Transcript (for whoever might prefer it):

What is worldbuilding?

The term gets thrown around a lot when talking about science fiction and fantasy. People use it to talk about magic systems, geography, cultures, and races. But what it really boils down to is this:

Worldbuilding is the art of making a reader believe in a world that doesn’t exist.

This is more than setting. A setting is just a place and time. Worldbuilding touches on every aspect of the story, from language to clothing, animals to noble titles, history to geography.

Sound daunting? It can be. Imagine the worldbuilding it would take to make a world as complicated as Earth. You can put that much work into your world—if you have a hundred lifetimes to spare.

But here’s a secret: you don’t need to build a whole world to tell a story in it.

Your readers aren’t going to see most of your world. So, you don’t need to worry about all those ancillary details.

Show your readers a controlled view of the world you want them to see. It’s like an old Hollywood movie set, or the stage at a Broadway play. As long as you control where the audience is sitting, you only need to show the façade they can see from that vantage.

So don’t get bogged down. Build enough of your world so you can write a story in it. Make the reader believe they’re reading about a place that actually exists.

A little detail goes a long way.