WorldAnvil for Fantasy Writing – In a World of My Own

Review of WorldAnvil for Fantasy Writing - How I use their World Building tools.

He’s in a world of his own” was a phrase my parents used for (usually) kids who seem to be daydreaming. Yet for the best part of 2½ years, that has described me, anytime I’ve not been in a game’s world or having to deal with the actual world I live in! Over that time maps, drawings, short stories, character bios and world lore have emerged from my “daydreaming”. With a generally poor attention span and terrible memory, the result of this has been mess. With files all over the place, it’s a wonder that I’ve managed to get an initial draft of book one done! It was in this mess that a friend referred me to WorldAnvil, a world-building tool they themselves did not use, but thought would be a good fit for me. Here’s my review of my WorldAnvil journey so far!

This is an honest review I wanted to write! I do not benefit in anyway by you clicking links to WorldAnvil in this post. Except for feeling nervous about you visiting my world. I meant “excited”, yep.

What I am Writing

To anyone either not in my Twitter/Patreon/Ko-Fi following, you may not even realise that I am writing something not related to gaming! I am, in fact, writing the first of a series of fantasy novels which I’m calling the Chronicles of Qal’ath. The first main storyline will cover at least books one and two, hopefully into book three depending on how my characters’ journeys go before then.

My Author Pseudonym

I am caught in weird scenario with writing like this. My “real life” people don’t know about my FibroJedi life, and my Twitter/gaming communities mostly don’t know my real name but also include my best of friends and my largest audience. I didn’t want either of those situations to change. Which led to the question of “who the heck do I write as?” Thankfully @WotV_LOTRO came up trumps with an anagram of FibroJedi: F. J. Brodie. They said that the remaining “i” would denote “the real me”. So that is my “pen name”!

World Disorganisation

Writing a story in a new world necessitates understanding that world. While I already had the “bare bones” idea and a few notes about it already, being able to write it properly wasn’t initially possible. Think about it; how can you write even a basic journey from Point A to Point B without knowing about those places and what lies between them? I had managed to start one character’s introduction to the plotline and so, from that, was able to draw regions relative to each other. But to continue, I had to not write, so I could draw the map of the area and its capital city.

Part of my first capital city map
Part of my first capital city map

A Complete Mess-Up!

Maps led to write-ups about some people groups, the founding lore, the societal disfunctions and more. By being creative in drawing, my imagination also had time and space to invent. But what I had in creativity I lacked in organisation. Information about characters and regions could be found on scraps of paper and in documents on my computer. Let’s not mention my cloud storage accounts!

So while my “Core Realm” of Qal’ath was coming together in my head, it was anything but in my personal space!

WorldAnvil to the Rescue!


How WorldAnvil Helps Me

The WorldAnvil homepage if you're not logged in.
Before talking about specific features, it would be helpful first to answer the obvious question:

What is WorldAnvil?

WorldAnvil is a website service that provides tools to writers, game designers, role-players and others in the building of unique worlds. You can also use it for FanFiction, though I’ll be keeping my LOTRO FanFiction here on my own blog! Everything from the origins of your world to tiny details like rocks or metals can be managed with their tools.

They have a free package and the paid ones scale depending on what features you actually need – and importantly, will really use. If you’re not an author, you don’t need the manuscripts feature, for example. If you’re not making an RPG game, you don’t need the stats necessary for that.


What Features Help Me Most?

There are so many features, even of the first paid package. It’s easy to, and I do, end up down proverbial rabbit holes! As I get “notification anxiety”, any system I use has to make it possible for me to focus on the task at hand. So here are the features I use regularly.

Structured Content

Everything in one place! Or, at least, it will be once I’ve finally copied everything over from my two-year mess-fest. WorldAnvil gives you some pre-set article categories, naturally. But these can be added to, removed or repurposed – and everything can be nested under parent categories. This really helps get my lore organised in a vaguely-logical way. And when you want to start a new article, you choose a category and it’s automatically in the right place. Having the content structured in this way helps me stay organised, but also helps visitors to my world’s page to navigate logically too.


Content Prompts in Templates

The deeper I’ve gone into WorldAnvil, the more I have found it to be great at “gentle nudges”. These come in the form of “extra details” about anything I am writing. For example, when creating an ethnicity, you can consider:

  • Dress Code.
  • Art and Architecture.
  • Coming of Age Rites.
  • Beauty and Gender Ideals.

Or when making a nation or location, you are prompted about different political systems (as per the screenshot to the left – or above).

These are things that I may not have thought much about. But doing so would make my writing about them richer and more immersive. And that’s how I’ve used this feature.


Interactive Maps

While you cannot create maps inside WorldAnvil yet (or if you can it’s not at my subscription level), you can upload your own maps. There are various platforms, apps and websites that can help you do this- but my limited finances have to be saved and spent carefully. Plus, I much prefer hand drawing my maps anyway! Once you have uploaded yours, what you can do is:

  • Create descriptive pins.
  • Colour code those pins.
  • Link a pin to the relevant article about that location.
  • On larger screens, you can read the related article on the map itself.
  • Link maps together: e.g. a planet map to a continent one, or a country map to a city one.

