BlogThe Writing ProcessGreatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created: Our Top 10

Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created: Our Top 10

Kathy Edens
Copywriter, ghostwriter, and content strategy specialist
Published Jul 21, 2020

world-building101

In our latest ebook, World-Building 101: How to Construct an Unforgettable Universe for Your Fantasy or Sci-Fi Story, we delve into the top 10 fictional worlds ever created to see what they can tell us about crafting our own fantastic universes.

The following article is a chapter from World-Building 101 to give you a taste of what you'll find in the book!


So you want to create a compelling world, but you’re not sure where to start? Looking for inspiration from some of the most-loved and most famous worlds can help. We’ve compiled ten examples to inspire your own world-building efforts.

hobbiton

Contents:
  1. 1. Middle-Earth from The Lord of the Rings
  2. 2. Narnia from The Chronicles of Narnia
  3. 3. Westeros from A Game of Thrones
  4. 4. The Unnamed Land in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time
  5. 5. The Land of Oz from The Wizard of Oz
  6. 6. Dinotopia by James Gurney
  7. 7. Earthsea from A Wizard of Earthsea
  8. 8. Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series
  9. 9. Wonderland from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  10. 10. Neverland from Peter Pan
  11. Get Out There and Build Your World!

1. Middle-Earth from The Lord of the Rings

Perhaps the most famous fictional world, Middle-Earth has everything from the wise and immortal elves to barbaric savages and a dark overlord who wants to rule them all.

2. Narnia from The Chronicles of Narnia

Narnia is an epic world full of fantastic creatures and fierce battles between good and evil. Just like Middle-Earth, Narnia has risen above the fantasy genre to find itself firmly lodged in classic literature. Narnia is a land where magic meets reality, one that has drawn in young and old alike over the past decades.

As a writer, you can take lessons from Narnia: think about whether your world will have a moral theme or what kind of battleground might be needed.

3. Westeros from A Game of Thrones

Thanks to the wildly popular television series, fans and non-fantasy-fiction fans alike love George R. R. Martin’s epic tales set in Westeros. However, Westeros is only one part of the sprawling fictional world created by Martin.

Because of its firm grounding in historical lore, Westeros feels entirely real. Is there a period from history that you feel passionate about that can feed into your world?

4. The Unnamed Land in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time

Fans of Robert Jordan call the world he has created Randland, after one of the main characters, Rand Al’thor. Full of various nations, each with a rich and distinct history, Randland feels authentic because it’s inspired by real cultures around the globe. Based on a mix of history and mythology, Randland is a compilation of cultural traits. Consider how this can affect your work: is there a lesser-known piece of culture or folklore that you can develop into a full-blown mythology?

5. The Land of Oz from The Wizard of Oz

wizardofoz

From the Munchkins to horses that change color and flying monkeys, Oz is rich with magic and witchcraft. Charming and perhaps a little oldfashioned, the land of Oz is surreal and magical, and captures one’s imagination with enchanting detail. Oz is a great example of the importance of place, as well as a show of magical surrealism.

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6. Dinotopia by James Gurney

The eponymous world of James Gurney’s novel Dinotopia is a peaceful society where humans and dinosaurs live in harmony. In fact, the dinosaurs there are sentient and can speak; they somehow avoided being wiped out like all the other dinosaurs around the world and created a haven on this remote, uninhabited island. Consider for yourself: what creatures will inhabit your new world? Will the main species be human-like, or something else in entirely?

7. Earthsea from A Wizard of Earthsea

Ursula K. Le Guin created one of the greatest sorcerers of all time, Sparrowhawk, who inhabits a world called Earthsea. Full of magic, power, dragon-taming, and more, Earthsea features thousands of islands surrounded by an uncharted ocean. People in Earthsea base their way of life on contact with the sea. Magic is a central part of life in Earthsea, except for Kargish where it is banned. What geological features will your world have? Which will be the same, which will be new, and which will be familiar but used in a different way? For example, does rain have nutritional value? Can cold be used to harness energy instead of heat?

8. Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series

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Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is truly magical. The school itself feels sentient thanks to magic that moves staircases and statues that come to life. There are dark parts to Hogwarts like the murderous centaurs, Dementors, and others, but it can also be a place of comfort to those who dwell within. What are the creatures you will use to infuse atmosphere into the world you create?

9. Wonderland from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

When young Alice tumbles down a rabbit hole, she enters an entirely different world where everything seems absurd and mind-bending. You’ll meet talking animals, magic potions, animated playing cards, a tyrannical queen, and more. What will your world look like? Will it be challenging? Confusing? Surreal?

