Fantasy Worlds

Fantasy Scene

I read some of the posts some of the posts on the Fantasy Writer’s group on Linked-In a while ago, and saw that a few people had commented that it is very difficult to create a fantasy world. I would argue that every work of fiction is placed within a fantasy world.
Even those hard-bitten courtroom dramas by John Grisham and Scott Turow are placed within fantasy worlds. Yes,, these authors do draw a fairly authentic picture of the sorts of relationships lawyers have with each other, and they do show what often happens inside a courtroom, and yes, they do describe characters that ring true. Some of us have met people like the characters described, or we imagine that there may be people like that. Will we encounter these same people when we walk into the county courthouse near where we live? Most likely we will not.
These authors pick and choose what they will include in their descriptions. Every piece of their description pushes their stories along to the next scene, the next happening. Characters are carved out from their experiences and imaginations to not only appear real, but to make a good story.
Does the story need a judge who is stubborn and bigoted as the antagonist? If it takes a judge who is entirely evil in order to keep the story rolling, you can bet that this judge will be entertainingly evil, and you very likely would never meet such a judge.
The people described in these books may be composites of many people the authors have known and heard of. The towns in which the stories are set may or may not be on any map, however the descriptions of those towns will be descriptions of places that could exist. They are similar to, but not the same as towns we are familiar with.
The fantasy world where your story is set is based on several things. Most important; it must create a what-if situation for your characters. Is your world on another planet, in another galaxy? If so, then what is the basic situation your characters are dealing with? What elements on this planet set it apart from the world that you and your readers are familiar with? These need to be elements that will make life interesting for your protagonist. How your protagonist deals with these differences must be a major part of your story. Do these differences make it harder or easier for your protagonist to reach his goal? For, after all, no matter what universe your protagonist happens to be in, there are things he wants to achieve.
Ursula Le Guin wrote a fascinating story in which the protagonist was on a planet on which the human-like inhabitants had three sexes instead of two. This meant that procreation could take place only when three people agreed to come together. The situation created a study for the possibilities for human relationships. Just thinking about such a biologic tangle sends chills down my back. After all, it can be excessively difficult for two people to adapt to making a family and home together, let alone three people to work through all their angst and their differences, in order to build a harmoniouss relationship.
Barbara Kingsolver has written stories that include American Indians. Her Indians are nearly always kind and good and they tend to have a great sense of humor. They are the sorts of people most of us would want to know. Now, in the natural order of things, no matter what culture or race you consider, you will find some people who are wonderful, and some people who are not.
There are a great many stories that describe what it might be like to live when the last weapon of mass destruction has been deployed, and society is whittled down to only a few people. What would it be like to live in that situation? How would these last representatives of humanity survive? What sort of future might be possible in such a world?
Even if the world you describe is meticulously life-like, you will be picking and choosing elements from the world you know that enhance your story, and disregarding the others that are less important to you. That is what you must do when you create your fantasy world. You may not need to outline every single facet of it before you begin to write your story, but you do need to have a clear idea of what the major problems are that your characters will face in this world. The details will come as your story evolves.

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