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One of the major oversights of the worldbuilding process is that worldbuilders tunneled their focus on the story at hand, which usually means making things up as they go.

I can't afford that. How can I build a world without ACTUALLY building the world? In reality, the world comes before the story. It's that simple.

That said, finding online forums on the biggest pictures of worldbuilding--geography, geology, astronomy, climatology, meteorology, biology, ecology, glaciology, paleoclimatology, atmospheric chemistry, geodesy, paleogeography, biogeography, oceanography--has proven to be very tedious with very few rewards. It is crucial for me that before I make any embellishments set in my fictional world, I need to create a believable alternate Earth FIRST. (Magic, fantasy and mythology count as embellishments.)

Do you know any discussion forums online that allow hard-science on speculative scenarios regarding any of the science disciplines listed above?

  • No. But I have to challenge your notion that the world comes before the story. If your pleasure is in world building rather than storytelling that fine. But if your interest is in storytelling, the world is merely a stage on which the story takes place. Like a movie set, it it all false fronts made of paint and cardboard. It need only be convincing enough and consistent enough that the reader does not feel cheated by any part of the plot or character that depends on the world. And frankly, this is not usually a lot. Look past Tolkien and consider Lewis for a moment. – Mark Baker Aug 9 '16 at 18:52
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    You already seem to have an account on worldbuilding stackexchange. Anything you feel is wrong about it? – Philipp Aug 9 '16 at 19:57
  • In real life, the world came before the story. Why shouldn't worldbuilding come before storytelling? – JohnWDailey Aug 9 '16 at 20:11
  • @Philipp Here's what I've got from the Physics Forum: physicsforums.com/conversations/general-warning.95718 Also, two of the choices have no discussion forums. – JohnWDailey Aug 9 '16 at 20:13
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    Why shouldn't extreme world-building come before story telling? Because >99% of all species that ever evolved are now extinct. Do you really need to map them all out before telling the story of a shy and lonely shepherd boy? – paulzag Aug 10 '16 at 4:55
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You can start at:

https://www.cartographersguild.com/

They have lots of info on map making and the geography and what not that goes into it.

After that, look for resources used by role playing game designers. I don't have anything specific, but if it's a fantasy world, look at Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master resources. For sci-fi, you can look at Shadowrun and the like. Game design has a lot of the same requirements and can definitely point you in the right direction.

Personally, I only do the world building required to cover the story I'm telling. Magic system, local geography, sociological considerations to avoid the "all elves are the same" and what not. Throw in enough history to get your characters they need to be.

I've not seen anyone (other than Tolkien) go that deep into the world build. If that's where you enjoy creating though, then absolutely go wild!

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Seriously, you aren't aware of worldbuilding.stackexchange? You can tag questions with "hard science" if you want answers with citations, or just "science based" or "reality-check". I've found it very helpful, for example, when I wanted an answer about the climate of my world map.

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