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Creating Life (The Art of World Building, #1)

Creating Life (The Art of World Building, #1)

4.3 Stars, 226 Amazon Ratings (as of 1/2024)

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Creating a unique, immersive setting one life form at a time.

CREATING LIFE (THE ART OF WORLD BUILDING, #1) is a detailed how-to guide on inventing the heart of every imaginary world – life. With chapters on creating gods, species/races, plants, animals, monsters, heroes, villains, and even undead, it draws on the author’s quarter century of world building experience. Pointed questions, and an examination of answers and their repercussions, will help readers decide on goals, how to reach them, and whether they are even worth pursuing. Always practical, Creating Life will quickly improve the skills of beginners and experts alike, making a time-consuming project more fun, easier, faster, and skillfully done.

Unlike other world building guides, the series discusses how to use your inventions in stories while balancing narrative flow with the need for explaining your world. Tailored examples illustrate this. Extensive, culled research on life forms is provided to classify and understand options without overwhelming world builders with extraneous details.

Storytellers, game designers, gamers, and hobbyists will benefit from seven free templates that can be downloaded and reused. CREATING LIFE will help your setting stand out from the multitude of fantasy and science fiction worlds audiences see. THE ART OF WORLD BUILDING is the only multi-volume series of its kind and is three times the length, depth, and breadth of other guides.

Audio Book Sample

Narrated by Randy Ellefson.

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Editorial Reviews

Endorsement from Bestselling Author Piers Anthony

"I read Creating Life (The Art of World Building, #1), by Randy Ellefson...It is exhaustive, well written, and knowledgeable...I, as a successful science fiction and fantasy writer, have generated many worlds, so this material is familiar, but it would have been easier and probably better had I had a reference like this. It is realistic, recognizing that the average writer may not have the patience to work out all the details before getting into the action..."

Endorsement from Ed Greenwood, inventor of The Forgotten Realms and dozens of imaginary worlds

"Worldbuilding—creating a fictional setting—is THE biggest job of a storyteller. It can be done badly or minimally, but doing so risks robbing a tale of richness and impact, by leaving the audience uncaring or making “the stakes” less clear or dramatic.

So, after “once upon a time,” where to begin this devastatingly big job? With CREATING LIFE by Randy Ellefson, even the first volume of which is THOROUGH. This book raises ALL the points, and asks all the questions. Not just recommended: essential!"

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Table of Contents


  1. Introduction
  2. Where to Start
  3. About Me
  4. Free Book
  5. Disclaimers
  6. The Chapters
  7. Templates and Newsletter

Chapter 1 - Why Build a World?

  1. Why Build a World?
  2. Using Analogues
  3. How Many Worlds?
  4. A Caveat
  5. A Question of Depth
  6. The Problem of Exposition
  7. The Value of Influences

Chapter 2 - Creating Gods

  1. Creating Gods
  2. In Science Fiction
  3. In Fantasy
  4. Pantheons
  5. Mythology
  6. Characteristics
  7. Behavior
  8. Where to Start

Chapter 3 - Creating a Species

  1. Creating a Species
  2. Species or Race?
  3. Should You Create Your Own Species?
  4. Habitat
  5. Disposition
  6. Appearance
  7. Gods
  8. Characteristics
  9. Worldview
  10. Relationships
  11. Supernatural
  12. Technology
  13. Combat
  14. The Value of Influences
  15. Where to Start

Chapter 4 - Creating World Figures

  1. Types
  2. Fame
  3. Dead or Alive
  4. Possessions
  5. Steeds and Ships
  6. Relationships
  7. History
  8. Where to Start

Chapter 5 - Creating Monsters

  1. Creating Monsters
  2. Defining Monster
  3. Origins
  4. Habitat
  5. Motivation
  6. Characteristics
  7. Where to Start

Chapter 6 - Creating Plants and Animals

  1. Should You Create Plants and Animals?
  2. Plants
  3. Animals
  4. Purpose
  5. Where to Start

Chapter 7 - Creating Undead

  1. Creating Undead
  2. Should You Create Undead?
  3. The Mind
  4. Classification
  5. Numbers
  6. Prerequisites and Prevention
  7. Time Dead
  8. Origins
  9. Goals
  10. Appearance
  11. Traits
  12. Death
  13. Where to Start

Appendices - The Templates

  1. God
  2. Species
  3. World Figures
  4. Monster
  5. Plants
  6. Animals
  7. Undead

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