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?
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 it 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, that the intricate tapestry of your imagination weaves a reality that transcends the limitations of the physical world.
When venturing into the realm of fantasy writing, you are not merely crafting a story; you are crafting an entire universe, complete with its own rules, cultures, and intricacies. You are an architect of dreams, a sculptor of alternate realities. As you shape your world, consider the various layers of reality that can exist within it. Just as our world has different planes of existence, your fantasy universe can possess varying degrees of reality.
At the core of your fictional universe lies the fundamental level of reality. This is the bedrock upon which your world stands, the unchanging truth that forms the basis of all existence within it. Whether it's the magic system that governs your realm or the cosmic forces that shape destinies, this level of reality provides the anchor for everything that unfolds.
Yet, as with any intricate tapestry, your fantasy world is woven with subtler threads that give it depth and texture. These layers of reality add nuance and complexity, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the richness of your creation. Consider the cultural beliefs and myths that shape the perspectives of your characters. Delve into the intricacies of social structures, political dynamics, and the interplay of power. These elements create a sense of realism that resonates with readers, making them feel as though they are not just observing your world, but living within it.
As you build these layers, remember that the key to captivating your readers lies in finding the delicate balance between the familiar and the extraordinary. Just as our own world is a mosaic of diverse cultures and ideologies, your fantasy universe should reflect a similar diversity. This not only adds authenticity but also invites readers to connect with characters from all walks of life.
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? The answer lies in the careful calibration of details. The smallest, most vivid sensory details can ground your readers in your world, making the fantastical seem tangible. The whisper of wind through ancient trees, the scent of exotic spices wafting through bustling marketplaces, the taste of otherworldly delicacies – these are the brushstrokes that paint the canvas of your world.
Moreover, the characters that inhabit your universe play a crucial role in bridging the gap between reality and imagination. Their emotions, struggles, and triumphs resonate with readers, forging a connection that transcends the boundaries of the fictional. A well-developed character is like a bridge, allowing readers to traverse the chasm between their own world and the one you've meticulously crafted.
So, as you embark on the journey of world-building, remember that the level of reality in your fictional universe is not a fixed point but a spectrum, ranging from the core truths that underpin your creation to the vibrant layers that add depth and authenticity. The artistry of your craft lies in your ability to weave these layers together, inviting readers to suspend disbelief and join you on a remarkable voyage through the landscapes of your imagination.
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?
Should your realm be an alternate Earth, only with dragons and faeries in addition to humans? A world where the echoes of our history blend seamlessly with the enchantment of the mystical, where familiar landmarks coexist with the fantastical. This approach offers a bridge between the known and the unknown, allowing readers to step into a realm that feels strangely familiar yet brims with the potential for awe-inspiring wonders.
Or should it be a realm completely different from Earth with purple grass and winged ponies and not a human to be seen? A landscape where the rules of nature bow to your creative whims, where the mundane is discarded in favor of the extraordinary. This choice invites readers to relinquish their preconceptions and surrender to the allure of the unknown, to explore a realm where every corner reveals a new marvel waiting to be discovered.
The decision you make has far-reaching implications, influencing every aspect of your world-building endeavor. From the geography that shapes your landscapes to the societies that inhabit them, the level of reality you choose sets the stage for the entire narrative tapestry. But fear not, for there is no right or wrong answer; there is only the path that resonates most deeply with your artistic vision.
An alternate Earth beckons with the promise of subtle juxtapositions – familiar human emotions clashing against the backdrop of magical creatures, historical events interwoven with fantastical elements. It invites readers to ponder the what-ifs, the tantalizing possibilities of a world where dragons soar over cities and knights joust with sorcery as their ally. This choice is a nod to the wondrous enigma that is our own world, while inviting readers to explore the unknown with a sense of wonder and curiosity.
On the other hand, a realm entirely divorced from Earth offers boundless freedom – a blank canvas upon which you can paint the most vivid and outlandish hues of imagination. Here, purple grass dances under skies of iridescent blue, and winged ponies soar like dreams across the horizon. In this realm, readers are unburdened by any preconceived notions, free to immerse themselves in a realm of unbridled creativity. Here, you can craft societies with customs and hierarchies that defy Earthly norms, inviting readers to envision a world beyond the constraints of reality.
Yet, as you embark on this journey of world-building, remember that the level of reality you choose is not a fixed destination but a dynamic spectrum. You can tread the delicate line between the familiar and the extraordinary, or you can dive headlong into the uncharted waters of pure imagination. Whichever path you choose, the key lies in creating a cohesive and immersive experience that resonates with readers, evoking a sense of wonder and inviting them to lose themselves within the folds of your fictional universe.
So, as you ponder the essence of your realm, consider the role you want your readers to play. Do you want them to be explorers of a land that mirrors our own with a touch of magic, or adventurers in a world where the only limit is the expanse of your creativity? The choice is yours, and with it comes the power to craft a world that will captivate hearts, ignite minds, and transport readers to a reality that, though born of your imagination, feels undeniably, irresistibly real.
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?
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, then 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, then 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.
As writers of fantasy fiction, we possess the unique ability to craft entire worlds from the fabric of our imagination. With every new story, we are tasked with the awe-inspiring challenge of creating universes that are, in essence, as real as we make them. It is a power that demands both creativity and responsibility, as we determine the degree of reality we weave into our fictional tapestry.
