How to Use Fake News Logic to Worldbuilding

If you asked me my best worldbuilding tip, I would tell you to use fake news to worldbuilding.

What?? What does it mean? Fake news?


Do you know that news that is factually incorrect but it seems logical, it could be perfectly real, you believe in it, you can even tell everybody you know through Twitter about the “fact”.

For example:

Scientists have discovered that Green Tea makes you smarter.

It has a chemical property that makes your neurons work faster and enhances its connections.

Oh, WOW!

You share it with everybody you know, you start drinking green tea believing in this.

And turns out that this is something that I’ve just invented.

Did it sound real?

It probably did, unless you are a scientist expert in green tea.

Let’s try it again:

I’ve found this on online:

Image result for fake facts

This is fake, but UberFacts believed in it and tweeted about it.

I honestly would believe in it. Iron is a chemical element that we have in our blood. Iron can be magnetic. Pandas behave weirdly, they could go North.

Here is the truth though:

The source for these is this site here.

Would you believe it? I think you could say that it can be improbable, but unless you went to look further into it, you would say something like: Oh, really? All right. In the worst situation possible, you would tell everybody you know. If anybody asked for the source, you would say: I read online (or I read on research online).

This has a reason for it:

If it sounds factually correct, we can’t be bothered to look for the source of information or research ourselves.

If it has a bit of a true sound to it, we will believe in it.

I think this is even truer for our modern world.

We receive billions of information per day at an incredible speed. We won’t stop to check all the information we get. Some of it sticks in our brains and we have no idea where it came from. Maybe you’ve learned from school, maybe it was from Twitter, who knows? You can reproduce it even so.

Also, this is even worse if we hear from someone you trust, even if it’s a Youtuber opinion. You trust them, you have no idea if they researched that or not, but if they are saying, then it must be true.

Imagine what an author could do, then.

Why are you saying all that about fake news and facts?

Because this is key to worldbuilding.
 Have you ever read a story that you thought: this is so unlikely. It would NEVER happen like this. I don’t believe in this.

Even if it’s fantasy, we still think like humans. So, when we read a story, we will analyze it as we would analyze a real narrative.

It can be completely made up but still have a sense of logic that makes you think: this could really happen. This is real. This works.

Alternatively, you can also say that it makes no sense,  it looks poorly developed like things don’t connect together, elements are lost.

How do I prevent my book of looking poorly developed?

I will teach you the secret, there you go:

The key is to give them a kind of logic that could happen. It is perfectly plausible. Like the examples above. The only problem is that, in real life, the facts are wrong. Things don’t work like that. It wouldn’t happen.

But in your world, it can.

Step by step technique:

1- Figure out what you want to work out in your world. People flying, buildings made of candy that people can live in, giants ants, anything.

2- Think about the elements behind that logic.

For example, I will explain something that I used in my real book:

The characters needed to travel through the woods but carrying a lot of thinks for them to survive. I didn’t want them to have bags full of stuff. So, I gave them bracelets where the things would be stored. But how?

I thought things could shrink and be absorbed into the bracelet.

If I only told you that, you would think: “Pfff, stupid, this can’t happen”.

But then, I gave this explanation:

“These cubes have an aura code, like a genetic code, of the thing they will turn into. Just apply aura and they expand.”

Aura is the energy I use in the book.

So, if the character use aura in the cube, it has a code, like a genetic code, and it will expand.

“Like when throwing water on something dehydrated, the cube swelled and increased.”

When you throw dehydrated things on water, it does exactly that: swell and increase.

Because of the code in the cube, it will turn into the thing. In this example, it was a huge hyena-mount.

It makes MUCH more sense now. (At least I think it does)

Why? Because this could happen in real life if you could extract the DNA into cubes that, when applied the right energy, it increased, swelled, and became the real thing. Kind of with dehydrated food.

3- Compare with a metaphor that exists and happens in real life and it’s factually correct

Just like with the dehydrated food, so they can paint the image in their heads.

I’m going to invent an example here right now to illustrate further:

I’ve thought about a good one. You have different types of arms. They each get enchanted with a different element but, for that, they need a different colored kind of fire (that you only find in certain places). Why?

Because just like in real life, different elements are melted and activated in different temperatures. For example, the fusion point of copper is 1983F and Magnesium is 1200 F (source, this website here).

In the same way, your invented element A from your sword A needs blue fire from the Mountains, while your invented element B from your arch B needs dark fire from the Dungeons. (Please invent great fantasy names, like Earrfloryd Sword), (I just typed a bunch of keys together to get that name)

This is actually a good idea, you can use it if you want.

What I did is: if these swords, these different colors of fire, and these elements existed in real life, it would make sense, because it happens with the real Earth elements and their different fusion points.

It would be much better if you explain this to your readers than you just saying: the swords need different types of colorful fires to be molded.

They would think: why though?

The secret is the correct logic but that wouldn’t really happen because the facts don’t work this way.

For example, in my book, I used this several times. My book has another world. The creatures can’t pass from a world to the other. Why not?

This was the answer:

“The energy on Earth is much lower than that of Maëy and Siila. So, it’s as a saltwater fish that can’t live in fresh water.” If the creatures pass from a world to the other, they die.

Another example, you’re writing about carnivore plants that live in the dark of a goth tunnel, I don’t know.

It’s very dark there and they grow in the dark.

Plants don’t grow in the dark in real life because they need the sun to photosynthesis

But these do, do you know why? They are black, so they absorb all the darkness in the place. Instead of reflecting the green and needing the sun then, they reflect the blackness and need the dark.

Does it make sense? Yes. Does it work like this? No. But can you picture this:

Did you know that black plants can live in the dark and don’t photosites?

There’s a species called Bothanylecutilisdark found by a scientist in Bali.

They use a substance in their leaves that allow them to reflect the dark from the dark place they are,

and that’s why they are black and don’t need the sun to grow.

More facts here, follow us.

I could totally picture that.

This is the fake news logic.

  • You affirm something that totally makes sense.
  • You put facts that don’t exist or don’t work in that way to explain why that makes sense. PS: people won’t know that the fact is incorrect. They will believe in the fact because they’re too lazy to look for the source or to research themselves.
  • You get a close metaphor that really works.

There you go. Amazing worldbuilding for you.

Also, pay close attention to fake news around you, so you can get inspired.

I’ll invent some here so you can get inspiration:

  • Did you know that people that write more live longer? That’s because they put their sorrows into the paper, so they transmit their frustration to other things and don’t suffer anymore. This results in longer living and happier lives.
  • Did you know that if you eat enough carrots, you can attract rabbits to your backyard? This is because they smell 10345x better than the humans, they smell the carrots, and they are attracted there. So, start eating carrots if you want a pet rabbit without having to pay for it!
  • Did you know that you can lose weight just by driving? This is because the stress you pass on traffic can make you lose calories. So, if you want to get a sick-pack, you don’t even need to hit the gym, just drive!
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[…] Take some moments to do worldbuilding. If you need help, you can read about my worldbuilding article here and how fake news can help you in worldbuilding here. […]


[…] Articles I’ve enjoyed include: Why Do You Have Your Best Ideas in the Shower? and How to Use Fake News Logic to Worldbuilding […]

4 years ago

Great text, I will use this method for sure! Although the black plants part doesn’t have any sense, because ‘darkness’ isn’t something you can absorb… But I get the idea 🙂

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