Last week, I talked about the core elements a fictional culture needs, and over time I’ve written posts on many different worldbuilding concepts and how to build them well. Today, I want to share with you a worldbuilding checklist that includes all of the elements (both general to a world and specific to various cultures) that I see as integral to a functioning world. And I’ll include a printable version, too, so stick around to the end for that.
Part 1: General World Questions
- What is the origin of the world?
- Does this world have a god/gods? If so, what are the most important elements of their character?
- What is the inherent moral law in this world?
- What are the scientific laws of this world?
- Are there magic systems? If so, how do they work and what are their limitations?
Related Post: Deciding the Foundation Truth of Your World
- What species grow/live in your world?
- What is the climate of your world?
- What is the general landscape of your world? (Having a map could help here.)
Part 2: Cultural Questions
- What are your culture’s 1-3 core values?
- What is the basis of your culture’s religion?
- What are 2-3 of their core myths/legends? (Creation myths can be especially important. I’ll talk about myths and legends more next week.)
- What does education look like in this culture?
- What are some common traditions in this culture?
- Do they have any big festivals or holidays?
- What does their government look like?
- What is this culture’s approach to work? (Inside vs. outside the home, in community vs. individual, family-centered vs. not, etc.)
- What do family roles look like?
- How are romantic relationships and marriage approached in this culture?
- What historical events have shaped this culture?
- Who are this culture’s heroes?
All of these questions will help you to develop a world that shapes your characters and feels real to the reader. Some are a bit more important than others, or might be more or less relevant upfront depending on what kind of story you want to tell (e.g. romance/marriage customs will be less crucial if your book is completely free of romance), but they’ll all contribute to the overall shape of your world and culture and give you a foundation for stories moving forward.
What’s the Next Step?
This checklist might not look terribly long at first glance, but I know it gives you a lot to cover! How do you flesh out each of these areas and make everything fit together in a cohesive whole? I have a FREE mini-course for that! Sign up below to get two weeks of content diving into how to check off each item on the worldbuilding checklist! I’ll go into what each item needs, some creative options for shaping your fictional culture, and how to build each piece in such a way that it supports the story you want to tell and fits with everything else you’ve built. Plus, you’ll get lifetime access to my entire library of free resources, including a printable version of the checklist itself!