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  1. Something Blue
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    Something Blue New Member

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    Need opinions - story set in two worlds

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Something Blue, Dec 28, 2013.

    I've asked something similar to all you lovely people before, but I'm going for the publication of this story I've been working on, on and off, for a good few months now and I need some help on a critical point about setting.

    Essentially, my idea for the story is that it's set in two worlds. My original thinking is that the first world, where the story begins, is Earth. My protagonists are then transported to a very fantasy world, with elves and dwarves and the like. They are later followed by other earth-dwellers. The majority of the story takes place in this fantasy world and hence there's a lot of sword-fighting, bowfire, magic fireballs and stuff like that. So, modern day Earth-dwellers would be in this fantasy world. Whilst this is how the story is in my head, it presents a number of problems

    1) I have to work around the reason why the humans can't just destroy everyone with guns and grenades and stuff (have a reasonably good theory for this)

    2) Have to work around language barriers

    3) People who are typically likely to pick up my book, lovers of Fantasy, might be put off by the initial lack of Fantasy stuff even if, if they read onwards, they may enjoy it. Typically, people tend to read the first chapter when deciding whether to pick up a book and I'm afraid there'll be a lot of people who are like "bah, this isn't fantasy" and put it back.

    So do you think I could work around these ideas and do you think I indeed should? To me it seems obvious in a way that I should change the "Earth" to simply be another country in the same sort of world as the fantasy world, that way there's no guns and everyone would speak a "common tongue". However, should this be prioritized over my original vision?
     
  2. Something Blue
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    Something Blue New Member

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    Oh, and there's one advantage to going with my original idea: there are quite a few cool scenes/events I can think up. My favourite being a dragon and helicopter dogfight :D
     
  3. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Could you work around any problems you encounter while writing? Nobody could possibly answer that question for you... Try asking a complete stranger over internet "do you think I could swim across this lake?" or "do you think I could climb a tree?" Well, CAN you? :)

    Should you? Hell yes, if you want to tell a story, you should tell it. While telling it, of course you should work out any perceived problems... How else are you going to tell it? :)

    For the "problems" you mention:
    1) it depends COMPLETELY on how YOU conceive it and how you choose to present it. It could even be something ridiculous (or as illogical as why the Terminator can't carry any weapons or clothes with him while time-traveling) - if you write it in a witty, interesting way, it even doesn't have to make any sense :)

    2) Again, you have as many ways to work this out as you imagination allows. From ignoring the problem completely (elves are born anglophones), to using it for comedy (misunderstandings all around), or for serious socio-study (not understanding each other leads to wars and suffering all the time). You can break the barrier by using a StarTrek-type universal translator, or by introducing a complex system of language schools. Or you can build an alien language, with its own grammar and syntax, just to make life miserable for your readers...

    3) One of my fav fantasy series, the Thomas Covenant Chronicles, introduces the main character, a modern-day writer who suffers from leprosy, as he bitches about his divorce. Not a great epical start...
     
  4. Earthshine
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    Earthshine Member

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    1. Maybe modern technology is affected by magic, geomagnetic energies, ect which renders them useless. Or maybe - if people are transported against their will/without their knowledge - they don't have time to bring weapons.

    2. There are so many ways you can go about this, and you could probably steal from a number of books/shows/movies. For instance, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, language barriers are broken down by a tiny alien fish thing which lives inside the host's brain and translates alien languages for them. In an anime I watched when I was younger, Kyou Kara Maoh, the MC was originally from the fantasy world as so the ability was 'summoned from his blood' or something like that. Other books have used magic and spells to cross this language barrier, and I'm sure there's a million other ways it could be done.

    3. Often alternative reality type fantasy stories start in the everyday world. And this is usually alright since your book premise will most likely mention the fantasy element, and most fantasy readers will be able to hold on for a few chapters to get to the fantasy part of the story. However, if you're worried I wouldn't take more than one or two chapters to launch into the fantasy element of the story. Also, you could drop hints in those first few chapters that give a sense of 'all is not what it seems'. For instance, I think Harry Potter does this really well. The first chapter is from the perspective of Harry's uncle, Vernon Dursley, who is in every way a normal middle-aged man. But the first chapter is littered with strange occurrences which hint at something magical happening under the surface.

