Creating a Fantasy World From Scratch is Easy ft. Lies I Tell Myself at 10:30pm
Hello, lifeforms. Whether you're a Martian or a Jupiterite, an alien of sorts or even *repressed shudder* a human being, I'm sure that you've lied to yourself at some point. Maybe it was about something trivial (Example: 'I don't have to study for my Spanish test because the answers will come to me naturally hehe') or perhaps something a little more serious, but regardless of what it is about, you have lied at some point in your lives. It's okay. We all have.
And if you say you haven't, well....you're probably lying.
For example, when we were kids, we claimed that the cookies just happened to disappear from the cupboards. We said that the annoying kid across the street that always took our toys just happened to find his bike underneath a ditch. We protested that we simply didn't know what happened to our homework; wasn't it on the teacher's desk this morning?
And the same goes for writers. Perhaps even more so. What's that? You don't know what I'm talking about? Let me enlighten you.
Do you remember your first book? I don't mean properly written, beautifully and masterfully planned book with complex characters and beautiful descriptions. No, no, mon Cherie. I mean your first first book. When you were little, and you decided to pick up a crayon and a scrap piece of paper and wrote a little book, because it was just that easy, right?
I don't think so.
And so this post is dedicated to the writerly lies that I've told myself at some point in time. Maybe you'll relate. Maybe you'll have even used these white lies yourself once upon a manuscript. Or maybe you'll think I'm a little odd bean with too much time on my hands.
Regardless, here is my carefully selected List of Blatant Lies I Tell Myself When Writing.
Lie #1 - My Characters Will Just Come to Me During The Process, Because They're Just Waiting to Be Written, Right? *innocent smile*
WRONGER THAN PROFESSOR UMBRIDGE AT A DEATH METAL CONCERT.
I'm sorry, but characters will never just come to you. Perhaps some aspects of them, such as their appearance and certain little quirks or traits, could flitter into your mind in the dead of night or whatever. But to create a complex, deep, well-thought out and realistic character?
Well, that requires a bit of thought, as does most aspects of writing a book.
Now, I'm not saying that you have to go make a binder for every character you create (although if that helps, go for it), in fact I know that a lot of writers tend to just make it up as they go along. But your characters, like real people, must show their humanity through their depth and complexity, because I think we can all agree that in real life, humans are really just a bunch of individual mysteries that nobody's going to solve without some clues.
And to successfully convey that in your writing? That's going to take some thought.
Lie #2 - Creating a Fantasy World From Scratch is Easy-Peasy. The Landscape Will Be Easy-Peasy. The Society Will Be Easy-Peasy. The Different Attitudes and Whatnot Will Be Easy-Peasy. *gullible giggle*
I hate myself for even believing this in the first place.
In my current WIP, I have to create an entirely new realm known as Éire in which there are a multitude of magical communities, attitudes, political systems and whatnot. So far, I think I've done okay with getting the basics done and dusted, but one thing I'm really struggling with?
The map of my fantasy land.
I AM NOT GIFTED IN THE AREA OF SKETCHING OKAY!? I mean, I can barely draw a stickman for crying out loud, much less a fully-developed and complex map of a made-up place. I envy those writers who can do this, because I sure as anything cannot. (Does anybody have any tips? Seriously, I'm drowning over here)
Lie #3 - Magic Systems Are So Easy To Understand, Right? *hair flip*
In my WIP, there are a number of warlock communities, each with their own special powers. These powers derive from an ancient event known as the Bestowal which happened A LONG time ago and resulted in warlocks being created. There are fire warlocks, earth warlocks, air warlocks, white magic warlocks, water warlocks.....and a never-before-seen energy warlock in the form of Nessa.
Oh, and the Greek witch and her sons can control darkness and shadows. Did I mention that?
So yeah, there's a lot for readers to understand. I mean, what are the side effects of these powers? Do they have a downside? Does each magical community have their own culture/traditions?
YES. YES. YES.
This, originally, was quite hard for me to write as I didn't want to bombard any potential readers with a ton of information that would just confuse them. I mean, do they really need to know that fire warlocks burn their dead? Is it necessary for them to know that white magic warlocks fatigue easily, that overusing their powers can make them ill?
Again: YES. YES. YES.
I realised that this information actually leads up to a well-rounded, developed story that makes it more believable because a) real world is full of different cultures and traditions and b) I actually began to LIKE writing about this stuff because I'm a bit of a research junkie.
But that doesn't mean it is easy. You have to think long and hard about what to include and where, if there is conflict with other warlocks, etc.
However, I can assure you, that all of that brainwork is worth it in the end.
However, I can assure you, that all of that brainwork is worth it in the end.
Lie #4 - My Good Guys Will Be Perfect And Awesome All Day Long. They Will Be The Beyoncé of Protagonists! *fist bump*
As in the real world, no character will ever be completely good or bad. Look at Katniss Everdeen, for instance; she was brave and courageous, yet willing to let the Hunger Games continue with descendants of the Capitol despite knowing how traumatising an experience it was. Clary Fray, the protagonist of The Mortal Instruments, cares deeply about those she loves and yet she acts carelessly and sometimes just downright recklessly.
All people have good and bad traits. This, I think, should be conveyed in our writing. We are not perfect, and as a human race we are flawed and that is okay because it is simply the way we are and so why can't our characters be just as, if not more, flawed? It add depth to the character and makes them more relatable.
But of course, I had a bit of a problem with this. With my character Lex, I realised half-way through plotting his character that he was a little....dull. I hadn't written him with any fatal flaw, so to speak. Nessa was a bit reckless, Dane had a tendency to run from his problems, but Lex?
Yup. I had created a Mary-Sue character with as much appeal as a cardboard lollipop.
So I gave him flaws. I rounded his character out from more than just a do-good bookaholic to an avid reader with a tendency to make himself into a self-martyr, so to speak. He gets anxious easily, and is a worrier to the extreme. Despite this, Lex is one of the most powerful characters in TDH and his healing powers are badass as hell. (Also, he's an archer, because I have a thing about fantasy characters and longbows 'kay?)
And now? Lex is one of my favourite children.
Lie #5 - Who Are You Kidding? You'll Never Finish This Book. You Can't Write Like Everybody Else. Just Give Up Already.
This one is partly true.
Yes, I will never be able to write like everybody else, but you know what? I wouldn't want to. The one thing that makes us writers special is that each and every one of us writes a different way. Some of us write in poetic, mesmerising verses whilst others are humorous and just downright hilarious with their dialogue and descriptions. Some of us write in armchairs, some of us write in an office. Some of us are addicted to caffeine, whilst some of us prefer the blood of our enemies (I'm kidding, of course. *sweats nervously*).
Do you see what I'm trying to say? Each of us writers are different and spectacular in our own way. The whole creative process is crazy and sometimes we may just want to pack it all in and go cry in our pillow forts, but at the end of the day we don't give up.
Sure, some manuscripts may end up on the scrap heap and we may abandon certain projects. But we are doing what we love and that is the most important thing. We move forward. We push our imaginations to their very limits. Some of us write to forget reality, whilst some of us write to cope with it.
But no matter your reasons for writing, the most important thing is that you do it, that you love it, and that you are happy.
And our stories are our own way of getting our messages into the world. I know that mine is. And isn't that worth all of the sleepless nights and the coffee breaks and the pile of crumpled paper in your room?
We have something to say, us writers. It is time that we realised how important that is, and in order to do that, we must not give up. Because someday, that message you brought into the world may just mean the universe to someone with a heavy heart and your book in their hands.
Lies are dangerous things. But once we see the truth behind them, we become invincible.
- Sunset xx