The Biggest Problems of Worldbuilding

by | Jan 22, 2018

Last Updated:
Mar 24, 2023

Worldbuilding is a critical aspect of storytelling that can make or break a fictional work’s success.

While essential, even seasoned writers can struggle with worldbuilding, leading to common problems that can disrupt a reader’s immersion in the story.

In this post, we’ll explore the most significant issues in worldbuilding and provide tips on how to overcome them. By understanding these problems and implementing our solutions, you can create a more engaging, consistent, and memorable world for your readers.

Our list of worldbuilding problems is based on our own experiences, as well as a survey we conducted on social media in 2018.
The survey asked authors about the challenges they face when it comes to worldbuilding, and we found that there were some significant consistencies.

It’s not surprising that there were commonalities among the challenges faced by authors. Worldbuilding is a complex and involved process that requires attention to detail and creativity. By understanding these common challenges, you can improve your own worldbuilding and create a more immersive and compelling story.

While everyone faces some unique challenges, many struggle with the same significant steps.

As fantasy authors, worldbuilding is a crucial aspect of crafting an immersive story. It’s as important as character development, and while historical accuracy might be a requirement for some genres, worldbuilding requires a different set of tools.

It involves putting on your thinking cap, using calculators and cartographic tools, and creating entire societies from pieces of ideas.
Despite the effort it takes, worldbuilding is a fun, exhilarating, and addictive process that needs to be figured out to create a compelling story.

However, it’s important to remember that most of it—90%, in fact—will never be seen by the reader. It’s no wonder that fantasy writers are often considered a little crazier than most!

Worldbuilding for beginners

To ensure we’re all on the same page, let’s start by defining what is meant by the term “worldbuilding.”

Worldbuilding is an essential aspect of storytelling and involves creating a fictional world that is believable, consistent, and compelling.
However, even the most seasoned writers can struggle with worldbuilding, and several common problems arise. We’ll explore the biggest problems of worldbuilding and how to overcome them in just a moment.

At its core, worldbuilding is the process of creating a detailed and cohesive world with its own geography, history, cultures, societies, and sometimes even its own laws of physics or magic.

A well-crafted world provides the context and framework for the narrative, immersing readers in the story and making it feel more real and believable. It can also inspire new ideas and possibilities for the story and its characters.

Worldbuilding takes many different forms, depending on the genre and scope of the story. For example, science fiction requires detailed explanations of the technology and scientific concepts underpinning the world, while fantasy requires the creation of unique magic systems and fantastical creatures.

While worldbuilding can be exciting, it can also be daunting. It requires creativity, research, and attention to detail, but it’s important to strike a balance between creating a detailed and immersive world and overwhelming readers with too much information.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss some of the common worldbuilding pitfalls to avoid and provide tips on how to create a compelling and believable fictional world.

Common worldbuilding mistakes

1. Inconsistencies

One of the biggest problems in worldbuilding is inconsistencies.

Inconsistencies are a common worldbuilding problem that can detract from the believability of a fictional world.

Inconsistencies occur when there are contradictions or discrepancies within the world itself, or between the world and the story being told, and will disrupt the reader’s suspension of disbelief, making it harder for them to become fully immersed in the story.

One of the most significant contributors to inconsistencies in worldbuilding is poor planning. When creating a fictional world, it’s important to establish rules, guidelines, and limitations for the world early in the process. Without these guidelines, it’s easy to make mistakes and create inconsistencies.

Here are some examples of inconsistencies in worldbuilding:

