While an awesome world is a good thing to have, stories tend to be about the characters acting within them. Let's look at a few examples of how worldbuilding can shape protagonists:

The Boy Who Lived

Harry Potter lives in a world where magic is real; he's a wizard. 

His world is beset by a cult of evil wizards; Harry is magically destined to battle its leader. 

Due to the war between good and evil wizards, Harry is an orphan; he creates a new family among his peers and professors. 

Captain Malcolm Reynolds

Mal unsuccessfully rebelled against the oppressive Alliance; he becomes a criminal who makes his living by breaking Alliance laws.

Firefly is a space opera; naturally, Mal is the captain of a spaceship. 

His spaceship, Serenity, is named after battle that ended the rebellion--a sign of his to destiny to right that wrong.


Kira is a Gelfing, an elf-like race; because of the magic within them, Gelflings are hunted by the evil Skeksis.

A prophecy in Dark Crystal world claims that a Gelfling will save the world: Kira is one of the only two Gelflings left in the world.

Because the Skeksis killed her parents, Kira is raised by "podlings" who teach her speak to animals--a skill she will use several times in her quest. 

Now that you've gotten the hang of thinking about worldbuilding, it's time to start making conscious choices that support a particular narrative. Using the worldbuilding elements that you selected in Part III, design a protagonist that's ideally suited to your setting. 

Provide at least one detail for each of the following:

Choose a profession that incorporates your worldbuilding elements. If possible, choose a profession that only exists because of your setting. 

Example: Johnny Mnemonic is a data courier: someone who transports data that's too valuable to risk transmitting across the net. In that world, cybernetics exist; Johnny stores his data in a computer that's implanted in his brain. 


Choose at least one way the setting works against the character, making their life harder or their goals less obtainable. 

Example: In Gattica, Vincent wants to be an astronaut, but as the product of traditional human reproduction, he lacks the perfect genetics of "valid" (read: genetically engineered) humans. To realize his ambition, Vincent must hide the truth of his "in-valid" DNA.

Choose at least one way that the setting helps the character achieve their goals. 

Example: In the Twilight series, Jacob becomes a shapeshifter to help defend humans from vampires. As additional vampires arrive, more members of Jacob's tribe become shapeshifters, as well, thereby making it easier for them to fight their undead adversaries.