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The facts in fantasy

March 14, 2012

My plots are fantastical, but until now they’ve been set in our world. I introduce a few concepts to alter reality, but I know the culture and world. I finally broke from this habit and started a fantasy story set in a new world with new rules. Following the advice of experienced writers, I answered questions about this world–its geography, politics, religion, and so on. I also jotted down an outline, but that outline looks like a deformed skeleton as the story has changed form and gained flesh. In fact, my original plot changed completely as I became invested in this new world. The world changed, too. As the characters developed, so did their fashions, religious practices, economy, etc. My original Q&A session has been edited and reedited. And although the story is fleshier, it is extremely fallible.

I know that when reading fantasy we suspend belief, but readers will go only so far.  I despise stories where anything the author introduces works because he or she just changes the rules. “Oh, this will work because um… she met a magical golem who… turned her pursuers into…. stone and she crashed right through them because she has superhuman strength!”

Okay, so I’m exaggerating, but mostly it’s in frustration with myself. I keep saying, “I’m going to write this, but is it logical?” I have a page at the end of my story where I keep adding “fix this” and “change that” because I know that what I’m doing in the moment is not plausible in my own fantasy, and I don’t want to do what frustrates me in others’ books. I should have stopped myself 200 pages ago and redone everything, but there’s too much without a read-through, and I save that till the end. So I have to tell myself it’ll work out when I edit and hope that I catch my blunders.

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From → Writing

2 Comments
  1. Congrats on the leap into a new world! I love reading urban and new world fantasy alike, but the fantasy I write is primarily in another world. It’s so much fun to come up new cultures, races, creatures, etc. I’ve been working on this world for years, and it’s still molding around my characters and story. I totally agree on the limits of suspension of belief! As a biologist I tend to have a lot of science built into my world, and it does jolt me out of the suspension of belief when something doesn’t make sense–which is quite often when something simply isn’t explained enough. (Also, you’re not the only crazy one who loves to edit.)

    • I think it’s great that you have that scientist training to give you another viewpoint. My brother is a mathematician and I often get my ideas shot down by him, which I actually like because I don’t think like that. And it’s good to know I’m not alone in my editing frenzies!

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