Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fictional Flights of Fancy Made Fantastic

All writers are world builders in some form, but fantasy and science fiction writers are world builders extraordinaire. They have to conjure the fantastic out of nothing, make the unbelievable believable. How do they do that?

They base their worlds on our own and tweak. They can tweak a lot or a little. They offer enough familiar elements so the readers can imagine the worlds for themselves. The writer needs to offer enough detail to make the worlds believable, intriguing, inviting, scary, or all of the above.

Not everything has to be explained, but everything does have to follow certain rules – such as the rule of consequence. If the created world breaks a rule then the writer has to justify it somehow to make it believable.

What are some worlds you like to visit? What is it about make-believe worlds you like best?


Note: I could write a book on worldbuilding alone, but I’m keeping these posts short for the A-Z Challenge. To learn more about the challenge click the image on my sidebar.

Pic: Festival of Lights, Hong Kong.

49 comments:

  1. Oz is probably my favorite, the characters are just so...fantastic. And then there's Middle Earth. Wouldn't I love to meet an elf while strolling through a woods.

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  2. That's why I love me fantasy writers best :) As you said their imagination is extraordinary, and they use it like angels use their wings.

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  3. A fantastic thought, now I'll be spending ages trying to decide! :0)

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  4. I have to agree with Bish. I have always loved the wizard of Oz, this was my first touch with the delights of a world full of imagination and fantasy. If I could visit another place it would be Willie Wonkas Chocolate factory. I guess I am just a big kid at heart.

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  5. I am going to be so predictable and say Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is my favourite fantasy world, ever, ever, ever!

    Yay for fantastical magical surreal and fabulous worlds from fabulous authors!! Take care
    x

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  6. Of course I want to visit the world of Hogwarts. I still think Rowling wins hands down of any (recent) fantasy author when it comes to world building. What makes me believe is details like food and music that are in our regular world. Also, your blog title is so fun :)

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  7. Fantasy is what I love the best...so a magical land of fairies, pixies and goblins is what I'd love to visit....

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  8. I've always struggled with enjoying sci-fi or fantasy and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the stories don't take place in this world. For the most part, I like my stories with great twists but with strong doses of reality. Sci-fi and fantasy just don't do it for me. Especially if the author uses aliens to explain why everything is going crazy in the story.

    But I must say that world building is so hard and cheers to anyone who can create a good one!

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  9. I have to agree with old kitty, Terry Pratchett's discword is one of my favorites - along with nightwatchman Sam Vimes :)

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  10. Bish, hehe two fantastic worlds.

    Dezzy, nicely said :)

    Carole, hehe

    Siv, oh yes! Wonka's factory inspired my imagination when I was just a wee little thing.

    Old Kitty, yep, that's my hubby's favourite.

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  11. NiaRaie, Oh yes, I'd love to stroll through the halls of Hogwarts :)

    Caterpillar, cool :)

    Mary Mary, when I read non fantasy stories, I love to read stories set in exotic places-- or at least, interesting places.

    mshatch, they are quirky and fun.

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  12. I know a lot about fighter jets, which is probably I wrote about space jets.

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  13. I like to read about fantasy, and science fiction, but anyway to escape to the world of fiction is great.:)

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  14. I feel so out of time here. I'm about to go to bed on E day and you're already up on F day. LOL!

    I love building fantasy worlds, and you're right, there have to be common elements for the reader to envision the rest.

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  15. I love fantasy worlds, but also futuristic sci-fi ones.

    The world of Firefly is particularly awesome, in a dingy crime-riddled broken-down sort of way. ;)

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  16. Hogwarts is my favorite fantasy world. It amazes me every time I revisit one of the books.

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  17. I like make believe worlds because I can distance myself from real life and the real world and just immerse myself and let my imagination run free. My favorite fantasy world is definitely Hogwarts - it's one I never get tired of and the one that I find myself wishing most often was real.

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  18. Hee hee, I could say that Oz is my favourite too, but I'm not talking fantasy here. I so admire world builders but I'm still preferring books set in the real world. I'm just boring, I know, but you can certainly insert fantasy into the real-world mix.

    Denise<3

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  19. ooh I love Emily Rodda's 'Fairy Realm'.

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  20. Alex, logical :)

    Emily, same

    Laura, muwhahaha, the advantage of being Aussie ;)

    Words Crafter, all great worlds--haven't heard about Krynn for a while. I devoured those books though.

    Trisha, definitely the Firefly world is brilliant.

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  21. Lisa, yep, it was beautifully crafted.

    SweetMarie, I think it's the full immersion that fantasy worlds offer.

    L'Aussie, ha, I'm with you on Oz ;)

    Niki, I'm not familiar with that one. I'll have to look it up.

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  22. Tolkein's of course - for me I have been reading his books since way back - early 60s maybe - and more recently Prachettts - been reading all your A-Z post today - good job as they say in the US -It's taking a while to get around these list of bloggers - have found some great ones on the way - such fun

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  23. I love fantasy and if it has magic and mayhem all the better. Agree with you that even fantasy has to be believable and must have the rule of consequence.

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  24. Good question. I like the comfort and security in the friendships and the descriptions of cosy homes etc. :O)

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  25. Love this post and love the picture! Hmmm. What world would I like to visit? A few of Roald Dahl's, I suppose-- The Chocolate Factory (yum) and The Giant Peach.

