Map of Middle-Earth, one of the most well-know and well-made fictional world.
I have a preference for stories that work with elements and realities that are not a part of our know world, fantasy and Sci-Fi. Setting up the fictional world includes a limitless amount of details and explores the creative potential of fiction. Stories with intriguing and well made worlds are especially attractive to me, offering material for my insatiable geek hunger. As someone that tries to write stories in those genres, worldbuilding is one thing that consumes much of my time and creativeness.
To create a world you need to know more about the real world and how it works. Worlds that are illogical or too simplistic may result from not spending enough time in worldbuilding or not knowing how the real world works. A well constructed world shows not only creativeness but a good notion of ecology, technology, economy, history, sociology, anthropology, etc. So creating worlds offers more reason for studying and thinking about the real world.
Some people complain that a few stories would take too much time in worldbuilding. A fantasy may work with a minimal description of the world, but I like to have available details. Knowing the depicted society makes the characters and situations more understandable, and in a fictional world the only available information are the ones provided by the creator, with possible addition to the canon by others. Even if you won’t consult the Lord of the Rings’ appendix while reading the story, it’s good to know that it exists and you may read it later. The amount of details you could add to your world is infinite, and at the least it makes the effort put into worldbuilding more visible.
Fictional worlds combine things draw from the real world with varied degrees of fantastic things included. The real-based things require more research, while the fantastic are the ones that stretch the creative capacity. It’s hard to try to imagine how much the imagined things would make that world different from ours, especially things with so much potential to change society like advanced technology, magic and superpowers. Many times they don’t appear to make the social impact they should. I have a hard time trying to make logic or excuses, sometimes getting stuck when there is no visible solution. As such, I admire the ones that apparently succeed in creating worlds that make sense.
One of the things that I most admire in a work is the amount of effort put into it, and worldbuilding requires without a doubt a lot of effort. Being harsh, almost none of build worlds have the complexity and logic of a real world, but that doesn’t prevent it to be believable and immersive enough if they still have some logic and good aspects to compensate for it. But since I am kind of a perfectionist, I always try to fix as many problems as possible, thus expecting to improve the overall work’s quality.