10. Neverland from Peter Pan

With the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell the fairy, Peter Pan never has to grow up thanks to Neverland. He can fight pirates, duel Captain Hook, elude the crocodile that ticks, and fly around to his heart’s content thanks to pixie dust. Neverland is both wild and seductive, a place full of amazing adventures. Think about what your characters need from their world—and then create it!

Get Out There and Build Your World!

There are so many other fictional worlds that deserve a mention, but we don’t have room for them all. Check out Madeleine L’Engle, Suzanne Collins, Louis Lowry, and Margaret Atwood, to name a few, for more intriguing stories set in unique worlds.

Worldbuilding is one of the most exciting and challenging tasks for an author. After all, every time you create a world, you have the opportunity to build the next Narnia… or to create something that makes no sense at all.

With the information included in this eBook, you’ll have everything you need to create a compelling, engaging setting for your story. We can’t wait to visit it!

Do you want to know how to build a world your readers won't forget? Download this free book now:

World-Building 101: How to construct an unforgettable world for your fantasy or sci-Fi story!

World-Building 101: How to Construct an Unforgettable World for your Fantasy or Sci-Fi Story!

This guide is for all the writers out there who want to construct an unforgettable world that your readers can't help but get lost in!

Learn how to invent species, gods, monsters and more in our immersive guide.

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Kathy Edens
Copywriter, ghostwriter, and content strategy specialist

Kathy Edens is a blogger, a ghost writer, and content master who loves writing about anything and everything. Check out her books: The Novel-Writing Training Plan: 17 Steps to Get Your Ideas in Shape for the Marathon of Writing and Creating Legends: How to Craft Characters Readers Adore... or Despise.

The Star Wars universe where I would live as a Jedi Knight
By whitewolfknight on 10 January 2019, 04:19 AM
All of those are my favourites, Kathy. But I am already living in the land of "UMMULON"--the setting of my fantasy "Ifflepinn Island", which many readers see as a blend of Moomins, The Hobbit, Narnia and the Wizard of Oz. When it is properly discovered, I am sure it will make that wonderful list.
By gerugandalf on 10 January 2019, 01:30 PM
You can't forget Dune! That universe is amazing!
By asviloka on 10 January 2019, 11:39 PM
Pellucidar!
By israelfinnwrites on 14 January 2019, 09:40 PM
Dune (Arrakis) would also make my list
By rickisawriter on 16 January 2019, 01:31 AM
To your list and other suggestions I would also add 'Known Space' the setting of many of Larry Niven's books, and as a subset of that, I would include the Ringworld. Asimov's universe in the Foundation series is deep and rich as is the small cluster of planets and cultures in the Robot series. As with Niven these worlds ultimately align. And I am surprised no one has mentioned Terry Pratchett's Discworld.
By richard27 on 07 March 2019, 03:04 PM
Hey, I’ve just read this fascinating book on a fantasy world that is apparently taking this world by storm: https://tinyurl.com/TIOTSOL I dare you to be the same person after reading this brilliant book! It certainly made me see things differently. And it has a love story that broke my heart. And is also hilarious. GG
By geeba.grapper on 08 September 2019, 01:36 PM
I think Narnia is where I might end up living. You have good and bad and more human characteristics to deal with. Watched it years ago. I haven’t watched some of the others. I find that OZ would definitely be out. Too confusing to create a similar one. When I had my website ‘Gizmit’ I began to create a new world where Gizmit lived and while in the beginning they were more human, I plotted in an evil wizard, and various areas to the new world. I’m still working on the idea 5 years later. It is not easy to create another world different from where we live. I was therefore very pleased indeed to find your articles to be very helpful in future for my creativity. Thank You so much. Gerry
By mypurpleonion5 on 09 October 2019, 12:57 AM
If it couldn't be Middle Earth, then it would be P.E.R.N. (McCaffrey).
By jazztizz on 09 October 2019, 05:52 AM
One of the best fictional worlds for me is that created by George Orwell in 1984 - I wouldn’t want to live there though! I fancy living in the Discworld - as long as I could be a witch.
By cath_allwood on 09 October 2019, 07:25 AM
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the alternate Victorian age in His Dark Materials. I would live there, if only so I could have a daemon!
By newsom.jf on 10 October 2019, 04:22 PM
The Witcher World and The Labyrinth from Pan's Labyrinth are better than some of these. Narnia is okay but not that great. HP itself fits into a magical world and the Wizarding World is more than Hogwarts. Honestly, the Witcher World and the world of The Elder Scrolls (essentially Tamriel) are both worlds I love more than Middle Earth.
By elijahsage on 16 October 2019, 11:35 PM

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