1. sophia_esteed
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    sophia_esteed Senior Member

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    writing fantasy: where should I start from?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by sophia_esteed, Jan 21, 2011.

    I've gotten this idea of writing a fantasy novel which takes after Full Metal Alchemist and the alchemic games of the Atelier series.
    Problem is, I'm more of a sci-fi writer than a fantasy writer, I like both genres, but when it comes to writing, sci-fi comes more natural.
    I don't even know where should I start writing from.
    Do I need to invent a whole new world with its unique people, races and languages? Or can I stick to a mirror world which takes after our own, but it isn't exactly the same (pretty much like how Philip Pullman did with his His Dark Materials trilogy)?
    If I choose the latter, do I need to be faithful to reality when describing cities like, say, London? Or can I invent a totally different London, but keep the name?
    I'm really (and I mean, really really) bad at naming places and inventing artificial languages, so the idea of inventing a whole new world kinda scares me.
    Also, do I need to have knowledge of demons, and creatures? And of magic and things like that?
    I was thinking of writing a steampunk novel set in a XIX century-like world.
     
  2. PurpleCandle
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    PurpleCandle Senior Member

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    I find writing fantasy as freeing, Its my own world, I'll do with it what I want :)
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I let my stories build my world and its races based on what the story needs them to do. I needed a different world for my royal family to be credible so I created it. For names most are either self explanatory (Covesea Island - it is an Island with a Cove, Seatown - a town by the sea) or have a connection local to the area I live in (Burghead, Culbin, Moravia, Scotia). For countries I adapted Earth names for my world Scotia, Mediteranea, Ceylonica etc For the odd snippets of language I tweaked chinese and cornish for Merlin.

    For me the important thing with my stories is to tell them but I am constantly asking - why did that happen, how could it have happened, and to find an explanation in context of the world it is set on. For example so I could use earth names like Angus, Jack, Matt etc I developed a legend of Christian Puritan Pilgrims building a spaceship and bringing it to Litae (my world)
     
  4. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    1) OOO Fullmetal Alchemist fan :)

    2) Not always, fantasy can involve just super powers, magic. Although, a new world is interesting. They don't need a new language or even look very different to us. About the city thing, well, if it's a main part of the story, you might want to do some research. I don't mind helping either, as I am from London hehe :D

    3)Greek, Latin words are your friends. Dutch too xD you could just make up a random word that sounds...different and name something that.

    4)Not really, unless your story is based on them. Heck, you could even have your own take on it. Doesn't need to be based to mythology stuff.
    I think your thinking about this too hard and restricting yourself to the basic things of fantasy. It's fantasy. You can do anything you want. Just remember, suspension of belief, meaning make it believable. (Even though we all know it will be impossible for fantasy to happen xD)

    Hope this helped!
    Good luck!
     
  5. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Fantasy comes in an impressive number of variants, so the "best" way (though a slow way) is to read a broad variety of fantasy stories.

    The only requirements are that you have a story to tell, and that you not cheat after the rules are established.

    You could make a new world, or use ours. You can add magic, or races, or continents; change cities, alter history, nullify modern tech. You can add gods, demons, werewolves, earth spirits, alien intelligences, immortals, sentient magic and sentient mountains.

    But you'll probably be best off starting with a character who has a problem, and filling in only the details that matter. Sure, you can build a world -- but when it comes to actually writing, if a bit of information isn't at all relevant, leave it out.
     
  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I think there are a few ways to do good fantasy:

    1. Create your entirely own world with its own races, etc. (Like what Tolkein did)
    2. Create a world that's similar and relatable to our own, but obviously made up (like Harry Potter)
    3. Create fantasy events in a real place, which may or may not be altered (like your example with London).

    Here is what NOT to do: Don't re-use Tolkein's world. LOTR is great and I love it, but it's been written already. Let it rest. It's a huge pet peeve of mine to see fantasy novels that involve orcs, elves, wraiths, rings of power...I mean come on, come up with your own stuff.
     
