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Lessons from the Aether: Sanderson and Worldbuilding a Plot


Tweet of the Day:  Forging a Universe: Worldbuilding Physics


Brandon Sanderson is a master of weaving deep, well thought out worldbuilding into intricate fantasy plots.  While other writers struggle with the question of how much background information to put in their stories, Sanderson makes figuring out how the world works part of the plot. The heroes must understand and master the magic of a given place as well as the sociopolitical structure of the ruling governments. A great way to avoid infodumping in lieu of leaving the reader bereft of key information necessary to their understanding of the narrative.

So, should you write your stories the Sanderson’s way?

Not so fast!

While his style makes the most of world building, aping it is not an answer. The lesson we can draw from his books is that true world building is not simply an exercise in setting creation. The politics, magic, science, economics and other factors enable, dictate, and guide the plot and actions of the story. It represents what is possible, or not, the effects of any give action and frames the plot. Writers would do well to exploit their world building to the utmost without drowning the reader in excess details that derail the narrative.


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