Worldview: the summary of an individual’s personality, core beliefs, and life experiences.
Worldview is everywhere. It’s like The Matrix, only it’s real. Every person is constantly walking around with their own set of worldview glasses, filtering every piece of data and every experience through their personal lens.
Having a worldview is part of being human, along with choices, intellect, and empathy. Understanding your own worldview helps you figure out where you stand as an individual in a community. Understanding the worldviews of others builds bridges of communication and respect, regardless of individual differences.
As a reviewer, I’m passionate about discovering the heart and worldview of each story I read. It doesn’t matter if the author openly ascribes to a religion or keeps everything hidden. Every story is written by an individual with their own worldview, and that will seep into their stories. All books have a message, even if that message is “life is short, so have fun” or “cool-looking guys with muscles don’t have to obey traffic laws.”
Speculative fiction, even more so than other genres, allows for strong worldviews, because the authors have such power over the scope of their characters and world-building. It is truly a place of creative possibilities, and I enjoy diving into them with every book I read.
What about writers? How does worldview relate to them?
5 Reasons Writers Need to Care About Worldview
1.) Understanding different worldviews and the cultures that hold them can deepen world-building. I go into this in World-Building From the Inside Out.
2.) Understanding the different worldviews of individuals can make character motivations stronger, character interactions more intense, and character ensembles more diverse. I go into this in my upcoming book, Character-Building From the Inside Out.
3.) Understanding personal worldview can give a writer insight and control over how their worldview is displayed in their writing. I’m a major fan of opposing worldviews in fiction and a fan of writers stepping outside of their comfort zones to write from different perspectives.
4.) Understanding clashes in worldview can create powerful conflicts that produce strong, relevant plots (yes, an book about this is coming).
5.) Understanding different worldviews can offer opportunities to insert humor into writing–because as often as worldview/cultural clashes lead to conflict, they can also lead to some pretty funny scenarios (consider movies like Outsourced or the Rush Hour series).
Need a quick reference for deepening worldview in your cultures? Check out these free World-Building Resources.
Not sure how to start with worldview in relation your own story? I offer worldview and world-building coaching sessions and consultations, as well as nonfiction help.
Want to add some worldview to your writers conference or retreat? See Teaching Services.