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Storyworld First: Creating a Unique Fantasy World for Your Novel

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The question I hear most about building a fantasy storyworld is: "Where do I start?" Oz, Wonderland, Narnia, the 100 Acre Wood, Neverland, Hogwarts, the United Federation of Planets, Westeros, Middle Earth, Alagaesia, Terabithia, Gotham City, Jurassic Park, Fablehaven, and a galaxy far, far away. These fictional places have become real in the minds and hearts or readers. The The question I hear most about building a fantasy storyworld is: "Where do I start?" Oz, Wonderland, Narnia, the 100 Acre Wood, Neverland, Hogwarts, the United Federation of Planets, Westeros, Middle Earth, Alagaesia, Terabithia, Gotham City, Jurassic Park, Fablehaven, and a galaxy far, far away. These fictional places have become real in the minds and hearts or readers. These storyworlds that someone invented-someone who was once like you, learning to tell stories, learning to write, and dreaming about publishing a novel. Whether you're starting from scratch or are looking to add depth to a finished story, Storyworld First will get you thinking. Includes tips for worldbuilding: Astronomy * Magic * Government Map making * History * Religion Technology * Languages * Culture And how it all works together.


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The question I hear most about building a fantasy storyworld is: "Where do I start?" Oz, Wonderland, Narnia, the 100 Acre Wood, Neverland, Hogwarts, the United Federation of Planets, Westeros, Middle Earth, Alagaesia, Terabithia, Gotham City, Jurassic Park, Fablehaven, and a galaxy far, far away. These fictional places have become real in the minds and hearts or readers. The The question I hear most about building a fantasy storyworld is: "Where do I start?" Oz, Wonderland, Narnia, the 100 Acre Wood, Neverland, Hogwarts, the United Federation of Planets, Westeros, Middle Earth, Alagaesia, Terabithia, Gotham City, Jurassic Park, Fablehaven, and a galaxy far, far away. These fictional places have become real in the minds and hearts or readers. These storyworlds that someone invented-someone who was once like you, learning to tell stories, learning to write, and dreaming about publishing a novel. Whether you're starting from scratch or are looking to add depth to a finished story, Storyworld First will get you thinking. Includes tips for worldbuilding: Astronomy * Magic * Government Map making * History * Religion Technology * Languages * Culture And how it all works together.

30 review for Storyworld First: Creating a Unique Fantasy World for Your Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    K.M. Weiland

    Creating a fantasy world, from scratch, can be scads more overwhelming than even having to minutely research an existing historical period. But Williamson's book offers solid guidance, top-shelf suggestions for brainstorming, and a great list of questions that rivals even my go-to resource, Patricia C. Wrede's World-building Questionnaire. This is a very accessible, enjoyable read. It doesn't offer much guidance in the nitty-gritty development of societies, political systems, or war tactics. But Creating a fantasy world, from scratch, can be scads more overwhelming than even having to minutely research an existing historical period. But Williamson's book offers solid guidance, top-shelf suggestions for brainstorming, and a great list of questions that rivals even my go-to resource, Patricia C. Wrede's World-building Questionnaire. This is a very accessible, enjoyable read. It doesn't offer much guidance in the nitty-gritty development of societies, political systems, or war tactics. But it's the perfect starting point for beginning to consider all of those things. Should be on every young speculative author's shelf!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christine Smith

    This is a great source for all speculative fiction writers out there. It's a quick, easy read, with all sorts of helpful resources on every aspect of worldbuilding you can imagine (government, magic systems, creatures, etc.), and has lots of helpful worksheets in the back. I was very inspired reading it, and will definitely be referencing it time and time again whenever I'm worldbuilding. I absolutely recommend for all spec fic writers!

  3. 5 out of 5

    R.J. Rodda

    Every writer should read this. This book shows how Williamson is able to create such rich and engaging fiction and gives you the tools to do likewise. This is particularly aimed at fantasy/SF writers but anyone who wants to create an immersive storyworld would benefit from the points raised. I found it almost overwhelming to read but was so glad I did.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Howe

    I've thought I should read this book for a while now, then I saw another writer talking about it again recently and made up my mind to finally read it. I decided to go with the physical copy of the book because I like having writing resources that I can hold and make notes in. The book is well written, easy to understand, and pretty short and concise. I don't read hardly any Fantasy or Science Fiction, or really any books that take place in a made-up world. Therefore I didn't really "get" any of I've thought I should read this book for a while now, then I saw another writer talking about it again recently and made up my mind to finally read it. I decided to go with the physical copy of the book because I like having writing resources that I can hold and make notes in. The book is well written, easy to understand, and pretty short and concise. I don't read hardly any Fantasy or Science Fiction, or really any books that take place in a made-up world. Therefore I didn't really "get" any of the examples, but I was still able to follow along with what the author was trying to convey. There were some sections I skipped over because they were talking about how to incorporate magic into books, and since I never plan on doing that, I didn't figure I needed to read those segments. There were also various times that the author used examples from books that I'm not comfortable with, so I skipped over those parts too. At the end of the book there are a lot of helpful "Extras" that I know I'll be referencing. The book was actually full of information that I have a feeling I'll be referencing in the future. It really gave me a better idea of how to throughly think through the world I'm building for my readers - no matter if the world takes place here on earth or not. Once again I'm amazed by how much time, thought, and research goes into writing. I'm giving this book 4 out of 5 stars, 8 out of 10. (The lack of 5 stars is mainly because of all the magic that I'm uncomfortable with, as well as the references to books that I can't recommend.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Morrill

