Welcome back, NaNonites! *waves* *makes tea for everyone* How are your NaNoWriMo preparations coming along? 🙂 Are you starting to feel more confident/excited yet?
Last week we developed your characters, but this week is all about your world! Whether your book is set in London or a world of your own creation, you need to know what’s what, because your world informs your book more than you might think.
Even if you don’t plan on using your world all that much, it still helps to know a few basics. You’d be surprised how often it’ll come up while you write!
Every country has its own religious beliefs, for example. While they tend to be similar in many places, they can also differ greatly, and you will usually find some differences, even if they’re only small ones. So, if your MC is a visitor to one country, their religious beliefs might clash with those of that country.
It may not seem like an important detail now, but it’s little things like this that’ll make your world more believable.
Today’s worksheet looks at some of those country-specific details 😉
Here’s another example from my own WIP, Darkened Light:
The key points are:
- just like with last week’s character sheet, I like to include a picture or two to give me a better feel for the place.
- are any of your characters at home here? (It’s not included in the example above since none of my characters are Vaskan, but it’s included in your worksheet.)
- the capital city
- main trade, like cotton or weapons
- the education system
- what is this country known for? It’s easy to struggle with this point, so if you’re not sure what to put answer this instead: is your fictional country based on a real one? (Vaska is loosely based on Estonia.) What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of that country? What made you want to base a country in your book on this real country?
- official language
It’s fine if you can’t fill in all of those details right now. Just like your characters, your world will develop as you go, so don’t worry if you can’t answer every point. I always struggle a little more with the world details, and need longer for my country sheets.
Also check out:
You could also easily add more points! If your country is a kingdom, who sits on the throne? What are its most valued laws? You could even add a few phrases in each country’s language! Personally, I like to add swear words; my characters tend to have a swearing problem (Doran and Ash especially), and it makes them more real.
If one or more of your countries is based on a real place, you can draw information from that. Vaska is loosely based on Estonia, so some of the details above reflect Estonian culture. Of course, Vaska is a fictional place, so there are plenty of differences, too!
If you want to do a little more prep, start my series on world building here. Just remember not to over-prepare 😉
Over-preparing is a risk especially where your world is concerned, because your world is such a great tool for making your book more believable. It’s easy to get caught up in all those little details that make a country unique, and before you know it you’re too worried about getting some details wrong to continue.
Getting stuck or not remembering a certain detail is likely with big projects like NaNoWriMo, but it doesn’t have to stall you. When I get stuck and can’t remember a name, for example, or haven’t named a country yet, I use placeholders.
My first drafts are full of them! Whenever a country or a person I haven’t named yet comes up, I type [ADD], and then when I start editing or when I’ve named everything I can run a search through my document, and find every placeholder easily 🙂
And besides, getting stuck is common. Chris Baty’s* book No Plot? No Problem! has some interesting case studies that’ll make you feel less alone.
*he invented NaNoWriMo, so he knows what he’s talking about. The book is 50k, apparently, same as a NaNo project, but I haven’t counted.
Here’s your free worksheet, NaNonite:
If you’re reading this prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo in April or July, you’re also welcome to join my cabin! Declare a project, let me know your username, and I’ll add you 🙂
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How do you create a whole world out of nothing? Which details does your world need? Is there any part of this–your world or NaNoWriMo–you’re worried about? Get yourself a tea, open a pack of biscuits, and let’s chat!
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