  7. Headintheclouds
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    Headintheclouds Member

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    The thing with fantasy is it's completely made up. There aren't any rules surrounding what you create. You could create a fantasy world, with it's own animals and plants and humanoid species. But if that's not what you want to do, you don't have to. You could create a world based on the real world, and deviate as much as you wanted from this world, if you wanted to. You could set it in our world, full stop. If you wanted, that is. The thing is it's completely up to you. Only know what if you do put it in another world, at least a little bit of thought should be put into developing this world (maps and such). The things is, it doesn't have to be high fantasy with all these different races for you to explain and describe (elves, dragons, dwarves, or something all together made up). You could simply have humans. I mean, maybe they differ a bit from region to region, but if it's not central to the plot, you don't have to include this. Anyway, hope I helped.
     
  8. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Really, you can do any of the possibilities you mentioned. Plenty of examples of each.

    So, to start, do what you feel comfortable doing.

    -Frank
     
  9. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    The situation is that you can do anything you like. Whomever wrote Full Metal didn't call around asking if they could create such and such and neither do you.

    With that being said, you have to do what makes you feel strong. I noticed that you're in Italy, so it would be better to set it there than in London if you don't know what that looks like or in a fantasy world you can't imagine.

    Also, I would read about Alchemy which was a pre-science practice taken seriously by many a long time ago. That may give you fresh ideas as compared to just enjoying an anime loosely based on the practice.
     
  10. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, the alchemy in FMA isn't exactly real alchemy. :p Might be better to think of different sorts of magic.

    When starting fantasy I always think long and hard about the magic in it - where does it come from and how does it affect the world? Even when you've just got magic people or creatures, they're still magic for a reason, and what is that? No one ever explains where the magic in Harry Potter comes from. One thing that really bugs me about the series. :p You have a basic start point of religious or nature, and then there are basic ways of accessing it - either it's natural to the person - so someone who naturally accessed religious power might be a priestess, who'd be able to just use the same sort of magic as might be associated with her god. Then there's magic you get through a process - drawing a circle or mixing potions, chanting rites etc where people can only control the outcome, but they have to ask the source of magic for its power to use themselves, basically. This is the alchemy in FMA and similar - very like wizard magic, except that it has some extra rules added to make it something like alchemy.

    Just a very basic start point - I could write whole essays on this. :p But in world building it's very important, as it tells you who has the power. If it's quite a natural thing, many people might use magic and it'll be a magical society. If it's a society where magic is a closely guarded secret because it needs book learning or being ordained into a religious order, then you'll have a very different world, whether it's based on Earth as we know it, a made up place sort of like it, or a whole other world. Once you know that, things will start shaping up nicely as you'll know where your hero stands.
     
  11. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Both Full Metal Alchemist series are awesome! :)

    When writing fantasy, I've always viewed magic as a different form of technology so it may not be that different from writing sci-fi as you think. The Dragons of Pern series is a good example. It can be seen as fantasy, even though the author says it is sci-fi. Full Metal Alchemist is a good example too. It can fit into either genre.

    Really, you can develop the world as much as you want or as much as you feel you need. You may not need all the info for your story, but it is helpful to know. :) As far as languages go, I wouldn't suggest going as far as Tolken did with inventing a whole new language. If the people of your story speak with a specific slang, you may want to include those words as it will help your world feel more real.

    If you decide to go with a mirror world, I would suggest a place like London and just adding to what is already there. Keep landmarks like Big Ben. Heck, you could destroy Big Ben in your world and have it as the Ruins of Big Ben or have Big Ben built in a new location, but I would expain why. You could have London be twice the size of what it currently is in the real world and add new locations like a 'Red Light District.' Or maybe London got nuked in World War Whatever and now the world has 'New London.' It's your story. As long as you can explain it, the idea can work. The only thing I would suggest against doing is rearranging London's parts with no explanation. People that have been there may read your work and wonder what the heck you are doing.
     
  12. sophia_esteed
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    sophia_esteed Senior Member

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    Wow! That's a lot of advice and suggestions you made!
    This helps me get the general idea.
    Right now I don't need to rush things with this new work, since I'm yet to finish the previous one I'm working on.
    I'll just gather info for now and take my time to think things through, read books, research Alchemy as it was done in our own world/history in ages past.
    Maybe for names I'll try with my old Latin, which I studied at school. It's kind of shaky, but it may provide a nice inspiration.
     

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