Author Q’s: What is “Worldbuilding?”

Interviewed by Donna Campbell Smith for the Grey Area News, here is a Q and A.

This marks the third in a series of blog posts of interview questions I have enjoyed.  Last time we talked about the scifi genre.  This time we’re on to, what is this “Worldbuilding” you speak of?


Q) I heard you talking about building worlds. What does that mean?

A) Every writer of spec- fiction is involved in worldbuilding. Simplest definition is: It is the crafting of the imaginary setting for your story. If this is Earth’s present or near future, often the writer is imagining details of locations they have not actually visited. Or adding fictional elements into those they know well.

More often in Scifi we are inventing settings, aliens, creatures, planets, technology from whole cloth. The ultimate is designing an entire fictional universe.

An example close to that is, the Star Wars galaxy, far, far away and long, long ago. While like our Earth 2017 reality in many ways, it differs greatly as well. Others include the Marvel and DC comic’s Universes, where superheroes have powers we don’t experience as normal humans in our reality.

The more realistically and consistently this is done the better. Some use a systematic way to create settings. I am a fan of Author Brandon Sanderson. For his fantasy works he has identified the three laws of magic:

The Law

Sanderson’s First Law of Magics: An author’s ability to solve conflict satisfactorily with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.

I have edited that for my needs:

The Corollary:

“A Scifi author’s ability to resolve conflict with technology is Directly Proportional to how well the reader understands said technology.”


Which is entirely unnecessary and superfluous. Sanderson himself describes “tech” as a form of magic, for purposes of applying his Laws to writing and worldbuilding.  But out of such guidelines, we mine gems of advice, caffeinate our veins, and bow our heads down at our keyboards to wage war against the chaos of the universe(s) we create.

Even historical fiction authors, like my friend Suzanne Adair, must invent, fudge, or merge elements of our well known real world historical settings, to fill in gaps and tell their story. It’s not that they don’t intend to be 100% reality based, but the lack of 100% knowledge of the past real world prevents this to some degrees. So they must “create world” to patch the holes in the historical records.

Also, when she invents a character to walk through the revolutionary war period American south, that person did not exist in the real world. Nor did their house. So the house and its contents must be invented even though the street said house sits upon exists in the real world. Maybe even to this day. (21-B Baker St., anyone?)

Non-fiction biographers sometimes change the names and locations of events to protect that “disclaimer” and prevent lawsuits. Creating the alternate names, locations, and details is worldbuilding-light, within the setting of our real world.

Aspiring scifi (and fantasy) writers can search “Worldbuilding” to find resources (books) on and elsewhere. My shelf includes some by Orson Scott Card, and several others. Between novel’s I reread from several of these to help my continuing education and improvement.

At the upcoming Book’Em NC 2017 event this fall, I hope to sit on the panel discussing WorldBuilding and answer even more writer’s questions on this topic.


©  Digitalstormcinema Licensed via No.73090333

Next time we will get into what books inspired me in my writing.

Read Ceres 2525: here.

The full Grey Area News: article.

Ceres’ worlds grow on his own: Wikia.

Micheal Lee Nelson’s: Website.

Follow the Author on: Twitter.

Follow the Author on: Facebook.


Gif from

Fractal photo is CC0 from

World in Hand © Digitalstormcinema Licensed via No.73090333


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.