    Anyway, hope I helped.
     
  5. RaeRae
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    RaeRae Member

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    My novel starts off on Earth and has scenes on another world entirely. I switch betweeen the two worlds so I have to be careful the settings are done right. So far, no one is put off by it starting on Earth and kept reading. I believe my novelist friends call it a hook. You have to get the reader to WANT to continue to get to the good stuff. I still have a lot of tweaking to do because I want an even better hook. As Eartshine touched on, get some hint about the other world in there so they get a taste of what is to come.
     
  6. stormr
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    stormr Member

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    As far as not using weapons, you could write it in that once humans started arriving at this new world with medieval weaponry, they decided that bringing our modern technology would have a disasterous impact with the new world and could destroy it . However in the dogfight scene with a helicopter and dragon (wich sounds really cool btw) could be tricky since you didn't want to introduce modern earth weapons, unless of course it's a group of bad guys who want to take over the fantasy world which would seem fair to have a dragon vs. helicopter scene.

    Language barriers, this one I believe the simplest and easiest would be in order. Either using a spell. Or they already speak our language, just have a distinct dialect in thier words, and use different terms for things (food is grub, doors are entrances, tv's are magical talking picture boxes, etc..) If going that route though you'd have to come up with original terms and be sure not to use sayings that other countries might use (pants are trousers, elevators are lifts, etc..)something like clothes would be wearings, that kind of thing simpler the better I say.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's a pretty drastic change in the nature of the book. A big part of the appeal of "normal people go to fantasy world" stories *is* the normal people part, the fantasy of the reader finding a fantasy world. Narnia, Oz, Alice in Wonderland, The Number of the Beast (Heinlein), Life on Mars, Back to the Future, Sliders, Quantum Leap, dozens of others from classic fiction to TV series, wouldn't be the same without the world-crossing element.
     
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  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sliders...
     
  9. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could go the Harry Potter route and have your fantasy elements existing in the normal world but just hidden from sight by magic. This would overcome the language problem and the problem of fitting the helicopter through the wardrobe, if you take the Narnia route. If you set the story outside the US then people probably won't have access to guns, grenades and stuff.
     
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  10. Bamph101
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    Bamph101 New Member

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    im not a writer but i recently thought id try my hand. i took on a similar project and the solution i found to your first problem is the protagonist experiences a watered down or weaker version of magic. something he notices but it isnt particularly useful or reliable until he arrives in the new world (it should happen pretty close to the beginning of the story). the new world has more magic available to use and he is able to train and learn more about it. the trip to the fantasy world was meant to be a one way ticket that has to take the person at least a little by surprise. they dont have time to gather up lots of supplies and they can only take what they have on them. my character will also be arrested upon arrival and all his things (clothing Phone ect) will be confiscated. so he only effectively has the ability to bring his body and his thoughts. but it leaves it open in case i need to have someone bring a gun or whatever as well. ive also toyed with the idea that the "portal" they used is tied to 2 specific places, but not a specific time, so if he goes back to earth he wont return to his time. perhaps a few hundred years in the past or future, then if he went back to the fantasy realm he would show up again in a random time, but still in the same place. makes the temptation of just going back for more supplies kind of a non issue, because there is no "back" only something new.

    The language thing has got me stumped though. it always kind of buggs me that no matter where everyone goes in movies and books everyone always seems to speak english. i was going to get around it using the magic solution like "stormr" suggested and just expose my main character to some kind of Translation spell that works on the brain on a sub language level or whatever, and the rest would just have to learn the language. but of corse id be wrighting the book in english. i realized though that this causes a whole new set of issues. for example, the things that rhyme in english probably wouldn't rhyme in whatever language the spoke on the new planet. songs and puns and lots of other things just wouldn't work anymore. so ive ether got to ignore the implications of writing as if it were a translation, or ive got to go on just pretending that everyone speaks english... or wright a really dull book... so yeah im not really sure.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014
  11. easyhell
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    easyhell Member

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    I'd be SO down for this..
    Unfortunately no advice for you here, just admiration...
    Good Luck!
     
