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  • Writer's pictureKatie Knightley

Contemporary World Building

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

Building a world like your own sounds simple enough, but there's more that goes into it. Below is a breakdown of setting, characters, and culture to help tap into a vivid and unique world for your contemporary story.


-Go to the setting if you can. Take photos, immerse yourself, eat the food, and see the sights.

-Google Earth and drop the yellow man into the street and wander around.

-Talk to people from there and ask questions to make your world authentic.

-Write a few specific details- like in my RomCom there's a pier, a beach volleyball court, and downtown cafes that I focused on.

-Pinterest- look at pictures of your setting, create aesthetic boards if that helps you.

-What's the backdrop- Ocean, Mountains, Grasslands, Sunsets, Stars/Moon, etc.




-Diversity, traits, race, identity, LGBTQ+

-Locals- are they tan/pale depending on their location in the world. Is there a trend where everyone is wearing a ton of bracelets, or white chucks, or wearing blue eye shadow. Different trends are everywhere, tap into that.

-Pinterest- look at pictures and describe based on those.

-What details do they notice? Do they love stars, animals, graffiti, etc, and have them bring those up more often.

-Interactions for family, friends, mentors, etc.

-Backstory on your characters that help build the world.

-Internal & External Conflicts with the world.







-Are there festivals?

-What holidays are celebrated?

-Cursing, drinking, drugs?

-Family meals?

-Hang out spots?

-Are there different groups/cliques of people?

-Does Politics play into your world?

-What's the income like- lower, middle, &/or upper class?

-What's your character's neighborhood like? What's their house and transportation like?

-What's every day life like?


Essentially, you can take what you learn from fantasy world building and apply it to your story's world with the details you already know. You don't have to create a different way of life unless you want to.

Contemporary is a great space to pull details from your own life, or add to it with things you wish you had or hadn't done, or things you've seen or haven't seen.

Use vivid details to really make your story's corner of the world come to life.

If you think of other details or tips I should add to this list, let me know!


For more helpful tips, check out my YouTube Channel.

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