Most fantasy books have the basics of world-building, or go above and beyond to make the world feel real, but a couple miss a few aspects of world building I consider important.
1) Myths/Legends: Our world has been around for a very long time. Every continent, every country, has its own myths and legendary figures that existed in the past (or not), and did some pretty unbelievable things. Myths and legends play directly into our culture today. An example: dragons are in the Chinese Zodiac, drawn on flags, and used in modern stories.
Myths would influence a fantasy world, from magical creatures to powerful figures. And not like Some-Dead-Evil-Wizard-Who-Almost-Conquered-World-And-Now-Has-A-Child-Who-Wants-Revenge. I mean figures such as explorers who founded the capital, or a legendary warrior who was said to capture a city with rare magic but never admitted to having it.
These slight mentions, just dropped in as a reference or as a glimpse of the world's past, give depth to the world.
2) Food: Let's be honest here. Not every single fantasy world would be eating bread, cheese, and some type of meat stew on a daily basis. I understand if it's a Medieval fantasy based in Europe, but there are many other places to base your worlds off of. Since I live in Thailand, traditionally bread is desert, and rice is considered a staple for most meals. Most books overlook the idea of changing the meal of bread and cheese to something more true to the world. (And it would be nice to have descriptions of unique cakes to satisfy my mind's appetite)
|Beautiful Thai rice fields|
4) Entertainment: Not every character spends all their time slashing people with swords and kicking peoples' butts. Unless they're in a war in the middle of an epic fantasy. But if they're not, the types of games and sports people play always seem to be skipped over. I love scenes where characters chat over a country's unique card game, or play some strange sport. Fantasy worlds aren't carbon copies of our own, after all. We both enjoy having fun, but it's unlikely we do it in the same way.
Example from my editing WIP, Draped in Deception: emberball is a common sport where a burning ball is lit, and players rub non-burning oil from a special type of tree on their skin. They pass the ball around with their feet, and the goal-keeper can only use their elbows to catch it. Emberball is the major sport in the Empire.
Do you wish these elements of world-building were included more in books? How many of these do you put in your stories? Do you have an interesting element of your story world's cultures? Feel free to share in the comments; I'd love to hear from you!