Authors, game masters, storytellers, visual artists, and others all have a common problem. You want to create something that’s familiar, but unique to you. Whether that be a new variant of Orc, a culture for your world, or something as simple as a snack for your characters to eat. Creating something that belongs to your world and is your creation can be a really great way to pull your audience into the intricacies of your world. At the same time, doing this in a way that’s effective or actually interesting is often difficult. Oftentimes these creations come across as “Your version of X’s creation”.
The power with which you convey the uniqueness of your creation is going to rely on your authorship, speaking, and writing skills. However, you can do yourself a favor in the Worldbuilding stage by giving yourself a good foundation on which to establish what you’re creating. This way, you’re giving life to your own creation, instead of it being a shadow of somebody else’s vision.
Identify Core Features
If you’re wanting to make something recognizable, you need to make sure you still have enough similarities. You also need to do some work to set up the next step, so this step is really crucial. Let’s say you’re wanting to make a vehicle that people in your world use for transportation. The world you’re building is a futuristic world with space travel and levitation. Define a few things that are going to pop into your mind that really define that vehicle. Here’s a small list I came up with:
- Small Spacecraft, Managed by Crews of 2-10
- Silvery, Metal
- Lots of different Designs and Shapes
- Auto Turrets + Manual Fire Weapons
In this list, we have some basic functions that, if I were to list the above features to anybody, they’ll likely start thinking of a spacecraft from Star Wars, Firefly, or another piece of media. Finding the core concepts of the piece you’re creating gives you a platform to work off of, and room to experiment with new ideas. It also ensures you’ll keep a general idea in mind for audiences to fill in gaps of detail.
Pick One – Break It, Change It, Mix-Rewrite
Now let’s focus on making something a little bit more of your creation to fit into your world. Take one of the concepts you wrote down, and mix it up to make it different and unique, but not so much so that we lose the meaning of the concepts.
For me, I like the idea of spacecraft having minimal levitation abilities before taking off. Yet, I also really like the idea of having small enough spacecraft that would work as multi-terrain vehicles. I’m thinking that in my world, a low power levitation can interact with road systems powered with electromagnetic energy, thus creating low powered electric highways for these vehicles to zip across at high speeds. This means that traveling around a planet would be a lot less expensive, both in fuel costs and also in saving you to rent a hanger and a local vehicle.
Fill In the Details
Now you have your unique concept in place, you can fill in the rest of the details by answering your own questions, or adding details from your list of concepts from earlier. Maybe you think of a concept or idea that you want to add on as well while finishing up? Go ahead and add it in! As long as it’s still somewhat recognizable in the end to your original starting concept, then you should be set. By doing this method, you’re adding your own personal touch to a concept and your world, but still giving room for the audience to fill that void between their understanding and your thoughts. When you fill the void, your content becomes a lot more approachable, but it allows the audience to be engaged and curious about what you’re creating.
Stay creating friends, and until next time!
Stay tuned for more writing from the WorldCraft Club as we explore worldbuilding and the crafting of fictional settings to inspire your creativity.
Jonathan Bell is a hobbiest and aspiring creative. He has taken part in writing several worlds, and running D&D games for friends and organizations for the last 5 years. Currently, aside from editing, writing, and appearing on Worldcraft Club, Jon is co-writing a supplement called Riverwalk based on wilderness adventures.
We’re happy to host guest blogs on here whenever we can, it gives James a break and let’s other people contribute their ideas. Let us know if you have a worldbuilding concept or strategy to get off your chest, we’d love to hear it.