“How to organize my worldbuilding” is a question we’ve all tried to answer. Bad organization makes you lose time, and sometimes even lose your content. And while organizing can seem like a chore at first, it’s more than worth it in the long run. So let’s look at five tips to organize your world that will save you time!
1. How to organize my worldbuilding? Choose the perfect tool!
Organizing your worldbuilding in a clear and structured way has a ton of advantages! If everything is tidily organized, you’ll find what you’re looking for way quicker, which will save you tons of time. This means that you’ll have more time to run your campaign, write your novel, or just have fun worldbuilding! “But I already have a perfect system to organize my worldbuilding in my 1000-page word document (crashes all the time and is impossible to navigate)!”, I hear you say. Well, it’s true that everybody has their favorite tools, but specialized worldbuilding tools have a bunch of features that generic word processors can’t compare to! They’re literally built to support the art of worldbuilding and that has its advantages.
For example, in a specialized worldbuilding tool, you can find features like easy categorization, interactive charts (like family trees and diplomacy webs), interactive maps, and a powerful search that makes sure you never lose anything! World Anvil is currently the most complete worldbuilding software on the market, and an industry standard with over 1,500,000 users organizing, storing and showcasing world on the platform.
2. Come up with your world’s category tree
So, now that you have a worldbuilding toolset, it’s time to put it to good use. Start by deciding how you’ll split your infinite word document into smaller chunks — this will be your category tree! There are some general categories that you’ll need to organize your worldbuilding – for most people that may include Regions, Plants and Animals, and Cultures. But all worlds are different, so consider what’s important in your setting when you start organizing your worldbuilding into categories.
For example, if your world has a big focus on factions and intrigue, you’ll want several categories for different kinds of organizations and characters. Other parts of the world that are less relevant will go to more generic categories (such as a “Species” category for all kinds of creatures). This is not only useful for organizing but also to keep a good perspective of what matters in your world!
Don’t know what’s the most important thing in your world? Use your world meta (and if you don’t have one yet, what are you waiting for?)
After coming up with the category tree, start creating articles. Each article is about a single element of your world, such as a city, a character, a faction, and so on. You may find that a good collection of worldbuilding templates helps you go about creating your world, and remembering what you need to add where!
Then, as you create your articles, make sure you put them under the proper category and you’ll never lose an article again! Speaking about articles, having a good structure is also about organizing the contents of each individual article, so let’s take a quick look at how you can do it.
3. “Organize my worldbuilding” also includes each individual article!
Yes, organization is not just about grouping articles together. The articles themselves should also be well-organized, especially if they’re long! Imagine having to read a four-page long, unformatted text-block just to find a small detail you forgot… and you’ll see why internal organization matters too.
So, start the article with a short introduction that summarizes the article’s content—it shouldn’t be longer than one paragraph! Then, divide the rest of the content into sections, avoiding long paragraphs and sections with more than 300-500 words. This will help to keep your article less overwhelming and easier for you to reference quickly. On World Anvil, you can also use the sidebar to display short-form data (such as character age or city population). If you’re not sure how you should structure your article, take a look at Wikipedia! Look up an article on a similar topic to the one you’re writing and mimic its format.
Finally, there are some small details you can add that will make navigating through the article a breeze. An article table of contents at the top will let you quickly find the section you’re looking for, and, especially if you’re sharing your world with your players or readers, adding parent articles will help with navigation too.
4. Use visual elements to break up the text
Visuals are extremely helpful to represent and understand complex information very quickly—after all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a diagram worth? This includes quote blocks, maps, family trees, diplomacy webs, organization charts… anything! Instead of having a wordy paragraph (or several wordy paragraphs) full of years and names explaining the relationship between family members, you can just have a fancy interactive family tree showing the same information in a much clearer way. Graphics help you better remember and reference your own content and, if you share it with other people, they’ll be quick to understand it too. Again, this is something that a good worldbuilding software, like World Anvil, should offer you as an option.
Of course, visuals aren’t just useful for organizing. They break up the text, which in turn makes your article more digestible. This will improve your efficiency when scanning through an article, and it will also make the article more attractive to potential readers!
5. Treat your world as a story
This last tip is especially important if you want to share your world with others (like the players of your DnD campaign or the readers of your novel). Most don’t enjoy the dry Wikipedia style, after all. So, on top of using the tips above, make sure that the world is structured in a way that welcomes new readers. Start with an introductory article that will help your readers understand the summary of the world and its themes. Then, make sure to include clear directions on what to read after that. And make sure each article has clear “read more” buttons so your readers know where to go next!
Finally, don’t forget about your world’s homepage! It’s like the cover of a book, and we all judge books by their covers (even if we shouldn’t!). Your homepage should have short and easy paragraphs, a very clear structure, and links that take readers where they need to go. If you’re looking for examples of great world wiki homepages, check out Dark-Fall and Cathedris, both of which have won awards!
To organize your worldbuilding, join over 1,500,000 million users on World Anvil – the award-winning worldbuilding platform. Whatever you’re worldbuilding for, World Anvil has all the tools you’ll need to organize your worldbuilding, keep it private, or share it with the world!
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