When it comes to worldbuilding, writers need tools. From clothing to cartography, we all know that the more we understand about our fictional world, the better our worlds develop. But how can you do this without falling down the research black hole? How do you know if your information is accurate? Well, I have a few helpful online tools for you!
Is your world historic? Perhaps it is a steampunk world with Victorian England influences? With Google’s Ngram Viewer, finding out how popular a word was is just a click away. It’s a quick and simple way to find out if that word you’re unsure about was used in the time period you wish to emanate.
That’s not all. Interested in constructing your own language or an “artlang” as they’re called when used for entertainment purposes? Or do you want to find the right language to use for that culture? A great online database for your linguistic needs is Lexicity. With a small selection of core languages, you can learn more with their resource links than a haphazard Google query.
You want your fantasy characters to have a certain Greek feel to them or accurate or you want to know what military uniforms looked over the years? Check out the OSF Costume Rental website. That may sound like a weird suggestion, but they pride themselves on accuracy. If there’s something you want to make sure is as accurate as possible for a period piece because it affects a character. While their supplies are limited, and therefore they don’t cover everything, it’s a good place to start.
Pinterest, while not being known for its accuracy, can be great for inspiration. While screenwriters don’t usually need to know in detail what their character is wearing since that is the costume department’s job, it helps to know details. Especially if you are creating a whole new world. The details may not enter the script but being able to see them as you write can help with the movement of the scenes.
This website is great for lots of different research from architecture to technology, but it takes some great willpower to not get sucked in. Make sure your thirst for inspiration doesn’t impede your writing!
One of the first things I like to do when creating a new world or civilization is to map it out. Each time, this results in crumpled paper and frustration. There’s a reason I’m a writer and not a visual artist. Instead of commissioning someone online (unless that’s something you want to do), try WorldAnvil. You just need to create an account and use their templates to create your world. While it still takes artistic skill, it makes it ten times easier than paper and pencil.
Good with tech and drawing? Try Microsoft Sketchup. There’s a free trial where you can see if it’s a good fit for you or not (I can barely draw on paper so it wasn’t a good fit for me), but it allows you to create 3D models. Want to build the basic structure of your sci-fi city? Need to see the layout of the fantasy castle? This is the tool for you if you really like to get into details and accuracy.
While these tools are great for worldbuilding, there are so many cool online tools out there to help writers! Want to see some more? Check out this article I made with some of the most popular ones.
Keep on writing!
Beverly Peders is a Screenwriting graduate from Drexel University. She loves all visual writing mediums and has experience in writing plays, comic books, screenplays, TV sitcoms, and video games. World building is her favorite and she obsesses over anthropology and linguistics. In her spare time, you may find her trying to get over her fear of heights at a rock wall or adopting yet another plant because she can’t afford an actual pet.