Wow! I can't believe another month has flown by and another writing series is coming to a close. I want to start off this post with a word of thanks for all of you who have been following along. I know things have been crazy due to the quarantine, so if you've taken the time to read and support me, thank you so much.
I decided to close out April's series by providing you with an ultimate worldbuilding questionnaire. Below you'll find a list of questions to help guide you through the process of building your fictional world. Keep in mind that you don't have to answer all of them and that most of them require lengthy responses. I'm separating them into categories as well to help you stay organized and for quick reference later on. This is purely for your benefit, so please feel free to copy and paste for your writing binder. Happy writing!
The Ultimate Worldbuilding Questionnaire
1. What planet are we on? Earth? Something else? Does time exist as we understand it? How does the calendar work?
2. What is the basic geography of your world?
3. What natural landmarks are there? What about man-made ones?
4. What is the climate like? What sort of weather patterns occur?
5. What seasons are there? How do they manifest? How long do they occur for?
6. What natural resources does your world have? Why are they valuable? Are they plentiful/scarce? How does your population harvest/transport/sell them?
7. What regional differences are there? (This is important if your character travels or if there are different kingdoms/locations)
8. What types of plants and animals are there?
9. Are there bodies of water? What type of water is it? (Salt/fresh) Where does it run to/from?
10. What affect do the sun/moon have on your world?
11. Describe the sky during different times of the day. How does it differ from ours?
11. Are the laws of physics and nature different than earth? If so, how?
12. What extends beyond your world? (This may not be necessary for your story)
13. What civilizations exist? How were they formed? Where are they located? Why?
14. What do your kingdoms/countries/territories look like? Mark the borders. What do your cities look like? The countryside?
15. How is your society formed? Was it started out of necessity or for a specific purpose? What kind of people make up this society? Are they human? Sentient? Hybrid? What is the total population?
16. Did these people evolve on this planet or did they come from elsewhere?
17.What historical events have taken place within your society's past? How have these affected and shaped your civilization?
18. What are the rules and customs of your society? What is normal and accepted? Where do they draw the line? How does this influence how people deal with each other normally and during conflicts?
19. How does your society enforce these rules and customs? Are there committees? Judges and juries? A tribunal or court? What are the consequences for not following them?
20. Describe the overall "feel" of your culture. What do they value most?
21. What types of food/drinks are the norm? How do they consume them? Does this change regionally? What about during holidays? Are there substances that alter the mind?
22. What type of clothing do people wear? Why? Does it change for certain rituals, holidays, or events? What was in style this year? Last year? How do people wear their hair? Makeup? How do they show their wealth? Are there gender differences?
23. What sort of artwork are they famous for? How do they make it? Do they have written works? Performed works?
24. What type of music do they play? What sort of instruments do they use? At what sort of events do they play?
25. What is the education system like? What age range does it encompass? Who does the teaching? What do they teach and why? Is education available to everyone or only certain groups? Is the population literate or illiterate at large? What are schools like? Are there different ones based on different types of skills?
26. What sort of religious practices do people adhere to? What do these ritual practices look like? What purpose do they serve? (Control, security, appeasing an entity, etc)
27. What traditions, myths, legends, and superstitions exist? How do they influence your culture? How are they passed down?
28. What sources of entertainment does your society have? Are there different types? Explain.
29. What languages do your people speak? Are there any language barriers?
30. How do your people express themselves? What common mannerisms, customs, fashions, etc do they use?
31. What kind of architecture is your city/town/village made up of? Is it purely functional or is it decorative? What does it look like? Is it uniform throughout or does it differ due to social status/wealth? Where do most people live? How do people travel?
32. What are holidays like? Describe these dates, their significance, and how they are celebrated.
33. What leisure activities exist, if any? Do these differ between classes?
34. What types of jobs exist? Do these differ between classes? Define a highly desired job versus one that no one wants.
35. Describe rituals of birth, coming-of-age ceremonies, marriage rights, and funeral rites.
36. What are the values of your society? List them in order of importance with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least.
37. What expectations exist at large? How does your society expect people to behave?
38. What gender roles are there? Describe them and how they affect each type. What is expected of each? How does this affect family life? What are families like? Who raises the children?
39. What are the ethical and moral codes of your society?
40. How does your society view life and death? How does your society handle sickness, injuries, healing?
41. What manners/etiquette do they exhibit?
42. What does spirituality look like to them? Are there varying beliefs? Does this cause friction?
43. What role does acceptance/rejection play in your society? Do people adhere to their society's rules or are there people who rebel against them? What consequences does this bring about?
