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About The Importance of world Building

I've heard a lot of discussion about whether or not it is more important to build realistic worlds or have an intriguing plot
1. Which is more important, world building or plot?

2. If you could only do one, which would you do?

3. What is the best word building you have seen?

4. what is the best Plot you have seen?

Thanks in advance for the advice!


Fiery Keeper of the Hat
I hate to be that guy who ducks the question, and the obvious answer is of course the plot. But in my opinion, if you do your worldbuilding correctly, then you should end up with a plot that cannot really happen in any other setting. Harry Potter can’t go around finding Voldemort’s horcruxes without the world which made that possible.

There’s a lot of good worlds and plots out there. For a world I’m going with Order of the Stick. It’s a webcomic loosely based on D&D but the characters know they have game rules, and storytelling rules, and webcomic rules that are on par with physics for them (and there are no players). The meta dynamic of their world makes for some amazing humor and plot points, even while the setting itself is run of the mill. It really shows how much you can mess with things that feel familiar to make something amazing.

For plot I’ll go with Harry Potter because it’s both simple and complex and does everything a good plot should, escalating the conflict and holding out reveals until the very end. It follows all the rules of a good plot structure pretty well which makes it a good one to study.


The setting is only the stage for a plot to play out on. You can have great stories with very little worldbuilding or a lot, but no amount of worldbuilding can replace plot. Setting is not a story.

When it comes to books, I can't actually think of any that have exceptionally good worldbuilding. There are a few that I like aesthetically, but even those aren't anything impressive structurally.
Same goes for plots, really. Plots are rarely impressive on their own. It's all in the presentation.

Insolent Lad

I consider the setting to be another character in the story. I will develop it — world build, if you will — the same as the other characters. They all interact. And I consider the characters to be the most important and interesting part of any fiction. The plot is just to give them something to do while we explore who they are.


toujours gai, archie
Neither. Story is most important. Everything else are contributing factors. I can't remember ever saying "I just read the best worldbuilding!" or "I just read the best plot!"

But I have often said "I just read the best story!"

And lest you think I've dodged the question, both worldbuilding and plot contribute to the story. In what proportions? That will vary from one story to another and even from one scene to another. The question is one of those that either has no answer or has so many answers as to bring one back to where one started.

Could I ask why the question was posed in the first place?