In Wings of the Sathakos, my main characters travel across the country of Chassa, cross the sea to Avdallon, and return.
Chassa is the smaller of the two, a heavily-wooded continent with abundant resources.
Avdallon is much larger. It has mountain ranges, deserts, forests, rivers, glaciers, etc…
I didn’t plan any of this out. I didn’t build a world, like some fantasy authors probably do. I just started writing.
There are advantages either way, I suppose. But with this approach, I was able to invent places as my characters reached them. Plus, it leaves a whole lot of territory unexplored and undiscussed, freeing me up enormously for the sequel.
In fact, the sequel starts in a nation unmentioned in the first book, an archipelago of islands of the southwestern coast of Avdallon. When the action does return to Avdallon, it’s mainly focused on the southern half, whereas the first took place almost entirely in the northern half. Once again, I get to invent things as I go.
This makes world building a process that’s tied to authoring the book. All of the creativity happens at once. It isn’t just the characters the reader gets to see grow, it’s the entire world they inhabit.
There’s no map. No mention of unvisited places. Readers discover the world the same way I invent it; spontaneously.