1. Great article, Merrie! Would you believe, your book was next up on my reading stack but my Mum snatched it up and devoured it. It’s still down at her place so I have to go get it back – she loved it!

  2. Thanks for those great points. I especially apprecite the thought of first creating a macrocosm view of the fantasy world before populating it with characters who have things to do. Underlying the world must be a worldview and a history, and those things make the book so real. It makes me think of Dune, and how believable the planet Arakis was, and when you read in the appendix about the history and development of the ecology of the world, it shows the author spent a lot of time building that foundation.

    Well, I too would love a copy of the book, but I will glad ly buy one if I don’t win a free one 🙂 CAn’t wait to read all your books! sulakin AT comcast.net

  3. Excellent words of advice Merry 🙂

  4. Becky,
    Thanks so much for inviting me here today!

    How cool! I hope both you and your mom enjoy the book. =)

    Wow, you referenced an awesome book when it comes to world building–Dune. I loved that it even had a very detailed religious system, something that often gets ignored or overlooked or forgotten when some writers build their worlds.

    Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Speculative Faith, Merrie Destefano. Merrie Destefano said: Tips for SciFi/Fantasy Writers on Organic World Building: http://bit.ly/hfnNVT << Guest blog post with AFTERLIFE giveaway […]

  6. shastastwin says:


    I think the most intriguing idea you mentioned in your rules is that of small changes trickling down through the entire society. It makes me want to sit down and devise a story centered around one small change; in fact a friend of mine and I had a conversation just the other day about the small things in life and how they affect us more than we realize.

    As for personal rules, I have to say that I live by the rule of drawing on myth and legend, although other than that I haven’t really set out my own personal Code. One set of rules I’ve come across recently though is that of Kurt Vonnegut; I found that in general I have followed his rules without knowing of them. Among them are to write for one person (i.e. myself or God) and to allow bad things to happen to the characters so that the readers will see what the characters are made of.

  7. Jami Gold says:

    This sounds like a great way to approach world-building. Thanks!

    In my WIP, the MC is an outsider, so she’s learning about the world at the same time as the reader.

  8. Sara Megibow says:

    What a fabulous post, thank you! World building, to me, is one of the elements of great storytelling and one of the things that makes me fall head over heels in love with a book. You’ve nailed it with these pointers. Cheers!

  9. Alyssa says:

    Fantastic post. It’s what makes a good novel great.

  10. “Reveal the world in bits and pieces, a little snippet here and there. Make it a mystery and remove the veil, one layer at a time.”

    I still haven’t quite nailed this part down – the non-info-dump part of building a world that is different from our own. But I love your tips for world building 🙂 Thank you for posting!

    • Merrie Destefano says:

      Hi! I’m glad you like the tips. Maybe you could try seeing the world through your MC’s POV. Imagine how he or she would feel about everything. But you’re right, it is a bit tricky. I hope these tips help a bit. =)

  11. Lesli says:

    If you keep in mind that the new world is a mystery to be unfolded slowly, it helps keep you stingy. You end up giving out a bite at a time, and saving better parts for later.

    And nothing pisses me off like a world that makes no sense. It has to be like the law; something a reasonable person would say, “Okay, I’ll buy that.”

  12. […] http://www.speculativefaith.lorehaven.com/2011/01/guest-blog-merrie-destefano/ Read the rest here. a2a_linkname=document.title;a2a_linkurl="http://kimkouski.com/creating-the-fantasy-world&quot;;a2a_onclick=1;   Fantasy Stuff, Writing Stuff   fantasy world building, Merrie Destefano, Speculative Faith […]

  13. Merrie Destefano says:

    Wow. Some awesome comments here.

    I love your personal rules for writing. thanks for sharing them.

    The MC as an outsider is definitely a great way to show a different world.

    Thanks so much for stopping by! I always enjoy hearing what makes an agent fall in love with a book. =)

  14. […] for writers of speculative fiction but helpful to any fiction writer, I think—visit Speculative Faith (and if you leave a comment, you’ll be eligible to win a free copy of the author’s […]

  15. Patrick says:

    Great stuff! Thank you for the tips, Merrie. I’m in process of writing my first book, and I have several of those “dump” description documents for my own reference while I write. As much as I’d love to Tell what this fantasy world is like, I know I need to figure out how to Show it. Your points will be very helpful to this end; and to maintaining believability, continuity, and suspense. Thank you very much!
    – Patrick

  16. Dona Watson says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips! One of the reasons I love fantasy (both reading and writing) is because of the opportunity it affords to escape, to immerse oneself into a different world–and that world must be believable or it shatters the entire experience. You have done a good job of summing up ways to make sure that doesn’t happen. Good stuff to remember!

    Also, your book sounds fascinating. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  17. I read similar advice in a book (can’t remember the name) on writing in the speculative genre. The book’s advice centered around creating belivable aliens, and how small changes in a lifeform’s enviornmnet could mean huge changes in alient biology, culture, and society. The whole discussion reminds me of a little developed but fascinating subgenre: alternative history. There’s a real case study of making a small change and trying to anticipate all the consequences of that change. There are of course the obvious timelines authors go after (the civil war, or World War II), but I really enjoy the alt timelines that go for more obscure or less popular changes. What if the Chinese had spent more time colonizing the New World, moving from West to East? What if the Crimean War had ended differently, or if the Dutch had kept power over England after the Glorious Revolution (taking the King Georges out of the picture)? These questions require a complete rethinking of our world while keeping true to certain concepts of inevitability (the discovery of electiricty, the taming of flight): it’s not so much whether certain inventions, innovations, or even wars will happpen, but how they occur.

  18. Mette J says:

    Very good points you can never get to many great advice:-)

  19. Patrick says:

    I don’t see where a winner was announced today. Was it only announced to the winner? Or did I miss it somehow?

  20. […] News Announcement Merrie Destefano, a guest poster at Spec Faith a couple weeks ago, is holding a contest for a free copy of her next book, […]

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