How to Create a Fantasy World

I have recently been involved in a project with my local school where the children were challenged to create their own fantasy world as a setting for their own adventure stories. I was asked to give them some tips on how to do this, based on how I created The Land on the Other Side of the Pillow - the imaginary world that my heroine, Stinkabell the Bog Fairy, comes from. I thought I would share the advice that I gave them, so here are my 'out-of-this-world' tips: Delve into the details: once you have a concept for your world (perhaps inside a rock pool or on a planet made entirely of wool), you can start to explore the finer details. I found it really use useful to create a mind map to channel my thinking about all the smaller details of the Land on the Other Side of the Pillow.

Think about how it your world looks, what are the key features? Then work down to the smaller details: colours, plants, terrain etc.
One idea often sparks off another. Let your imagination run wild!

You may not end up telling your readers every detail but it’s still important they you know them as it will give you a more complete picture and make your story more authentic. Draw it! Even if you’re a terrible artist, it’s still a great idea to get your ideas down as pictures. It helps to put everything together so you can see it come to life. When you're drawing your world you might find that you end up adding details that you hadn’t thought of when you were describing it with words.

A map can also be really useful if you have different places in your story and want to layout how they all fit together. Explore all the senses: what your world looks like is a great start, but to really bring it to life, you need to consider what it sounds like (a deafening roar of space ships overhead) and smells like (fresh bread wafting in from the bakery). It's also important to consider what it feels like; This can include textures - jagged rocks/spongy clouds, emotive things, like joyful or creepy and practical things, such as hot, wet or sticky.
These elements are a great way to paint a full picture for the readers. Populate your planet: Who else lives there?
Aside from your main characters, what other animals, creatures, aliens or people live in your world? How do they relate to or interact with your main character(s)? Keep an open mind: ask other people what they think. As much as it’s important to have a clear vision of your world, it’s great to be able to take ideas and advice from other people. They often see things slightly differently and could come up with an idea that you hadn't thought of. I had a whole team of advisors (adults and children) who I ran different ideas past.

My illustrations don’t look exactly like I saw them in my head, but usually the illustrator’s interpretation of my descriptions was much better than what I had been picturing!

How to Create a Fantasy World