Worldbuilding: Part Six (History)

WPW

Part One (Introduction)

Part Two (Geography & Terrain)

Part Three (Society and Culture)

Part Four (Names)

Part Five (Military/Government)

Establishing your world’s history is an important part of building your world. Every culture, society, and world has to begin from somewhere, right? So does yours! While this is a very, very important aspect of your story just be careful not to go into too much detail about it in your novel — remember, you don’t want to bore your reader. I’ve made a list of some of the things you might like to include in your worldbuilding.

  • Previous rulers
  • The development of the world (culturally, economically, language, ect…)
  • Wars/conflict

Previous Rulers

How many rulers have there been before the current time period of the novel? Were they loved/respected? Hated/Feared? How did their rule influence the way society lives? Economically? Culturally? Did they oppress a country, or did they relieve a country from oppression? What was their most notable action while in power? How did these rulers come into power? Hereditary? Usurpers? Tyrannies? Did these rulers cause any conflict? Did they prevent conflict? Did they change/enforce/add any laws? Eg, did they abolish slavery? Start slavery? Move the borders of countries? Build roads, buildings, churches, chapels, other notable architecture? Were they successful/unsuccessful in their reign? How did they die? Naturally? Murdered? Assassinated? Betrayed? Overall, consider what this ruler brought (either positive or negative) to the country/kingdom/world.

game of thrones animated GIF

Development of the world

What helped to change/develop the world? A ruler? A group of rebels? A peasant? A prince? Were these changes positive? Negative? For whom? How did this change come about? War? Laws? Violent conflict between regions? Treaties? Decrees? A change in ruler? Were these changes economical? Eg, Perhaps a new vein of gold was discovered; this would create employment for people. Cultural? Eg, a law being passed which gives women a right to vote. Has the language always remained the same in your world? Do different cultures share languages? Do they speak completely foreign languages? If so, how are people from other cultures supposed to communicate? Translators? Were new technologies formed? Eg, ships? Boats? Weaponry? Space crafts (if you’re writing sci fi)? Transport, such as carriages? How does art and music effect the world? As your world has developed and grown through the years, has there been different ideas of fashion? Music? Writing? Craftsmanship? Architecture? How did your world come about in the first place? Are there legends/tales of how the world began? (Eg, god creating the earth.) Is this widely believed? Has your world colonized in other places? Across the sea? Why? In search for metals, land, to get away from world politics? How does this colonization affect the rest of your world?

smile animated GIF

Wars/Conflict

Every world is most likely going to have some form of war and conflict. Wherever there are people, war generally comes with it, so I think it’s important not to forget this when worldbuilding. Think about wars or conflict that your world might have experienced. How/Why did it come about? Was it an uprising? Started by a group of rebels? Was it a war between two counties/kingdoms? Who gave the command to attack/declare war? What was it about? Land? Gold? Titles? When did the conflict take place? Two years ago? Ten? One hundred? A thousand? How long did the war last? How many people died? Who won the war? What did the winning party gain? What did the defeated party lose? Why did that certain party win? Better information sources? Better weaponry? Better fighters? Did they have someone on the inside? How many people were involved in the war? Don’t just consider the casualties of war — innocent or otherwise — but what effect did this war/conflict have on its people? Cultures? Economy? Were buildings destroyed? Farmland burned? How did this conflict affect the other parts of the world? Did the war/conflict achieve what it set out to achieve? For whom? How did this war shape the world it is today? How would the world be different if another outcome of the war/conflict had occurred? Are wars only a small part of your world’s history? Or are they cropping up all the time? What do the leaders do to prevent wars and conflict? Or perhaps they encourage it? Is the current time period of the world still feeling the affects of the war? Or is it ancient history?

the lord of the rings animated GIF

Forming your world’s history is an important step in worldbuilding — and not just for the reader. But the writer, too. Learning about how your world developed and through what means may help you understand your story a little better.

These are all things you might like to consider when shaping your world. Let me know what you think in the comments — have I missed anything? I’ll add it in!

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3 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: Part Six (History)

  1. I’ve never liked history. But tell me about it in the context of a book AND I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING. Every time I read these posts I think of Eragon, because it’s pretty much my FAVOURITE high fantasy series. I’d love to know more about the history of Alagaesia :)

  2. This post should really come in handy when I edit my first novel because it is a science fiction story that is in dire need of a solid world. While I wrote the first draft I contradicted my own world building-and especially the history of the world-pretty often, so I have a lot to think about as I go into the second draft. I can’t wait to ponder all of these history suggestions as I try to figure out the history of my world.

    • For some reason I can’t comment on your review of Code Name Verity, so I’ll just post my comment here.

      I LOVED Code Name Verity, but I agree that some of the historical and plane-related details made it a little bit confusing in places. Even though those details lent to creating a more realistic story, I think that if some of the more confusing details were omitted, it would still be just as realistic. I also loved that it focused on friendship, even though the friendship aspect totally ripped my feels. Have you read Rose Under Fire? I thought it was even better than Code Name Verity and a lot less confusing.

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