What is Worldbuilding? And Why is It Important in Ghostwritten Books?

This insightful book was written by Kristin E. Smith, M.A. and Mark Graham Communications.

At Mark Graham Communications, our clients tend to fall into two camps: the pragmatic and the dreamers. Our pragmatic clients have specific information (business-related, personal, and/or set within concrete space and time) that they want to share with readers. Their ghostwritten books are platforms for getting that information into the hands of a particular audience.

The dreamers are different. Often, they have a fantastic, entirely made-up narrative that they’re itching to tell. Many of them have created a fictional world inside their minds, a world they cannot stop thinking about. This world might include specific locales, characters, and events. Perhaps it somewhat resembles our actual world, or perhaps it’s completely dissimilar. Either way, the world “speaks” to a dreamer, whispering in the dreamer’s ears that its story must be told.

This process is called worldbuilding. The term has become widespread in recent years, but worldbuilding as a concept likely dates as far back as 1516, when Sir Thomas More penned Utopia. Generally considered the realm of fantasy and science fiction, worldbuilding now goes beyond books to media such as movies, video games, and roleplaying games. It’s not unusual for the author of a “worldbuilt” novel to aspire to expanding their world beyond a single book – into a series and/or other media.

When a client with an idea for a novel set in another realm comes to us, they often bring copious notes about their world. They have likely already done (or at least begun) the hard work of figuring out the world’s environment, culture, history, and laws. They may have characters in mind for the world, and/or a particular conflict within the world that they want to share with readers.

Why, then, wouldn’t such an author simply write their own novel? They’ve already done the work of creating the world. Why would they decide to work with a ghostwriter?

The reasons are many and varied. Often, our worldbuilding clients – our “dreamers” – have thorough ideas about their world but do not have the time and/or skills to turn those ideas into a full-fledged novel. They may need guidance about creating compelling conflict and satisfying resolution. They might want assistance with developing characters who are (possibly) not human in form and yet are relatable to human readers, generating empathy and a desire to learn more about the world and its inhabitants.

A ghostwriter brings these skills to the table. Working closely with the author-client, the ghostwriter’s job is to take the client’s notes about their world, ideas for story and characters, and concepts for expanding the world beyond one book, and turn these into a viable, engaging first novel. The client – now an author with their name on the cover of their book – can build on the platform of the first completed book to work with the ghostwriter to add to the series, pitch their world to creators of other media, and expand the world as their audience grows.

Perhaps this sounds easy. We won’t mince words: it isn’t. Worldbuilding, working with a ghostwriter to create a first novel, then potentially a series, takes time and dedication. Finding an audience for the story, expanding the world, and adding to the series are no small tasks.

But the dreamers – those who hear that persistent whisper in their ears – are undaunted by the idea. They’re eager to share their world with an audience, grow their readership, and create excitement about the fantastical world that, thus far, has existed only inside their heads.

Are you a dreamer? Do you have a world you want to share? If so, please contact us. We’re excited to learn about your world – and we want to help you bring it to life!