Trappings of World Building

“It’s a trap”

A phrase that has become one of the most enamored quotes from one of the most successful franchises of all time. It echoed in my head recently. It rang in my ears as an annoying alarm that wouldn’t quiet.

Trappings of World Building


World building can be a vast bottomless pit. Some stories don’t require as much world building as others. But the in genre of Fantasy/Science Fiction, world-building is a necessity. But one can get too absorbed into one’s own imagination. World building can be a double-edged sword.

Histories, backgrounds, governments, cultures, etc. all are needed for prose to interest the reader. However, there can come a point where us writers can either take the blue pill and step back, oblivious to the greater world within the story. Of course, taking the red pill and diving into that bottomless wonder like Gandalf the Grey in the mines of Moria, that’s a far more interesting path.


The danger in being sucked into world building is that you could become so involved in the world of your creation, that you never progress with the actual telling of the story. You can become locked into one project for an extended period. for some that’s ok. I believe I recall someone comparing J.R.R. Tolkien as a world builder who got lost in his own world. If extensive world building is a trait you have, that’s not a bad person to be compared with (not that any of us should ever compare ourselves to Tolkien).

Recently, I believe I’ve found myself caught up in the trappings of world building. I find myself deepening cultures, exploring the histories of cities, and lands that currently do not involve my story. Sure, this will breath life and realism into the tale as distant lands are referenced, or cultural aspects of trade are explored in a minuet scale. It will be extremely beneficial for the planned sequels that will probably explore these places in greater detail. But I can’t help but find myself screaming in my mind. “It’s a trap!”




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