Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fantasy and the Real World

The writing of fantasy usually involves fantastic realms where dragons, fairies, wizards, and magic exist, and where the usual physical rules of the universe do not necessarily apply.

There is rarely any explanation of how any of this magic works or why. The reader is expected (and usually willing) to suspend his or her disbelief in the joy of a good story.

Often, the writer is encouraged to keep the fantastic of the story separate from the mundane, real world we live in. After all, those things don't happen in the world we live in.

Keeping it real, or Keeping it Imaginary
A writer feels more comfortable writing about things he or she knows about. Because of the risks of jarring a reader out of the story when something in the real world doesn't mesh with the reader's knowledge of that world, the writer takes the safe road of sticking to what they know, or avoiding the real world altogether.

But there is an entire real world out there that we can experience, and as writers, we can expand our horizons by visiting those areas, or researching them in the library or online, before writing about those areas of the world.

Many fantasy stories I've read begin in the real world, then an occurence, an accident, a planned invasion, a wormhole in space, a warp in time and dimension, leads the protagonis into a world where they are desperately needed, incredibly powerful, or perhaps basically ignored until their character blossoms and they begin to guide their own destiny. (At least, to their own perspective).

Other stories I have read bridge the gap between real and imaginary at points within the book (or movie, for that matter, like in Disney's Enchanted)

Question for you:
So, have any of you myriad fantasy writers out there ever had the experience of researching another area of the world, the real world, in a story you've penned?

1 comment:

  1. I haven't experienced that in writing, but in reading, I have come upon an author who didn't do enough research and relied on the excitement of ignorance and the suspension of disbelief. The author shall not be named, and ignorance and disbelief as motivation to read a badly-researched novel is not so exciting, actually.
    The story involved resurrecting Satan in a tangible dragon-like form in 1980s Hollywood. In the novel, a Catholic priest confirms that Satan was being incarnated. The author, who is actually kind of well known, took a LOT of liberties there, and it was hard for me as a reader to put my knowledge aside and go with the flow of the story. (The fact that the climax involved the protagonist killing the incarnated Satan with a shard of a broken mirror didn't help matters any).