6 Best World Building Books You Ought To Read (In 2024)

By: Rafal Reyzer
Updated: Jan 23rd, 2024

best world building books - featured image

Do you have a novel or story idea that takes place in an imaginary world?

Do you want to (but don’t know where to start) create a map of the land and name all the kingdoms, cities, rivers, and mountains? Are you looking for a way to make up myths and legends about how these places came into existence and the creatures who built them? How about figuring out what the people are like, how they live their lives, and what kinds of creatures inhabit the land? If these sound like something you want to do, but they feel too daunting and complex, then you need one of the best world-building books to help you get started!

Here’s a List of the Best World Building Books:

1. How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy

By: Orson Scott Card

how to write science fiction & fantasy

In How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, bestselling author Orson Scott Card tells aspiring writers just what they need to know for writing in this genre. These 176 pages contain all the knowledge you need to approach world-building projects properly and create the backbone for your next novel, story, or series. How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy will get you ready to craft a riveting story – by telling you everything you need to know about how to structure, how to create convincing imagery, what to pay attention to when building your setting, and how to enjoy the process! He even touches upon finding your market and getting published. How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy is a book where Orson Scott Card gives insight into key aspects of writing, whether that’s creating a brand new world or within an established setting. Learn how to create intricate worlds, along with many other secrets of the writer’s craft. This book offers you all the information necessary to craft a successful science fiction and fantasy story.

2. The Planet Construction Kit

By: Mark Rosenfelder

the planet construction kit - best world building books

This is a great resource for anyone looking to create their world from scratch, and it also comes with a companion volume – The Language Construction Kit. Within its 376 pages, this book has it all. It talks about all the elements that you’ll need to use to come up with your language and culture. The Planet Construction Kit provides you with information on everything from creating geology, creatures and monsters, religions, tech, and wars, and also includes crucial information on creating your world’s maps, illustrations, and 3D models! The feature that sets this book apart from other world-building manuals is its inclusion of many cultures. Mark Rosenfelder includes examples from many diverse cultures, making his book uniquely non-Eurocentric.

3. Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding

By: Scott Hungerford, Jeff Grubb, Janna Silverstein

the kobold guide to world building

Join eleven of fantasy’s brightest minds in Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding, a compact, 124-page book with plenty of wits that will tell you about everything you need to build believable and interesting fictional worlds. This book is published by Kobold Press, an American RPG game company that was commissioned by Wizards of the Coast to create world-famous official adventures for D&D 5th edition. While most of the contributors to the book come from the world of gaming, the book is designed for two audiences: RPG game GMs (or other types of game creators) and fantasy and science fiction writers who are working on novels and short stories. The book talks about all segments of world-building, including making and understanding maps, creating religions, crafting conflicts, plotting mysteries, and much, much more. With this Kobold title, you’ll have everything you need to set up your next gaming campaign or create an entirely new world for your novel from scratch! The book has come together thanks to the expertise and talents of some of the world’s top designers – all RPG industry veterans, including Scott Hungerford, Jeff Grubb, Janna Silverstein, Wolfgang Baur, and many others.

4. The Ultimate RPG Game Master’s Worldbuilding Guide

By: James D’Amato

the ultimate RPG gamemaster's world building guide

The Ultimate RPG Game Master’s Worldbuilding Guide is a 272-page guide on world-building for RPG game masters – but it’s also incredibly helpful to any other creative who needs to deal with creating intricate worlds. James D’Amato, a famous author in the RPG world, walks GMs through building cool places, designing items of power, and crafting memorable characters in this extensive world-building guide. He created many interactive games, exercises, and activities that can make world-building easier and more fun. In the end, they can all turn into an endless amount of adventures for your readers (or players). The book offers strategies for crafting dynamic destinations, interesting weapons, or mysteries your readers will love to go back to years (or decades) later. The instructions and exercises in this book can be used to create worlds across many genres: from post-apocalyptic kingdoms ruled by machines to wild horrors happening on the mysterious island in the middle of the lake, this book can help fantasy, sci-fi, x-punk, horror, and many other genre writers create their next masterpiece.

5. The Only World Building Workbook You’ll Ever Need: Your New Setting Bible

By: T.M. Holladay

world building workbook

A world-building manual for everything you need to create a fully realized and believable imaginary world! This book is full of helpful prompts that will guide your creative process, no matter the setting. If you’re tired of your world setting feeling static and boring, this is the book for you. Packed with prompts to jumpstart story ideas, The Only World Building Workbook You’ll Ever Need will make coming up with a creative new setting seem like a breeze. This workbook includes prompts on building your world’s geography, weather, time, physics, economy, history, government, family and social structure, technology, arts and entertainment, and religion. But, along with those commonly addressed topics, The Only World Building Workbook You’ll Ever Need also includes prompts on education, food and culinary culture, appearance, clothing, and hygiene (all of which most books leave out). Discover the perfect mix of civilizations or decide what educational system is best for your new society. Find out who has power in your kingdom and why they are successful. Plan where quakes might happen, how many languages people speak if there are any mountains nearby, and more! This manual will help you cover everything about your fictive world without being too tedious or heavy-handed.

6. Creating Life (The Art of World Building)

By: Randy Ellefson

creating life - the art of world building

Randy Ellefson has put together an invaluable and informative instructional book series for all fantasy writers. Creating Life (The Art of World Building) is the first book of the series that will change the way you approach writing forever. This practical, step-by-step guide walks readers through how to write believable fiction, whether it is a single novel or an epic series like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Written with humor, warmth, and many real examples he explains difficult concepts such as gods’ roles in our lives simply, but without oversimplifying them. Randy Ellefson offers advice on creating creatures, cultures, and entire civilizations from scratch for your worlds inhabited by both humans and non-humans alike. With chapters on deities, species/races, plants, animals – and even undead – this book drawn on the author’s quarter-century experience will make sure your world will take shape beautifully. Lest these magical world-building books enter your spirit and subsume your soul under a withering sky of your forgotten dreams. Next up, you may want to explore a list of the top fantasy book publishers.

Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time entrepreneur building two companies, a digital marketer, and a content creator with 10+ years of experience. I started RafalReyzer.com to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient digital marketer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Explore my journey here, and don't miss out on my AI Marketing Mastery online course.