Developing your story world is a journey. There are so many facets, details, and threads to sort through in order to provide the best tabletop RPG experience for the players.
Today’s Worldbuilding Monday post is all about how to use what inspires you to pave the road of that journey – and learn to love each step of the process along the way.
Becoming In-Tune With Your Inspiration
Inspiration certainly isn’t an exact science. I hesitate to even call it an art form. But inspiration is certainly crucial; without it, your world does not get to flourish and evolve. For some, inspiration is akin to how a sculptor treats a beautiful block of marble. The world is already there, you’re just carving and manipulating the stone to where it was always meant to be. And for others, it’s a blank canvas, with each burst of inspiration like sections of an elegant tapestry which unfold and intertwine over time.
So naturally, what inspires a worldbuilder can be totally different from one to the other. Perhaps it’s images, names, music, sounds, movies, games, architecture, conversation…anything really. Whether you’re that “sculptor” or “painter” – or something totally different – what’s important is the degree to which you’re in-tune with the source of your inspiration. Is it music? Art? Dialog? Start to really pay attention to those moments when the creative juices are really flowing – and what precipitated them to get you going.
To put it another way: inspiration is the fuel of the vehicle which fleshes out your story world. And you just need to be adept at finding the charging/gas station.
Keeping a Inspiration Journal/Notebook
To that end, the next few times you feel inspired – and aspects of your story world naturally get brought to life in your mind! – write down not just what those new and exciting developments are, but how they came to exist. Were you listening to a specific song? Having a discussion with a friend? Watching a specific scene in a movie? Seeing a piece of art? Watching a sunrise?
As these notes build on one another they form an inspiration journal of sorts. And over time, you’ll start to see patterns emerge – and you’ll become more in-tune with your creative process. Worldbuilders who have a strong connection to the forces which inspire them typically have a greater degree of control over their flow. Which, in turn, helps productivity and overall satisfaction with the state of the story world.
If music inspires you, you’ll be able to build playlists to get you what you need. If it’s nature, you can saturate your computer with imagery and/or plan trips to be a part of the great outdoors. And if it’s art, you can search online or visit museums. Whatever it is, just being on the trail of even one of your inspiration sources can have a hugely positive impact on the worldbuilder’s creative process.
So, worldbuilders: keep that inspiration journal. You’ll be glad you did!