112+ World-Building Questions For Writers (+ Free Questionnaire PDF)
World-building in stories is all about creating a world that makes sense within the context of the story. Essentially a world is made of two main elements, the central idea of the story and a setting. Before we jump into the list of 112+ world-building questions, there are a couple of essential aspects that should be kept in mind when building a fantasy world.
First of all, the world should be believable. To create a believable world we must take into account not only what is possible in the world, but also what is impossible. A world where people can fly, or where animals can talk or walk through walls, is obviously unbelievable. Even if this is possible, we must also take into account the setting of the story. Flying is likely to be impossible in a medieval setting, but a world where animals can talk is more plausible. Read our guide on how to write a fantasy novel for more details.
The second thing to keep in mind is that the world should have a point. It doesn’t matter if a world is believable if the point is not clear. The point of the world should be something that is interesting and important to the story.
With this in mind, we have created a list of 112+ questions that will help you create a believable and interesting fantasy world for your story.
112+ World-Building Questions
- What is the name of the world? A world name doesn’t need to be anything long or fancy. Just look at Earth and Mars. You can use this fantasy world name generator to give you some ideas.
- What is the world’s history like? Go back thousands of years, what was the world like back then. Think about how the world was created and how long it has existed. What do people generally believe about the world’s creation?
- What is the future of this world? In 10, 50 or 100 years’ time, how will this world advance? What new things are inventors and scientists working on?
- What are the myths or legends told in this world? What bedtime stories are told to little ones? Is there a legend that is popular, like the legend of the big foot or the loch ness monster?
- Can magic be used in the world? What is the magical system? How powerful is the magic in this world?
- What unique resources exist in this world?
- What is the biggest problem facing this world?
- Which force is dominant, science, religion or magic?
- How do people travel in this world? Think about the vehicles used here. How does one travel to a faraway place compared to a local place?
- How do people communicate in this world? Think about communication devices, like the phone, letters or video calling.
- Does time work the same way as it does on Earth?
- Is this world a peaceful world? If not, how can peace be achieved?
- What is the main continent in this world? A continent is a continuous plane of land in a world. For example on Earth, there are seven continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Antarctica and Australia). The biggest continent by size is, Asia.
- How many major cities are there? Name the main cities or villages in this world.
- What is the landscape like? Are there lots of mountains? Is it mostly plain lands or urban cities?
- What are buildings like? What materials are used to make houses, shops and places of work?
- Does this world have any interesting tourist attractions? On Earth, we have the seven wonders of the world, among many other special attractions.
- Is the world more rural or urban?
- Does this world have any famous historical sites or buildings?
- What are the weather patterns like? Is the weather in the whole world generally the same, or does it differ like on Earth? On Earth, the main weather conditions include rain, storms, cloudy, sunny, and snow.
- What is the climate like? Climate is the average conditions in an area. For example, on Earth, the climate is generally hot and humid in the Middle East. While in the UK the climate is generally cool and wet in the winter, and warm and wet in the summer.
- What natural disasters are common in this world? Think about any earthquakes, Tornadoes, floods, wildfires and droughts.
- What are the seasons? On Earth, we have four seasons, Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn.
- What environmental issues impact this world? Think about pollution, global warming, waste disposal, deforestation and so on.
- What kind of animals and creatures live here?
- What plants and trees exist here?
- What are the main sources of energy?
- Does the world have a moon and a sun? Think about what you would see if you looked at the night sky or the sky during the daytime.
- Is the world alone in the universe? Are there any other dimensions or planets known to this world?
- How many people live in the world? Think about the size of the population. Are certain areas or cities more populated than others? Does the world have an issue with being over-populated or under-populated?
- What are the people like? Think about their physical appearance. Are they humans or something else? What does the typical person look like?
- How do people dress? What is the fashion style in this world? What types of clothing do they wear? Do people generally take care of their appearance?
- What are the main religions? Think about any religious places or buildings in the world. Who do the people worship? Who are the religious leaders? Is religion important in this world?
