Whether a world can be believed, grounds it between the line of fantasy and realism. You need both to make them come alive, too much of one or the other would not work well.
It will make your world look rather unrealistic, or look as though it has no real light in it. That is what it is. Fantasy represents the lighter side, the more happier ones. While the reality is often something grim, something that we know.
Many want to buy into a world for its fantasy, but without the reality it only seems a little too good to be true. While the reality without any fantasy, is just one that is too nihilistic for us.
So, it’s a balance. It can lean to one or the other, but it must have both elements represented in the story. Otherwise, it will fall apart. And here to me, are some ways to ensure that.
#1 Have Consequences
Consequences are the most important part of world building. There needs to be rules and consequences must happen when they are broken.
And in its own way, can create some of the best conflict there is. Have them struggle to break any, have them face the prices of their actions. This can make the world difficult and also at the same time, make things a lot more interesting.
At least to see where they can go from there, or fix an already terrible situation.
#2 Paint A Complex Picture
Complexity can come in many forms. Things may not be what they seem, and that is the core. It is going deeper and explaining why perhaps some things are the way they are.
Or show many differing viewpoints. They should never be complex because they are, but because it fits the plots or the characters.
Life is in shades of grey, and nothing is straightforward. Or rather we assume it to be so but it never is.
#3 Create Characters With Differing Viewpoints
The most important one. Having characters who each have their own personalities also translate to their thoughts. Every character should not be doing things one way, but one which is somewhat unique to them with only some similarities.
And of course, have different people come together. Results often vary based on the characters who are interacting, their back story and just who the are. That’s just how it is.
Characters can add a lot more depth to the story, especially if they are all different in their own way.
To me, here are some way to make a more believable world.