Fantasy is not an abandonment of logic – it is a reinvention of it with imagination fueling its life source. To make fantasy believable, you need to create an alternate structure of logic – a world that follows rules and has consequences when these rules are broken. For fantasy to truly work you need to have a logical structure within your world. Like science, it follows a pattern of consistencies within the knowledge of the world. Things don’t seem to happen randomly in a fantasy world – it is a land of cause and effect. Someone or something is always responsible. This is the logic behind all fantasy stories.
It is at the very core of how many of us are raised as children – we learn to believe in the happily ever afters, the characters like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. We learn the fundamentals of “magical thinking”: “if you wish hard enough for something it can come true” and that the power of your thoughts and actions can make totally unrelated things come true: “step on a crack and you break your mother’s back” You are empowered.
Magical thinking presumes that an object that represents an object controls it and that there is power in words. This is often a basic building block in the power of magic through fantasy.
Every great fantasy is built on a logic system that may seem silly in a rational “real” world – but it is still consistent and complete and works for your fantasy realm. If, for example, dogs talked in your fantasy world it would be equally logical that cats could talk as well. If saying specific magical words can make fantastical things happen, it only stands to reason that mispronouncing the magical words can have disastrous results. Fantasy works by its own rules – but it does have rules. You can set the rules in any manner you like, but once set you have to consistently follow them or the premise of your world will collapse around you; you will lose credibility and lose the trust of your readers.
The realms of both science fiction and fantasy can take you anywhere – it is limited only by your own imagination – taking you to worlds that don’t exist outside your own creation. Both realms require that you strictly follow whatever rules you put into place and the structures of believability you construct. The difference is science fiction is rooted in the logic of the physical universe while fantasy is rooted in the logic of your personal universe.
As novelists we often create our own micro-worlds, even outside the realms of fantasy and science fiction. We are, after all working in a fictitious world or city or town with fictitious characters and the basics still apply. You must follow the rules that are in place or there will be consequences and chaos. This is a reality that transcends genres. We are all world builders in our own right and we gladly welcome our readers into the worlds of our stories. How do you world build? What elements do you bring into your world – do you like working with small towns and a close view of your characters lives or do you prefer settings in a large bustling city? What is the personality of your world?
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