I found a posting on my personal Facebook page which listed seventeen topics on developing a world that a writer should brainstorm about before and during writing any kind of story. Many people assume that world building is only relevant to fantasy or science fiction genres. Every writer should look at this list and consider the impact of the world that surrounds your story has on your story. If you are writing a nonfiction piece based in another country or continent you MUST take into account all of these. If you are writing a memoir all of these will color your story – what were these things like when you were in elementary school? How was your life impacted by these things as you grew up? These topics make your story rich and flavorful and help pull in the reader or listener.
These topics are especially important in a series. I am working on documenting these right now to help me be consistent between books and the multiple societies in my science fiction/fantasy series. Yes, it’s not nonfiction and I am going to use them to help me in the writing of the transitions my two societies are going to go through as they discover their true identities and why they are so similar. It’s going to be fun but entails a lot of work. This list is an excellent place to start.
I will have to go back and look at the first two books, again, to make sure I have everything straight – at least in my supporting material which may not show up specifically in print. Remember that just like full character sketches much of this material may never show up in your story though it flavors every word you write because you have a deeper understanding of how your world(s), real or imagined, work. This is part of your research and the more you know about world the better your stories and articles will be.
How much detail do you need to write the current project? The next project? Should you go back to a previous project and do a bit more research or world building to improve it?