Category: world building

Do Guns Ruin a Fantasy Setting? Guns and fantasy fiction should not mix. Or should they? Fans cannot agree. Fantasy, specifically high fantasy, is set in a pseudo-Medieval secondary world in a period that somehow falls short of the invention of firearms and gunpowder. Why is that? Do guns belong in fantasy? There are pros […]
Fictional Kingdoms and Magical Lands A secondary world is a world where there is magic, and magical creatures, and where the rules of our world do not apply. A place much different than our primary world. If speculative fiction is about make-believe stories, full of magic and wonder, they must happen somewhere. The where it […]
In the Beginning, There was a Map What comes first when you are building your speculative world? Is it the world? The characters? The story? How do writers decide? Whenever you open a fantasy or science fiction book, usually the first thing you see before you reach chapter one is a map. And when you […]
They are Not the Same Fantasy and folklore share many traits. They are not the same thing. But they share many similarities. Confused? Fantasy fiction is about adventures where the impossible happens and magic and magical creatures exist. Fantasy is about make-belief. Folklore refers to the traditional customs, songs, dances, oral histories, art, sayings, and […]
Can You Have Science Fiction Without Its Stock Characters? Yes, you can have science fiction without its stock characters. I have read short stories like that. They are also incredibly boring and forgettable. Fantasy has its fantasy creatures and horror has its monsters. What does sci-fi have? If you answered robots and aliens you will […]
Every Culture has its Own Holy Places A holy place is any place people consider sacred and a religion considers of special significance. A holy place is not necessarily a church or a temple, although there is usually one erected in them. Pilgrimage to holy places remains popular these days. Indeed, think of some of […]
The Prevalence of Artificiality in Speculative Fiction We live on a beautiful planet full of lovely sights. Mother nature puts on a daily show of beauty and wonders. So, why do we choose artificiality in our fiction? Virtual worlds, humanoid robots, artificial intelligence, simulated reality, computerized machinery… Fake, manufactured, imperfect, synthetic. And yet, science fiction […]
Only They Can Save Us Is there a more equally beloved and hated trope in speculative fiction and fantasy than ‘The Chosen One‘? If I ask twenty fans, ten will love it and ten would love to see it go away. Who needs a savior? What is so special about him or her? But seriously, when […]
Some Tropes are Plot Conveniences I love science fiction and fantasy but some tropes and ideas need to go, or they need to be implemented better. One of my most popular posts was the one about the worst ideas in speculative fiction. In that post, I listed ten tropes that are overdue or simply puzzles […]
How Would Aliens Talk? Writing science fiction, even hard science fiction, will eventually lead to having to write aliens. Alien writing and speech is not something you learn in school. What do you do? Nobody knows how aliens talk because nobody has ever encountered an alien. As a writer, you use your imagination. In some […]
May 2023