Magic and otherworldly beings have been a part of our folklore and tales for as long as anyone can remember – from the unicorn to wizards to witches to whole new worlds, fantasy is part of our culture.
Creating a whole new world can take a lot of time and research as it has to be believable enough to fit into who your characters are, and it also has to be fantastical enough to draw people in to read about it.
The same goes with fantasy characters. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a great example of fantasy characters: though her characters are places in a parallel world to our own, the events in which they live through, plus who they are – witches and wizards – put them into the fantasy realm. They are real life characters in that they go through their own trials and triumphs, they have feelings like any other person, and they deal with any typical thing that teenagers do, too (angst, jealousy, anger, love), but they have the ability to use magic, to talk to snakes, and they see fantastical creatures such as griffons and elves.
When you’re creating a fantasy realm, what should you add? How can you form it to fit your needs, your story, your characters? How can you tell the best story possible without going into extreme details as to every little nook and cranny in this world?
- Start simple. This goes for any story building, really. You don’t need to make it super intricate and elaborate – tell what you know! If you lived in a suburban area, then make the world like that: close-knit families, but different races/species and cultures.
- If a mythical being already exists somewhere in the world, then do the research beforehand. Yes, it’s okay to change it up a little bit, like with how Stephenie Meyer made her vampires able to withstand sunlight, or how Sophie Jordan used dragons as her mythical creature of choice, but changed it so that they could transform into humans. Think outside the box, but do the research as well.
- Draw out your world yourself! Yes, I said draw. Why not doodle what you have in mind on some scrap pieces of paper and try to envision what you world looks like from the ground to the trees to the sky. It may help you to envision where you want characters to go.
- Know the ins and outs of your world before you start writing. This can help with names, culture, determining climate, plot points, and more. Have a general overview to begin with before fleshing it out as you go.
Of course there are many more tips and tricks to making a fantasy world realistic (or at least believable), but I wanted to give my own two cents on some of the aspects I believe are important to creating a fantasy world.
Many fantasy novels hold places in our hearts, and without them there wouldn’t be as much wonder or magic and excitement in thinking outside the box. So take the time to sit down and really think, “How can I make this world come to life?”
Have you written any fantasy stories? What tips and advice can you give to making those worlds come to life? Let me know in the comments!