat and how do they play? How do they treat their young
and their old? What relationships do they have
with the animals and plants of the world? And what do those animals
and plants look like? What kind of technology exists? Transportation? Communication? Access to information? There’s so much to think about! So, spend some time living in those tasks
and the answers to those questions, and you’re well on your way
to building your own fictional world. Once you know your world
as well as you hope your reader will, set your characters free in it
and see what happens. And ask yourself, “How does this world you created
shape the individuals who live in it? And what kind of conflict
is likely to emerge?” Answer those questions,
and you have your story. Good luck, future world-builder!

100 thoughts to “How to build a fictional world – Kate Messner”

  1. When you have to meet a certain page quota on ur essay.
    “How do squiggles go to ur brain for light and ……..”

  2. Honestly I dont understand why people would want to create new worlds. I create a new world everyday. Its because of my maladaptive daydreaming disorder.

  3. 0:55 omg finally harry potter is mentioned in your channel im so happy

    1:17 too? Is this vid even real??

  4. I spend a ton of time thinking up plot lines for stories, and then never starting them or starting them and never finishing them… Tedward-Educational, please Hel me.

  5. I did it for 10 years ago when i was 5 and i will comtinue and necame cartoon crator

  6. When i goto sleep i always think of my fictional world it has like minecraft world but peaceful no rich no poor

  7. This video is 5 minutes and 25 seconds long the exact number of pages in my fav book Children of Blood and Bone.

  8. I wish there was a website to post and share stories with others for free.But sadly this is likely just foolish hope.

  9. It’s so hard to separate my ideas from my favourite authors. I want to write as well as THEY can but the only thing I can come up with is ideas very similar to theirs. Ah, why can’t I be more creative?

  10. In my country Poland ,UE, we have young person , a man born in the 1987 who can write a lot.His name is REMIGIUSZ MRÓZ , he is a doctor – law doctorate research work was done in Warsaw .Polish people around the world – buying his books about law in country , crime stories and so on.- different situations with the people in life ..Soon a few will be in English too ..

  11. It's almost like she was building a fictional world about a world where everything is an exposition to fictional worlds.

  12. what I usually do is think of something cool, say a dragon, then flesh it out, then think of what I would do to combat/live with it

  13. I am trying to create a fictional world for my novel series…it is much harder than I thought…You need so much planning and deep thinking…it all costs so much time…I hope, I will make it but it is also very exciting…

  14. I wrote an internet one-shot which started as a love comedy which ended with the couple killing each other of possessive situations.

    AM I TOO DARK FOR THIS?

  15. I know this sounds weird but I thought of some empress punishing a women and her followers into winged mermaid sirens, don't ask why

  16. Мой идеальный мир , где нету идеальности. Но есть умные и логично мыслящие люди.

  17. This was terrible. I'm pretty sure that a 5-yo kid knows what type of world he's creating without thinking of it. And for the rest : "Ask yourself some questions that actually represents the less than the quarter of what is a society and it's done ?"
    Nupe, doesn't work like that, creating a fictionnal world is a step by step, long and complex work that couldn't by summarized in 5 minutes, not to say 2 minutes are ridiculous…

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  19. 굳이 적지 않으면 어차피 사라질 상상이라 더 의미있는 것 같기도 함. 꼭 글로 남겨야만 더 의미있는건 아닌듯 … 요리가 예술이듯

  20. I started my fictional world as a child when I was just playing with my stuff animals. Somehow I decided to continue the same storyline for years. And now all my old suffies & handmade toys are now my OC, have a bloodline, generation (timeline), and have a world that isn't always logical.

    Due to the years, many memories are lost, but certain topics have so much details and thoughts into it that It's very hard to organise it. Hopefully I can write a story off this, and erase alot of cringy parts.
    Just wanted to tell someone all this.

    Wish you all good luck with your own! :3

  21. Writing a fictitious world… just think, for every tree you look at, is a fictitious world, should you fall it, and fill it with your hallucinations. Maybe a the very tree in your backyard? Be a kid in a candy shop… cut down that tree and DREAM!!

  22. I write my fictional worlds by hand, and freely. In the end, I change it words by words to fit the story even more. For me, it's best to think it the last and go through it fast.

  23. Alternate universes… I get so happy thinking about them…

    because then, it can mean that my crush liked me back, or my unborn sister never died, or my family never split up in an alternate one and so the other me did not have to go through any of them.

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