  12. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    Funny that you should post this as I've just finished a novel in which the first section of the book is on Earth and the remainder is on another world. One thing that I did, which my publisher liked when I addressed this same issue with him, is that the first 17 chapters (out of 48), which are on earth, average 1500 words. Once we get to the fantasy aspect of the book (Chapter 18-48) average 2500 words each. By keeping the initial chapters very short and insuring that there was a real reason to turn the page at the end of each chapter, we hope to keep the readers interest until the fantasy aspect begins.

    Too, the book includes a prologue written by the MC, which is almost entirely devoted to fantasy element. Lastly, the first paragraph of the book sets the stage for some fantasy elements:

    "I've been staring at this page for a half hour now and have no idea how to begin. My name is Josh and I'm about fourteen years old. Typically, a guy knows how old he is and he doesn't have to guess but here's the deal: I turned fourteen years old yesterday. I also turned fourteen years old six days ago. My girlfriend, actually she's quite a bit more than a girlfriend, was thirteen years old yesterday. Unfortunately, she's fifteen years old today and, unless I can figure out something pretty quick, she's going to die of old age before my fifteenth birthday."

    I hope this helps.
     
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  13. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have a look at the "Hells Gate" series by David Weber. Very similar plot. Tech one side, dragons the other.
     
  14. Auratus
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    1. I seconded Earthshine's "unprepared" idea or maybe fantasy world's adapt can control Earth's metal with ease due to it's affinity to their magic (which Earth people didn't know that because we don't have magic)

    2. MC can try to link their knowledge with someone as part of magic learning, fantasy linguist fascinated by English and then, after few day, speaking English became cool thing in fantasy world. :cool:
     
  15. Something Blue
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    Something Blue New Member

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    Sorry for the late reply everyone! Someone had hacked into all my accounts (serves me right for using the same password for everything) so it's taken a while to get everything back straight!

    But thanks for all the replies so far, they've been extremely helpful!

    I think I have the language thing covered though, but the issue I think is whether or not I have it covered well. There are three fantasy races I have planned. One doesn't feature often, so they're not going to be able to speak or understand english, so that's not a problem. Many people belonging to the second race can travel to Earth, so a lot of their race have made the effort to learn English. And the third, the most important and most frequently appearing, have a special gift, allowing them to speak every language that they hear fluently. It works, but the last one does feel like cheating a bit.

    You reckon? I would have thought that would put some people off, like I said before. To me, Fantasy is Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones etc.

    In a way, I do want to write this "pure fantasy", where there's no modern influences at all, little technology, several races of people all with different culture and stuff. I feel that having Earth as a world in my novel will spoil that. But then on the other hand, this story just seems right in my head with Earth + the other world. Maybe I'm just scared of changing it so drastically, and I know it can work without Earth, but, I don't know, maybe it won't have the same level of mystery. Going from one fantasy world to another is not as mysterious as going to one from Earth. But like I say, it seems right in my head.

    That's my dilemma I guess. A choice between what I want and what feels right, whilst trying to judge which one would work better for the readers.
     
  16. Gemini_Genie
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    I like Stormrs idea of having the modern day visitors think concientiously about their bringing weapons to the fantasy world. If they simply stumbled upon this fantasy place it's likely they wouldn't have grenades and other high grade weapons with them the first time. They could really start to like the place and want to keep it a secret from other people. Humans being humans though someone would eventually tell. lol Leading up to your Dragon v.s Helicopter fight. You could probably pull it off but if you're adamant about not introducing modern day weapons on the scene you'd have to the battle on the more modern side. Maybe the king suddenly decides he doesn't like modern day people and sicks on dragon on them? :3

    As for the language barrier, well you could always do time travel. Your fantasy world could just be an older version of the world your modern day characters already live in. But then that would be science fiction wouldn't it?

    Maybe not. Magic can be used to go back in time. It's in tones of movies. You could try that! :D
     
  17. Jecon
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    *Have to work around language barriers. There a number of possible solutions that can suggest, or at least reiterate.

