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What Draws You Into a Fantasy World?
Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011 3:03 PM
Joined: 3/15/2011
Posts: 14

This question was inspired by this post (http://nkjemisin.com/2011/03/whose-wonderland-which-wonderful/) at N.K. Jemisin's blog, in which she asks readers which fantasy worlds they would like to live in. I'd like to go a step further and ask what it is about your favorite fantasy worlds that makes you feel truly drawn into them (maybe you don't want to actually live there, but you feel as though you've already visited it). It doesn't have to be a completely invented reality - Harry Potter's England would count.

For me, I think it has to do with the intersection of things I know and love from the real world and things I can never experience in real life. For example, I like drinking tea, but I can't drink tea with a 6,000-year-old dragon who can tell me about the good old days of the Bronze Age. A scene like that would draw me in much more effectively than a huge ogre battle or something (not that I don't love a good ogre battle). What about you?

Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011 9:18 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 224

I think what draws me to fantasy is the culture. Fantasy presents to me a culture and experience that I otherwise would not be able to enjoy.

I could equally enjoy a story about earth if it is about a culture that feels out of this world to me.

But, what I really enjoy most about fantasy writing (and science fiction), is that someone can talk about politics, religion and war and no one will get offended because they aren't real! Well, they can get offended, but that is an entire different story.

I feel the freedom of being able to write about what I perceive as a potentially perfect world... and then I can systematically threaten it until it isn't perfect and it is real. I also am a fan of escapism.

Hope that made sense, I'm a little sleepy as I'm browsing the forums.
Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011 10:03 PM
Joined: 3/17/2011
Posts: 18

Characters, settings, and culture in that order. More so in fantasy than other genre's.

Setting and Culture...No matter what I read, I want the writer to transport me to their world. With more modern stories set in present, near present, or near future, its fairly easy for the writer skim and not have to paint the full picture of a city or society because the reader in familiar enough to draw their own picture. But with fantasy fiction, there are so many societies a writer can set his/her world in I want to pay attention to all the little references that help paint a larger picture of their world.

Characters... Again, I don't care what genre you write, the reader wants to bond with the characters. Like em or hate em, they bond with a character for many reasons, and it does not have to be the main protagonist or antagonist. I think in fantasy, characters are very revealing because they do not have the conveniences of modern society for the reader to judge.

Or at least that is my take and everyone is different I am sure.

Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 4:55 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

Characters. If I can't connect to the character, no matter what genre I'm reading, I don't keep going. The fantasy world could be as fully-realized as Tolkien's or Tamora Pierce's, but if I don't feel something for the character, I don't care what happens to them. I've put down books after the first chapter or even the first five pages because I just couldn't care about the MC.
Ava DiGioia
Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 10:46 PM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 39

No matter what genre a book is, I have to connect to the characters. Wanting to take the journey with a certain character or having to know what happens to them in their quest is what draws me into a story.

From there, the world is the second for me in fantasy. I want to be transported to somewhere new and vibrant where exciting events are happening. I love to create new worlds, so I like to absorb the worlds others have created.

Plots can also pique my interest, sometimes even making up for a so-so character if I become intrigued by what the particular quest is.

Danielle S
Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2011 7:56 PM
Joined: 3/15/2011
Posts: 6

I definitely agree with Ava. No matter how intriguing or enchanting a fantasy setting is, it's the interaction of the characters with that world that draws me in.
Posted: Saturday, March 26, 2011 5:25 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 15

Fantasy Politics! I'm about the least politically minded person you'll find in my family (which is a statement since everyone on my dad's side is very vocal about their party allegiances), but in fantasy books? The deeper the political shenanigan's the more I want them. I find something immensely pleasing about courtly intrigues, wizards with secrets and country affairs.

Characters are also important, though I've forgiven quite a few books for lacklustre MC's if the secondary characters make up for it.

World Mythology--NK Jemisin won me over with her world mythology even as I struggled to follow the story's flow in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
Jessie Kwak
Posted: Friday, April 8, 2011 4:05 PM
Joined: 3/29/2011
Posts: 27

LexieGirl--I totally agree about Politics and World Mythology. I love it when writers have a fully-formed world but they don't feel compelled to tell you every detail. The instant I hit a wall of exposition I normally put the book down, and honestly I've not read a lot of the classics because I was so put off by the heavy-handed world building.

One of the things I love most about fantasy is the ability to discuss political issues without having to pick your way through a thorny real-life issue. Fantasy can allow us to look at real-world problems from a different vantage point, and maybe gain some insight.

But what really draws me in is the characters and the writer's voice. If the writing is gorgeous and the character compelling, I'll follow you anywhere.
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Sunday, May 1, 2011 11:44 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

I like a good world, but I'm more of a character person. The characters have to be intriguing and well rounded for me to be drawn in. A well built/established world is just a bonus. I'm in it for good writing essentially. Everything has to flow together and make sense (something I am trying to fix with my writing) from language, to character response, to politics. A good story relies upon context whether it be fantasy, SF, or contemporary.
Rachel Russell
Posted: Monday, May 2, 2011 1:54 PM
Joined: 4/29/2011
Posts: 27

Characters and plot.

I've gotta be sucked in by the characters immediately. I want them to feel real to me. An absolute must for me is that they have some type of flaw within them. If they don't have some type of inner plight, then I'm just not gripped. I absolutely adore stories where much of the plot originates from some inner flaw the character has, and they must come to terms with the "ugly" side of themselves to overcome their shortcomings.

Plot. I can forgive quite a bit (excluding the character department) in a novel if the plot of the novel is really gripping. If I'm kept guessing, kept continually wanting to turn the page to learn answers to more questions, to see how things are going to turn out, then I am won over.

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