In the world of creativity, it can be easy to say nothing is ever wrong. That’s the art of creation. There are no wrong answers. That’s not actually true. There are a few mistakes you can make when worldbuilding. Here’s how to avoid them.
1. You Don’t Do Enough Research
Even if you plan on making a completely original world, you’re going to be borrowing from other cultures. It’s just how creativity works. Mark Twain put it best. How you write about an idea may be original, but the idea, itself, is not.
That’s why research is crucial. It isn’t as important for the sake of making sure certain details are copied over correctly, but more so to ensure you don’t adopt stereotypes or racist charactictures in your worldbuilding. That isn’t going to do you any favors.
It may take extra time, but when you do proper research on the kind of concept, culture, architecture, whatever, that you want to adopt, you can avoid problematic portrayals.
2. You Don’t Record Your Lore
When you’re in the throes of worldbuilding, it can be easy not to make references to certain parts of your lore. After your session of worldbuilding is over, you may turn off the laptop or close your notebook and leave the world for a while. When you return, you may jump back in, but you’ll quickly find that you’re losing track of the lore that you already created.
Not having a reference for your lore is an easy mistake to make. It can also be a sign of amateur worldbuilding. Any time you create a concrete bit of lore, whether it be a war, a deity, a King’s lineage, a foundation of a realm, you should record it in a separate reference.
This allows you to quickly refer to it to ensure your dates are correct, your names are correct, the geography is accurate, and you’re not duplicating deities. Not having a reference means you may have plot holes, your history may be incorrect, or you may be doing more work than you needed to.
3. You Worldbuild Too Much
What do you mean I worldbuild too much? That isn’t possible! Actually, it is.
Sometimes, you need to let the world build itself while you create. For novel writers, that means letting their characters build the world through their actions and relationships. For game designers, it means doing the same with their players.
The same goes for DMs and GMs worldbuilding a campaign for their adventurers. At some point, you need to understand that too much history isn’t going to interest your readers and players. They need enough to understand the background. Their true interest is changing the world, themselves.
You need to be able to walk the fine line of worldbuilding for them and worldbuilding for yourself.
4. Worldbuilding Without Maps
This worldbuilding mistake may be more of a matter of a preference, but it can injure your process. Unless you’re able to keep a map of your various kingdoms, realms, cities, and continents in your head–which you are clearly god-tier if you can and I respect the hell out of you–you may want to scribble down a map.
Maps are useful in terms of figuring out distances during each journey. Does it make sense for your characters or players to be able to reach their destination in a certain amount of time? What happens during that long trek?
Not using a map can quickly make figuring out distances extremely difficult. Unless you have forgiving readers or players, you may be called out on it at some point.
Maps can also help you keep track of geography and may even influence the culture that resides there. Those that live in the mountains, for example, likely have a very different culture than those who live in a desert climate.
Avoid Worldbuilding Mistakes to Create a Unique and Practical World
Avoiding these worldbuilding mistakes can help you create a world that feels real, makes sense, and is easier for you to manage. You can avoid plot holes, discrepancies, and ensure that everything is tidy and believable. If you have any worldbuilding mistakes that you’ve made in the past, let us know about them in the comments below!