    As a writing teacher, I am SO excited about this book. Williamson's advice comes from years of worldbuilding. Her honesty is refreshing and her instructions easy to follow. I especially love how she both encourages writers and pushes them to be unique and fresh. I'm so excited to have this resource to share with the teen writers I work with!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michaella Valkenaar

    I read this while proofreading it for typos. While proofreading, sometimes I got so wrapped up in the content, that I forgot to check for typos. This is a great guide for young people wanting to break into speculative. This is not a How To Be Tolkien or Paulini, but rather tells how to craft a unique world. It covers geography, culture, animals and alien species, and even how to create a governments for your story's countries.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

    This book was really amazing. As a teen writer, I found the tips very helpful and they definitely gave me some new ideas for storyworld building. Plus, the writing was thoroughly enjoyable, and, having read some of Jill Williamson's books, I know she knows what she's talking about.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Any advice from Jill Williamson on world building is golden. Definitely recommend this book for aspiring writers everywhere.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Julia Witmer

    A helpful, interesting look into story building that will stick with me all along my writing journey. Definitely glad I read this!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Adam Collings

    This book gives a broad overview of all the different elements to consider in your world-building. It goes wide rather than deep - each of these subjects could almost form books of their own. The book serves as a good foundation for the considerations necessary when creating a story world. Included in the book are links to various worksheets to help you create everything from solar systems to religions. I recommend this as a good starting point for anyone wanting to write speculative fiction.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    THIS. BOOK. This book is chock-full of excellent ideas and resources. Williamson talks about so many different topics and areas to play with, but without going into agonizing detail or touching too lightly. I'm definitely going to come back to it once I start worldbuilding again. (And her repeated messages of "only uses as much as you need" and "don't succumb to worldbuilder's disease" will probably come in handy when I do.)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Miller

    Great tool for writers. More of a workbook than a book, book. Don't expect to get much out of it if you're not sitting down with a pad for scribbled ideas. If you do have a pad... expect to fill it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eman

    A great helping tool for fantasy writers and adds an enjoyable insight for readers as in how storyworlds are built.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessica | Bookish Serendipity

    Review- 3.5 Stars *Copy provided for review. This does not affect my opinion or review* Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository For the next 100 days, I am participating in the Go Teen Writers “100 For 100″ event, a challenge in which the participants try to write a minimum of 100 words each day for 100 days. I plan to work on my fantasy novel. World-building certainly isn’t my forte, so I was thrilled to get the chance to read and review Storyworld First. If my story-world building has improv Review- 3.5 Stars *Copy provided for review. This does not affect my opinion or review* Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository For the next 100 days, I am participating in the Go Teen Writers “100 For 100″ event, a challenge in which the participants try to write a minimum of 100 words each day for 100 days. I plan to work on my fantasy novel. World-building certainly isn’t my forte, so I was thrilled to get the chance to read and review Storyworld First. If my story-world building has improved at all, you’ll know why. Have you ever read a book that just blows you away with its story world? I know I have. \Ms. Williamson does a wonderful job dissecting world-building into short chapters, my personal favorite topics being history, languages, magic and animals. The detail that is put into these chapters is amazing! There are well-known examples of a specific part of world-building (eg. Culture, magical elements, ect) for each chapter. It’s really hard for me to figure out what I loved so much about a specific fantasy world, and seeing examples of each helped me understand what it was that made me like them. I don’t recommend reading this book in one sitting, which is what I did. There is a lot of information to take in at once! The content could get very dense (but again, that’s probably just because I read it all at once). I will probably end up referencing back to this later on when I really get into the swing of things. At the back, there are plenty of useful brainstorming and reference sheets that will help you plot out your story-world. I loved these, and I can’t wait to get to my printer and test them out. World-building is one part of writing that I’ve struggled to find good plotting sheets for, and these were great. I have read a fair number of writing reference books and in comparison, the only criticism I have of this one is that it was a bit repetitive and dragging in the middle, but overall I loved the themes. This is a great book for writers, particularly those interested in sci-fi and fantasy, since that is what the chapters tended to focus on. I desperately wanted to jot down notes while I was reading, and I am certain that I will reference to this later on. It’s a 3.5 star book for me!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    As a teen writer who usually deals with realistic settings and stories, but somehow got a "weird" story idea that required world building, I was quite uncertain what to do with myself. I tried to come up with a few things on my own and wrote the story and a sequel, but now that I'm trying to edit those books, I quickly realized I needed some help. I knew my world building had serious holes and I didn't really know where to start. This book is a wonderful, practical guide full of questions to help As a teen writer who usually deals with realistic settings and stories, but somehow got a "weird" story idea that required world building, I was quite uncertain what to do with myself. I tried to come up with a few things on my own and wrote the story and a sequel, but now that I'm trying to edit those books, I quickly realized I needed some help. I knew my world building had serious holes and I didn't really know where to start. This book is a wonderful, practical guide full of questions to help get you thinking about your story, plus extras like how to write wars, lists of cool words to make names for your world, and examples from Jill Williamson's own work. Perfect for people in the same boat as me or anyone else who needs some prompts/ideas and tips on specific parts of world building.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Godfrees

