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World Building 101   Leave a comment

Have you ever wondered how the speculative fiction greats created their realistic fantasy worlds? Me, too.

Yes, I’m a fantasy author, but I stand in awe of writers like JRR Tolkein, Katharine Kerry, Brandon Sanderson and Kate Elliott in their ability to make the magical seem real.

Some of them have been kind enough to blog about how they do it and I have learned a lot from that, which I now pass on to you.

The world we live in is magical. You may not realize that because it seems to familiar, but creating a fantasy world means building a world based upon reality and making sure that the reader knows the rules of that world. For readers to accept and continue to read a story, the write must make them believe in the world the characters inhabit. Characters must remain true to the rules of that world throughout the story for readers to accept what is happening to them.

  1. R. R. Tolkien depicted Middle Earth as a world so real that it has become a classic upon which so many others are based. Tolkien created Middle-earth, the lovable hobbits, the psychic elves and the irrepressible dwarves with incredible description and attention to details. The story contains all the elements of a traditional fantasy — a bumbling hero, an enchanted talisman, dark magic versus the good wizard, and an quest. It’s the gold standard in fantasy fiction.

How to attain something similar in your own writing? It’s not magic. I know I don’t have a wand. I did, however, study about how the greats created worlds their readers readily accepted.

The setting must be believable.

  • Characters should dress appropriately for the period and culture.
  • Weapons must be appropriate to the world.
  • If magic is involved, the writer should define the rules of magic and stick with them throughout their tale.

That looks like a perfect table of contents for a series, so see you next week.

World Building in Fantasy   1 comment

Front Cover UpdateThe world you build in a fantasy novel is as much a character as the ones who speak. It is with this world-building that fantasy authors bring you into the rich tapestry of that world and ease you into a suspension of disbelief necessary for the enjoyment of fantasy.

The geography presents challenges and benefits to your characters that become integral to the story. The challenges particularly provide a point of conflict to oppose your characters. A mountain range or a swamp can act as a barrier to progress or a shield against abuse. It can explain why some people in your novel are rich and some are poor or why certain characters work in the professions they do.

Political and social systems play are huge role in The Willow Branch. The political system is in flux. A monarchy without a monarch is not only vulnerable to attack from outside forces, but subject to transformation into something else. While the nobles fight over territory, they leave the commons struggling to survive, which sets up a rich versus poor conflict that is hinted in the beginning and will grow over time.

Writers should indulge in some personal historian-like behavior when world building. It won’t usually make it on the page, but some notes about who the founding king was or the pivotal events of the society were will help lend authenticity to your world.

My streets stink!

No, seriously! They do! I want them to. I want my readers to know that a city street is a fetid place filled with odors of sewage and rancid cooking oil. It’s a place of meat pies and roast gamehen, of ale and water that shouldn’t probably be drank without some ale mixed in. This engages the senses and provides the reader with yet another hook to hang his hat on.

Map of Celdrya for PublicationI am not a Trekker. I created a few Elvish words and borrowed a great many more from Gaelic to set a mood in The Willow Branch, but I didn’t try to invent a language. But you might notice the lilt in the Celdryan narrative and dialogue drops away in the Kindred sections. This is because the Kin don’t speak Celdryan, which is based on Gaelic. Those tongue-twisting Kindred names are based on Asian naming conventions because I want you to know there is something altogether different about the Kin compared to the Celts and it isn’t just that the Kin are elven.

I have magical people in my tale. The Kin and a handful of Celdryans are naturally magical — they don’t need rituals and techniques. They are what they are. The mages, however, are magicians. They wield magic through techniques and rituals learned from decades of study. Why is this important? Because Daermad, the land of the Celts and the Kin, is a naturally magical place and some people are naturally attuned to it while others can only manipulate the magic. Why?

Read the book to find out.




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