I’m still building my maps. But they will be a great tool for others to explore my world, and find out more about areas they’re interested in. Below I have an embedded map, just click/tap “Show Map” to have a looksie. Though this is probably best viewed if you’re on a tablet or larger screen.

Show Map


Super Easy Page Linking

When I am editing a page, linking to another one is really easy. Just like @ mentioning on Twitter, I can use @ and then with a few letters relating to a word in the target article. The link is then automatically created. The real beauty is when I change the title/URL of an article, other pages automatically link back correctly.

The only downside to Wiki-style is that you can link to articles not yet published, which generates “not found” errors on the front website. I’ve learned to just publish work-in-progress and put a line on it that says as much. It’s not a big hassle.


Language Dictionary

I am in the process of converting my Google Docs dictionary to a CSV so I can import it into WorldAnvil. This is because they provide the ability to create multiple languages and have a dictionary per language. This will make it much easier to find words, when I later need to create new character names, places, incantatations etc. Unfortunately I have a few hundred words to manually copy over because I chose the wrong format when I started the language!

Another Community to Introduce my World To

I’m not good with new people. Thankfully the community does not pounce you, but is there for you to tap into whenever you want to. And my first community-wide post to say “hi” was really positively received with some warm welcomes and a few follows on my world. They have competitions and featured worlds among other things to encourage you to participate, but there’s no obligation to do so. I’ve often said, I don’t mind being around other people, so long as I can choose when to interact with them. That’s how being in WorldAnvil is, and so I’m comfortable there.


Features That Will Be Useful

Without going into depth on these, there are other features that my package gives me access to that will prove very useful.

Timelines

I have started building the timeline, but it will take a lot of work. And realistically, I should be focusing on the five or so days that comprise book one! But getting events in order – and even changing when they occurred will help keep things realistic. It may also lead to some interesting intersections.

Manuscripts/Prose Articles

I don’t have access to Manuscripts because that’s a higher package than I can’t currently afford. But I could put my draft chapters up on WorldAnvil and choose to only make them available to certain people. I don’t want to put the whole book or even whole chapters up publicly anyway! But having some people there in the future to read and feedback on will be useful.

Patreon Integration

I believe what I can do on a higher package is link WorldAnvil to Patreon, more than just a button I mean. I believe other subscriptions would give my wonderful Patreon Crew exclusive access to some content on WorldAnvil Directly. Currently I can only do this by copying/pasting – which is how I do my “Early Access” Patreon perk. But to make them link together would make it more immersive and engaging for them too.


Welcome to Qal’ath in the Erdàn Savanii

Okay, so, with a deep breath, why don’t you come and have a look around what I have done so far? Erdàn Savanii is the name of the “World” and my “Core Region” is Qal’ath ikà Doon. There is a lot still to, and many of the articles are “stubs”, or placeholders. Nevertheless, have a looksie.

How WorldAnvil Has Helped My Writing

With so many features, it can be very easy to become distracted by something inside WorldAnvil! I need to keep my eyes on the current goal – completing book one of a fantasy series! But I can genuinely say that it has helped me already in a number of ways. (All links in this bullet point list go to specific places on my WorldAnvil site):

  • To make my understanding of the Wild Folk and the Wild Marshes deeper and more engaging.
  • To generally think in detail about characters and people groups. What are key events in their history, what kind of people are they, and what resources do they have access to? These are just a few items I’ve been prompted to consider.
  • Technology/Inventiveness: While I knew I would have to consider “technology” (in a loose use of the term) for book two, to get it “down” has been harder than I realised. That said, I have managed to draft a few items about this.
  • Building my Core Region Map has helped me to remember places or features that need articles writing about.
Qal'ath - the World created by FibroJedi aka F J Brodie - in WorldAnvil
Visit Qal’ath by F J Brodie →

TL;DR WorldAnvil for Fantasy Writing – Watch this Space!

I still have a long way to go – and the Journeyman package, while feature-rich, still has restrictions I’m trying to adjust to. But as I work on book one, I have already found WorldAnvil for Fantasy Writing a massively-helpful tool. I hope that by introducing you all to my world, as well as becoming connected to the WorldAnvil community, I can find the encouragement to keep going. I am grateful to my Patreon Crew who have adjusted to a “new normal” of posts being a balance of gaming and fiction writing! As I continue to build my WorldAnvil site, I will be happier to share items now. And if you’d like to get the longer pieces on Early Access, please consider supporting me via Patreon .

Many thanks,

F. J. Brodie


All my content will always be freely available. However, if you'd like to support myself and my family, please consider buying us a virtual coffee. Either way, thank you for visiting, I appreciate it!

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Fibro Jedi

A 30-something Shadow Jedi, married and have a small daughter. By that I mean "young", not just "short". I have a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia andI play LOTRO, SWTOR and FFXIV and blog about two of them. Social Media has connected me with so many people and some of those have become amazing friends too! As a hobby I am relearning drawing, which you can see on my DeviantArt profile.

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