  • Inconsistencies in character abilities: If a character has a particular ability or skill that is established early in the story, but then seems to forget or lose that ability later in the story without explanation, it creates an inconsistency. Perhaps a character is shown to be an expert fighter at the beginning of the story but then struggles in a fight later on. This can be confusing and detract from the believability of the world.
  • Inconsistencies in the rules of magic: If the rules of magic in a world are not clearly defined and adhered to, it creates inconsistencies. When a character is shown to be unable to use magic in one situation, but then suddenly able to use magic to solve a similar problem later in the story without explanation, it can be jarring and detract from the believability of the world.
  • Inconsistencies in world history: If the history of a world is not well-established, it creates inconsistencies. If a character refers to an event in the world’s history that doesn’t line up with previously established facts, it can create confusion and detract from the believability of the world.
  • Inconsistencies in geography: If the geography of a world is not consistent, it creates inconsistencies. Imagine a character shown to be in one location in one scene, but then in a different location without explanation in the next scene, it can be confusing and detract from the believability of the world.
  • Inconsistencies in the laws of physics: If the laws of physics in a world are not consistent, it creates inconsistencies. When a character is shown to be able to jump great distances in one scene, but then unable to do so in a similar situation later in the story, it can be jarring and detract from the believability of the world.
  • Inconsistencies in the use of convenient plot devices: When a writer uses a plot device to solve a problem or move the story forward, it creates inconsistencies if the device contradicts the established rules of the world. If a character uses a magical item to defeat a villain, but the item was not previously introduced or explained, it can feel like a cheap way out and detract from the believability of the world.

Worldbuilding Tips for Writers

To avoid inconsistencies in worldbuilding, it is critical to pay attention to the details and maintain consistency throughout the entire process.

Here are some tips for avoiding inconsistencies:

  • Create a worldbuilding bible: A worldbuilding bible is a document or collection of documents that contains all the details about your world, such as the history, geography, and culture. By creating a bible, you can keep track of all the details and make sure they remain consistent throughout the story.
  • Develop a timeline: Creating a timeline of events in your world can help you avoid inconsistencies in the story. It can also help you identify potential plot holes or inconsistencies before they become a problem.
  • Keep track of character details: Inconsistencies can occur when the details of a character change without explanation. Make sure you keep track of your characters’ appearances, personalities, and backgrounds to ensure consistency.
  • Test your world: Once you’ve created your world, it’s a good idea to test it out. This can be done by writing short stories or scenes that take place in your world. By testing your world, you can identify any inconsistencies or plot holes and make the necessary changes.
  • Get feedback: It’s always a good idea to get feedback from others, such as beta readers or writing groups. Other people can often spot inconsistencies that you may have missed.
  • Edit and revise: Inconsistencies can often be found and corrected during the editing and revision process. Take the time to read through your work carefully and make sure everything is consistent and makes sense.

By following these tips, you can avoid inconsistencies in your worldbuilding and create a more immersive and believable world for your readers.

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As explained in the video below, World Anvil will not only help you avoid inconsistencies when worldbuilding, but also offers a bunch of specific features for authors.

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Simply click here and sign up for a yearly subscription. Type in the coupon code as mentioned in the video.

2. Lack of Depth

Another common problem in worldbuilding is a lack of depth.

This can occur when a world is only partially fleshed out, with only a few key details established. Without sufficient depth, the world can feel shallow and uninteresting, making it harder for readers to engage with the story.

Here are some examples of a lack of depth in worldbuilding:

  • Superficial cultures: A culture is not simply a collection of practices or costumes. It encompasses everything from religion and mythology to social hierarchy and government. If a culture is portrayed only in its most superficial aspects, it can feel shallow and unconvincing.
  • One-dimensional characters: Characters are the backbone of any story, and they are also a reflection of the world they inhabit. If the characters in a story lack depth, the world they inhabit will also feel two-dimensional and unconvincing.
  • Lack of history: Every world has a history, and that history shapes the present. If a world has no history, or if that history is poorly developed, it can feel artificial and unconvincing.
  • Inconsistent magic systems: If a story has a magic system, it needs to be consistent and well-defined. Otherwise, it can feel arbitrary and can break the reader’s suspension of disbelief.
  • Lack of attention to detail: Small details can make a big difference in worldbuilding. If a world is full of inconsistencies or plot holes, it can feel like the author didn’t put enough effort into the worldbuilding process.
  • Limited scope: If a world is too narrow in scope, it can feel like it lacks depth. For example, a story set in a single city might be well-developed, but if the rest of the world is left unexplored, it can feel like a missed opportunity.

