Alright, so lets talk a bit more about world building. In the previous part, in which I hilariously had two very similar topics, we went over the basics and things to keep in mind before getting into this. That out of the way, why don't we go a bit more in depth into this world of yours and see what it is like. For easiness sake we are going to focus on building 1 world for a fantasy type setting, the steps are easily muted over to a Sci-Fi or Space/Multi Planet setting.
Step 1: The Overview
Alright, so you have your setting, you know the technological 'when' of the world, the kind of world you want to make, and the other basic information like if you have multiple races or not. So, lets start off by getting all of that down on paper. Grab a notebook (for some reason I've found I plan better with cheap notebooks that I can work in better than anything else), your computer, or whatever you like to work with and get some basic thoughts down on the world. Name the countries, name the races, write down where they each live. When you're done you should have a page covered with some loose scribbled notes about the world. From here you're ready to really get down to work.
Using your notebook, or a computer, write down a short summary of your world. This is where you are actually beginning to flesh out your world, and while you're not going to get down everything, or even everything you know or want in the world, someone should be able to read this document and get a good sense for how your world functions. In my experience, this document will probably end up being anywhere from 5-10 pages long, and will include information on a number of subjects, though there are some things you should make sure to focus on.
#1 Give yourself a paragraph or three to go over the history of the world. You don't need to go into detail but talk a bit about it and the recent events, or big events you may want to flesh out later. Are there regular wars? What kind of wars? How long ago was the last big war? Is everything peaceful right now? Or are things gearing up for another war?
#2 Give a paragraph or two for each of the races that are in your world. Name the race, and give some basic information on them. Where they live, how they live, how long they live. Are they war like? Peaceful? Scholars? Scientists? Do they live at a lower or higher technology level than the rest of society? Do they keep to themselves or are more open to the other races? Any particular enemies or friends?
#3 Another paragraph or two for each of the countries that are in your world, this means you'll be going back over some of the information given in races, but more focused on the country they represent this time. Are there multiple Kingdoms/Countries per race? Are any of them regularly at war? Strange types of government? More or less war like than the others? Which one is the largest? Which is the oldest? Which is the richest? Strongest military? Set down the country and their defining strength/weakness in this. If you're writing a story, make a note for yourself about which main character lives here (if any), or where your game will begin.
#4 How are wars fought in this world? Are they line up your armies and shoot like in the 17 and 1800s? Or are they closer to modern day? Is technology closer to High Fantasy making wars more like in the movies? If it is high fantasy, how does magic effect war?
#5 Speaking of magic, how does magic work in this world? How prevalent is it? Is it a slow affair requiring hours of ritual to get even the smallest thing done? Or is it like in D&D where with a few seconds and some strange components a lone mage can flash-fry an entire army in their armor? How common are magic users for that matter? How powerful are they generally considered to be?
#6 Are there other organizations out there aside from the Countries? Perhaps a free city, not quite a country but definitely something to be reckoned with? An order of mercenaries famous the world round but paying tribute to no one place? What about the mages? Are they segregated by country? Or do they have a neutral tower somewhere? Give each one a paragraph to describe them.
#7 Talk about the gods your world has, if there are lots of them, mention that but give a bit of detail into the big ones. If there is a prime god, given them a bit more detail. But in general inform anyone who reads the document about the important parts about the gods in your world.
#8 Finally, are there any other strange locations or special landmarks in your world? Mention them, give them a few sentences of description so you can go back to them later
After you have all of this done, look it over. You've essentially just built yourself a world. You don't have all the details down by any means, but you've put the large rocks into the jar, your foundations are more or less set.
Part 3 will go into an example template for defining your races, though for now I think I've rambled enough on this.