There Be Dragons Here!
I've decided to open my blog every month to guest authors and artists. Anyone interested in offering a blog post can contact me via the contact button at the top of the page.
My first victim....erm guest is Anne Barwell. She recent completed a wonderful M/M romance with....wait for it....DRAGONS! What could be better? Not much I can think of.
Sadly there is no artwork to show off as yet, but she has some wonderful things to say about world building, dragons, and vampires.
Consistency in World Building: The fantasy and science of dragons and vampires.
Although both fantasy and science fiction call for a certain degree of suspension of disbelief, rules still need to be followed and continuity has to be observed within the world created by a writer(s). New worlds come in different shapes and forms. A world might be one created completely from scratch albeit with inspiration from other times or places e.g. the middle ages, or it could be a sleepy English village outside London or a city that might exist in present day Cleveland, Ohio.
Brainstorming the details of such things is one of my favourite parts of the writing process. When I start a new project I usually have pages of notes and have had hours of discussion before I begin to write the actual story. Putting in that groundwork shows in the final product, and even if the reader doesn't find out some of the specifics I still need to know them. It's the same as getting to know characters. Knowing what motivates them is a huge clue as to how they will react when I throw plot at them. Or not, depending on their mood. While characters still often delight in taking stories completely left field, they still have to do so within the constraints of the 'rules' of the world within they live. If a dragon cannot fly, it doesn't matter how much he flaps his wings, it's not going to happen.
They can fly, by the way, in this particular scenario, because I've decided they can. But if they can't in one chapter, they aren't suddenly going to be able to in the next – unless something happens to prevent it, like an enchantment, but that's plot and a whole different ball game.
Even if the characters are ignorant about the 'rules' of their land, the writer still needs to know and follow them consistently.
The language used by the characters also needs to reflect their background and time in which they live. This one isn't just applicable for fantasy/SF but also for historical stories. Anachronisms are a writer's bane, especially when figuring out when common expressions and swear words first came into play. As a reader I find that can throw me out of a story very quickly. Someone living in a land based on medieval England is not going to ask if someone is 'okay', or refer to something as 'awesome' and 'cool'. That isn't going to happen in WW2 in Germany either. And yes, I did read that in something of late and gritted my teeth.
As I've just finished writing a story set in another place and time and in which dragons play an important part, this process is still forefront in my mind. My next project, which is a joint venture with my friend Elizabeth Noble, is an urban fantasy set in a city that doesn't exist―as far as we know―and the characters include vampires, werewolves, ghosts and... humans.
Dragons are not commonplace in Astria, due in part to the threat of a curse upon the royal family, and the fact they are associated with magic. Nothing much is known about them, at least by the main characters. Before starting to write I sat down and figured out all the fun stuff like how they procreated, whether they mate for life, and the ins and outs of shape shifting. How did it work, how often did they have to stay in one form or another etc etc, and of course the true nature of the so-called curse. Then there's a mysterious sword and some scrolls that still need deciphering. Some of the questions have been answered in this story, some haven't, but hey that's what sequels are for. Writing series also brings in its own brand of 'fun' especially if someone needs to happen in book one to set up for book three. Seemingly throwaway lines often are actually foreshadowing in disguise!
Ditto for vampires. If these guys are going to be able to walk in sunlight and don't have issues with crucifixes or the like there needs to be an explanation why it differs from the myths that have been around for hundreds of years. Humans like their security blankets, and feel less threatened if they think those who are 'other' cannot roam during the daylight so why wouldn't vampire encourage them to think that, thus giving the basis of those beliefs? It makes sense, whereas something along the lines of 'oh that's just a myth' annoys me as a reader. And yes, I've read that one too. The other details we've discussed were how vampires are made, how the 'condition' is passed on and the rules surrounding that. What happens when someone first becomes a vampire? Do they have to drink human blood to survive? What happens when they do?
We've taken a slightly different route with our guys in Flint with a few twists on the usual vampire lore, but you'll have to wait to read the series to find out the details. A writer has to keep some secrets until the actual story, right? Otherwise where's the fun in that.
It's also one of the reasons I enjoy writing fantasy. Expectations held in our world are not going to necessarily hold true in another, nor mean the same thing, but as long they are consistent to the world in which they exist, that is what matters. After all, there are many different ways to believe in dragons.
Please leave Anne some comments, gotta feed the muse don't ya know. And visit Anne on her Live Journal, Website, Author Group Site, and Dreamspinner Press .
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