    Fantastic book on world building. I have searched for a book like this, and now one of my favorite authors has written it! Wish I had it sooner, but I'm glad to have it for my reference library now. The book asks questions to help the writer explore the story world they are creating. It is full with helps like links to worksheets and other web resources. Highly recommended for anyone who writes science fiction or fantasy, although it can help any writer with the setting of their novel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Merenwen Inglorion

    Lots of top-notch worldbuilding advice, with tips on everything from making your own map and making the creatures of your world unique, to genre niches and how to organize all of your notes and such. The focus is on the worldbuilding itself, of course, and not character creation, but she does have tips on that as well. I particularly liked the sections where she has lists (of magic and political systems; this’ll make it so much easier when creating governments). She also uses a lot of her stuff (f Lots of top-notch worldbuilding advice, with tips on everything from making your own map and making the creatures of your world unique, to genre niches and how to organize all of your notes and such. The focus is on the worldbuilding itself, of course, and not character creation, but she does have tips on that as well. I particularly liked the sections where she has lists (of magic and political systems; this’ll make it so much easier when creating governments). She also uses a lot of her stuff (first draft maps, character/place concepts, etc.) to give as examples. Anyone who’s a fan of her work will enjoy that. Recommended for writers who are looking for a good worldbuilding book to add to their toolkit.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Neil Horlock

    Thought provoking and inspiring I bought this book ages ago and it's sat on my tablet waiting its turn. For some reason the cover demotivated me something about the presentation didn't make me take it seriously. I was wrong, this is an excellent book full of useful tips and seeds of ideas. It is not a book about writing, in many ways it is a book about not writing, urging preparation offering countless areas of research that will flesh out those thin weak aspects of your concept.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Willis

    This was a very helpful, very thoughtfully organized book on worldbuilding. I found it to be really informative and gave me a few suggestions that I'm definitely going to try with my own writing. I've read a lot of books on the craft and business of writing at this point, so when I read new ones I'm really looking for a handful of new tips, suggestions or things to try that I haven't thought about before, and this book was great about providing those. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone develo This was a very helpful, very thoughtfully organized book on worldbuilding. I found it to be really informative and gave me a few suggestions that I'm definitely going to try with my own writing. I've read a lot of books on the craft and business of writing at this point, so when I read new ones I'm really looking for a handful of new tips, suggestions or things to try that I haven't thought about before, and this book was great about providing those. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone developing fantasy or sci-fi worlds of their own.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Astudillo Karina

    Excellent book The author has made a great effort in including the most minimum details one would require to create a great storyworld. Also she did a great job making the lecture enjoyable given that is a complex and extensive topic.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tanara McCauley

    Thorough yet concise, this book covers all the bases for storyworld building. I keep coming back to it to enhance scenes and generate new ideas. It's witty and wealthy on information. A five-star keeper.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pene Geard

    Some useful categories to think through so this is useful but I didn't get the feeling that the author was an expert. I would have liked there to be more references to well-known books, rather than the author's own books and baseless opinions. As the book went on it seemed more and more rushed.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tonya

    great advice on creating world, not just for a book but for TTRPGs

  24. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Kail-Ackerman

    Not bad but helpful guide with some good ideas for worldbuilding. A lot was self explanatory and a lot of it was just her talking about her own life but it was still helpful.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Skyler Boudreau

    Just as helpful the second time around!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Daniel B-G

    Fairly pedestrian advice.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kaleigh

    A very helpful guide to creating a well-rounded world for your story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Readers Well

    this book is great full of good information, and the extras she put at the back of the book is the best part. If your blank on how to create your story world pick this book up.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dianelys R

    A great helping book with a lot of ideas and resources.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Nguyen

    I really enjoyed reading this as a guide to world building. Made me realize things I didn’t consider while writing

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