Worldbuilding Tips for Writers

To avoid a lack of depth in your worldbuilding, there are several things you can do:

  • Start with the basics: When creating your world, start with basic information like geography, climate, and history. This will give you a foundation to build on and help you create a consistent world.
  • Develop cultures and societies: Create different cultures and societies within your world, complete with their own customs, traditions, and values. Consider how geography and history have shaped each culture, and how they interact with each other.
  • Consider the consequences of magic or advanced technology: If your world features magic or advanced technology, consider the consequences of these elements on society and culture. For example, how does the ability to teleport affect transportation, trade, and diplomacy? How does advanced medicine change the way people live and die?
  • Create characters with unique backgrounds and perspectives: Give your characters different backgrounds and experiences that shape their view of the world. This can help you explore different aspects of your world and add depth to your story.
  • Use sensory details: Use sensory details to bring your world to life. Describe the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of your world to make it feel real and immersive.
  • Research and draw inspiration from real-world cultures: Research real-world cultures and draw inspiration from them when creating your own. This can help you create more realistic and nuanced cultures and societies.

By taking these steps, you can create a world that feels rich, deep, and immersive.

It may take some extra effort and research, but the end result will be a world that readers will want to explore and get lost in.

3. Overcomplication

While a lack of depth is a problem, overcomplication can be just as bad.

Overcomplication occurs when a world is too complex and convoluted, making it hard for readers to follow the story. This can result in readers losing interest and giving up on the story altogether.

Here are some examples of overcomplication in worldbuilding:

Overcomplication in worldbuilding can occur in different ways, such as

  • Too many factions or groups: Creating too many factions or groups, each with its own history, culture, and agenda, can be overwhelming for the reader and can make it difficult to keep track of who is who.
  • Overly complex magic or technology: while it’s exciting to create a unique magic system or technology, making it too complex or difficult to understand can be frustrating for the reader. It’s important to strike a balance between detail and simplicity, so the reader can easily follow the story.
  • Too much unnecessary detail: while it’s vital to provide enough detail to make the world feel real, too much detail can be overwhelming and slow down the story’s pace. Sometimes, it’s better to leave some aspects of the world to the reader’s imagination.

Worldbuilding Tips for Writers

Worldbuilding can be a fun and exciting process, but it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal is to create a story that is engaging and enjoyable for readers.

Here are some tips to avoid overcomplicating your worldbuilding:

  • Keep it relevant: When adding details to your world, make sure they are relevant to the story and the characters. Don’t add details just for the sake of adding them. Everything should serve a purpose.
  • Don’t get bogged down in details: While it’s important to have a detailed world, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details and lose sight of the bigger picture. Focus on the details that are most important to the story and the characters and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination.
  • Keep it simple: Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the most effective. Don’t feel like you have to come up with something completely original and complex. Sometimes, a simple idea executed well can be just as effective.

By following these tips, you can avoid overcomplicating your worldbuilding and create a story that is engaging and enjoyable for readers.

4. Lack of Originality

Worldbuilding can also suffer from a lack of originality.

When a world feels too similar to other fictional worlds, it can become uninteresting and forgettable. This problem can occur when writers rely too heavily on tropes and clichés without adding anything new or exciting to the mix.

Here are some examples of a lack of originality in worldbuilding:

A lack of originality in worldbuilding can result in a story feeling predictable and unexciting.

  • Clichéd Characters: Characters that are simply carbon copies of typical archetypes can make a story feel unoriginal. For example, a wise old wizard or a beautiful princess in distress.
  • Tropes: Overusing well-worn tropes can also make a story feel unoriginal. For instance, the “chosen one” trope, where a character is destined to save the world, has been used in countless stories.
  • Lack of Creativity in Worldbuilding: A world that closely resembles an existing culture, historical period, or another fictional universe can also lack originality. It could be a medieval-style fantasy world that is almost identical to medieval Europe.
  • Predictable Plot: A plot that follows a predictable formula can make a story feel unoriginal. For example, a story where the protagonist must defeat a powerful villain to save the world.
  • Lack of Creativity in Magic Systems: A world that uses a magic system that closely resembles an existing one can also lack originality. For instance, a magic system that works almost exactly like Harry Potter’s wand magic.

Worldbuilding Tips for Writers

To avoid a lack of originality in worldbuilding, it’s important to think outside the box and try to create something unique.

