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  • Writer's pictureR.M. Garino

ARC Book Review: Fiction Tinker’s Guide to Whimsical Worlds; 21 Tips for Defining Your World

Review written by R.M. Garino


The starting idea for a story may come easily, but many writers get lost when plunging into specifics. Which details should you seek on your quest to create a convincing world that enchants your readers? How do you keep from getting lost down the proverbial rabbit hole?

With his friendly and down-to-earth approach, Theodore Niretac Tinker—three-time award-winning author and seasoned developmental editor—will guide you through your journey to connect the dots, tie up loose ends, and gain new insights into your world. Fiction Tinker’s Guide to Whimsical Worlds is:

1. EASY TO FOLLOW: Twenty-one tips across seven topics provide a map for defining your world.

2. VERSATILE: Follow the map through the world of any fiction story—historical, contemporary, speculative fiction, and more.

3. REUSABLE: Employ the map as a quick reference or read it straight through.

4. FILLED WITH PLAYFUL SIGNPOSTS: Twenty-one ink drawings capture the curiosity and whimsy of worldbuilding!

Start your journey today and find the knowledge you seek to build an engaging and immersive world your readers will never want to leave.


And now for the review!

How now, folks?

So, one of the topics that will set me to wagging my jaw is worldbuilding. Yeah! This is where I get to merge my geek self with, well… my geek self. Sorry, I’m just a geek, there’s no way around it. Yes, I get excited about discussions of invented languages, landscapes, cultures and peoples. Really, it’s one of the things I love about speculative fiction. These were the books that caught my attention as a student and grace my bookshelves to this day. Bring on Asimov and Bradbury, Tolkien and Herbert, Vonnegut and Atwood. It was not just the stories and characters that captivated my attention, but the worlds those authors wove throughout their books.

Let’s face it, world building is a pre-requisite for fiction of any sort. When you get into the realms of Sci-fi and Fantasy it becomes even more so, but straight fiction with a modern-day setting requires similar tools. This comes down to knowing what you can do as an author, and what you cannot. You need to understand the rules of where your story takes place, whether it’s made up or someplace you’ve never been.

Fiction Tinker’s Guide to Whimsical Worlds; 21 Tips for Defining Your World, by Theodore Niretac Tinker does an excellent job addressing worldbuilding. As its title suggests, it is full of useful tips to help establish a fictional world. Almost immediately, the author hits on the most important rule of world-building: “Set your world’s laws of nature and stick to them. Your world can break Earth’s natural laws, but not its own.” Good stuff, and incredibly hard to live by unless you take copious notes.

Fiction Tinker’s Guide to Whimsical Worlds provides a concise and complete coverage of various topics the beginning world smith needs to consider when plying their craft. The text is arranged based on the application of the PERSIAN acronym (Politics, Economics, Religion, Social aspects, Intellectual aspects, Art, and Nature). Frankly, this is inspired, as it covers the gambit of what constitutes a culture or larger society and approaches speculative fiction through the eye of the historian and anthropologist. The author plays particular attention to the application of Nature, which he divides in two halves: the physical setting, and the laws. I was particularly taken by this part, as it expands beyond the influence of the elements of wind and weather to include such things as magical systems. The sections on Language, education and art made me sit back and chase ideas I had not yet considered.

And that is the function and purpose of this book; to get author’s thinking about the worlds we create. As I was reading, I stopped and took a look at my own world, asking myself, how can I dig a little deeper, and why had I never considered this before? More importantly, I asked myself “how” a great deal of the time. How are the young educated? How are the cities and villages structured? What I loved was the book forced me to look at the setting, not as a contrived set or backdrop on a stage, but as the impetuous for action and motivation within the story.

If I had any complaints, it’d be with the concrete examples from speculative fiction. There were not enough for me. Yes, the author referenced Artemis Fowl, Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic Series, and The Giver. But I wanted more. Let’s talk about the big guns in the arena: Tolkien’s mythologies and histories, Herbert’s intricate and diverse worlds and cultures, or Dixon and Lackey’s creatures. Seriously, we could spend some quality time in those woods.

I definitely recommend Fiction Tinker’s Guide to Whimsical Worlds; 21 Tips for Defining Your World. The text was arranged in a thoughtful format and could easily be used in a classroom to introduce students to the aspects they need to consider. For a reference text, what more can you ask for?

* I received this as an advanced reading copy in exchange for my honest review.

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About the Author

Theodore Niretac Tinker is a worldbuilder. Words and worlds are his passion; quality and consistency, his goal. A three-time award-winning fantasy author, he has been through such a winding journey as an author that he wishes to help as many other writers and authors navigate the journey with ease and quality as possible.

With a certificate in editing from the University of Chicago (home of The Chicago Manual of Style), Tod has spent the last few years achieving this goal by providing editing services for his fellow writers. His bachelor’s degree in mathematics gives him an eye for details, as well as the big picture, enhancing his worldbuilding skills.

Tod supports his many literary endeavors with an endless supply of chocolate, which he hoards in his library alongside his books like any good dragon. You can follow Tod on Facebook and Twitter at @TNTinkerEditing for daily discussions under the hashtag #EditingTidbit.

Check out for more in-formation on Tod’s editing services and available publications. Many of his previous fiction publications, including his Evon series and eleven short stories, can be found under his former pen name, Dorothy Tinker.


About the Artist

Holla Watson is a bipolar artist, teacher, creative energy healer, and illustrator who loves fantasy and whimsy. As a child, her whole world was vibrant with imagination and color. She collected odd, shiny, and silly things, using them to create art and make up stories. Her heart, body, and soul are consumed by art—her North Star during the traumatic challenges of her adolescence and early adulthood.

Her truth? Art saves lives.

When she’s not helping others find their souls through art, you can find Holla video gaming, hiking, hanging with her animal family, and playing with her two kids. Come say hi at @Sweet.Issues_art on Instagram, @SweetIssuesArt on Facebook, and

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