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  26. I'll join you in the chocolate factory! Yum!

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  27. There have been so many wonderful worlds created! Too many to choose from. But for me, I love to examine the differences between the make believe world and our own, and how characters interact with it. Makes me wonder what it would REALLY be like.

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  28. There's something truly amazing about a fantasy/sci-fi world done well :) But your right, there do need to be "rules" so readers can get their heads around things. I think that's partly why I read my favorite fantasy books over and over again, because there's always something new to discover, and each time I cement the world a little more firmly in my head.

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  29. I write mysteries set in modern day earth. However, it's a different world than the earth I live: the person murdered is not really alive, the detective is not really there. This takes me out of my depressing world just for awhile.

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  30. Narnia for sure, and I'm with Kitty, Discworld would be great fun!

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  31. I think that's the neatest thing about fantasy/science fiction writers is the world building. Of course, I'd love to visit Hogwarts (a world very similar to our own). Middle Earth would be interesting as long as I'm visiting elves or hobbits. I also like visiting the fantasy world in the first novel I wrote. It's pretty nifty. *grins*

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  32. I think you are right that every writer creates their own world no matter what genre they write in. I'd love to hop into the pages of the Boxcar Children and live in their world. I love how they find discarded things and make them useable....

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  33. Every writer creates a world. They may not all be futuristic but they are all created.
    Memoirs are recreated. Fiction no matter where yo place it is created.
    Taking people somewhere they aren't is the best part of make-believe.

    MaryV

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  34. I love Middle Earth and the Liaden Universe. I know what you mean about world building. It's so easy to get lost in the creation of it all. Glad we connected through the challenge. :)

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  35. I loved Roald Dahl's worlds, from Matilda to James and the Giant Peach. They're always unique and engrossing and I just fall into those books and mentally cuddle up for a couple of hours.

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  36. Love that photo, and I love fantasy. Fantasy is so imaginative, and much more than stringing sentences together. It's quite a challenge, to make it believable!

    Have a great writing day, Lyn. :)

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  37. That whole world building aspect is why I have a healthy respect for those who write fantasy. It ain't easy creating a world, remembering all the rules for that society and then writing all of that stuff into a cohesive whole so that the reader doesn't get muddled.

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  38. Thoughts of how we describe Heaven would be nice. My 5 year old grand daughter said the other day she wanted to die when she was just all grown up not when she is old. Why I asked? Her answer...why would she want to be old in heaven with all the fun stuff there will be to do there.

    http://www.doreenmcgettigan

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  39. I just love the magic of it all! The possible impossibilities! Harry Potter's world is one I'd love to visit - post Voldy, of course. I'd love to visit Tolkien's Rivendell. And if I could snag a ride on the U.S.S. Enterprise? The holo-deck would be MINE! :)

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  40. I love world building. I suppose that's why I picked speculative fiction as my genre. I love worlds that surprise and inspire me and which unravel stories I never would have guessed.

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  41. Well, one of the worlds I love is that of The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. The cities, the borders, the people--they're all so amazing. But almost any story world has something in it that would be amazing to actually experience.

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  42. There are too many fantastic worlds out there to pick just a few. But as for what makes make-believe worlds great, it's that they give you way to escape reality for a short while, and for much cheaper than a trip to somewhere like Thailand or the moon.

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  43. I'm reading loving Sheri S. Tepper's SF novel 'Grass.' I love the way she portrays the worlds and the societies that inhabit them through different characters' povs. It's all so seamless. Very inspirational. Will I ever be that good?

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  44. Alberta, yep, it's taking a long while to get through the list, but like you, it's worth it :)

    Rachna, ah, magic and mayhem, great combo.

    Madeleine, yes! Absolutely! :)

    Samantha, ha..The Giant Peach would be cool

    Kate, yes please :)

    Salarsen, for sure

    Rachael, many of the worlds people have listed as their favourites are quite complex and well thought out. It gives them returnability.

    Clarissa, absolutely. All fiction is make-believe to a degree.

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  45. Amie, oh yes! Narnia for sure!

    Cherie, hehe yeah, you wouldn't want to visit the orcs in Middle Earth ;)

    Sharon, I'm not familiar with that one but it sounds great :)

    MaryV, so true

    Melissa, Oh, I'm not familiar with the Liaden Universe. I looked it up --interesting history to the books.

    Jess, the cuddle up factor is a big one

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  46. Carol, The festival of lights was wonderful. Not a lot of displays, but all gorgeous, scattered along the walkway through the park in the middle of the city.

    Jamaica, yes indeed. I make copious notes to remember the details.

    Doreen, haha, beautiful answer from your grand daughter.

    Donea, I love the way you think! yep, I'd love to spend time on the holo deck too--we could visit Rivendell at the same time! ;)

    M Pax, same here

    Golden, I'll have to read The Looking Glass Wars

    Nate, haha so true!

    Deborah, I'll have to add that one to my TBR list as well.

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  47. I love fantasy worlds. Terry Brooks creates amazing fantasy worlds.

    Also, JK Rowling and Christopher Paolini of Eragon fame.

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  48. I love the language. I love it when an author has created a whole language to go with his world.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.