Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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30 Day Worldbuilder

  • MagicalWorldBuilder for printing out at home or reading on a computer
  • ePub for use with many fine ereader devices
  • MOBI for use with Kindles and MobiPocket software.

In October, 2004, I posted 30 days of world-building exercises to theNaNoWriMo discussion forums. These are short, 15-minute exercises that can help you make crucial decisions about your world, and what you want your story to say about it. These exercises have been edited for general use and re-posted here.

A lot of times, people want to write a novel and think “I want to write fantasy, but there’s so much world-building I would have to do– I haven’t done any of it!” As everyone signing up for NaNoWriMo or any writing challenge quickly learns, this is really the self-editor speaking; it’s another way of saying “I can’t.”

So, give yourself 7 and a half hours this month– 15 minutes a day– to build a world. It’s not going to be Perfect or Set. Why would it be? You haven’t actually written the story yet, you haven’t tested its limits. But it’ll give you something to start with, something to feel comfortable about when you start.

You’ll need some way to track this stuff, by the way. A notebook is convenient, but you can track it on computer, a blog, whatever. For purposes of the exercises, I’ll refer to a notebook, but understand that just means “that place where you keep your novel notes.”

As of 2007, The world-builder exercises are licensed under a Creative Commons license to help you in deciding whether you can translate (yes, with credit back), distribute to your writing group (yes, with credit), sell (not without permission), reprint (yes, for non-commercial purposes), or mirror (yes, with credit back) this useful guide!

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