Worldbuilding is a huge part of fantasy writing. For some – like Tolkein – the story comes about as something to showcase the world that has been built. But for those of us just starting out, it can be daunting to think you have to create an in-depth world for your readers from scratch.
Of course, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are myriad cultures from Earth’s history you can use to inspire your world. Research therefore can form a good starting point, a foundation. Don’t necessarily go for the obvious cultures – medieval western Europe, the Romans, the Aztecs and so on. Pick a time in the last 6000 years, a place anywhere in the world, and see what you can find out about the culture that existed in that time and place. You might be surprised – and inspired. Ptolemaic Egypt, Bronze Age northern Scotland, post colonial Mexico, the height of Great Zimbabwe or China at the time when the Silk Road first opened trade routes with the Roman Empire could all hold gems of information that help you to create an interesting, varied world to set your stories in.