Disclaimer: Some of the below links may be affiliate links, if you want more information on what that means you can view my full disclaimer here
Building your society into your world.
Now that we have created your world from scratch and fleshed it out with mountains, rivers, jungles, deserts, plants and animals, it is time to add in your main inhabitants. But there are still a number of things to consider when building your society into your world.
Race, Races, Sub-Races?
First, you need to determine what type and how many different races of intelligent creatures you have. Do you just have one humanoid race like we have home-sapiens here on earth? Or do you have traditional fantasy type world where you have races of humans, elves, dwarves, dragons, orcs, goblins, etc. Or perhaps it is a futuristic space story where there are different alien races all interacting. Maybe your story takes place on a world occupied by sentient elephants.
Whatever your protagonist’s race, you obviously need to determine this very early on in your worldbuilding. For instance, if your protagonist is part of a lizard-man race, then you probably want to make sure that your planet is hospitable for lizards. If you have traditional dwarves in your story, then you will need to make sure that your world map has the mountains that they traditionally live in and is not constantly subjected to enormous earthquakes.
While we are on the subject of races, you should also determine what if any sub-races your world has in it. By this I mean, if you have elves, are they all the same, or do you have distinct differences between high elves, wood elves and dark elves? It is possible to have cultural differences between different members of the same race, so if you are adding in sub-races, you should make sure that they are actually distinct, and not just a variation of the main race. Look at earth for example, although we only have one race, the human race, there are significant cultural differences between people even in America, let alone the rest of the world.
Level of interaction within and without
A second thing to consider when constructing your society, is how do they interact with others, both of their own society and with those outside of it. Are they naturally shy and reserved, keeping to themselves when at all possible. Or are they a very social outgoing race? Do they have a hive mind where they are all constantly connected psychically? Or do they just work together and cooperate, putting society above the individual? Perhaps they fall on the other end of the spectrum, where the only time they interact with another member of their race is to procreate, like many fantasy variations of dragons?.
And how do they view “outsiders”? Are they a challenge that must be fought? A friend that is not yet met? Someone to be conquered or converted to their way of thinking? Do
they watch and observe from a distance before making a judgement? Or charge right in to either shake hands or shake them up? Do they view themselves as superior to any other races they might encounter? Are they absolute pacifists, to the point that they will not allow anyone they come into contact with to commit violence, similar to the Nox from Stargate SG-1?
Again, there will be a variety of deviants from the norm in your society, as no society is ever in 100% agreement all of the time on every matter, so just because your society has one standard, this does not mean that your protagonist or every character in your story must conform to it. This will just help give you a groundwork or basis of rules to which you can then make the exceptions to.
Once you have started building your society into your world, you will have a number of other considerations to look at in more depth, which we will cover in the coming weeks. Some of these are things such as your societies view of justice and their system for enforcing it. Their religion and world views. What their typical family structure looks like. What their typical day to day life consists of. Their diet, their jobs, their hobbies, their entertainment, etc. etc. etc.
Let me know in the comments below if you have come across any other specific things to be aware of when creating a society for your world!