”The Planet Construction Kit” by Mark Rosenfelder

If you are writing a story that requires its own world—maybe a science fiction world in a strange galaxy far, far away or a fantasy world from another era—this is the book for you!

The Planet Construction Kit may sound like it’s all about astronomy and planets and moons, but although the book also addresses these aspects of worldbuilding, it takes up so much more.

Everything you need to know about World Building

Worldbuilding is about creating a fantasy world, or really any world where a story can take place.

Well-made worlds are not only so well adapted to the story that what’s happening feels natural. They are also so odd and random that it doesn’t feel like the world was made for the story in which it occurs.

This is just the tip of the iceberg with all the questions that should be answered if you want to succeed with your worldbuilding. It may feel like an impossible task, but Rosenfelder’s book is a good framework for identifying and answering many of the questions of the worldbuilding. What people, races, ethnicities, and nationalities populate your world? How are they like each other? What makes them a group? How are they different? What makes them individuals? How do they live? What do they think about their world? Why? Where do they come from? What does their history look like? How does this affect their society? Their justice system and their religion? What is the weather like? What do they eat? What crops do they grow? What merchandise do they buy?

Rosenfelder also deals with some of the strange things that occasionally appear in worldbuilding—like planets with only one climate or fantasy worlds that just fit on a single rectangular page and then there are only seas, mountains, or deserts and no more cultures outside the map.

Everything between heaven and earth?

The book addresses countless aspects of worldbuilding (and creation of beings populating these worlds) such as astronomy, geology, biology, history, culture, religion, magic, technology, war, and cartography.

If you want to, you can probably spend years building your world (ask me, I know!)

Some sections of the book assume that you have abilities I for one do not (like drawing) and sometimes tools are used in the form of programs that only work on Windows (I run a Mac), but overall these are problems that can be solved.

The big problem with this book is that it is easy to get drawn into never-ending worldbuilding, the book you really should write completely forgotten.

If this happens, it is at least not because of a lack of information about worldbuilding. I personally think it’s better to spend too much time on your world than having spent too little. See, for example, Larry Niven’s corrections of his Ringworld as critics and comments came up, and yet we are talking about a successful author with a successful book. But maybe he would rather have done right from the start?

I would highly recommend “The Planet Construction Kit” by Mark Rosenfelder, read it, but pick and choose among everything you can do to create your world—unless your goal is to only construct a world…


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