Here are some tips:

  • Mix and match tropes: Try to combine different tropes to create something new and interesting.
  • Create your own world: Avoid basing your world too closely on an existing culture or historical period. Instead, try to create a unique world that has its own distinct flavor.
  • Subvert expectations: Try to take established ideas and put a new twist on them. For instance, making the villain sympathetic, or giving the protagonist an unexpected flaw.
  • Create unique magic systems: Don’t be afraid to create your own unique magic system that works differently from other popular ones.
  • Focus on original characters: Try to create characters that are unique and memorable, rather than simply using stock archetypes.

5. Contrivances

We are not done yet. Worldbuilding can also suffer from contrivances.

A contrivance is when the plot or characters of a story bend to fit the needs of the world rather than the other way around.
This can make the story feel artificial and contrived, disrupting the reader’s suspension of disbelief.

Here are some examples of contrivances in worldbuilding:

  • Deus ex machina: This is a plot device where a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by an unexpected event, character, or object. It can feel like a cheat, and often leaves readers feeling unsatisfied.
  • Convenient timing: This is when a character or event shows up at exactly the right moment to move the plot forward, even if it seems unlikely or unrealistic. For example, a character arriving just in time to save the hero, or an object suddenly appearing just when it’s needed.
  • Unbelievable coincidences: This is when the plot relies on an unlikely or improbable chain of events, such as a character randomly stumbling upon a crucial piece of information or encountering someone they need to meet in a vast, unfamiliar world.
  • Unexplained abilities: This is when a character suddenly gains a new power or ability without any explanation or foreshadowing, just to resolve a conflict or to make the story more exciting.
  • Convenient weaknesses: This is when a character or object suddenly becomes vulnerable or weak just when it’s needed for the plot, even if it doesn’t make sense based on the established rules of the world.

Worldbuilding Tips for Writers

Contrivances in worldbuilding can be challenging to avoid, but there are some techniques and strategies that you can use to minimize them.

Here are a few tips:

  • Establish clear rules and limitations: If you are creating a magical or futuristic world, it’s important to establish clear rules and limitations for what is possible within the world. This can help you avoid using contrivances to solve plot problems or create tension.
  • Develop strong characters: Strong, well-developed characters can help you avoid contrivances because their actions and motivations will be more natural and believable. If a character’s actions feel contrived, it can pull readers out of the story.
  • Plan ahead: By planning the plot and world in advance, you can identify potential contrivances and avoid them. This can also help you avoid plot holes and inconsistencies.
  • Avoid plot twists for the sake of plot twists: While plot twists can be exciting, they can also feel contrived if they don’t make sense within the context of the story. Make sure that plot twists are organic and logical.
  • Get feedback: Share your world and plot with beta readers or writing groups to get feedback on potential contrivances. They may be able to point out areas where things feel forced or unnatural.

By following these tips, you can create a world and story that feels organic, natural, and free from contrivances.

6. Info Dumping

Another common problem in worldbuilding is info dumping.

Info dumping occurs when an author provides too much exposition or background information at once, which can make the story feel slow and tedious.

It’s essential to provide readers with enough information to understand the world and its characters, but overloading them with details can quickly become overwhelming.

Admittedly, these examples have more to do with writing than worldbuilding.
However, the source of these issues is still derived from your worldbuilding and you do not want to make these writing mistakes – which, to be honest, many fantasy authors do.

Here are some examples of info dumping in worldbuilding:

  • A character begins explaining the intricate details of a magic system to another character in a long monologue, even though they are already well-versed in the subject.
  • A character describes in great detail the history of a specific location or culture, even though it is not directly relevant to the plot.
  • An author spends multiple paragraphs describing a character’s appearance, personality, and backstory in one go, rather than weaving the information into the narrative.
  • A character gives a long and detailed explanation of a complex scientific concept, even though it is not essential to the plot or character development.
  • An author includes lengthy descriptions of the world’s history, geography, and cultures in the form of a prologue or introductory chapter, rather than introducing the information gradually throughout the story.
  • A character narrates their thoughts and feelings in exhaustive detail, rather than allowing their actions and dialogue to convey the information naturally.
  • An author includes extensive footnotes or appendices explaining terms, concepts, or historical events, rather than working the information into the story itself.

