The World-building Leviathan and a Scrivener template

My first fantasy map
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World-building is fun, especially when you start making maps!

Created by Kitty Chandler at KittySpace, the World-building Leviathan is a great method of world-building while  developing your plot. The best thing is, it’s non-genre-specific so you can use it without feeling restricted by your chosen genre.

Summary

Good for plotters and world-builders.

What’s awesome about it?

What’s not-so-awesome about it?

  • Like the Snowflake method, you need a rough idea/outline of your story going in
  • There’s no kitchen sink.

The awesome stuff

With 52 steps/tasks, the Leviathan isn’t just huge, it’s comprehensive, covering such things as economics, culture, history and geography. Each step is explained, in detail, so you know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how it follows on from the previous step.

At the end of the process, you should have a comprehensive world/story-bible.

From step one, the Leviathan has you developing your story alongside your world. This helps to keep you from going off on tangents that, while fun, are extraneous to your story.

I like this focussed approach for two reasons:

  1. Efficiency. Eventually, I want to be writing two books a year, and efficiency = productivity = two books a year
  2. Developing the plot alongside the world offers the opportunity to integrate/bounce ideas of the two, creating a richer story that makes full use of the weird and exciting things in its world.

The not-so-awesome stuff

If you’re looking to build your world first and create your story second, find another method. Although you could use the Leviathan in this fashion, there are other methods more suited to the task, such as the 30 Days of World-building Exercises and Patricia C. Wrede’s fantasy world-building questions.

Ditto, if you have a concept or idea but no plot (rough outline or otherwise), you might find yourself a little stuck.

The Leviathan is fantastic as a general world-building tool but lacks specifics. It will suit any genre, but because of that, it doesn’t include steps for things like the laws of magic, the mechanics of space travel or a bestiary. These, you will have to add yourself (or wait for me to get around to creating templates – frankly, you’d be better off doing it yourself, I could take eons).

Goodies

Interesting links

17 thoughts on “The World-building Leviathan and a Scrivener template”

  1. This is truly amazing! I’ve just skimmed it, but I’ve been looking for a good way to organize all of my random worldbuilding notes in Scrivener. This seems perfect, thank you!

    1. My pleasure, although I can only take credit for the Scrivener part, Kitty Chandler did all of the hard work, creating the questions 🙂

      If possible, I’d look forward to knowing your thoughts on the Leviathan when you have some time to play with it.

  2. I downloaded the Scrivener file and the Scrivener template but neither of them would open, or come up with anything but a blind link when I imported them. I have a sneaking suspicion you might be using Mac and I am using Windows…?

    1. Hi Catherine,

      The files should work, irrespective of your operating system. Have you tried importing the template using the instructions from “How to open a Scrivener template“? If that doesn’t work, you could try downloading the files again (sometimes they’re corrupted) or I can email them to you.

  3. I just started playing with Scrivener and found this immensely helpful. Thanks! Currently, I have a couple hundred windows folders organizing my 5-book epic fantasy world, and am working on condensing twelve years of work. This should help!

  4. Hi, I stumbled upon your site, while I was searching for a “snowflake like” method for worldbuilding. You have my gratitude.

    Scrivener template is also pretty good, I’m gonna give it a try with my new story.

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