Photo by David Bartus
From the captivating fictional worlds by Jeff Lucier to the heavy, mythological worlds by Tolkien, a well-realized fictional world is foundational for a grand narrative.
Naturally, with their inquisitive and curious minds, children have an innate disposition towards and sense of wonder and imagination, which makes them the perfect audience for a fictional world. When a child reads a story set in a well-developed fictional world, they can escape into the narrative and experience its wonders firsthand. There, they can develop their imaginations and creativity and teach themselves valuable lessons about life and the world around them.
Creating a Fictional World
There are plenty of ways to create a fully fictional but captivating world. Here are some basic ideas you can think about:
- Establish a foundational idea. Sometimes, creating worlds comes from one single idea or passion. When JRR Tolkien was making the world of The Lord of the Rings, he wasn’t doing it so he would have a setting for his stories—he made his world so he could have a place to play with his constructed languages. Sometimes, the basis for world-making can just be an idea that you want to see through, imagining what a universe would be like if that idea was possible or even the norm. So, what ideas are swimming in your head? Does it have to do with magic or dragons? Soda-powered robots? Or basically just our world, but more exciting? Once you have a general idea, you can flesh it out in more detail going forward.
- Think about who the world is for. If you’re only making worlds to keep yourself interested, you can skip this step, but if you’re reading this article, you probably want to invite people to see and enjoy what your world has to offer. What age group are you writing for? What are their interests? What kind of stories do they like to read? Once you have an idea about who you want to write for, it’s easier for you to tailor your world-building accordingly.
- Learn how to suspend disbelief. Of course, a fictional world is fictional—it doesn’t have to have the same rules as our world has, but pitching in some bits of realism here and there helps your world feel more grounded and believable, like it’s something that could exist. You don’t need to create a whole system that’s almost identical to ours—that would be mad—only that you have to make things internally logical, so readers won’t be second-guessing themselves. Even if you’re just writing about a magical or fantastical world, making it feel likely to your readers is critical. This means having well-thought-out rules and systems that govern your world.
- Don’t be afraid to be creative. The best fictional worlds are the ones that are unique and imaginative. Be bold, think outside the box, and create something extraordinary. If you want to include clichés, turn them on their heads and put your own spin on them!
How to Invite and Captivate Children
If you are writing for a young demographic, you have your work cut out for you. But here are some additional tips for creating a fictional world that can be a good setting for children’s books:
- Stories that are full of adventure and excitement are quite beloved by children. So, when creating your world, think about what would make it entertaining and exciting for them to explore and keep coming back to.
- Children are still developing their cognitive skills, so making your world easy for them to understand is essential. Avoid using too much complex jargon or complicated concepts, and while you can absolutely steer away from “serious” themes, don’t underestimate the intelligence of children.
- If you truly want a world that children can better relate to, you have to incorporate ideas and concepts that are relevant to them. Don’t just look at the world from your point-of-view, but also think about what the children will see from their level. So, when creating your world, consider how to incorporate elements of children’s everyday lives into it.
Once you have a story draft, get feedback from young readers. This will help you to identify any areas where your world-building needs improvement and where you are excelling.
Examples of Magical and Wonderful Worlds
Here are some examples of captivating fictional worlds for children’s books:
- Narnia from The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
- Middle-earth from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The PokéWorld from Pokémon by Satoshi Tajiri
- Barbieland from Mattel’s Barbie
- The Land of Oz from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
These worlds are different, but they all have one thing in common: they are all captivating and imaginative. They are the kinds of worlds that children love to explore and dream about.
If you want an idea of how wonderful artificial worlds can be, visit the captivating fictional worlds by Jeff Lucier.