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?
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
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?
Suspending belief is something every author asks a reader to do, but the less realistic your novel, the further your reader has to suspend their belief.
Your characters don't have to be Humans, but they do have to be identifiable in order to feel real to your reader.
The world they live in, does not have to be real, but your reader needs to feel that they could step into that world and walk around with the characters. It needs to feel real if your readers are to get into the story and follow it through to the end.
The list below are the original pages written in 2003 for a WordPress Blog, and republished on Squidoo in 2007:
As there are now more then 100 articles for this series, it now has it's own index page on which to list them all, as there are just too many to keep adding them to this end of article list. You can find the complete listing of all the World Building articles here now:
*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. I write Dark Fantasy, which is a sub-genre of Horror and Space Fantasy which is a sub-genre of Science Fiction.
Did you see it? No? Let me point it out: I write about fantasy worls 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.
2013 World-Building Series UPDATE:
Due to issues with content scraping, outright plagiarism, some of my articles appearing on OTHER Squidoo member accounts 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.
As you know, or not, Squidoo owners Bonnie and Kimberly-Dawn stole thousands of Squidoo articles from Squidoo members, and tried to pass them off as their own, resulting in the lawsuit against Squidoo owners for the theft of tens of thousands of articles.
More than 100 of my articles were transferred off my Squidoo account and moved to Bonnie's account,
while my authorship and writing articles, including this world-building series were deleted off my Squidoo account and transferred to Kimberly-Dawn's account!
I am shocked and flabbergasted at what these 2 women have done. That they thought they could get away with stealing so many articles from so many authors! Buying Squidoo from Seth Godin, did not give then the rights to our articles and these two horrible women had no right to delete them off of our member accounts and republish them on their own accounts, trying to pass them off as their own.
More then 100 Squidoo authors have gathered together in lawsuit against Squidoo owners, Bonnie and Kimberly-Dawn. The result of that is, Bonnie and Kimberly-Dawn, to avoid their asses being sued to hell and back, have now transferred the Squidoo lenses back to their original owners and deleted the entire Squidoo website.
Squidoo is officially gone. It exists no more. Squidoo is dead. Most Squidoo writers have opted to move to Hub Pages as HubPages has bought the remaining shambles of what is left of Seth Godin's Squidoo after Bonnie and Kimberly-Dawn massaquered it in their article stealing frenzy.
While I do have a HubPages account and my remaining Squidoo Lenses can be found there temporarily, they are being moved here and deleted off HubPages as I move them
April 2017 UPDATE:
As of now, all on my 600+ Squidoo pages are now moved here to EelKat.com and no more are remaining on HubPages.
It's hard to believe, Squidoo has been gone for 4 years now. It was such a big part of my life for a decade.