World-Building Questionnaire: Geography and Environment

World-building questionnaire for geography, ecology, and environment

World-building questionnaires are vital for fleshing out a fictional world. They help fantasy writers create immersive settings and are also invaluable for historical fiction authors getting to know their period and setting. A well-developed world adds depth and authenticity, making the story more engaging for readers.

Understanding your world’s geography and environment is crucial. It affects the culture, economy, and daily lives of your characters. Knowing the land and climate can help you create a believable and consistent world.

Climate and Weather

  1. What is the general climate of your world? How does it vary by region?
  2. What are the seasonal patterns? Describe the weather during different times of the year.
  3. Are there any extreme weather events (hurricanes, blizzards, droughts)? How do they affect the inhabitants?
  4. How do the weather and climate influence agriculture and food production?
  5. What impact does the climate have on the architecture and clothing of the inhabitants?

Natural Resources and Landscapes

  1. What natural resources are abundant or scarce (minerals, water, forests)?
  2. How do these resources shape the economy and industry of your world?
  3. Describe the major geographical features (mountains, rivers, deserts). How do they affect travel and trade?
  4. Are there any unique or magical landscapes? How do they influence the culture and beliefs of the inhabitants?
  5. What role do natural resources play in conflicts or politics within your world?

Flora and Fauna

  1. What types of plants are native to your world? How do they vary by region?
  2. Describe the common animals found in different environments (forests, deserts, oceans). Are any of the common animals endangered?
  3. Are there any mythical or magical creatures? How are they integrated into the ecosystem? How do they interact with the common animals?
  4. How do the flora and fauna influence the daily lives of your characters (food, medicine, transportation)?
  5. What are the domesticated animals, and how are they used by the inhabitants?

Water Sources and Bodies

  1. What are the main sources of water (rivers, lakes, springs)? How are they distributed across your world?
  2. How do bodies of water influence the settlements and cities? Are they crucial for trade and travel?
  3. Describe the major bodies of water. Are there any unique features or mythical significance?
  4. How do the inhabitants manage and preserve water resources, especially in arid regions?
  5. What impact do water sources have on the agriculture and industry of your world?

Ecosystems and Biodiversity

  1. What are the different ecosystems present in your world? How do they vary by region?
  2. How do the ecosystems interact with each other? Are there any areas of conflict or harmony?
  3. Describe the biodiversity within each ecosystem. Are there endangered or invasive species?
  4. How do the inhabitants interact with and affect the ecosystems (conservation, exploitation)?
  5. What is the cultural or spiritual significance of different ecosystems and their inhabitants?

A world-building questionnaire helps you unearth details that may not appear directly in your story. However, having these details in your mind will make your world more authentic and vibrant.

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David Griffin Brown (Septimus Brown) is the founder and senior editor at Darling Axe Editing

David Griffin Brown is an award-winning short fiction writer and co-author of Immersion and Emotion: The Two Pillars of Storytelling. He holds a BA in anthropology from UVic and an MFA in creative writing from UBC, and his writing has been published in literary magazines such as the Malahat Review and Grain. In 2022, he was the recipient of a New Artist grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. David founded Darling Axe Editing in 2018, and as part of his Book Broker interview series, he has compiled querying advice from over 100 literary agents. He lives in Victoria, Canada, on the traditional territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.

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