You might think that setting and world building are the same thing. Well, you’re not wrong but you’re not completely right either. It’s true that they’re interchangeably linked. Kind of like ‘a brother from another mother.’
To create a world you must first understand the difference between setting and worldbuilding. In simple terms, setting is the time and place, the moment where the action takes place. Worldbuilding is the detailed construction of the world’s geography, social, culture, history and backstory and emotions.
It’s easy enough to imagine and create otherworldly, magical/mythical and alien beings and worlds. The fantasy/science fiction genres requires a suspension of belief. But there is also a level of consistency needed to write it into a breathing, living, viable existence. You can do this by reading and studying similar genres. And keep a glossary of notes about the history of the world your characters live in. Remember, like our world there are laws that governs their world. There is the law of gravity, government and or religion laws your characters adhere to or rebel against, etc. Worldbuilding is another form of characterization. It guides our character(s) in their action and or inaction. And as writers we must find our own way to weave all that into our scenes.
It’s the same with the other genres as well. If you want to write a historical romance you read and study other historical romances and the masters of that genre. Also read the classic romance novels published during that time. As well as nonfiction historical books of that period. You can also contact a history buff or professor and pick their brain. Apply the same process for thrillers or mysteries and horror or gothic fiction. Biographies/memoirs and nonfiction works too. All writing requires research. So get out the door and do some field work.
Food for thought: For the Nadia series, I’ve researched witch trials in the Massachusetts and Virginia settlements. And their differing treatments of accused witches. I’ve also checked out Wicca and spell books from the local library. The fictional Lyndonburg High School is also based on the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. But what I want to do most is head out to Colonial Williamsburg. As well as the surrounding cities to incorporate more colonial history in the story.