Just as a painter selects the color palette that best captures the essence of their subject, so too must we, as authors, choose the level of reality that best serves our narrative purpose. We stand at the crossroads of possibility, where the boundaries of the known and the unknown blur and meld, and it is our prerogative to decide how far we shall lead our readers into the realms of enchantment.
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?
For me, each tale beckons me toward a unique journey. It's a dance between historical accuracy and the unfettered flights of fancy. In crafting my Space Opera Sci-Fi Fantasy, I relinquish the constraints of reality and soar into the cosmos, where aliens and starships traverse the expanse of my mind's universe. It is a symphony of boundless imagination, where I revel in the sheer pleasure of creating without restraints.
But then, there are those stories that draw me closer to Earth's tapestry, stories that whisper of forgotten civilizations and lives long past. In these narratives, I tread the delicate line between reality and reverie, infusing historical facts with the magic of fiction. It is a process of breathing life into the echoes of the past, inviting readers to step into the shoes of the ancients and experience the ebb and flow of time.
So, das you embark on your journey of world-building, remember that the level of reality you choose is a reflection of your narrative intent. It is a deliberate decision that shapes not only the contours of your world but also the hearts and minds of your readers. Embrace the spectrum of possibility, for within it lies the power to transport your audience to enchanting realms, where reality and fantasy entwine in a dance as old as storytelling itself. And as you wield your quill, remember that the worlds you create are as real as the passion you pour into them, beckoning readers to suspend disbelief and join you on a journey of boundless wonder.
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.
Suspending belief is an age-old pact between storyteller and reader, a delicate dance that invites the mind to venture beyond the boundaries of the known and into the boundless realm of imagination. Every author, whether conjuring tales of epic battles or whimsical realms, must extend this invitation, beckoning readers to leave the realm of the familiar and embark on a journey where reality and fantasy intertwine.
As we traverse the landscapes of our own minds, weaving intricate narratives of wonder and intrigue, we find ourselves faced with the question of just how far we shall lead our readers into the tapestry of our creation. For within this question lies the key to crafting a world that resonates, a world that feels as tangible as the pages upon which it is written.
Characters, those elusive vessels of emotion and will, are the heartbeats of any tale. They are the conduits through which readers navigate the labyrinthine pathways of your imagination. But do they need to be mere replicas of ourselves, constrained by the limits of humanity? Not necessarily. They may take the form of otherworldly creatures, enchanted beings who defy the laws of nature. Yet, even in their otherness, they must possess a thread of familiarity, a trace of the human experience that allows readers to connect and empathize.
Just as the characters breathe life into the narrative, the world they inhabit serves as the stage upon which their stories unfold. This world, a playground for dreams and possibilities, need not mirror our own. It can be an alien landscape with ethereal skies and sentient trees, or a realm where magic and technology coalesce in a harmonious dance. Regardless of its fantastical nature, the world must exude a sense of authenticity, an aura that beckons readers to cross the threshold and explore its wonders.
And so, as we contemplate the level of reality we infuse into our fictional universes, let us remember that it is not the mirroring of our world that lends believability, but rather the coherence and consistency with which we construct our alternate realities. It is the subtleties—the scent of rain on ancient cobblestones, the rustling of leaves in an enchanted forest, the echoes of forgotten legends—that anchor our readers in a place that, while foreign, feels strangely like home.
As authors of fantastical realms, we possess the power to blur the lines between the tangible and the ethereal. With every stroke of the pen, we summon worlds that transcend the boundaries of reality, inviting readers to suspend their disbelief and journey alongside our characters. It is a dance of creation and immersion, a symphony of imagination that resonates in the hearts of those who dare to tread where reality gives way to wonder.
In the end, it is not the measure of reality that dictates the success of our world-building, but the depth of emotion and connection we forge between our readers and the worlds we craft. So let us dare to dream, to envision realms that stretch the limits of possibility, and invite our readers to step into these tapestries of enchantment, knowing that in their embrace, they shall find a truth that transcends the confines of the real.
This article was originally written on: April 2006
This page last updated on: November 2013
The list below are the original pages written in 2003 for a WordPress Blog, and republished on Squidoo in 2007:
Even more articles have been written for this series since then:
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:
What do you want to become?
What did you do today to step closer to that goal?
Whatever you do, be your best at it!
And remember to have yourself a great and wonderfully glorious day!
Evil men go out of their way to try to drive a person to suicide.
Are you an evil man?
Are you sure you're not?
How many people have YOUR hate filled words killed?
Next time you go to do a mean thing to a fellow human, stop and really think about the consequences of your actions.
Did you ever notice how every one has a story to tell about me, yet not one of them ever speaks the truth?
What lies has YOUR gossiping tongue spread about me?
Did you know...
October 16, 2006, bomb blew up my house because of YOUR lies.
August 8, 2013, the house which replaced the one the bomb blew up, was driven over by a backhoe.
November 14, 2013, my 8 month old infant son was murdered because of your lies.
November 14, 2013, I was beaten up, paralized for 5 months, spent 18 weeks relearning to walk, I'm now crippled for the rest of my life, because of YOUR lies.
Are you proud of what you have done?
Enjoy your eternity in Hell. You earned it. You've certainly worked hard for it.
If you have any information about any of these events, please call FBI Agent Andy Drewer at 207-774-9322