Now that we have the concept, it’s time to start on the next step: How did our world begin?
While it may not seem integral nor likely to show up in your plot, but —just as it’s important to know a character’s backstory to understand his/her actions— It’s important to know how and why the world came to be in order to understand how all things came together.
How Did Your World Come to be?
What brought about the beginning of your own world? Consider these questions for how your world came to be. Was your world created:
- By a singular, all-powerful creator.
- By one or more gods working together (or apart).
- By the recycled process of the world dying and reforming.
- By the union between two (or more) powerful forces.
- From the remains of a powerful entity (god, giant, or otherwise).
- By random chance, with no influence of god or anything else.
These questions should be used to guide you through the process, but you aren’t bound by them. Think of other ways though. Ultimately though, you’re world is going to be created by one of three means.
- It was created.
- It evolved on its own.
- It was a byproduct.
Every element created from there on should then be consistent with the creation account of your world.
Extra Tip: Make several creation accounts for your world and don’t throw any away that you had already created, but decided to cast aside. Just as mankind struggles to pinpoint the answers to how our world came to be, so will the people of your world.
Just make sure you, as the author, have the true account in mind. You were there when the world began, you really know what happened.
Why Did Your World Come to be?
This next question only really matters if your world was created and didn’t evolve.
If someone(s) created your world, it has to be for a reason. They had a purpose in mind when the world was brought into creation. The question you need to ask is: why?
The reasons varies depending on the intentions of the creator (we can discuss characters of god-like entities on a later date). But here are some ideas you can consider. The creator(s) made the world to be:
- An extension of their love.
- They were lonely.
- They wanted to create a work force and world to better serve them.
- A means to preserve something that would otherwise be lost.
Nothing is done without a purpose. Even the motivation, “I did it because I was bored,” was done in order to satisfy the need to escape said boredom. The reason can be majestic or rather mundane. But the fact remains there has to be one.
What Caused Death to Exist in Your World?
This is a question I haven’t seen much when world-building, but I feel it is a critical question to ask: Why is there death in your world?
Again, if the world evolved on its own or was a byproduct, this question isn’t critical. But if your world was created, there has to be a reason for death.
In most mythologies I’ve read, Gods are immortal. I don’t know about you guys, but if I were an immortal being, I wouldn’t create something with a glaring design flaw as death. How could I even create something beyond my understanding? Without getting too theological here, the fact remains that there is a reason why certain things in your world die, but others don’t.
So why do people die? In Judo-Christian Belief, death was a result of mankind’s defiance against their creator and because of that defiance, the relationship between mankind and god must be restored (We’ll talk about fantasy religions more in a later post).
Other reasons could include:
- A rebellion between gods resulted in disorder on the planet.
- Maybe the gods’ power to create is only a lesser extent of some far greater being.
- An encoded law that inhibit the god’s powers to create perfectly.
- A engrained fail-safe so the creation could not usurp the creator?
Either way, the question of death, and what happens after death, has been asked since mankind first walked the earth. It shouldn’t be a question that’s skipped over. It should take as much attention and thought as the other two questions presented.
What are your guys’ thoughts on creation accounts? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Great post Branscum! I’ve only thought of the origins of my world for a few of my novels and not nearly as much as this. This is a great guide for working through the origins of a world!
Glad you could find it useful :). If you have any questions about any new topics to explore, I’d love to hear them.