- What are the main races?
- How do people greet each other?
- What are the social classes in this world?
- What social issues exist here? Think racial injustice, inequality, voting rights, income gaps and so on.
- How do people spend their free time?
- What is gender equality like here?
- How old are the average people in this world?
- What is the average life expectancy in this world?
- What is the birth rate in this world?
- What is the death rate in this world? How do people die? What is the biggest killer?
- How many people live in one house in this world?
- What personality traits are admired by society?
- What type of people are frowned upon in this world?
- What social groups exist in this world? What makes someone popular? What makes some a rebel?
- What is considered good manners in this world? And what are bad manners?
- What kind of slang words are used in this world? Are some words forbidden?
- Is there much immigration into or out of countries?
- Do people generally get along with each other? How are outsiders treated?
- How do people express love in this world?
- How do people express hate in this world?
- Does discrimination exist in this world? Is there any discrimination against people from other races?
- Does this world have any charities or humanitarians?
- Is it a technologically-advanced world?
- What is the most technically-advanced item in this world?
- What are scientists working on here?
- What are the common uses of technology in this world?
- What are the major inventions in this world?
- What is the currency used in this world?
- How do people earn money in this world?
- What economical or money problems exist here?
- What are the common jobs that people do here?
- What is the world’s unemployment rate?
- How do rich people live?
- Does poverty exist in this world?
- How do poor people live?
- What are the main industries in this world?
- How is money spent in this world?
- Who are the world leaders? Is there a president, king or queen?
- Who makes the rules in this world?
- What are the laws of this world? For example, in real life, laws are implemented by the government. What are the legal rights of an individual?
- Is there an electoral system or voting system in place?
- What attitude do people have towards the government or world leaders?
- How does one gain citizenship in this world? Are people free to visit any country or do need they certain documentation?
- What is the criminal system like?
- What is the punishment for a crime in this world?
- How do people resolve disputes in this world? Is there a legal system?
- What kind of criminal activity exists in this world?
Here are some common world-building questions about culture:
- What holidays or traditions do the people celebrate?
- What are the main languages spoken here?
- What traditions do people follow here?
- What views do people have on marriage and divorce?
- What does a typical family structure look like?
- What are the social expectations in this world?
- How do people get married here?
- Does this world have any national anthem? What song is sung to symbolise this world’s history?
- What happens when a baby is born?
- What happens when someone passes away? Are there ceremonies or rituals that happen?
- What weapons exist in this world?
- Does this world have a military system? If so, how is it structured?
- Is there any history of wars, slavery or genocide in this world?
- How many wars have occurred in this world?
- What is the education system like?
- Do people go to schools, colleges and universities?
- What is the highest level of education?
- What are the main areas of study in this world?
- What kind of skills do people need to have in this world?
- What is the health system like?
- Does this world have any diseases?
- What kind of medicine exists in this world?
- What kind of sports are played here?
- What is the music like? What genre of music is popular?
- Who are the famous people in this world?
- What kind of entertainment exists in this world?
- What is the most popular book in this world? What sorts of books do people read?
- How do people get their news? Does this world have any significant news sources?
Food & Drink
- What kind of food do the people eat here?
- What drink is popular in this world?
- What kind of diet do people have?
- How do people obtain food for their families?
Practice your world-building skills, with our daily world-building activity. Every day you will be tasked with the challenge of describing a fantasy in detail.
Free PDF Worldbuilding Questionnaire
Now it’s your turn to describe a fantasy world in detail. Use our free world-building questionnaire worksheet to help you. Our free worksheet provides space for you to write down your answers to some common world-building questions. There’s also space to draw or attach a picture of your fantasy world to act as an inspiration:
To begin using this free PDF worksheet, start by thinking of a fantasy world you would like to describe. It can be anything from a medieval city, a Tolkienesque high-fantasy world, a post-apocalyptic city, or even a modern-day city. Then use the questionnaire to describe the world in detail.
Did you find this mega list of over 112+ world-building questions for writers useful?