These examples illustrate how info dumping can occur in various forms and at different points in a story.

It’s important to identify and avoid these instances to keep readers engaged and immersed in the narrative.

Worldbuilding Tips for Writers

Info dumping can be avoided by incorporating the worldbuilding details into the narrative in a natural and seamless way.

One approach is to reveal the worldbuilding details gradually and through context, allowing the reader to understand the world without being explicitly told.

Another approach is to incorporate the details into dialogue or action, allowing characters to reveal the worldbuilding details through their interactions with each other and the world around them.

Here are some tips on how to avoid info dumping:

  • Show, don’t tell: Instead of explicitly telling the reader about the world, show them through action, description, and dialogue.
  • Start small: Begin with small, specific details that can help to build the world without overwhelming the reader.
  • Introduce the world through the characters: Introduce the worldbuilding details through the actions, reactions, and dialogue of the characters in the story.
  • Use analogies and comparisons: Comparing elements of the fictional world to things that the reader already understands can help to create a clearer picture in their minds.
  • Use worldbuilding to create conflict: Create conflicts that allow the reader to understand the world and its rules without explicitly explaining them.
  • Break up the information: Instead of presenting all the worldbuilding details at once, break them up into smaller pieces and reveal them gradually throughout the story.

By following these tips, you can incorporate worldbuilding details into your story in a way that feels natural and engaging to the reader, without overwhelming them with too much information at once.

7. Creating Cultures

Creating cultures is one of the most critical aspects of worldbuilding.

The cultures within a world will shape how the characters interact, their beliefs and values, and the conflicts that arise. A well-developed culture can make the world feel rich and immersive, while a poorly developed culture can feel generic and uninspired.

Here are some examples of creating cultures in worldbuilding:

  • Develop a belief system: One of the most important aspects of creating a culture is to develop a belief system. This includes everything from religion to superstitions, values, customs, and traditions. Determine what the culture values and how these values are expressed through its beliefs.
  • Establish social structures: Every culture has its own social structures, such as families, clans, tribes, and communities. Determine the size and composition of the social structures within your culture, as well as the roles and responsibilities of each member.
  • Develop a unique language: A culture’s language can reveal much about its history, beliefs, and traditions. Develop a unique language for your culture, complete with its own grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.
  • Create a unique aesthetic: The visual and artistic elements of a culture can be just as important as its beliefs and social structures. Determine what clothing, architecture, art, and other aesthetic elements are unique to your culture.
  • Consider the environment: The physical environment in which a culture exists can have a profound impact on its development. Determine how the environment has influenced the development of your culture, including its geography, climate, and available resources.
  • Incorporate unique technologies: Technology can be an important element of any culture. Determine what technologies your culture has developed, as well as how they are used and perceived by its members.
  • Consider the culture’s history: A culture’s history can reveal much about its values, beliefs, and traditions. Determine the major historical events that have shaped your culture, including wars, migrations, and significant cultural exchanges.

Worldbuilding Tips for Writers

  • Start with the basics: To create a culture, you need to start with the basics such as geography, history, climate, and resources. Think about how these factors have influenced the development of the culture and its beliefs, values, and customs.
  • Consider the big picture: Look at the culture as a whole and consider how it interacts with other cultures in your world. How does the culture view other cultures, and how do they view it? What are the conflicts and alliances between cultures, and how do these impact the story?
  • Create myths and legends: Myths and legends can provide insight into a culture’s beliefs and values. Consider creating some myths and legends for your culture and weaving them into the story.
  • Consider the role of religion: Religion often plays a significant role in shaping a culture. Think about the beliefs and practices of your culture’s religion and how it affects the day-to-day lives of its people.
  • Think about art and aesthetics: Art and aesthetics can provide insight into a culture’s values and beliefs. Consider the types of art and architecture your culture produces, as well as the clothing and adornments its people wear.
  • Avoid stereotypes: While it can be tempting to rely on cultural stereotypes, this can lead to a one-dimensional and cliched culture. Instead, try to create a culture that is unique and avoids relying on cultural tropes and stereotypes.
  • Remember to show, not tell: Rather than providing a laundry list of cultural details, show the culture through the eyes of the characters. Use dialogue, actions, and descriptions to reveal the culture’s beliefs and values.

