Before I started writing my first novel, I always assumed that writing fantasy would be easy. What’s not easy about it? You get to make up your own world, creatures, stories, histories, etc… Your world is just sitting there waiting to be created.
Little did I know that the most appealing part of fantasy writing would be the most difficult. How naïve I was!
The next few blog posts will be touching on this subject. Now I’ve written about world-building before in an earlier blog, but there are still more aspects to it that I feel could be addressed. (Frankly, I believe a whole book could be written on the subject.)
The first aspect is in relation to actual world-building. And since this is my blog, I am going to explain how I went about writing it. In my opinion, this is obviously the best way to accomplish building a world.
We’ve all heard the question, “What came first? Was it the chicken or the egg?”
If we really think about it, we all have an answer to that question. It is probably tied in with how you see your world. What is your worldview?
My answer is simple: it was the chicken that came first.
To me, the chicken is the story. I know this is a weird and, probably somewhat, poor analogy. But I’m going with it. Like I said, the chicken is the story. And it is the story that produces the world just as the chicken produces the egg.
When I first came up with Scar of the Downers, I didn’t create a world full of different creatures and races and then sit down to discover what story would inhabit it. No! I discovered Crik and, in turn, discovered what kind of world in which he dwelled. Some of the races I created only came to me when I “met” them as I wrote.
Now that is not to say that you can’t think of a type of world (fantasy, realistic, apocalyptic, etc…) before you come up with a story. But when it comes down to details, it is the story you want to discover first. In fact, I may even say you NEED the story first.
What else would tell you what your world needs if not the story?
If you look close enough, it’s all there. The story will tell you if you need a spaceship and aliens. It will tell you what the aliens look like, act like, and what they want. It will tell you what kind of weapons is in your world. Are there swords, guns, lasers, or clubs? How do you even know who the antagonist is and what he wants without story? That in itself is part of a story.
The story is everything!
I can’t just come up with a whole new world in a vacuum. I need to know who the characters are and what they want before I can tell you anything more about that world.
Why come up with characters and races only to discover that you don’t need them once you find your story?
I didn’t find the Dendron, the Margog, the Rukmush, or even the Downers until I found the story. The world will come from that. The world is the egg. But you need the chicken to get there. What else is going to lay it?
If you find your story, you will find your world!
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.