Ever feel stuck with your worldbuilding? World Meta is a one-way ticket to getting unstuck, whether at the beginning, the middle, or the end of your worldbuilding project! Let’s take a look at what it is and how you can use it to your advantage!
What is world meta?
The world meta is everything about your world that isn’t actually part of the world itself. It’s the behind-the-scenes stuff on which you base your project —which means that it has a HUGE impact on your world! It includes several elements:
- Scope: why are you building this world? And what’s unique about it? Make sure you know what you want to get out of your world and you’ll be more motivated to write!
- Theme: what’s your world’s genre, and how does it feel from a reader or player’s point of view? It’s all about consistency!
- Focus: the main areas you’ll develop. It’s important to pick just a few to start with, to avoid having your worldbuilding all over the place!
- Drama: what’s going on in your world right now? Any wars, discovered planets, or maybe new magics? The real world is in constant change, and yours should be too!
- Scene: this is the foundation of your world, its natural laws, origins, geography, and size. The core of your worldbuilding content!
- People: who used to live in your world, and who is living in it now? Adding lost civilizations is a great and easy way to add tons of depth to your world’s history.
- Inspiration: any external stuff that inspires you, such as images and music. It’s mood board time!
Now, this might all sound very abstract, but it’s worth it, trust me! If you don’t have this meta information for your world, its different elements will start feeling disconnected. And, eventually, you’ll lose focus and motivation. And you don’t want that! Focus and motivation are what keeps us on track, after all.
How do you come up with the world meta?
Well, glad you asked! You’ll have to think about how you want your world to be in regard to the concepts above. But you know what the good news is? World Anvil makes worldbuilding a breeze, and this is no exception! The new world meta feature not only lets you integrate this meta-information with your World Anvil project, but it also walks you through the process. It’s divided into prompts to break up the text, and it has great examples for each and every part! You can also display this information publicly to your readers, but this is completely optional!
Getting to the world meta page is simple. Just find the “i” icon at the bottom of the left sidebar, click it, and you’re all set for this new meta adventure!
If you want to see an example of a meta page on World Anvil, take a look at SolatCat02’s Fillimet one! It’s concise but goes deep into each section, giving you a clear image of what this world is like!
How the World Meta can help your worldbuilding!
Of course, the purpose of having a solid world meta is to help you! Here are some tips to use it both in the planning phase of a project and during the writing phase too!
How it helps in the beginning
When you start a new project it’s easy to get carried away with details before actually deciding what the world will be like on a grander scale! Here are three reasons why you need to work on the meta right from the start!
Why are you building this world? This is an essential question you have to ask yourself from the get-go! At the beginning of a project you’ll probably be motivated already, but we have to think long-term here! Are you worldbuilding for a book, or for an RPG? Depending on the goals of your project, and what you want to get out of it, you’ll need a different approach.
Consistency is key to improve your worldbuilding! Make sure you lay out the foundations of your world. This includes any natural laws that work differently (such as magic or different planet properties), but also the feeling you want your world to have. Is your world gritty and grim, like Game of Thrones, or is it noble like The Lord of the Rings? This will completely change the way you write!
When you start a new project, you may feel that you’re already inspired —and you probably are! But inspiration doesn’t last forever, so having a pool of inspirational resources will come in handy. Use pictures, art, music, films, book… anything that gets you in the mood for your world!
How it helps during the project
Of course, the world meta is of no use if you just forget about it after writing it! Here are three more ways the meta will help you through the whole worldbuilding process:
Well, I’ll tell you what, your World Meta will solve most of your inspiration problems! Because you already decided what you want to focus on and what’s going on in the world, you just have to expand on this information! Think of it as a snowflake. You start with the basic lines, and then you zoom in and start going deeper, but you’re not creating from scratch —you’re just developing what’s already there!
Have you ever found yourself writing about happy rainbow unicorns living in a gritty, dark, apocalyptic world? Yeah, me too! But if you go back to your world meta from time to time, you’ll constantly be reminded that your world is supposed to be scary! And then you’ll be able to write about angry zombie unicorns instead. That’s how you get consistency! When you’re not sure if something fits your world, check the meta —and if it doesn’t, remove it!
Keep your Scope under control
The Scope defines what are the limits of your project. Maybe you chose to focus on a single continent, country, or even just a city! Make sure everything you build is inside these limits, and everything will feel more connected. But sometimes you need to expand beyond that —for example, if you’re a Gamemaster, your players might decide to go beyond these limits! Make sure any scope expansions aren’t accidental. Keep checking the meta from time to time to make sure you don’t worldbuild any off-limits details before you’re ready to open up that area of the project!
Agile Worldbuilding is the ultimate worldbuilding method!
All of this comes from the Agile Worldbuilding method, by Janet and Dimitris, the founders of World Anvil! It’s a worldbuilding method designed to be fast, efficient, and fun! I can’t recommend this method enough, so make sure you check out the Agile Worldbuilding video on our YouTube channel. There’s also a very exciting book in the works… so keep an eye out for that!
Have you tried using world meta? If you haven’t, make sure you have a free World Anvil account to use this amazing feature!