When you write a fantasy novel based in a non-Earth world, you get to make up everything. And with all that freedom comes the opportunity to go way overboard in your worldbuilding. If such is your wont, here are five ways you might do it.
Every fantasy reader loves a fully fleshed out world. They might see only a tiny fraction of it (they’d *better* see only a tiny fraction of it), but they can feel if it exists.
In a fully fleshed out world, the forests are greener and every carnivore knows what it’s hunting. The sky might be purple, but we have the physics to explain why. And you’ll always know which lord build the castle that saved your hero from demons, and how much it cost them.
So if your goal is to give your readers what they want, here are five ways to go overboard with your worldbuilding.
Of course, if you follow these instructions you may never get around to writing your story, but isn’t the price worth it?*
* In general, it’s not.
Continue reading “Five ways to go overboard with worldbuilding for your fantasy novel”
Given his upbringing, Harry Potter wouldn’t have been a nice, well-adjusted kid. He would have been a nightmare. But that would have made a very different story.
Let me see if I’ve got this right.
We have Harry Potter, a kid who between the ages of 1 and 11 lived in a house with parental figures who hated, neglected, and emotionally abused him, and a sibling figure who bullied him.
I’m pretty sure he never got any love or affection at home.
He slept locked in a cupboard, for goodness sake.
We see no evidence he had any friends at school*, and, knowing kids, he probably got bullied for always wearing cast-off clothes that were too big for him.
* Okay, I haven’t read the books in years, so I’m mostly going by the movies. That still counts.
Continue reading “The problem with Harry Potter and why it doesn’t matter”
Sometimes I worry it’s unoriginal to write about dragons, then I realise that’s a ridiculous concern. Here’s why.
From time to time I have the uneasy feeling that when I write about dragons I’m being unoriginal.
Fantasy books can contain any fantastical creatures I can create, so why stick to this familiar beast? Am I taking the imagination out of a genre that lives based on its imagination?
After deep contemplation, I decided no.
Continue reading “Is it unoriginal to write about dragons?”
If you’re designing a magic system for a fantasy novel, here are some more questions you might want to ask.
My last post gave five questions you might find useful to ask when designing a magic system for a fantasy novel. Here are five more questions that should have been in that post but weren’t because it was getting long.
What is the downside or cost of magic and how long do any negative side-effects last?
If magic is free, life will be too easy for your protagonist. They might love you for it, but your readers won’t.
So magic must come at a cost.
Maybe magic is forbidden, and if a user is discovered she risks being dunked in boiling butter.
Perhaps the cost of magic is lifespan–each spell cast shortens the practitioner’s life by a month.
Or each spell cast means someone close to the spellcaster will randomly die in a horrible accident.
Continue reading “Questions to ask when designing a magic system, part 2”
If you want to design a magic system for a fantasy novel, these questions might help you. Or they might not. Either way, they’re free.
The title of this post might indicate this is going to be a writing advice post. It’s not! I promise.
A better title might be “The questions I found that I (tried to) answer in the recently-discovered document that explains the magic system in my current WIP”, but that’s a bit of a mouthful.
I almost definitely stole at least some of these questions from someone else’s writing advice blog post, but I’m afraid I did it so long ago I have no idea where I stole them from.
If they’re yours, I offer recompense in chocolate fish.
I’m not saying you must answer all or even any of these questions if you’re designing a magic system for a fantasy world. But if they’re helpful to you, you’re welcome.
Continue reading “Questions to ask when designing a magic system, part 1”