By considering these factors, you can create a unique and compelling culture for your worldbuilding project.

8. Map Making

Map making is an integrated part of worldbuilding. Creating a map of your world can help you visualize its geography, which can inform the cultures, politics, and conflicts within the story.

A well-designed map can also help readers understand the world more easily and make the story feel more immersive.

Here are some examples of map making in worldbuilding:

  • Hand-drawn maps: This is the most traditional and classic method of map making. You can sketch out a map of your world with pencil and paper, and then ink over it to make it look more defined. This is a great option if you want to have a more rustic, old-school feel to your maps.
  • Digital maps: In the modern age, there are plenty of software options available to create digital maps. You can use online tools or more complex programs like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to create detailed and accurate maps. Digital maps offer the flexibility to make changes, updates, and corrections easily.
  • 3D maps: 3D maps allow you to create a more realistic and immersive representation of your world. You can create 3D models of landscapes, cities, and other locations in your world. This option is great for gamers, as they can use the 3D maps to explore the world in a more interactive way.
  • Interactive maps: Interactive maps offer a way for readers or players to explore your world and learn more about it. You can use tools like Google Maps or Mapbox to create interactive maps that show different locations and allow users to zoom in and out.
  • Handcrafted maps: If you want to go above and beyond, you can create physical, handcrafted maps. This could involve using materials like clay or paper-mâché to create a 3D model of your world. You could also create a custom-made leather-bound journal with your hand-drawn maps and notes. This option is perfect if you want to create a truly unique and special artifact for your story world.

Speaking of digital maps, we created a whole YouTube step-by-step tutorial guide for fantasy map making.

In the video below, we use Campaign Cartographer 3, but the principles shown can be adapted to any type of software.

Worldbuilding Tips for Writers

Creating a map for your fictional world can be an exciting and creative process.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Decide on the purpose of your map: Before you start drawing, it’s important to think about why you need a map. Is it to help you visualize the geography of your world, or to show the locations of important cities and landmarks? Knowing the purpose of your map will help you decide what information to include.
  • Determine the scale: The scale of your map will depend on the size of your world and the level of detail you want to include. A small-scale map will show a large area but with less detail, while a large-scale map will show a smaller area with more detail.
  • Sketch out the basic shapes: Start by sketching out the basic shapes of the continents, oceans, and other features of your world. Don’t worry about adding too much detail at this point—the goal is to get a rough idea of the layout.
  • Add terrain and landmarks: Once you have the basic shapes in place, start adding more detail to the map. This could include mountains, rivers, forests, deserts, and other terrain features. You can also add landmarks like cities, castles, ruins, and other important locations.
  • Add labels: Once you have the major features of your map in place, it’s time to add labels. This could include the names of cities, rivers, mountains, and other landmarks. You can also label the different regions of your world if you have them.
  • Consider the style: The style of your map can help set the tone for your world. You could create a hand-drawn map that looks like an old parchment, or a more modern-looking map with bold colors and clean lines.
  • Get feedback: Once you have a draft of your map, it can be helpful to get feedback from others. This could include fellow writers or beta readers. Ask for their thoughts on the layout, the level of detail, and the overall look and feel of the map.

Creating a map for your world can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be time-consuming. However, don’t be afraid to iterate on your map and make changes as you go along.

Remember, the goal is to create a map that helps you visualize your world and adds depth and richness to your story.

9. Worldbuilding Disease

Finally, while worldbuilding is such a decisive part of creating a rich and immersive story, it’s still possible to do too much of it.
This is sometimes referred to as, ‘Worldbuilding Disease’.

“Worldbuilding disease” is a term used to describe the situation where a writer spends so much time and energy creating the world of their story that they never actually get around to writing the story itself. There is a risk of burnout and overwhelm.

