This week's Speculative Fiction Writer is blogging buddy, Alexandra Lanc. I'm thrilled to have her guesting on my blog today. Over to you, Alexandra.
Writing From The World Up
By: Alexandra Lanc
First off, I’d like to thank Ellie for allowing me a post today. I hope that you all enjoy it, and I’m honored to be here on the blog!
I was asked to do a post on Speculative Fiction, the umbrella term that encompasses the Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Horror, Dystopian, and many other genres besides, but since the realm of Speculative Fiction is so large, I’m going to focus on my favorite genre: Fantasy.
There are of course many types of Fantasy, the Epic Fantasy (a la Tolkien) probably the most known and most often written type. When I was small, and first started thinking about writing, Fantasy was what drew me in the most, and when I begun writing my first story it had a very Fantasy flare to it (and since then, I’ve continued to write in this genre, and it’s become my favorite overall). There’s something beautiful and magical about stepping into a world that has been created, both by the author’s imagination, and by the tales the author heard or read themselves. All writing builds on the writing that came before it, but none (arguably) builds on it so much as Fantasy. From folk-tales, to fairy-tales, to mythology, there is so much Fantasy sitting around to inspire.
As an author who writes Fantasy, with one series underway, one adding a bit of Sci-Fi, and one meticulously being crafted, I was first inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, as many people are (with C.S. Lewis right behind), from the films to the books (I know that the films weren’t all they could have been, but they were an introduction to me). I’m currently re-reading The Hobbit, but it was that book, many years ago, that really got me thinking about writing Fantasy in the first place, and realizing how much I loved it, and how much work and detail and love could be put into one story – or one series of stories, or one world, as it happened.
The most exciting (and the most important thing, I think) to me about writing Fantasy is crafting an amazing world, not only for your readers to enjoy, but also for your writer’s mind to play in. It can be a hard thing for a writer to do, because you have to pour everything into the world that you’re creating in order to get it right, and there is so much detail to be had, but once you have a good basis, then anything is possible (this is something that I, as an author, am implementing more and more; not all Fantasy is Epic, but I think that a basis for all of it, even if it’s not quite as complex as an Epic, is important. Another thing to keep in mind is: the more we write, and the more we read, and the more we discover, the more we learn about ourselves as writers).
Something that I often chat with writing friends about is the fact that there’s an important difference between “what if”, and “what if I disregard critical thinking”. It’s not enough to just imagine something – if you want to imagine something great, instead of something so-so, then you have to think things through. This is especially true for crafting a Fantasy world.
There will always be rules in a world, things that cannot be broken. And of course, there will always be physical limits for your characters, and limits to your plot. Are your characters trekking across a new land, one they’ve never been to before? Well, then they’re going to get lost – wouldn’t you? Even if they have a map or some good directions, say the terrain is dangerous, and one way looks better than the other? More than likely, they’re going to stray from their path (this recently happened in The Hobbit, in fact, a few chapters back from what I’m now reading). Your characters may even be attacked by giant spiders because they strayed from their course.
What I’m trying to say is that while creating something new, and thinking “what if” is fun, there’s also nothing more exciting than plotting out the details of your world. The more time you spend on something, the more beautiful it will be, and the more that you think about how the details fit together, the closer it will be to flawless. When writing Fantasy (or anything else, for that matter), build the plot from the world up, and see what details will appear to surprise you.
And when you get frustrated, because it happens to us all, and wonder when on Earth you’ll find your way again, just remember this:
About Alexandra Lanc:
Alexandra Lanc is an American author who writes Young Adult and New Adult, and who focuses on the Fantasy, Science-Fiction, and Horror genres (though she is known to dabble in Contemporary and Poetry, as well). She is currently working on a Paranormal/Horror novella series where the readers have a say in what happens next, and a Tolkien-inspired Epic Fantasy with a light Science-Fiction twist.
Google+: Alexandra Lanc
My Blog: Words of the Worlds
Goodreads: Alexandra Lanc
Thank you, Alexandra. I loved your description of world-building. Creating your own fantasy world is one of the most appealing aspects of the genre. I think I shall print a copy of the Tolkien quote and stick it on the door to my writing den for all to see.