- A Dribble Of Ink
- A Fantasy Reader
- Adventures In Reading
- Bastard Books
- Beauty In Ruins
- Bibliophile Stalker
- Big Dumb Object
- Bitten By Books
- Boing Boing
- Book Country
- Bookworm Blues
- Caleigh's Blog
- Charlotte's Library
- Cheryl's Mewsings
- Civilian Reader
- Compulsion Reads
- Critical Mass
- Curated Fantasy Books
- Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews
- Dreams & Speculation
- Drying Ink
- Edi's Book Lighthouse
- Everything is Nice
- Falcata Times
- Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews
- Fantasy Book News
- Fantasy Cafe
- Fantasy Literature
- Far Beyond Reality
- Feminist SF
- Free SF Reader
- Gav Reads
- Genre Reader
- Graeme's SFF
- Grasping For The Wind
- Greg Hamerton
- Grimdark Reader
- Hero Complex
- Horror Reanimated
- Jeff VanderMeer
- King of the Nerds
- Layers of Thought
- Mithril Wisdom
- My Favourite Books
- Myrmidon Books
- Mysterious Outposts
- Neth Space
- Only The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy
- Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
- Reading The Leaves
- Realms of Speculative Fiction
- Rob's Blog O' Stuff
- Sci Fi Songs
- Smorgasbord Fantasia
- Speculative Book Review
- Speculative Fiction Junkie
- Staffer's Book Review
- Stainless Steel Droppings
- Stomping On Yeti
- Tez Says
- The Agony Column
- The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
- The Book Smugglers
- The Broken Bullhorn
- The Fantasy Bookshelf
- The Green Man Review
- The Mad Hatter's Bookshelf & Book Review
- The Night Bazaar
- The Nocturnal Library
- The OF Blog
- The Overlook Press
- The Ranting Dragon
- The Speculative Scotsman
- The Stamp (of Approval)
- The Vinciolo Journal
- The Wertzone
- The World in the Satin Blog
- Val's Random Comments
- Variety SF
- Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic
- Voyager Books
- Walker of Worlds
- When Gravity Fails
- Zeno Agency
- ► 2014 (142)
- ► 2013 (260)
- ► 2012 (287)
- ► 2011 (317)
- Spotlight on November Books
- "Corvus" by Paul Kearney (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)...
- "Surface Detail" by Iain M Banks (Reviewed by Livi...
- “Disciple of the Dog” by R. Scott Bakker (Reviewed...
- “Hatter M: The Nature of Wonder” by Frank Beddor, ...
- "Literary Fiction" for SFF Lovers (by Liviu Suciu)...
- "Wintertide" by Michael Sullivan (Reviewed by Livi...
- Five Capsule Reviews: Harry Turtledove, Chris Wood...
- "Mob Rules" by Cameron Haley (Reviewed by Mihir Wa...
- "Trespass" by Rose Tremain (Reviewed by Liviu Suci...
- My Anticipated Books of 2010 Revisited (by Liviu S...
- GIVEAWAY: Win a Set of the Elemental Assassin Book...
- Interview with Jennifer Estep (Interview by Mihir ...
- "Festival of Skeletons" by RJ Astruc (Reviewed by ...
- "In a Strange Room" by Damon Galgut (Reviewed by ...
- Cindy Hannikman Cybil Awards 2010 First Round Pane...
- "The King's Bastard: King Rolen's Kin #1" by Rowen...
- Odds and Ends: 2010 Booker Prize and compiling a l...
- "The Half Made World" by Felix Gilman (Reviewed by...
- The Top Books of 2008 Revisited (by Liviu Suciu)
- Two Capsule Reviews: "The Crowfield Curse" by Pat ...
- "Skywatcher" by Jon Connington (Reviewed by Liviu ...
- "The Notebook" by Agota Kristof (Reviewed by Liviu...
- "The Spirit Thief" by Rachel Aaron (Reviewed by Mi...
- “Passion Play” by Beth Bernobich (Reviewed by Robe...
- "Voltaire's Calligrapher" by Pablo De Santis (Revi...
- Guest Author Post: Cinda Williams Chima "World Bui...
- "Discord's Apple" by Carrie Vaughn (Reviewed by Mi...
- Odds and Ends: My New Top 10 Anticipated Novels Fr...
- Spotlight on October Books
- ▼ October (30)
- ► 2009 (466)
- ► 2008 (376)
Monday, October 4, 2010
Fantasy Book Critic is excited to have Cinda Williams Chima stop by for a guest blog spot. Cinda Williams Chima is the author of the series The Heir Chronicles and The Seven Realms Series. Book Two of the Seven Realms series, The Exiled Queen was released this past month.
