Six impossible things

Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions

by Patricia C. Wrede

The following list of questions is meant to aid authors of fantasy fiction who are seeking to create believable imaginary settings for their stories. While many of these questions may be helpful or crucial to certain stories, they will not all apply to every story. It is not necessary for an author to answer all, or even any, of the questions in order to start writing, (or to finish writing, either). The idea is simply to provoke people into thinking about the ways their settings and backgrounds hang together … or don’t. If it’s useful, use it. If not, don’t.

Some questions apply to more than one topic, and have been duplicated under more than one heading. This should not be considered as an exhaustive and final list, but as a beginning point from which each individual writer can compile a personal list.

The Questions

The World

Basics

Alternate Earth

Not Earth at All

Physical and Historical Features

General

Climate and Geography

Natural Resources

World History

Specific Country(s)History

Magic and Magicians

Rules of Magic

Wizards

Magic and Technology

Miscellaneous Magic Questions

Peoples and Customs

General

Customs

Eating

Greeting and Meeting

Gestures

Visits

Language

Ethics and Values

Religion and the Gods

Population

Social Organization

General

Government

Politics

Crime and the Legal System

Foreign Relations

Waging War

Weapons

Commerce, Trade, and Public Life

General

Business and Industry

Transportation and Communication

Science and Technology

Medicine

Arts and Entertainment

Architecture

Urban Factors

Rural Factors

Daily Life

General

Fashion and Dress

Manners

Diet

Education

Calendar

Copyright © 1996 Patricia C. Wrede. Reproduction and distribution specifically prohibited. All rights reserved.

Questions regarding foreign rights, film/tv subrights, and other business matters should be directed to Pat’s agent Ginger Clark, Curtis-Brown, Ltd., 10 Astor Place, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10003, gc@cbltd.com

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