World Building and Rule Breaking: Why Other Worlds are Created


A. K. Taylor

For this article I would like to discuss why we fantasy and sci-fi authors build worlds opposed to how. Several of my friends and I have agreed on this in some form or another on blog, Facebook posts, and tweets. It is a lot of laughs, but in all seriousness, it points to the underlying roots of why fantasy and as sci-fi exists and why we enjoy creating and consuming it.

In a nutshell these are the reasons:

  1. The real/natural world is boring.
  2. Reality stinks. 
  3. The real world has so many limitations for the extraordinary, so then it becomes ordinary 
  4. Rules- the real world is so full of them. Everybody hates rules (especially the can’t-dos), and they are made to be broken.

The things of everyday life become mundane, so why do we want to read or write about it? 

Escaping the ordinary world and going to a new and extraordinary world on a glorious adventure is a breath of fresh air. We do this as authors, and we surly hope that readers will do the same when they pick up our books. We come home from an ordinary day and become the extraordinary when we sit at the computer. We leave being a lab technician at the “door” and transform into being a chosen warrior on a quest to save the world. We leave the real world behind for hours at a time. Time seems to stop. We hate to leave the computer or book to “come back” to the ordinary world–even if it is for dinner. 

The quickest way to loose a hand is to try to bring a fantasy author or reader back to the real world when they are having a “fantasy moment”. We don’t like that “dose of reality”. It tastes worse than an unripe persimmon—or a green lemon—take your pick.

Everything always seems the best in the fantasy world as opposed to the real world, doesn’t it?

We also create fantasy to make our own rules and/or to break the rules of the real world. We create fantasy worlds within the real world or we go to another place entirely. I like to do both essentially and within the same story. Hiding the hidden world from the real world is just awesome fun! However, we must abide by our own rules. They shouldn’t suck as much since we made them right? The can’t-do’s we don’t like don’t exist do they?
There must be some can’t-dos/limitations or our worlds seem implausible to the reader (visitor). They need to understand the “rules of the game” so they can play, too.

If we want to read about real life, we can pick up the newspaper. The closest I can get to the real world in fiction is a thriller, but still that type stuff rarely happens in real life. It still has just enough detachment for me to enjoy the escape. Everyday life is mundane, so why do I want to read about it? 

Hasn’t anyone ever noticed you can add genres to a fantasy, but you can’t add fantasy to that same genre? For instance, you can add the thriller to the fantasy, but not the fantasy 
to the thriller unless you are talking about a particular character’s fantasies (usually the killer). If we do, the thriller readers would be angry and say “we broke the rules”. Fantasy and sci-fi authors have a tendency to do that.

It’s almost painful to get closer to the real world—believe me I know. I recently wrote a non-fiction book, The Newbie Author’s Survival Guide, and it was quite an adjustment! You can’t get much more real-world than non-fiction! To go even further, I normally write for middle-grade and young adults, so this non-fiction is for adults. I don’t think any seventh graders need to learn how to market their books or need to know book marketing survival skills. Luckily I have a friend who is a great non-fiction author to help me out to make sure I wasn’t returning to the fantasy world!

World building is fun but it is very intensive. We create entire societies, landmasses, elements, magic, metals, technology, creatures, etc. Some of us go as far as to make mythology, religion, and language. We can make animals talk that can’t talk in the natural world. How about a giant talking scorpion with a cobra tail? He’s just one of my creations in Neiko’s Five Land Adventure! We have the power to create an entire world, and the real world says humans have no magic—I guess they forgot about fantasy and sci-fi authors! Time travel to another time is always fun to and how you get there is up to you. In my upcoming book Escape from Ancient Egypt I skipped the time machine and used power from another universe to get there, but getting back is the problem since it’s the bad guy that has the ticket home as well as going up against one of the greatest pharaohs of all time…

So, when we pick up another fantasy author’s book we are visiting their world for a time when we need a break from ours. How awesome is that? 

Neiko’s Five Land Adventure

The Indians and the Crackedskulls are locked in the turmoil of war and presently in a stalemate. 

Her enemies, Raven and Bloodhawk, have come up with a scheme to up the ante and break the stalemate into their favor. 

Neiko later finds out that a land she thought she had only imagined is actually real and contains a legendary and otherworldly evil within it. Not only that, she becomes trapped there and must escape the world, the people within it, and the sinister evil within. 

Neiko must find her way back home and turn the tables on her enemies. Can she come back home and escape the evil that seeks to claim her?

A.K. Taylor is a YA fantasy/science fiction adventure writer who has been writing since age 16. 

Taylor also draws her characters and designs her covers and illustrations which she also began at 16.

Other books by A.K Taylor include a non-fiction: The Newbie Author’s Survival Guide, and coming soon the second book to Neiko’s Five Land Adventure – Escape from Ancient Egypt is coming soon!

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