4 quick tips for setting up a new world on World Anvil

In this blog post I’m going to show you my best 4 quick tips for setting up a new world on World Anvil. It’s super easy, and super fun! Here’s what I’ll be covering:

  1. Basic configuration and set up
  2. Speedy category & timeline structure
  3. How to effectively use placeholder images & articles
  4. Making an engaging landing page

(Mobile users, this is an image heavy post.)

As always, the TL;DR is at the bottom of this post if you need a quick reminder!

1. Basic configuration and set up

Once you’ve made your free account or logged into World Anvil, you will be able to create your new world! Pick a name for your setting and add a little intro (don’t worry on this too much as you can change them later, you can even call it “Test World”).

Once you’ve completed this step, you can view your new world and dive straight into making new articles! As tempting as this may be, I like to set up a good framework to flesh out so that I have places to put things once I’ve made them.

Here’s what the world looks like at this stage, super empty! Next I moved on to the configuration settings of my world and made sure I had checked all of the features out.

I made sure to link in my social profiles, and enabled the White Label features (available to Sage tier guild members) – this is a super nice bonus feature that will make my world look extra clean and professional by removing the official World Anvil header & footer from my world. It means I can make my world look like its own website!

Next I’ll make sure to select any relevant RPG systems, but my world is for an art book & novel, so this doesn’t apply to me, however I can add in the Generic system to give me access to extra features (and even the ability to make my own custom stuff, also available to Sage tier guild members). I’m not going to worry too much about that now, so I’ve added in my genres: Dark Fantasy, Science Fantasy, Victorian. This will help other people to discover my world in the community. As a guild member on the site I can also set myself a nifty wordcount goal rather than tracking it in another app or document!! Setting a goal is a fantastic motivator for more worldbuilding, so I’ve set a small and manageable target for myself.

Last but not least, I will set up my subscriber groups. What are these? Well, anyone can follow your world, but subscribers get access to bonus content like private articles hidden from the public, or hidden secrets that have extra lore or author’s notes that only certain subscriber groups can see! This is a guild feature and I’ve set these groups up to match up with my Patreon rewards.

2. Speedy category & timeline structure

Setting up your categories in advance makes it SO MUCH EASIER to keep your world tidy and your articles easily accessible! I like to break down my categories into sections of: large locations, small locations, traditions, people, technology and religions. These starting points are easy to set up and you can drag & drop them into place on the category screen.

Here’s how things are looking now, you can also see the linked social media profiles have shown up too from the main configuration of the world!

Now, onto timelines:

In the world configuration settings you can set the current year, month and day (if known) in your world. This comes in to play when you declare the birth date or death date of characters, for example, and it will automatically display how old they are.

I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with timeline creation. I get really bogged down with it, it takes me ages, and it holds me back from getting on with my worldbuilding. So, I set up a Trello board with some rough columns for each 100 years of recent(ish) history. I did some quick research relating to my setting and borrowed my favourite historical events as a starting point. No names or anything literally stuff like “on this date, a big bridge was built” or “some person did a crime and it got the nation’s attention”. I dragged and dropped them into a rough order ready to copy across into my world.

As you can see there’s little to no information on these events, but it gives me a fantastic framework to work on with my worldbuilding. I can delete and adjust these as required, and it gives me inspiration for what to write next.

3. How to effectively use placeholder images & articles

WRITE FASTER WITH THIS TRICK.

Have you ever got caught up with trying to make your articles look nice? It frequently slows down my worldbuilding when I really need to be getting the writing done! By using placeholder images and articles you can really concentrate on what matters most: content.

Here’s how I go about it. In the images section of your world, set up a new gallery called “placeholders” (don’t worry, it might not be visible until you upload an image and put it in there, this feature will get some love in a future update on the site).

Create some placeholder images of varying sizes and make sure they’re nice and plain so they don’t distract you when writing. I put the dimensions on the images themselves so I know what to swap them in with later. Upload the image(s) and then put them in the Placeholder gallery so they’re tidy and easy to find.

Like so!

These will come into play in the next section:

4. Making an engaging landing page

One of the most (if not the most) important parts of your world is the home page. This is where people will visit your world and navigate through it, so you want it to be:

  • engaging
  • easy to navigate
  • quick (short) & easy to read

Think about what people want and need to know when they are visiting your world:

  • what is it about?
  • what genre is it?
  • where do I start reading?

I covered some great tips about this in my previous post about Planning a New World if you need some more ideas!

I decided to cover the points above briefly and I wanted two places for visitors to check out: an Introduction article and a sales pitch article. I’m just going to add the placeholders for now:

After creating the article (either public or private) you can select the block link of the article and paste it into the world vignette (on the world configuration settings).

I’ve used BBCode columns to make a nice layout here, I’ve kept it short and engaging and I’ve used those placeholder images, too to see how it looks!

This is a great start and I’m really happy with the progress, so the last step for me is to make it look even shinier with my own custom CSS theme and add in my own images.

As a gulid member on World Anvil you can either make your own or use some pre-made themes. If you’re looking for some extras, I’ve got good news for you because at the time of writing I have just released the first of many themes right here on the blog! Check them out here!

TL;DR (Summary)

So here’s the Too Long; Didn’t Read summary for those of you coming back for a refresher on 4 quick tips for setting up a new world on World Anvil:

(I broke it down into smaller steps here for clarity, I promise I can count. Really.)

  1. go through all of the world configuration settings and tweak things to your liking (don’t forget to set an in-world current date!)
  2. make categories in advance and drag & drop them into place. it will come in handy to have a place to put all of your worldbuilding articles later
  3. don’t get caught up on details on your first timeline, just get the basics down and finetune it later. consider using Trello to quickly get ideas sorted.
  4. add a gallery of placeholder images to slap in articles when you don’t have the right artwork ready yet. it’s great for quick layouts and helps you to concentrate on writing.
  5. use article blocks in your layouts to help guide users to what to read next
  6. make sure your homepage is: short, sweet, engaging, and easy to navigate.

Which of these 4 quick tips for setting up a new world on World Anvil did you find the most useful? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

You can check out how my world is doing now over at: https://www.worldanvil.com/w/Melior

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