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Fantasy Writers

Struggling with worldbuilding for a strange universe

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  • #156952
    BookDragon
    @bookdragon

    I love fantasy novels. I love the depth and allegory writers manage to weave into their stories, and I especially love learning about God through them. However, I have always struggled to put such stories on paper. That has never been more true than recently.

    I recently came up with an idea for a new high-fantasy novel. The plot is rather straightforward, but the world is ridiculous. My problem is that I don’t know how to explain the ridiculous without info dumps. It also feels two-dimensional and silly even in tense scenes. I don’t know how to balance everything out, and while the obvious answer would be to eliminate the ridiculous, that stuff is part of the point of the story. Here’s what I mean:

    The premise is that there’s this guy named Mike who decided that he was bored. Because of this, he pulled the “gray, mushy ball in his head” out through his ear to see how high it would bounce. That’s how the world was created. Then, still being bored, he put a string through it and spun it around. That’s why the world turns. Then he was still bored, so he took some of the slime from the ball and made people with them. But he was still bored, so he decided to make their lives miserable. That’s where all the bad stuff in life comes from. At least, that’s what everyone believes.

    The story starts when Mike sends a young man named Stinger on a quest to find a treasure. Stinger takes his only friend with him and they pick up some people along the way, and they learn about themselves on the journey.

    Eventually, they get to where the treasure is supposed to be and find out that Mike had lied to them – there was no treasure, and he lured them there to die. Then someone else appears and shows them the real treasure which turns out to be the truth about the world and about themselves. Then they all go home and “everything looks different when the truth glares off the sand.”

    The thing is that I’ve leaned so hard into the ridiculous aspects of it that it has influenced the narrator’s voice (the narrator is a character in the book). It makes everything sound sillier than it’s supposed to be, but I can’t figure out how to add weight to everything without killing the flavor of the book.

    Any thoughts?

    "In a world full of bookworms, be a book dragon."
    - he who made the T-shirt

    #157032
    BookDragon
    @bookdragon

    Update: I did some more worldbuilding that hadn’t occurred to me to do before. Some of the layout might be odd, but it’s the best I could do without typing it all out again. Here it is. Thoughts anyone?

     

    The World’s Name: Deppord-Dnal

    World Description by Perception:

    ·       Beginning of the book: Deppord-Dnal is comprised of many regions in which the dirt is blood red, the trees and sun’s rays are pitch black, and the leaves are sky blue. The world gets warmer when the sun goes down and there are no seasons. The creatures that come out at night are dangerous, man-eaters, spawn of evil, or just ugly.

    ·       End of the book: Deppord-Dnal is comprised of many regions in which the dirt is cherry red and lemon yellow, the trees are pitch black, and the leaves are sky blue. The world gets colder when the sun goes down and there are no seasons. The creatures that come out at night are sometimes dangerous, sometimes safe; they are sometimes man-eaters, sometimes herbivorous; they are sometimes demon spawn, sometimes animals; they are sometimes ugly, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful.

    Lore:

    ·       According to Mike: Mike got bored one day and pulled the slimy, gray thing in his head out through his left ear. He wanted to see how high it would bounce. When bored with that, he decided to put a string through its middle and spin it around to see how fast it would go. When he got bored with that, he used some of the slime to make a living thing, which he called a “human”. Just one was boring, though, so he make more of these humans. Just humans were boring, too, so he made other things with the gray matter, which he called “creatures”. Some of these had fur, some had scales, some were big, some were small. All were scary, and they fought the humans. This also got boring, so he made took some slime and some gray matter and made a new kind of living thing that was part human, part creature. He called them “mantures”. They brought some measure of harmony. It was almost interesting – but not enough. Then Mike made a new invention to add some chaos to the humans’, creatures’, and mantures’ lives. He sometimes shook the slimy, gray thing, blew on it really hard, or spat on it. One day, he poured water on it and the matter was separated into “continents”. When even these “disasters” weren’t enough to keep him interested, he invented “death”. He has been causing chaos ever since. This is just the way it is. Don’t ask questions.