44. What types of governing forces are at play in your world?
45. What type of government do they have? (Monarchy, Democracy, etc.)
46. What is the social climate like? Do people like or dislike their governing force? Are they happy or do they live in fear?
48 Is there a social power or hierarchy? Does classism or racism play a role? How big is the wealth gap? Is there any social mobility? How is wealth displayed/viewed?
49. What positive or negative reinforcement does your governing force use to control their population? How are criminals punished? Is there a police force? Slavery?
50. What currencies are there and how are they used? If not money, then is there a barter system or some other practice?
51. How do industry and trade operate? Are their labor unions or guilds? How do you become a member? What are the benefits/disadvantages? Is trade widespread? What resources are gained/traded?
52. How much influence do your religions have over your population?
53. How does scientific thinking play into your societal issues? Does this clash with religious views?
54. If you have magic, who controls it? Do they use it to gain or hold onto power?
55. What is the military situation? What types of forces are there? What conflicts are currently going on? What is the cause of these wars and what effects on society do they have?
56. How technologically advanced is your society? Is technology available to everyone or just those in power? What effect has these developments had overall on your society?
57. What natural forces are at work in your universe? Is it possible for natural challenges or disasters to occur? Define which types happen in different areas.
58. Are there paranormal forces? If so, what are they and how do they manifest? How do people view them?
59. Are there divine influences in your universe? If so, who are they, what are their motivations, and how do they get what they want?
60. Is your society a growing society or are they already established? Define its struggles and strengths.
61. Is there a need for social reform? If there is, then what form does it take? Is it violent or peaceful? Who leads these rebels or protesters? What are they trying to reform?
62. If your society is at it's birth, what are the unique challenges it faces in order to succeed?
63. If your society is on the verge of collapse, or has already been destroyed, how did it happen? How does this change things for the population at large? How is the governing force coping?
Languages and customs
64. How many languages are there?
65. What do people speak the most? Is there a primary language?
66. How do people greet each other?
67. What gestures are considered "rude"? What topics of conversation are considered taboo or controversial and vice versa?
68. How do they curse?
69. What social titles or courtesies are used? (Think Mr./Mrs.)
70. What is considered a sign of respect?
71. What actions are considered to be a social faux pas?
72. How do people eat their food? With their hands or utensils? In groups or alone?
73. How do people behave in small social gatherings? Does this change for large ones?
74. Does magic exist? If so, who can use it?
75. What type of magic is it? Are there multiple types?
76. What can it do? What can it not do?
77. What is the source?
78. How is the magic performed?
79. Is it accessible to all or only a few?
80. Is it a source of power for the governing force? Or something dangerous to be controlled?
81. Are there magical creatures? What role do they play, if any?
82. To what extent is magic learned versus being innate?
83. Is there a range in magical skill level? Who are the most powerful? The weakest?
84. What is the cost of using magic?
85. Does it require any tools, rituals, props, etc?
86. Are there restrictions that are required in order to use magic? (think fasting, celibacy, etc)
87. Can magic be combined to gain more strength?
88. What defeats or cancels out this magic?
89. How does the population at large view magic? Is it respected? Feared? Coveted?
90. Is magic legal or illegal?
91. Is it something done openly or is it kept secret?
92. Does everyone know about magic or only some people?
93. What is magic generally used for? How can it be misused?
94. Do people believe in a god or deity? Are there multiple beings being worshiped? If so, why are they held on a pedestal? What are they known for?
95. To what extent are they able to manipulate the world around them? Do they need a chosen one or can they influence the universe directly?
96. Are they a ruling force and if so to what extent are they worshiped?
97. How are they viewed by the general masses? Are they feared? loved?
98. Do they require sacrifices or offerings for their aid?
99. Who do they help? Who do they consider their enemies?
100. Are there more than one religions?
101. What is the relationship between religion and the governing force?
102. How do people worship? Are props required? Who leads these practices? What are the criteria for becoming a religious leader/member?
103. Where do people worship? Temples? Churches? Outdoors?
104. Is religion illegal or legal?
105. Is it done openly or in secret?
And there you have it folks! The complete guide to worldbuilding. Hopefully this will help you forge your way through the unknowns of your world to create a landscape that not only enhances your stories, but one that makes readers want to engulf themselves into your adventure.