art by yours truly
It is no secret that as an artist, it is prose that I’m professional at rather than painting/drawing. And historical fiction aside, what I’m told I write quite well is fantasy. So, for a long time I have wanted to talk about writing (and drawing) fantasy, but I couldn’t really decide on the proper way to breach the subject.
Right now I’m feeling inspired (either that or it’s the smoke from the anti-mosquito coil talking) so what I’d like to talk about first is not what fantasy is as a genre, but what it means to a creator, be it comic, novel or even movie form: If done right, fantasy is an awesome immersive experience for the reader/viewer/audience, and it is UTTER HELL for the creator. But nice hell. Adventurous hell. Full of a gazillion little things you have to consider while you’re building the setting.
And that’s where the cusp of the matter is: the secret is in the setting, the world, the cosmos in which the characters will be born, grow and interact.
The reason for that is that, as I’ve said often before alongside many other creators far more famous than me, there is no story that hasn’t been told; there is no hero’s journey that hasn’t been travelled; there is no hurdle, goal or disaster that hasn’t already been explored in art- and that is totally fine, because that’s not where originality lies.
In a fantasy setting, what will allure your audience is going to be the world you build for them: from the féerique to the dystopian to the near-historical, what drives people to fantasy is often not the hero’s journey or the plot (though it’s a bonus if that too is spiced up) but rather the place it takes place in, its new and novel rules, the existence of magic, the weird races or the weird customs or the extremes that have become the norm in this brave new world you’ve created. In essence it’s basically this sentiment that you’ll want to try and tap on: Do you trust me? Click here.
What all the diverse examples I’ve linked to already have in common (as well as pretty much all worthwhile fantasy genre works of narrative or sequential art) is meticulousness, detail, and hours of design preparation.
Because that’s what the catch is with fantasy as opposed to other genres such as slice-of-life works or even historical fiction: in fantasy you have to make your own world, with its own unique rules, from scratch.
If you don’t, and you borrow too much the world someone else has constructed, you’re running the risk (or, some will say the certainty) or creating a knock-off. And the problem with a knock-off world is it’ll feel fake to your audience.
Note though, that I said “if you borrow too much”. Just like in all works of art, everyone is inspired and borrows from everyone else they are a fan of or enjoy the works of. There is nothing wrong with that, it’s a rehashing of the collective artistic gene pool. The problem begins to arise if you borrow ingredients without having anything of your own to add to the mix you’re making- that special personal touch that will be yours, and yours alone.
So how to go about building a fantasy world from scratch? The short answer is:
1. Have a reason to do it.
2. Know what that reason is.
3. Devise a consistent construction plan based on that reason.
6. Research again.
The long answer hidden in these steps, I plan to explore in the upcoming newspost.
So have you dabbled/created fantasy at all? If so, does any of this sound familiar? Have I left anything out that you’ve found to be important?
Inquiring minds want to know!
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, July 8, 2017
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