    ·       According to the Truth: Mike never invented a thing in his life. Well, that’s not true – he did invent death and lies. The truth is that a Greater One made Deppord-Dnal, but He’d given it a different name. He had always called it “Bistra” because it was perfect when He finished it. And while He used his brain to make it, He was able to keep it in His head. He made the humans from the red dust on the ground. He made ordered the creatures to exist. He made the mantures from the yellow dust that used to be on the mountains. (He would have used the red dust again, but where would be the fun in that?) Then Mike created a lie. That lie brought death. That death brought disasters. And ever since, the living things on this world have caused more lies, death, and disasters. But the Truth will set them free.

    The Beings in Depord-Dnal:

    ·       Humans: exactly what they sound like.

    ·       Creatures: animals, bugs, reptiles, mammals, birds, etc. (Not an exhaustive list, but the ones that appear in the book.)

    o   Sgod:

    §  Beginning of the book: like a dog, but bigger and toothier

    §  End of the book: like a dog, but cuter and toothier

    o   Tac:

    §  Beginning of the book: like a cat, but bigger and madder with no claws

    §  End of the book: like a cat, but bigger, softer, and toothier with no claws

    o   Ekan:

    §  Beginning of the book: like a snake, but about 50x bigger/stronger

    §  End of the book: like a snake, but about 50x bigger/stronger and fiercer

    o   Evod:

    §  Beginning of the book: like a bird, but with much bigger beaks and sharper talons

    §  End of the book: like a bird, but much bigger beaks and sharper talons

    ·       Mantures: humans that have creature-like characteristics (Also not an exhaustive list.)

    o   Mansgod:

    §  Beginning of the book: a human with sgod-like features; cursed with violent temperaments and foolishness

    §  End of the book: a human with sgod-like features; not cursed

    o   Mantac: a human with tac-like features

    o   Man-ekan: a human with ekan-like features

    Man-evod: a human with evod-like features

    "In a world full of bookworms, be a book dragon."
    - he who made the T-shirt

    #157156
    Taylor Clogston
    @taylorclogston

    Hey @bookdragon, I think this is one of the most useful discussion threads I’ve ever seen posted on the forum, lol. It’s a really tough and really practical question. I’ve been thinking about it for over a week.

    I don’t know that I agree that the obvious solution is to remove the ridiculousness since, like you said, that’s kind of the entire point of the story. There have been lots of other stories that have serious and emotional moments in the middle of a silly setting, but it’s definitely tough. I think the Oz books do this fairly well, and satire as a genre is probably a good one to study to see serious ideas in the middle of absurdity.

    Terry Pratchett also does an amazing job at writing the most ridiculous situations imaginable and having very human characters in the middle of them who live out very human, touching lives. Here’s a bit adapted from Hogfather, in which the Grim Reaper saves Christmas by becoming Santa Claus.

    It’s an extremely silly premise in an extremely silly world, and it also has some of Terry Pratchett’s most heartfelt philosophical ideas in it.

    Posting the full link might make the spam filter eat my post, but remove the parentheses from this link and check it out:

    youtu(.)be(/)isLW0TTB2R0

    It’s a very short clip of Neil Gaiman explaining how Alan Moore took the extremely silly superhero comic Marvelman and rebooted it into a serious series full of actual literary value… while keeping all the silly escapades of the comic’s past, rather than rewriting the whole backstory to be dark and gritty ala The Dark Knight.

    Hopefully some of this was helpful. I hope you find success in writing this story! I’m interested to hear more about it as your work progresses.

    #157160
    BookDragon
    @bookdragon

    Thank you so much for the input! It’s ironic that you mentioned Terry Pratchett as reading one of his books was part of the inspiration for this story. I’ll be sure to look into the link you gave me!

    I’ve also updated some of the worldbuilding from when I made my last post, mostly by adding to some of the cultural aspects of each region.

    "In a world full of bookworms, be a book dragon."
    - he who made the T-shirt

    #157163
    Sarafini
    @sarafini

    This is my biggest downfall in writing. Worldbuilding is such a pain for me. This will definitely be useful in the future.

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