Worldbuilding: From Small Towns to Entire Universes by Kevin J. Anderson

Worldbuilding_Cover_FinalAt the end of 2015 I picked up a massive StoryBundle¬†full of books for writers. Books about outlining, writing novels, publishing, freelance writing, even books about marketing books. Partway through fleshing out the world of the YA fantasy novella I’m editing, I decided to read Worldbuilding: From Small Towns to Entire Universes first.

I’m really, really glad I did. This book is divided into sections so you can go through the chapters as you work on different parts of your world. Sections include geography, politics, the arts and religion. Each chapter is filled with dozens of questions and ideas about how the answers might impact your story. Even the most dedicated worldbuilders are sure to find a few questions they haven’t yet asked in this wonderful book.

You won’t exactly find writing exercises in this book the way you do in others. At no point does the book say anything like “write 500 words about the relationships between nations in your world”. Instead the entire book is a giant writing exercise, designed to make you stop every few sentences to build your own ideas.

Even if you’re writing about a real place, answering as many of the questions in the book as possible(with the help of Google and maybe some history books) will help you write about that place authentically. Fiction writers of all types will get a lot out of this book.

As somebody who does a decent chunk of my reading in transit(because although I don’t go out often, when I do it’s usually far) I kind of wish this was an actual workbook I had in paper form so I could have more easily answered the questions as I went along. Unfortunately there is no workbook version of this book–at least not one I can find–so make sure you always have the worldbuilding notebook/binder/document you’re using for the project you want to work on when you’re going through this book.

All in all, this book is an invaluable resource. I can definitely see myself coming back to it again and again as I work on different projects. Many of the questions inside are questions I normally answer in the early stages myself–worlds tend to come to me pretty fully formed–but there were also many I hadn’t even considered.

If you write fiction, you should purchase a copy of Worldbuilding: From Small Towns to Entire Universes right away.