Hey, fellow writers! Today I have a guest post for you from author Erin Hylands! Erin has some awesome tips on worldbuilding that I’m so excited for you all to read. Also, make sure to subscribe to her email list and blog.
Well, let’s get started!
5 Tips for Worldbuilding
Guest post by Erin Hylands
Thank you, Annabelle, for hosting me on your blog. It means so much that you are supporting
me in this way!
My name is Erin Hylands, and I am a girl who seeks to write for the One who created words.
Before I get to my post (spoilers which is on worldbuilding!), I want to share my email list with
What is an email list?
Great question! It’s a list of people I email weekly (though people have done monthly, daily, etc)
about writing, life, discounts, and more. You are in the know about everything related to my
Why does an email list matter?
Another great question. It matters to me because I am building my platform. My goal is to hit
100 subscribers by April 16.
Why April 16?
You’re asking a lot of great questions! On April 16, I will turn eighteen. At that point, I will begin
querying in hopes of traditional publication. But if I don’t have a platform, no agent will take me
What can I do to help?
I’m glad you asked! First, sign up for my email list. Then share the link with your friends and
Thank you, everyone, and may God bless you!
The link to sign up for the email list: https://author-3.eo.page/f4bw9
Now, to worldbuilding.
I had never heard of that term before I joined the Young Writers Workshop. But once I learned
what it was, it actually started to make sense. Then books I read—my favorites—immersed me
in their worlds. From Hogwarts to Mount Eskel to Middle Earth, worldbuilding is crucial in
But what do I mean by that?
Simply put, worldbuilding is the art of using your words to create a world in the mind of a
Like I mentioned before, I had never heard of this term before joining YWW. But when I started
sharing my writing there, I started getting comments from young writers that I was good at worldbuilding. Better, even, than creating characters, because my characters often reacted in
ways unlike their personality.
I started digging deeper into this concept of worldbuilding, and I have five steps for building an
Step 1: Write What You Know
You’re probably thinking, Erin, that is so obvious. But I want to write a fantasy world. That
would be something I don’t know because I’ve never been there.
That’s not quite what I mean.
I write historical, contemporary, and fantasy fiction, with my focus being fantasy. My
NaNoWriMo, which I call Call right now, is set in the modern day. Namely, in San Diego,
California and in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
But in this story is also a fantasy element of an underwater life.
I write what I know. As a military kid, I’ve only ever lived on the coast. So, in almost all my
stories, the main character lives near the ocean. Even if it’s not explicitly stated, it’s always
It’s just little things like that.
You might be saying, That’s all well and good, but what about 100% fantasy worlds?
Well, in my fantasy world called the planet Grimm in my book that I call ItLotM, my characters
do live near the ocean.
But I know fairy tales. It’s something I’ve loved since I was little, when I first started developing
this world at age 7. (Back then, it was a kingdom called Golden Land, nothing like the world I
It’s that simple! Write what you know.
Step 2: Know the Rules
What does this mean? You might be thinking, Surely, Erin, there are no rules to follow! That
sucks the fun out of it.
That’s not what I mean.
I mean know the rules of your world.
In Call, one of the rules I have in place for my world has to do with pearls. The pearls are
powerful and have the ability to do many things. Queen Kore has the only Aafje pearl in
existence, and she uses it to ensnare voices and turn girls into sirens.
That, right there, is worldbuilding.
The rule is the Aafje pearl turns girls into sirens. I know that rule. No other pearls can do that,
for that is the rule.
Now, for ItLotM, a rule I have for the world is that wizards are the most evil creatures in the
world, and they can turn people into witches. Witches have no power except what wizards give
them. And if a wizard discovers his inner magic (in this book, all people have an inner magic,
but few realize it—another aspect of worldbuilding), he becomes an onkel and is almost
Very simple—know your rules.
Step 3: Break the Rules
What? You just told me to know the rules!
I did. Know the rules like a pro—so you can break them like a master.
J.R.R. Tolkien did this masterfully. Of course, dwarves mine. Of course, they have treasure.
But Tolkien did more. His dwarves had lost their treasure and wanted to get it back. They
stayed above ground and adventured for it.
But that’s not all.
His hobbits were a new type of creature, and he worldbuilded with them. In his world, hobbits
were homey creatures, enjoying their many meals and comforts.
Tolkien broke his own rule.
He had Bilbo Baggins be the hero of the adventure—a hobbit who likes comfort overcomes
That is a masterful example of breaking your worldbuilding rules.
Step 4: Imagine What It Would Be Like
This is technically one of my own rules.
You might be saying, Erin! Making up your own rules… that’s why you gave us that rule about
knowing the rules.
Hear me out.
Something I like about books with masterful worldbuilding is that I can imagine myself there.
For example, when I was little, I would imagine myself at Hogwarts. When I couldn’t sleep, I
would imagine going to Diagon Alley, or being sorted by the Sorting Hat, or participating in the
classes. I always felt like I was right there.
When I write, I want my readers to feel transported into the world just like I have always been
by my favorite books. I’m not good at it yet—not by a long shot—but I’m getting better.
Remember, practice makes progress.
Step 5: Enjoy the Journey
It’s going to take time. Tolkien did not write Middle Earth in one day. Lewis did not imagine
Narnia in three days. I might hazard and say no author ever creates a world in a matter of days
or even weeks and months. It might take years.
I mentioned that I have a world I’ve been developing since I was seven years old. I’m
seventeen years old now, so it’s been ten years.
My world has grown so much from Golden Land where the bad guy is Professor Bad.
It’s not done yet—perhaps I never will be completely done.
But that’s okay!
It’s going to take time, it’s going to take effort.
But don’t give up.
Write for the One who created words.
About the Author:
When she’s not reading, Erin Hylands can be found dreaming up her
next story in spite of the notebooks full of half-finished ideas. She
seeks to write for the One who created words because He alone
deserves the glory. If you visit her, you might have a hard time
getting a word in edgewise with her nine younger siblings following
you. You can connect with Erin online on her blog that she shares
with young author Cari Legere, https://twofriendsonepen.wixsite.com/twofriendsonepen, or her email list, https://author-3.eo.page/f4bw9.