Worldbuilding in a Postcard

currently playing on my laptop: Way Down We Go by Kaleo

My parents uncovered a postcard collection gathered from both sides of the family, with many pieces from the early 1900s. That’s a lot of years ago, people! The old pictures, illustrations, and captions inspired me to take another look at the worldbuilding in my current WIP. 

Stick with me.

This is one of my favorites.


I’m not sure I totally get the joke here, but I know this old postcard is having a little fun. Humor tells us bunches about a culture. What they hold sacred and therefore like to poke at a bit. What is considered uncouth. The society’s rules and which ones are acceptable to break and who may break them and get a laugh. Consider the jokes and humorous sayings in your worldbuilding. What does it tell about the characters and their environment? If you don’t have humor, maybe you should. All cultures have it and it changes over time. 

These next two show spots that are now rather different. Look familiar?

Yep. That’s Westlake (MacArthur) Park in LA (check out this article on the cool history of the place) and a shot of Manhattan a very long time ago. Wow. How things have changed. But think of this as another world. What are the people doing for fun? What are they wearing? Read the captions (Is that what they’re called on a postcard? Feel free to correct me). Listen to the wording. What kind of activities do the people in your WIP do in their free time if they have any? Do they don hats as they scamper about? What about their structures? Are they made of brick? Are they painted or plain? Lavish or austere?

How about this one? This looks wild. The White House, circa 1906. 


If we draw ourselves out of what we know and look objectively, we can think about what kind of nation has this as its leader’s home. It’s all tidy and stoic. It’s surrounded by greenery. Now think about what this picture would show today. A fence, for sure. What does that say about this nation we are trying to look at objectively?

I hope you enjoyed the postcards. If you want, share your fun ways to look at worldbuilding. I’m always searching for new inspiration!


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5 Responses to Worldbuilding in a Postcard

  1. How fun. I totally enjoy looking at old postcards and family pictures (even from other families). 🙂 LOL, I have no idea what that woman in the cowboy hat is doing on that fence.

    • Me too! I was so surprised to find all these postcards. There are seriously so many. And they’re all from 1900-1923ish. It’s crazy. I’ll probably do another post on more bc they are so fun. Thanks for following!

  2. Pingback: How to write a good foundation | jean's writing

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