Something completely unique in humans is this gravitation to create alternate worlds. In our childhoods, all of us were able to fabricate (complexly, at that) entirely separate realms that existed vividly—a way of constructing that came effortlessly. We created entire storylines and characters, fleshed out intricate scenes, and fought through the created conflict in a way that felt real in totality. Is this a way of reigning control within the real world—which we are quick to learn complete control over is impossible—or is it simply a kind of creativity that we are born with? Defense mechanism, or a natural, inevitable creative instinct?
In “Building Imaginary Worlds” by Mark J.P. Wolf, it is stated that “more energy gets put into mapping the world than inhabiting it,” and for me, this is the foundation of the purpose of worldbuilding. There is needed, in all stories, an idea of a complexity beyond what a reader can see—there needs to be more out there than what can be fully accessed. This can be reflected as a need for the realistic—as in the real-world, one always knows that there are sights out-of-reach—but I choose to think that it reflects the need for the possibility of more adventure. And this is what drives the childhood tendency to plunge into a created world: the adventure of it all. An adventure means escape, in an infinite number of senses, whether it is an escape from boredom or problems or life in general. It is important and essential to make the world of your story something that is so lush and so lucid it seems and feels real, because as writers, we owe it to our readers to construct their means of escape. We owe it to the world we’re creating to make it rich enough that it can hold a proper adventure.