A worldbuilding checklist is an ideal tool for anyone looking for more structure when it comes to the process of making a fantasy world.
The process of creating worlds is a complex area of fantasy writing. With so much to cover it’s easy to become lost in details that you may never use in your story or novel. It’s equally possible to miss things out.
That’s where the likes of a culture checklist can come in.
In this guide, you can download a free worldbuilding checklist. We also look at the benefits of using one before looking at questionnaires that may provide more writing prompts. Lastly, you can find a bunch more articles on creating worlds that you may find useful.
Choose A Chapter
- What Is A Worldbuilding Checklist?
- Download A Free Worldbuilding Checklist
- The Importance Of A Worldbuilding Culture Checklist
- Worldbuilding Checklist – Why Use One?
- Get More Guidance With Questionnaires
- Learn More About Creating Worlds
A worldbuilding checklist is a list of items or tasks that you need to consider when creating a fictional world. It can be used to keep track of the different elements of your world, such as geography, history, cultures, races, languages, religions, politics, economy, magic, technology and more.
The checklist can be tailored to the specific needs of your world, whether it’s for a novel, a roleplaying game, or a video game. It can include items such as creating a map of the world, determining the climate of different regions, deciding on the natural resources available, creating a pantheon of gods and goddesses, developing religious practices and rituals, and more.
The purpose of a worldbuilding checklist is to help you keep track of the details of your world and ensure that you don’t miss anything important. It can also help you stay organized and focused on your worldbuilding goals, and it can be a valuable reference tool as you work on your story or project.
To help you create your fantasy worlds, I’ve put together a free worldbuilding checklist that you can download by clicking the link at the bottom of this section.
My checklist has been designed with the benefit of experience. I’ve created many fantasy worlds, invested hundreds of hours doing so, and found this to be the most logical method.
It’s also comprehensive. It covers both the physical makeup of your fantasy world, like oceans, rivers and climate, and also the key cultural considerations, such as politics, laws and language.
One of the hardest parts of worldbuilding is the cultural setting. The main reason for this is that there are so many of them, as you can see in the image below. That’s why I created this worldbuilding culture checklist (downloadable via the link in the section above).
As you can see, cultures consist of everything that isn’t physical. In other words, everything that’s created by man or whatever sentient beings live in your fantasy world.
This isn’t an exhaustive list either. Rather, it’s one that contains the fundamental considerations, the things that will breathe life into your world.
From here, you can go off on tangents that are relevant to your story.
And you don’t need to define things in absolute detail. For some cultural settings, you may only include a line or two, but for others, like civil rights for example, you may write much more about them. This will be the case even more so if this cultural consideration is relevant to your story.
The reason for using a worldbuilding checklist is simple: to help keep organised.
It feeds into one of the hardest parts of creating worlds, and that’s keeping it all in order. Very quickly you can find your notes spread over various notebooks and documents on your computer. One time, in a creative stupor, I scrawled a fantasy map on the inside wall of my writing shed.
When the time comes to include details, you may find yourself scrambling for that page, knowing that you’d scribbled it down somewhere and cursing yourself for not remembering where.
But with so much to focus on, it’s natural to forget a few things. Working through a worldbuilding checklist simply ensures that doesn’t happen.
How To Create Your Own Worldbuilding Checklist
I always recommend trying things out for yourself; things tend to stick in your mind a bit better. And another reason is that every writer, one way or another, devises their own methods of writing, one that suits their personality and style best. So I encourage you to have a go at making your own worldbuilding checklist.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, only practical. It all depends on your style and what makes you feel comfortable. For me, I use a spreadsheet. I know some people who use whiteboards. Other people write short stories as they go. Some commission artwork for more visual inspiration.
Here are some tips on how to create your own worldbuilding checklist:
- Decide on the format for your checklist. You can create a checklist in a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, or use a spreadsheet program like Excel.
- Determine the categories of information that you want to include in your checklist. This can include geography, history, cultures, races, languages, religions, politics, economy, magic, technology and more.
- Create a list of items that you want to include in each category. For example, under the “geography” category, you might include items such as “create a map of the world”, “determine the climate of different regions”, “decide on the natural resources available”.
- Organize the items in the list in a logical order. For example, you might want to start with the general information about your world and then move on to the more specific details.
- Create a key or legend for your checklist, to explain any abbreviations or symbols you use.
- Review and update your checklist regularly to keep it current and accurate.
- Consider adding a deadline to each item, this will help you to keep the pace of your worldbuilding process.
Remember that a worldbuilding checklist is just a tool to help you organize your ideas. You don’t need to stick to it strictly so feel free to change and adapt it as you go.
If you’re looking to develop your fantasy world, or simply want to define it better, one of the best ways to achieve that is by using questionnaires.
These prompts direct your focus on key areas of worldbuilding, such as on magic systems, politics and the types of food that people eat.
They can be incredibly helpful. You can take for granted all of the little details that you need to define. Food is a great example.
We can easily become lost in the grant machinations of our story, but neglect to even mention the main food that everyone eats, or what your main characters’ favorite foods are.
You may think this isn’t important, but it is. Little details show your reader that the world is alive. That people exist within it. And key to showing these myriad lives are the things we enjoy in our own lives—foods, drink, the games we play to kill time or for entertainment.
As an example, in my novel Pariah’s Lament, I made brief mention of a game that a group of children were playing in a town square as a character walks by. A number of different book reviewers included this in their reviews as a detail that brought the world to life.
So I would certainly add these more specific details to your worldbuilding checklist. And if you’d like to check out more prompts or questionnaires, check out my guide below. You can find questions on pretty much every aspect of creating a world.
Click Here To Learn More About How To Start Worldbuilding
Below, you can find more guides on creating worlds in the fantasy genre that you may find useful:
- The best books on worldbuilding
- r/Worldbuilding – Reddit’s biggest online community for worldbuilders
- Get a free worldbuilding template here
- Discover more worldbuilding resources here
- Learn about worldbuilding and religion
- A complete guide to worldbuilding in fantasy
- How to build a fantasy world
- Study worldbuilding at degree level here
If you have any more questions about using our worldbuilding checklist, please get in touch.
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