Plan Your Novel for NaNoWriMo with World Building

Plan Your Novel Tip #4 Build Your Story World

Today is the fourth in an 8-post series on preparing your novel. In today’s post, we focus on world building, an essential aspect of creating a compelling story. (Updated: Originally written in 2014.)

If you missed it, the first step in your novel preparation is your elevator pitch and the second step is crafting your story synopsis. The third post on preparing your characters is here.

Keep in mind: Take note of your genre. This will give you a general ideal of the kind of world your readers expect, so you can give that to them, and also surprise them.

Time to budget: I recommend you take 60-90 minutes to do this exercise for each of your main characters.


World Building Brainstorming Topics & Questions

  1. Language — Does your world have different languages? How did they evolve?
  2. Origin Tales — How did the world came to be?
  3. Folklore – What is your favorite childhood folktale or fairytale?
  4. Family tree – What do you know about your family tree?
  5. Jobs/professions — What kind do people have? Do men and women divide work, share it? What kind of training do your characters receive, if any? How are they trained and by whom?
  6. Gender roles – What are people’s attitudes about gender roles?
  7. Clothing/Costumes — How do people dress? What do your characters wear and why? Where does fabric come from? Who makes it?
  8. Weather — Does your place have four seasons?
  9. Flora & Fauna – What are some of the important or relevant animals and plants where you are
  10. Food — How it’s planted/harvested/hunted/gathered? What do people eat and when? How it’s cooked? Who cooks? What’s poisonous?
  11. Geography – What are the main geographical regions of your land?
  12. Annual Rituals — What is important to your world and why? How do you celebrate weddings, funerals, birthdays, puberty, other?
  13. Technology – What kind of technology exists? How is it powered? Who creates it? What training do they need?
  14. Animals – Are there any special or magical animals in your world
  15. Religion/Spirituality – What are their beliefs and how will they create conflict and why.?
  16. Magic – What are the rules and boundaries around magic?
  17. Politics/Power – Who is in power and why? How is power transferred to the next generation? What people do or don’t do to get close to powerful people?


Here’s an image to share or pin and use for your world building brainstorming!

World Development: 17 Topics to Brainstorm by Beth Barany, author of PLAN YOUR NOVEL LIKE A PRO

World Development: 17 Topics to Brainstorm by Beth Barany, author of PLAN YOUR NOVEL LIKE A PRO


For Further Reading on World Building



Would you like hands-on support to plan and write your novel?


If you’d like hands-on support to plan your novel with your peers and with experienced instructors — Beth and Ezra Barany, then join us for our next course starting October 1st: 30-Day Writing Challenge to Plan Your Novel.

Sign up for the wait list here.

You can join the home study course at any time here.

Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! by Beth and Ezra Barany, Available where all books are sold!


You can also check out our newest book, Plan Your Novel Like A Pro, here!

This book will help you get excited to plan your novel. The tools shared here are designed to spark your muse and give you confidence when you sit down to write your story. Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! is for organic writers and pansters who want a roadmap to follow, so that they can let their creativity loose.

“Beth’s book is like plotting for pantsers!”—Tess Rider, Science Fantasy Romance Author



Happily married for over 18 years, Beth and Ezra Barany help authors reach their dreams.

Beth Barany, an award-winning novelist and certified Creativity Coach for Writers, runs Barany Consulting, a coaching and consulting firm dedicated to helping novelists write, publish, and market their books. She’s the author of the award-winning young adult fantasy series, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, and the paranormal sweet romance collection, Touchstone Series. She’s currently working on a science fiction mystery series.

Ezra Barany, an award-winning novelist and the bestselling author of The Torah Codes series, is also a teacher and mentor.

Together they help authors get their books out into the world.


Tip #5: Plot and story building tips

List of all 8 tips here, including the downloadable checklist.

Downloadable Checklist

Use this checklist to make notes and follow along. (Downloadable PDF. No need to sign up for anything!)

You may also like...

  • […] Be sure to also check out my article on world building. […]

  • >