    1. The earth dwellers could not stay in the fantasy word unnoticed for long. Even a single dwarf who has seen these strange creatures will be enough to stir up fear in the fantasy world, so much so that the dwarf could have asked someone to cast a spell over these humans so as to find them and translate their language to uncover whatever veil plan they have.

    *I have to work around the reason why the humans can't just destroy everyone with guns and grenades and stuff (have a reasonably good theory for this)

    1. Or, you can say that the creatures living in the fantasy world was tasked by a higher power to secretly supervise the affairs of mankind (Secretly - so as not to remove their free will). Without their guidance, mankind will eventually destroy itself because of their greed, selfishness, and rage.

    (You can also say that the mystical creatures were motivated to guide the humans, because some high-ranking elf or dwarf had been slain on earth before. Thus, to avoid this event from happening again, some of the mythical races must guide the human race. They cannot simply sever their ties with the human world, because the two worlds are always connected in some ways.)

    Now, in order to guide the humans, the elves or dwarves need to know their language, their way of thinking, and their technology. They decided that the humans must not interfere with their kind, because humans, based on their observation , are evil by nature. So, to ease their fear that mankind would grow in power and know their existence, they have sought to know all the human technologies, including the human weapons, so that it could not harm them should they face the humans someday.
     
  18. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    The novel I'm currently writing starts at Earth and then moves to another planet, too. However, most of the similarities end there. I'm not posting this to give you a full overview of all the ways in which your issues can be solved, but I'll use it to explain how I managed to avoid them, just in case you can scavange some ideas from that:

    1) In my story on nine people leave from Earth to the other planet and they didn't previously know eachother or live near eachother, nor did they have any access to human weapons or skills required for their use execpt perhaps a couple of them deciding to bring a pocket knife with them. They also aren't at war with the people who bring them to this other planet, and also those people are actually humans. Space and also time constraints are also present; they simply don't have the room, manpower or time to bring along a spear, cannon, bomb, tank or whatever. As touched on before, neither the humans on Earth or those on the other planet believe they are in danger, so bringing weapons would also be unnecessary. Lastly, in virtually any situation the non-Earth humans' magic (they're the only ones who know it) would obliterate the Earth techonology both literally and considering the difference in potency by instantly blocking or shooting jets of energy to form a shield or bullet at a foe. The humans from Earth learn this magic, and so don't require traditional weapons. The magical humans also actually invented some technology on their own, which for the most part actually surpass the non-magical ones, with various degrees of interconnectionality between this technology and magic, so even if they found a use for guns, they could have made them themselves.

    2) This has a simply solution in my story: Both groups already spoke English. The magical humans are descendants of earlier English-speaking humans from Earth and all the nine Earth-humans know English as part of why they were chosen as the ones to leave. While not all of the nine have/had English as their native language they all knew it well, and while the English on the other planet had diverged slightly from Earth's, it's not enough to dumbfound any of the nine, who genrally had a great knowledge of the different accents on Earth.

    3) I have this issue too, but here are four ideas of how to deal with it: 1. Make the part without fantasy-type elements as short as possible, whatever that means for your story. 2. Make that part as interesting in every other way as possible, for example the Earth my main character is from is a future Earth and has some different cultural and political structures than our world and I also spice it up with intruducing elements of danger, death, mystery, crime, romance and even magic before leaving for another planet. 3. Market it as crime fantasy, romance fantasy or science fantasy or whatever, or explain a bit further when you can about the genre/story/plot and who'd be interested in it, or you may instead lead your readers to believe it's not fantasy and have that be a surpise, although that obviously means fantasy-lovers might discard the book before they get to that part while fantasy-haters will stop reading when they get to that (however, if you find those in between, you're golden). 4. Include a prologue that quite clearly features fantasy, but which is still mysterious as to its future implications, and then start the story as you described it after that.possibly by the MC awaking from dreaming the prologue, or maybe he learns of it later, or maybe it explains the backstory of your book.

    Good luck. I really like your story/ story idea and think it has lots of potential. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014

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