World building, sometimes condensed to worldbuilding, is a tool authors use to create the setting, scene, background, culture, and history that took place before the current story begins to unwind. The writer creates an entire universe that will encompass the story arc. If you're writing about some rabbits in Watership Down, it's the forests, fields, and burrows (setting); the rabbit culture, including a religious angle; a bit of history of the lives of the rabbits; and overall it all condenses to be the stage the characters will act on to present their story.
If you're writing science fiction, you can literally create your own planetary system with customized culture and history. Fold in the space ships and the emptiness between worlds as additional settings and you're ready for your characters to dance.
If you're writing fantasy, craft your magic system and the costs every spell imposes on the caster.
There are some excellent online resources to help the new writers, like World Anvil. If I'm writing a one-off novel, I can usually keep a lot of the details in my overcrowded head. If you prefer documenting things, I would suggest setting up a local instance of a Wiki so you can cross-link and search. Eventually, if your novel is a hit and you decide to keep writing in that world, you can export the Wiki and have some extra cool stuff for your loyal readers.
Understand that world building can be an endless black hole of your time. I know many new authors that are stuck on the world building stage, just adding useless details that will not help their story. I like to start with a general buildout of a world and then write. As I write, if I find new things that may be important for me in later chapters or books, I add it to the "world bible". New characters are also added, including physical descriptions. By letting my brain make up the new world fluidly, it gets words down on the manuscript pages and allows me to pick out some important bits for the bible.
In the end, world building will result in a "world bible" (WB) that has far more details than you ever use in your story. The WB is more for your use as you write. The Runyons ride on horses with red hooves? That's a WB detail that may appear once or twice in your novel, and useful for continuity of your universe. I personally never "delete" anything I've written. If a paragraph, scene, or even plotline gets culled, you should always keep those snippets. You can use them in later novels or use them to write short stories for your loyal readers.
|| SciFiQuest 3022 ||