you're reading...
Singapore Lit, Writing Tips

AYAM CURTAIN: My take on worldbuilding

And Basic Things to Remember

When June asked me to write a blog post about worldbuilding, I was quite surprised, because I am not an authority on worldbuilding. Seriously, there are tons of worldbuilding articles and blog posts that are far better than my meagre knowledge of the subject. I did conduct a workshop (Worldbuilding Workshop 101, mind!) – but I have a bad feeling people would laugh when I start talking about it.

Now, let’s get down to business, shall we?

What is worldbuilding? Simply put, it is creating your own world.  This concept is big in the genre fiction community, but I think it also applies to contemporary or even historical fiction.

Creating your own world is fun, scary and downright exhilarating. For me, a gardener and an occasional goldfish admirer, worldbuilding is something like that. Building a world that people or things can live in, breathe, eat, have… You get the idea.


I am a firm believer in logic. Worldbuilding is based on an inherent logic. Your world/land must exist with certain basics in mind; it must operate on certain principles and beliefs. Likewise, the land must not exist out of nothing. Be it a fire world or a world completely based on the worship of water, your worldbuilding must have a reason (or reasons). Using the aquarium as an example, you have to make sure that the water is clean, the fish are fed and of course, the various relationships and pecking order(s) established. Sometimes, it is sad to watch the sucker fish die. And there is always a reason behind it. Is there too much algae? Is the sucker fish bullied to death by the other denizens of the fish tank? (And why must it be a sucker fish?)


Related is landscape. I might be biased, because I garden and the landscape plays an important part in… everything. The landscape is intricately tied to the climate and in turn, the people and their belief systems. The landscape provides vital points for memory,  embeds itself in the psychic/inner landscapes of its people and bears fruit – say – in the creation of its myths and legends. What the people absorb into their bodies and feel the earth (or air or water or…) is reflected in their society, their politics and hierarchical structures.


It is okay to make mistakes. Worldbuilding – your worldbuilding – needs not be perfect (although some people might argue that). Mistakes in your worldbuilding are salient points for learning. Tell yourself that mistakes are normal and that it is important to keep learning, keep reading and keep an open mind. Create a library, go to the library – and always ask questions.

So, there you go. Not the earth-shaking revelations you’d wanted – but only my thoughts regarding worldbuilding.

Go, have fun. Go create!

This post is the part of a series planned in conjunction with our open call for The Ayam Curtain. More posts to come anchor contributors Dave Chua and Judith Huang.




  1. Pingback: So I talked about Worldbuilding « A Wolf's Tale - April 30, 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: