Worldbuilding

Starting a Fictional Culture

Culture encompasses almost everything we do. Language, religion, and social structure all shape and are shaped by the prevailing culture. The cultures you create for your worlds will make a permanent imprint on the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of the people in them. With so many strands in … read more »

The Four Rules of Using Fake Words

If your story takes place in another world, none of your characters are really speaking English. They aren’t telling stories or recording history in English; they’re doing it in the language you invented for them. An English language book describing their journey is clearly an anachronism. Read more »

Costuming Your Characters

Costumes reflect both a character’s culture and personality. Everything in their environment shapes the way they dress. Unless you have a professional costumer to defer to, costuming is left to the worldbuilder. When done right, a costume tells a story all on its own. Read more »

Creating Rites of Passage

Depicting rites of passage is a fantastic way to show off your fictional culture. That’s because these rituals combine the most important elements of a culture into a memorable event. Chances are very good that social roles, moral values, lifestyle, and religion will all make an appearance. Read more »

Using Animals for Transport and Labor

Whatever your setting, you’ll probably need animal transportation and labor. Only in the past 100 years has overland transportation been dominated by machines; throughout history, most humans have relied on some manner of large beastie to haul around their stuff or themselves. Read more »

Poisons: How to Use Them

Your characters have to face death at some point. Why not let chemistry help? Ah, but not all poisons are created equal, and not all poisons will be available in all settings for your murderous plot devices. Read more »

Creating Matriarchies

Human societies are overwhelmingly patriarchal. That means it’ll be a long time before matriarchal societies get boring. Unfortunately, many depictions of these cultures feature a simple role reversal. A matriarchy isn’t just a patriarchy with women in place of men. Read more »

Four Ways to Limit Magic & Technology

While powerful spells and gadgets are fun to imagine, they can do serious harm to a story. Once you add a transporter or summon giant eagles, it becomes too easy for the protagonists to overcome challenges. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce the impact of … read more »