Being into fantasy you must have already noticed that most of the fantasy worlds out there are too similar to Middle Earth. This makes sense when we take into account that Tolkien created the genre. What if you want to be unique? Will you have to go through the 13 years of research that Tolkien went through? Definitely not.
If you take these simple steps you’ll find that creating new and interesting fantasy worlds is easy and fun. Before we go into it understand that Fantasy World, like all fiction, is about character, not setting. This makes it better and faster to create worlds that are similar, but with key differences, to our own. That way the reader will more easily identity with the characters and enjoy the novel.
Step 1: Create the core differences
For your fantasy world to feel real, it must be real. This means that it should follow all the rules of physics and logic. Since this is fantasy we want to stretch this rules and sometimes even break them. These stretching however must be premeditated by the writer and understood by the reader.
Your setting could have some of the following fantasy elements: magic, strange creatures, strange weather, different races, active spirits or deities, or strange territories. When you’re in this stage choose one or more of the ones you like and detail how they work.
Step 2: Integrate the fantasy
Now you want to think about how all those fantasy elements change the way people interact with the world. Remember you want your world to feel real. If there’s always been dragons in your world and they are trainable then it would make sense for metallurgy, and other fire dependent crafts, to be highly advanced, and a common part of the culture.