Here are some examples of worldbuilding disease:

  • Spending too much time on details that won’t actually affect the story: This can include creating a detailed history of a country that the characters will only visit briefly or designing intricate family trees for characters that don’t play a major role in the story.
  • Creating too many cultures or factions: While it can be tempting to create multiple complex cultures or factions in your world, too many can overwhelm readers and detract from the main story. It’s important to strike a balance and focus on developing a few distinct and well-rounded cultures.
  • Researching endlessly without writing: It’s important to do research to make your world believable and consistent, but it’s also important to set a limit and start writing. Otherwise, you risk getting stuck in the research phase and never actually writing your story.
  • Focusing too much on the details and not enough on the story: It’s easy to get caught up in creating a detailed world, but ultimately the story is the most important part. Make sure you’re not neglecting the plot and characters in favor of worldbuilding.
  • Starting over repeatedly: Some writers may fall into the trap of scrapping their entire world and starting over when they encounter a problem or inconsistency. While it’s important to make sure your world is consistent, it’s also important to keep moving forward and making progress on the actual story.

Worldbuilding Tips for Writers

Worldbuilding disease can be challenging to avoid because it can be so tempting to keep fleshing out a world, adding more details, and creating more lore.

However, there are a few strategies that can help:

  • Set a deadline: Give yourself a specific timeline for how long you’ll spend on worldbuilding. This can help keep you focused and avoid spending too much time on it.
  • Keep a checklist: Make a list of the worldbuilding elements you need to cover, such as geography, history, magic, culture, and technology. Once you’ve covered each of these elements, move on to writing the story.
  • Prioritize what’s important: Determine what aspects of worldbuilding are essential to the story and focus on those. Don’t get bogged down in details that aren’t necessary.
  • Collaborate with others: Work with other writers or worldbuilding experts to develop your world. They can provide feedback and help you stay on track.
  • Remember the story: Keep in mind that worldbuilding is there to support the story, not the other way around. Don’t let your worldbuilding distract from the narrative or overshadow the characters.


In fantasy and sci-fi, every writer must do proper worldbuilding.

As laid out in this post, some of the most significant worldbuilding pitfalls include inconsistencies, a lack of depth, overcomplication, a lack of originality, contrivances, and info dumping.

To avoid these issues, it’s vital to strike a balance between creating a detailed and immersive world and avoiding overwhelming readers with too much information.

Creating a solid foundation for your world, maintaining consistency, avoiding cliches, and engaging in research and planning can help you avoid these pitfalls and create a world that feels genuine and compelling.

Ultimately, the key to successful worldbuilding is to remember that your world is a backdrop for your story.
While a rich and detailed world can help immerse your readers, it’s worth remembering that the world should serve the story, not the other way around.

With careful planning and a focus on the narrative, worldbuilding can help create unforgettable stories that capture the imaginations of readers for years to come.

If you need help, we even have a full A-Z worldbuilding course. Check out the details here.


Autumn is a best selling indie author, conservationist, & world traveler with plans for many more adventures both real and fantastical! She is currently settled in the wilds of Maine with her small dragonish dog and husband, searching for a portal to another world.

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Written by: Autumn

Autumn is a best selling indie author, conservationist, & world traveler with plans for many more adventures both real and fantastical! She is currently settled in the wilds of Maine with her small dragonish dog and husband, searching for a portal to another world.

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1 Comment

  1. Victor Rutledge

    I’m unique. I’ve realized that I will not live forever. In fact, I’m rapidly becoming the oldest living member of my family. That having been said, I’d opt for a theoretical genetic therapy to increase my lifespan exponentially, just for the thrill of it. Until, and unless, that occur, I’m not concerned with establishing a market, or even protecting my work. If someone steals one of my books and it goes out to 5 million readers, becoming almost a household word, and yet I get paid nothing, I’m not concerned, because HEY! Five Million Readers! That’s worth more to me than the powerball Lotto, or any other financial gain. That said, making my work better, more readable, more interesting, moving, meaningful and generally superior to what it is, at the moment, is very high on my list of priorities. Anything I can learn, to improve, to enhance to innovate, I shall explore to the best of my ability. It’s not easy, (I’m autistic) but it is sincere. All I can do is say thank you, and just look at the improvement in my comments, over the years. {laughter echoes}

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