Realizing Your World with Gwenda Bond

Let your story build a world readers won’t want to leave.

Your Instructor: Gwenda Bond, author of Girl On A Wire and Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 16 students

Price: $325

Class Description

World-building is an essential skill for all writers, but especially those working with science fiction and fantasy. Most world-building discussions start with a million questions designed to help writers think through the various aspects of a new world, but don’t those questions need at least some focus to be useful? Often, when writers start with those nitty gritty questions they end up stuck in the weeds or with extremely well-developed worlds but no story to tell in them. Questions about the climate, the economy, history and geography, how people dress, and social mores can be one starting point, but so can defining the key elements of the story and then proceeding to the world. World-building itself isn’t the story; it exists to enable the story. In this class, we’ll discuss story-first world-building and explore craft techniques that will make your world feel real. This is a different approach that can help focus your story while also creating a fully fleshed-out world for your readers to inhabit. 

Class will include a Zoom hangout session for discussion and questions.
Participants may have a short story or novel excerpt or concept already prepared when enrolling or develop one as they work through exercises as the class progresses.
REALIZING YOUR WORLD is taught by Gwenda Bond, the New York Times bestselling author of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds, the first official Stranger Things novel. Her novels for young adults and children include the Lois Lane and Cirque American trilogies, and the Supernormal Sleuthing Service series co-written with her husband Christopher Rowe. She also created Dead Air, a serialized mystery and scripted podcast written with Carrie Ryan and Rachel Caine. Her next books are two fantasy romantic comedies for adults, Not Your Average Hot Guy and The Date from Hell, forthcoming from St. Martin’s Griffin.

Her nonfiction writing has appeared in Publishers Weekly, Locus Magazine, Salon, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. She has an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

What This Class Covers


What is world-building for? Why does it matter? Why is it worth thinking and talking about? How can you use it to make your work better? We’ll define what world-building is, cover the basics and the risks of getting bogged down in details before the story idea exists. What is the story world? It’s the place or space the reader inhabits while they’re in the story. It’s bigger than setting and crucial to the success of all types of writing.

*There will be a handout and short lecture and writing assignment for this class.


Have you struggled to make your world and characters come together to feel real and tell your story? In this session, we’ll dig into the idea of story-first world-building starting with who the story will be about. The world of your story is intimately entwined with the character(s) and how they experience it. The more interdependent these elements are, the more successfully the reader will inhabit the story. We’ll walk through a new set of questions and techniques for plotting your story and developing your world in tandem by beginning to focus on your characters.

*There will be a handout and short lecture and writing assignment for this class.


At this point, you’ll have begun to come up with a character and envision the story they might feature in. This week, we move on to the crucial step of fleshing out the world they inhabit. We’ll go through a number of questions and methods of asking and answering questions in a way that hopefully begins to identify a central conflict and how your character(s) fit into the world you are creating. Some details will fall away and more important ones will emerge.

*There will be a handout and short lecture and writing assignment for this class.


For our final class, we’ll be reviewing the key points of what we’ve learned about story-first world-building and cover some craft techniques that will allow you to show off your world to greatest effect for your story (and some pitfalls to avoid). We’ll discuss the worlds you’ve developed over the last four weeks and what you might do with them.

*There will be a handout and short lecture, suggested reading, and writing assignment for this class.

Goals Of This Class

• Learn about world-building and why it’s crucial to successful storytelling
• Explore story-first world-building, in which the world-building exists to support the story you want to tell
• Leave class with a deeper understanding of how to approach world-building to support a story and interweave the details seamlessly
• Get help brainstorming and developing a world and/or learning these skills from your peers and a bestselling author

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