Sometimes during creative writing classes you will be expected to deepen into the genres of fantasy or science fiction. It may seem easy at first, since you are the sole ruler of the whole fictional world, and that can excuse some historical or social inaccuracies that your story of a different genre cannot contain.
However, total freedom of creativity can also be your biggest obstacle towards writing. In this article our team would like to explore the different issues that you have to think through before writing your original fantasy story with a super new world. Hopefully our tips will be helpful for you!
First of all, what is the environment where your characters live? You can make them live in an alternate universe on the planet Earth to save some creative energy, however if you really want your work to stand out, there are many opportunities you could choose from.
Whether it is a real planet like Mars or Venus, or a fictional one, whether it is a forest, a mountain, a space station, the bottom of an ocean, or a desert, you should consider carefully the geographical location, and the details that such location implies. If you want to write about a powerful race of snow demi-gods living on a cold planet, make sure to omit everything that reminds of fire, and forget about making them enjoy hot cocoa beside a chimney. The logic of your story should be in line with the conditions you provide first.
Who are your characters? You could describe an entirely new species or race of creatures, or make a story by intertwining the connections of different species or races. Think about their physical characteristics and how they differ from humans.
Maybe, if they live on a planet covered with salty waters in underwater caves, the fat percentage in their bodies should be bigger to keep them from freezing. Consider their appearance and their characteristics, their aging process, the functions of the body they need to survive. A common trick for fantasy novels is to describe a new species from the perspective of a human that accidentally got trapped in that mysterious world. In such way you could describe the differences and make your reader feel how that world is different from ours. Consider not only their appearance, but also their clothes, hair styles, accessories, and so on.
How do the races interact with each other or within their own community? Are they at war or at peace? Which cast is the most powerful if there is one? If they are a gendered species, how do they treat members of the opposite sex? What are their mating rituals? You can take your story in many different directions. For example, in her acclaimed novel Left Hand of Darkness Ursula Le Guin introduces a species of creatures that do not have a dominant gender, but assume either during the mating season. It is an interesting and thought-provoking concept.
In every society there is unevenness that is derived from having too much or too little property or fighting over resources. How does that rule out in your original world? Maybe your race is fighting with humans over the pine forests, as they need wood to survive. Maybe the richest beings are those who have the best electronic devices. Make out the main interests that drive your characters through the story.
How is your community ruled? Is there a sovereign whose words are sacred? Or is it a more democratically inclined system? How much do politics matter in your world? Consider this carefully before writing your novel.
The same goes with religion. What kind of Gods do your creatures believe in? Maybe they know the secrets of the universe or find peace in the rules of nature. Make sure to analyze their belief system and rituals. You can create some amazing and complicated rituals and ascribe them to the religious views of the tribe.
Many novels are centered on family relationships. To us, the family bond is often really important, and that is why so many storylines center on finding peace with your relatives or gaining their appreciation and acceptance. Do family ties matter in your fantasy world? If so, how much? Would a parent’s word be sacred and define the course of a child’s life? Here is some more food for thought that you will need when sketching out your story.
Flora & Fauna
When you are mapping out your story, do not forget to carefully analyze some minor details that will make it realistic and unusual. What kind of attitude do the creatures of your fantasy world have to animals and plants? Do they consume animals, keep them as pets, fight them for land or anything else? What about plants? You can create even different species of unknown fauna and flora and give them extra powers that will be crucial for the plot: for example, this can be a kind of grapevine that you can use as an eavesdropping device.
Now that you have your whole world mapped out in front of you, consider the main conflict of your original story. Here are some other details to consider. Make sure to not squeeze the explanation of the world’s environment, its power systems, its religious and politics into a two-hundred-page essay before the whole core of the story, but rather integrate them gracefully in the plot of your story, explaining minor details when necessary.