Chances are no matter how many real places you’re using, you’re going to have to create certain places; homes, businesses, any place that isn’t quite real. On the other hand, if you’re starting from scratch, you’re going to need to worldbuild. Worldbuilding can be fun and frustrating, especially if you’re not sure where to begin (or where to stop). Things to consider:
- Make a Need To Know List: You don’t have to create an elaborate government system for a country mentioned twice in your novel. It’s fun, and you might need it later, but if it’s not in your story, don’t let it drag down on your time. Focus on story details if you’re on a deadline; chances are, you’ll have to exclude some details anyway.
- Treat It Like Research: I’m going to immediately come out and make my first suggestion sound like it’s invalid, but hear me out. What you need to know, be sure you really know. Nothing screams half-assed like being vague on details that you need to make your world seem like a real place. This includes description, smells and sounds as well as sight. It includes history and places that are lived in. You won’t be able to get everything in, but know it like the back of your hand.
- View it From the Character’s POV. How you set the stage, like I mentioned in the previous post, depends on how your character views it. They’re going to use specific language, highly related to the culture and time they grew up. You have to be careful and not go overboard if your story has no connection to the current world whatsoever, but do keep the character’s voice in mind.
There’s a lot of very specific advice on how to worldbuild out there, and it would be much better to just link you to them than to try to sum them up. Check out the links below!