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EelKat's Guide to
World Building For Fiction Writers -
Level of Reality

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By EelKat Wendy C Allen

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Before your fantasy world can come alive for your readers, it must first come alive in your own mind. Whether or not your world is real does not matter, what matters is that is SEEMS real. Maybe it's not scientifically possible for your world to exist. That is not the point. The point is, that you and your readers are able to BELIEVE that your world exists.

When writing fantasy, you must ask the reader to suspend their judgment of reality and step into a world different from their own, but how do you decide how much belief they will need to suspend?

Should your realm be an alternate Earth, only with dragons and faeries in addition to humans?

Or should it be a realm completely different from Earth with purple grass and winged ponies and not a human to be seen?

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For me, it depends totally on the story I am writing. If it's a more Space Opera Sci-Fi Fantasy on another planet with aliens and space ships, than I don't bother clinging to any reality at all and let anything go. If it's a historical fiction type fantasy, like the NaNo novel I'm doing this year (2007) , where the hero stumbles upon a lost civilization that hasn't changed in a thousand years, than I try to stick with a lot of the historic facts about real people from ancient history, so that my readers will feel they have stepped through time right along with my hero.

For me, how much reality I add, depends on where I want to story to go and how far I want to send my readers into the depths of pure imagination, so it's different with every book I write.

What about you? Before you can write your story, you must create your world. Before you can create your world you must ask yourself: What level of reality do I want to keep? How far will you ask your readers to stretch their imagination for the sake of your story? Do you stick with *keeping it real* or do you just run your world into the depths of fantasy altogether?

*UPDATE: ADDED November 7, 2013 - I suppose one thing I should point out at this point, before we go any farther, is my use of the word fantasy throughout this series. The bulk of this set of articles was written 7 years ago in April of 2006, parts of it appearing on EK's Star Log and other parts of it appearing on my personal Squidoo account. In the 7 years since writing this I've received hundreds of emails regarding it. A common question asked being: "Why do you talk of building a fantasy world if you don't write Fantasy?"

ANSWER: Fantasy with a capital "F" is the name of a type of fiction, in other words Fantasy is a genre. I do not write Fantasy fiction of the Fantasy genre, that is correct. I do however create fantasy realms for my Science Fiction and Horror works.

Did you see it? No? Let me point it out: I write about fantasy worlds as the exist in Horror and Sci-Fi but I do not write about fantasy world as they exist in Fantasy Fiction.

If it is not real it is fiction, if it exists only in fiction it it fantastical, if it is fantastical it is a fantasy item, because it is not a real item, however being fantastical does not make it part of the Fantasy genre, just as not everything in the Fantasy genre is always fantastical in nature.

The word "fantasy" with a lower case "f" is a word that means "not real" and has nothing to do with the Fantasy genre (capital "F") at all. And therefore when I say "fantasy realm" I mean a world that is NOT the Earth on which you and I live on in the real world, and am in no way, shape, or form referring to the Fantasy genre.

The methods I use to create my fantasy realms can be applied to ANY genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Romance, Western, etc.

(Due to issues with content scraping, outright plagiarism, some of my articles appearing on Squidoo without my permission, and many of my "Squidoo articles" being stolen off Squidoo and posted without my permission on various  blogs and sites including Wikipedia and Helium; all of my articles are in the process of being removed from Squidoo. This series of World Building articles in one that has been heavily plagiarized over the years and as of September 2013, it can only OFFICIALLY be found here on EelKat.com - if you find it posted elsewhere, know it was stolen and I am not receiving royalties for it.)

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This article was originally written on: April 2006

This page last updated on: November 2013




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The End?

No, you have NOT reached the end of this article! What you have reached is the end of what it currently online. The rest is coming, hopefully it'll be on here in a day or three so keep checking back. I will remove this message at the same time I put the rest of it online.

As my long time readers will already know a server crash took down most of the old free-hosted site on June 4, 2013 (which was online since 1997 and had reached 6,000+ pages). Thankfully everything was saved on a separate hard-drive and the site is being rebuilt with a new host and for the first time on it's own domain. YAY!

I am currently moving all 6,000 questions&answer articles to this site one page at a time, at a rate of about 4 to 7 new pages being added each day, so be patient. Not all links are yet clickable. This process started on September 2, 2013 and will be ongoing at least through to January 2014. (And it may be well into 2017 before all 6,000 pages will be back online if I continue at this rate of 5 a day.)




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UPDATE: June 5, 2017
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Please Call FBI Agent Andy Drewer @ (207) 774-9322  

More info on what happened can be found HERE.