See the Worldbuilding section of the “Brandon’s Writing Process” section of the FAQ to see how I approach it on my own writing.
- Do what works for you. Some authors like a lot of extensive worldbuilding, others like to just do what they need to give flavor to the story. It’s up to you how much you do.
- Resist the urge to spend all of your time worldbuilding and none of it writing.
- Remember that not every book can focus on every aspect of a world. Some will have deep religions, but not a lot of focus on new languages. Others will have great geography, but not a lot of time spent on politics. In some books, the history of what happened before needs to be very detailed (like in the Wheel of Time) but in other books, it’s not as important. You don’t have to do everything!
- Focus your time on those areas of worldbuilding that will affect your story the most. I knew that the languages were important to Elantris, so I made sure they were well developed. But they didn’t matter to Mistborn, so I didn’t spend as much time on them.
- Look for conflict in your setting, then make your characters at the center of it. If you develop a cool religion, for instance, make sure that it’s important to one of the characters in some way. Tie everything together–worldbuilding should affect magic, characters, and plot.