Randy Ellefson


Author and world building strategist Randy Ellefson has written fantasy fiction and created fictional worlds since the 1980s. In addition to authoring the most detailed world building books available, he's the founder and lead instructor at World Building University, blogs regularly on the subject, and hosts a popular podcast. The Writer's of the Future contest has recognized his writing three times.

He has a Bachelor’s of Music in classical guitar but has always been more of a rocker, having released several albums and earned endorsements from music companies.

A professional software architect, he has worked for NASA, the State Department, and White House, and run a successful consulting firm in the Washington D.C. area. He loves spending time with his son and daughter when not writing, making music, or playing golf.

Smashwords Interview

When did you first start writing?
In my teens, when I first started creating Llurien, the setting I've been building for 30 years now. I was more into world building than writing originally, partly because I really disliked my writing.
What is your writing process?
I plan just about everything and like to know how a story ends (and why) before writing, partly so I can foreshadow events or add irony. I tend to write dialogue into my outlines so I know the core of every scene. This also helps me know my characters. After writing, I let a story sit so I see it with fresh eyes later. Then it gets edited by me before beta-readers give it the once over, I make changes, and then it's off to my editor. I make changes based on that and finally order a print proof copy, where I do the final proofreading and make final changes. Then it's done!
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Randy Ellefson online


The Art of World Building
The Complete Art of World Building is a detailed guide to creating a fictitious setting, from the planet down to the blades of grass. It includes chapters on creating maps, cities, nations, cultures, military groups, history, plants, animals, species, gods, monsters, undead, the supernatural, a system of magic, magic items, famous artifacts and more. The book includes downloadable templates and discusses how much of each item to create, why, and approaches to doing so. While Ellefson has built a new world for each story as authors often do, he has also spent over twenty-five years building a single world. He shares his experiences, lessons learned, and insights into the process. Included are discussions on how much of your creations can realistically be mentioned during storytelling, how far authors should go, and what the benefits and risks to each approach might be. Practical, philosophical, and personal, the guide is a worthwhile read even for those who decide after reading it that they don't want to build worlds after all.


Creating Places - The Podcast Transcripts
Series: The Art of World Building. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 86,060. Language: English. Published: July 9, 2019. Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Publishing & books, Nonfiction » Reference » Publishing & books
Sixteen episode transcriptions of the Art of World Building Podcast cover how to invent planets, continents, sovereign powers, settlements, history, maps, and how latitude, prevailing winds, and mountains affect climate and where vegetation grows. Learn how long it takes to travel over different terrain types and conditions. Build better, faster.
Creating Life - The Podcast Transcripts
Series: The Art of World Building. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 69,230. Language: English. Published: May 28, 2019. Categories: Nonfiction » Reference » Writing skills, Nonfiction » Reference » Publishing & books
World building strategist Randy Ellefson turned his successful book series, THE ART OF WORLD BUILDING, into a popular podcast of the same name, with episodes drawn from each book in the series. The transcripts of 15 episodes are collected here. The episodes discuss gods, species/races, plants, animals, monsters, heroes, villains, and even undead.

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