TCWT: Worldbuilding and WNDB

The TCWT blog chain, by John over at Teens Can Write, Too!, explores a different question each month, and for January, it's:

What is something you feel is generally written well in fiction? What is something you feel is generally written poorly?

I ran out of clever headlines, so let's get right to it:

Written well: worldbuilding

I rarely fail to get absolutely sucked into fictional worlds. Or even fictional depictions of our world. There is obviously the ultimate worldbuilding master, Tolkien, wherein Middle-earth is mind-bogglingly complicated, but I honestly rarely read books where the worldbuilding was shallow that it detracted the story.

Some of my favourite worlds, other than LotR: A Song of Ice and Fire, the Night Circus, His Dark Materials, the Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Gates of Thread and Stone. Goodness me, I spent weeks after finishing them just imagining the entire world and searching for fanart and aargh.

Written poorly: diversity

This is actually improving by a lot - the rise of movements like #WeNeedDiverseBooks has led to much more awareness on this issue. Whether as writers or readers, I feel we should keep in mind the importance of diverse representation. As an Asian (which, I admit, is technically not a minority), it makes me really happy to see Asian characters.
But one of the things I wish would be more prevalent is diversity in setting. When I was starting my writing life, I couldn't figure out for the life of me why the worldbuilding sucked. And it's because I based my stories off other books I read - set in America or Western Europe - while living in an Asian city. I wish so desperately we could see stories set not just in the West, but also in Asia. And not just our capitals, our ports. 

Showcase Chongqing, Tianjin, Chang'an, those forgotten cities. Adventure novels that span Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand. And other faraway places - Africa and South America and Eastern Europe deserve much, much more attention.

What are some of the things you find written well or poorly? Any books with diverse representation you'd like to recommend? If you're in the chain, do drop a URL and date so I'll remember to come by! And don't forget to check out all the other lovely posts:



  1. Oh yes, world building is often done very well in books, which can totally be blamed on the dreaded world builder disease (it's fun until you realize that what you're really doing is procrastinating). There also needs to be more diversity, but luckily like you said, authors are becoming more aware of the diversity issue and writing more diverse books.

    1. Mmm, that could be it. But really, so many premises are so well done - we can have massive epic fantasy sets like ASOIAF or the urban fantasy type like The Archived. And I'm really happy to say that of my Internet writer friends, I think roughly half of them are racially diverse, so I have great hopes for representation in the future!

  2. Diversity in books would be awesome. And not just in having more Asians etc, but in the countries books are set in. I don't know about other people, (and I have nothing against America), but I kind of get sick of picking up American, high school/collage dramas.

    Just my thoughts! :)

    1. YES. I totally have that feeling too. It's just like picking up another book and, "damn this is still in the States or the UK". I realise these are the most prominent English-speaking countries around, but I really wish we could read more books set in different countries, in faraway places. Thanks so much for reading!

  3. Worldbuilding does work out super well, now that I think about it! I always get those very vivid stories that don't seem to take place in this world, and yet they're never so hard to believe. And I feel like diversity is another big topic many others have talked about this month. It's hard to relate, just because I am not a minority in any way, shape, or form, but I definitely agree that we need to start getting some other characters on the scene. It's good for me to get out of my comfort zone, even if I don't like it that much to start.

    1. Indeed! There are so many resources out there in worldbuilding. Diversity is still a budding thing in literary circles, but I'm seeing so many more diverse characters. Still looking for those diverse settings, though!


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