A big thank you goes out to Cinda Williams Chima for taking the time to visit with Fantasy Book Critic.
World Building 101 by Cinda Williams Chima
World-building is the business of all fiction writers—whether we write mainstream, literary, historical, romance or fantasy fiction. Writers build a world, lure readers into it, and endeavor to keep them there.
However, we tend to associate “world-building” with fantasy and science fiction, because those stories often take place in worlds vastly different from our own. Fantasy worlds include “supernatural” elements, inconsistent with the laws of nature as we know them.
High fantasy requires more world-building, because those stories are typically set in a long-ago-and-far-away quasi-medieval setting, which can require a lot of ‘splainin’ and scene blocking. That’s one reason that fantasy novels tend to be longer than mainstream fiction—it takes time and space to create fantastical landscapes and describe magical systems.
My first fantasy series, The Heir Chronicles, is set in a well-defined contemporary fantasy world. I called it “Ohio” (oh-hi-yo.) It turns out that Ohio is familiar to many people already. Except for people who live in LA and New York City who have flown over Ohio but have never actually landed there.
My new series is high fantasy, set in the mythical Seven Realms. I created this world for The Star-Marked Warder, an adult high-fantasy trilogy that I never finished. So when I began to write The Seven Realms quartet, much of the world-building was already done. I had a history, I had some smoldering conflicts, I had a magical system, characters, and a clash of cultures.
I even had a map.
Now, I am cartographically challenged. Drawing any kind of a map is a struggle for me. But I found I really needed one when writing the story so I wouldn’t get lost in the landscape. It helped to keep me oriented, and to prevent impossible things from happening, like people going south and ending up in the north.
Here is the map I drew.
And here is the map drawn by the cartographer my publisher hired.
For some people, a map represents a descent into the abyss of high fantasy. One of my Heir Chronicles fans was not happy when I admitted that my new series involved a princess and a thief. It seems she felt much more comfortable in the Midwest.
“I just know I’m going to open up the book, and there’ll be a map on the flyleaf.”
Other people feel differently. One reviewer contacted me about The Demon King, which she’d just read in ARC form. “I need to know—will there be a map in the final book?”
“Yes,” I said, cautiously.
“Good,” she said. “Otherwise, it would have to be reflected in my review.”
Magical systems are part of the world-building in fantasy. There is a continuum in fantasy magic from the subtle (e.g., clairvoyance and charisma) to the extreme (transfiguration, for example, changing a prince into a frog.) I tend toward the more subtle forms of magic. Even though my wizards can conjure up magic powerful enough to destroy the world, no lamps are being turned into cats.
In my magical systems, magic is a kind of energy that changes the state of matter. This no doubt reflects the week I spent in high school physics.
One thing I’ve learned--in order to have story, you must have conflict. In order to have conflict, magic must have limits. If your viewpoint character is all-powerful, then he can solve any problem. And that’s not good for story.
Here are some common rules and limits on magic:
· Magic is costly: magic drains the practitioner or causes pain or damage or requires expensive materials
· Magic requires tools: performing magic requires an amulet, a wand, ring, a special cloak, or a spellbook that isn’t always available or can be taken away. For example, wizards in the Seven Realms series produce “flash”—magical energy, but they need to save it up in amulets in order to accumulate enough for use. Unfortunately for wizards, amulets are made by flash-crafters among the Clans, the upland tribes who have been squabbling with wizards for more than a thousand years.
· Magic is difficult: it requires considerable learning prior to use, with intricate spells, diagrams, etc. Small errors can have dire consequences
· Magical beings have weaknesses: vampires can’t go out in the daylight, or can’t cross water, and faeries can’t abide iron, and Superman is vulnerable to Kryptonite
· Time limits: magic can only be done at certain times of day, times of the year, in the full moon, etc.
Finally, in building fictional worlds, remember that they are always based on our own. Readers connect and relate to people and magical characters whose motivations, emotions, talents and flaws are understandable. When readers ask me if Trinity, OH or the city of Fellsmarch are based on real places, I say, “Of course.” But maybe not one particular place.
That’s the magic of it.
The Demon King is now available in paperback, and The Exiled Queen released September 28. There will be four books in the Seven Realms series, followed by two more Heir books.
Excerpts from each of my books are available on my website, www.cindachima.com. Help for writers can be found under Tips for Writers, including a document called, “Getting Started in Writing for Teens.”
I blog at http://cindachima.blogspot.com/, where you’ll find rants, posts on the craft of writing, and news about me and my books.
12:01 AM | Posted by Cindy | | Edit Post