How to Build a Fictional World [5:24]


Starting off with a quick outline of Tolkien’s Gandalf and a number of other fictional favorites, Kate Messner makes the point that every work of fiction still operates within its own set of rules.  This is what makes these worlds both comprehensible and worth exploring.  Authors are world makers.  And when it’s done well, readers should be able to understand those new worlds and not just the narrow narrative described in the book.   Kate then describes tips for how to write our own fiction.  Questions include: What rules are in place here?  Whether physical or social rules.  What do people believe in and value?  What relationships between people and their world look like?  What kind of conflict is likely to emerge?

Discussion Questions

  • What does the author mean when she says that fictional worlds obey their own laws?
  • What are some examples of ways that our favorite stories are very different than our world, yet make complete sense in their own?
  • What are some of the first questions we should ask when building a new world?
  • Try dreaming up a new world right now!

Keywords: creativity, fiction, writing, literature


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