Writing a book – on the importance of the world and its role in creating a story

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The role of the world in the novel

Many novice authors when writing a book create a story solely around the characters or either not describing the world at all, or by using just a few details like medieval castles, long dresses, titles of lords and ladies, and so on. In such a case, the authors do not talk about the history of the world, neither the legends of its people nor the economic and cultural elements. At best, some politics is a little involved, at worst, they only describe the castles to create an entourage.

But the world, as a stage and set in the theater, is very important. Characters exist in the world, and not the other way around. The story of characters exists in the story of the world, and not vice versa. And when there is not enough world, the characters seem to live on an uninhabited island, around which there is not even a sea, only a gray and a faceless emptiness. In this emptiness, the dialogs, reflections, and invisible actions simply slow.

Why else is the world in the novel important?

The world invented by the author has the characteristics described below.

It is the support for the plot

The world in the story is not only the main difficulty but also the support. If the author has a described world with interesting legends or stories at hand, it is easier to come up with adventures, build a plot, and eventually safely overcome the middle.


We live in a three-dimensional world – we see, we hear, and we feel. The world in the narrative also has to be three-dimensional. If at least one component is missing, for example, smells or sounds, everything will miss something. The whole story becomes different. Readers no longer believe what they read. The “picture,” the environment, is lost especially often – the characters are talking but around them is emptiness. There is no fly, no grass rustle, no fresh wind, nothing. Readers do not believe in such a world anymore. They can’t feel it.


Ancient castles, swords, and long dresses of ladies are, of course, always beautiful. But without the other elements of the Middle Ages such as cultural customs, rituals, and traditions, without representation of the place of action (historical and natural with no connections with the outside world), without religious beliefs or mythology – castles, swords, and dresses will remain only castles, swords, and dresses. Entourage is beauty and a refined sense of the world. It consists of many small details, including features of nutrition, reliable descriptions of life, flora, fauna, and so on.

Atmosphere and mood

Entourage is, as a rule, visual details. But the atmosphere and mood are created by legends and stories. All of these are an integral part of the world, human, divine, or natural.

Narrative framework

Narrative framework is something you cannot go beyond when writing a book. If there is no magic in the world, then the characters will have to wriggle out on their own and not wait for miracles. If the world is a desert, then there must be big problems with water and washing, so the characters should look and feel accordingly. This includes, for example, vehicles, travel days, and marching conditions and troubles.

The logic of a story

A well-designed world pre-sets the settings for the actions of characters and the logical framework, which you cannot go beyond. The author, who carefully thought the world and its laws, will certainly avoid a large number of problems that would violate the authenticity.

Visualization of scenes

Ridley Scott noted that the brain is the best cinema in the world, and you understand it when you read a good book. The pictures of a story are created not by simple descriptions but by a pre-worked world. When you think about how to create a world and do everything to make it complete, there will be no problems. If the author sees well what he writes about, he does not need to describe the autumn forest on ten pages in the reflection essay – it is enough for him to attract the attention of readers to a couple of bright and significant details. Often, long descriptions are attempts of the author to see what is not yet there.

Multidimensionality, volumetric, and variability of a story

As already mentioned above, the world should be three-dimensional, at least. It can also be multidimensional. This effect is created by thoughtful layers, each of which has its own laws. Multidimensionality is visible and invisible (it happens without our presence), existing and supposed, concreteness (knowledge of events, phenomena, and people) and abstractness (what we know by hearsay or what we do not know at all), as well as the past and the present.

The existence in the world of those elements that are not connected with the characters and develop according to their own laws create a three-dimensional world, an understanding that behind the fortress wall of the castle there are so many interesting and unusual living things. Thanks to this, the story becomes changeable – it prompts the author of the plot moves, surprises him with unexpected tips and solutions.

A voluminous and multidimensional world is a world that helps the author see and work easily, rather than describing dresses on five pages.