Writing Corner: Writing Modern Fantasy Vs Second World Fantasy

Hi guys! I know, I know, I made you guys wait till the last day of the month for one of these, again, but once again, work has been busy and I’ve had to put these longer posts on the back burner. Still, I do have something for you, and today I’m going to be talking about the different experiences I’ve had working on my fantasy novels, one of which is a Second World fantasy, and the second of which is a fantasy set in our world.

Obviously the biggest difference between writing the two different types of fantasy is right there in the title. In Underground Magicians, I’m working in the framework of our world, so there’s not really much work to do with the setting there. Obviously I have to research the different cities that the book takes place in, but I’m not developing a whole world from scratch, and the underground tunnels that I use for the home of my magicians in the book, also exist in real life, so again, it’s more a case of researching and finding out where they all are. Most of what I’ve done in terms of developing the setting in Underground Magicians has been familiarising myself with the locations I’ve used.

With This Is Not A Love Story, it’s been a whole different kettle of fish. It’s a second world fantasy, so I’ve developed everything from scratch. I had to come up with the origins for the world, the magic system, all of the different Kingdoms, the Resistance and how that came about, basically everything to do with the world had to come from me. On the one hand, this is super fun because you basically have free rein to come up with everything. But on the other hand, it’s quite difficult, especially, if like me, you have difficulty picturing things in your head (see my latest Jo Talks post for more details on that).

The biggest benefit to Second World fantasy for me, over writing a modern world fantasy was definitely the fact that you don’t really have to explain why magic exists. In a second world fantasy, it’s accepted that everyone has magic because that’s just the way that world is, and whilst I obviously had to explain why all the Kingdoms split & how some people were able to use more elements than others, I never had to explain why everyone has magic because that’s the norm in Elementa. In general, Second World fantasy allows you a bit more freedom because you don’t have to work within the limitations of our world, instead you can create your own. This also means there’s quite a difference between how my main characters react to their new lives in each book: Tiffany is surprised by the existence of the Resistance and the fact that she has multiple powers, but magic itself is not a surprise to her. Sophie on the other hand, is learning about something that she thought only existed in fantasy novels, so it’s a whole different kind of learning curve for her.

With Underground Magicians however, it’s set in our world so I had to come up with some kind of an explanation as to how this group of people in 21st Century Europe have magical powers. I have to admit, I struggled with that for a while, but once I had figured out the villain of my story, and what their goal was, the reasoning behind these people having magical powers fell into place for me.

There are obviously benefits to writing modern world fantasy as well. When I sent my first draft of This Is Not A Love Story to my critique partner, she mentioned that I used too many things that were obviously fine to use in a modern world but that people wouldn’t necessarily have the same name for in a second world fantasy. With Underground Magicians, this wasn’t a problem, my protagonist has grown up in a modern world setting, so I can use pop culture references, references to real places and things and it’s not a problem because it fits with the settings I’ve used.

My two books, by design have very different magic systems. This Is Not A Love Story is based on a more traditional, Elemental style magic system, it’s a lot more simple, everyone has an elemental power from the Kingdom that they were born in, and some people have one or more extra powers. Underground Magicians is a bit different, there are lots of different powers, and everyone has a different magical power depending on how the magical energy manifests in them. Both types were fun to write in different ways, Underground Magicians, I’ve given myself a bit more freedom to explore different types of magic, but in This Is Not A Love Story, I get to explore the limitations of one particular type of magic in depth.

Overall, whilst Second World and Modern fantasies have fundamental differences, the process of writing for me has still been very much the same. I still have to build my worlds, albeit in different ways, I still have to develop my characters and I still have to come up with a plot that make sense for the world and the characters that I’ve created. Both types of fantasy allow me to be creative in different ways, and switching between my two very different worlds means that I focus better on both because it allows me to explore two different types of magic, two very different main characters and two very different worlds, so I come into each feeling refreshed and excited to explore the different stories that each world allows me to tell.

How about you? Any other fantasy writers explore both second world and modern fantasy? Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

If you are a writer, and would like to do a guest post, Q&A or any other kind of post for me then please get in touch! I have spots open for this feature from September to December, so either drop me an email (my email address is jo.ell.x@hotmail.com) or a DM on Twitter, my handle is @iloveheartlandX. You can talk about any topic, the sky’s the limit, and I take submissions from all writers, whether you’re agented, unagented, published or unpublished, if you write, I want to hear from you!

I should have a review of my most recent read An Ember In The Ashes up next week, as well as my latest Top Ten Tuesday post. In the meantime, I’m not sure what I will have next for this feature, so I guess you’ll just have to wait until next month and see what I’ve come up with!


2 thoughts on “Writing Corner: Writing Modern Fantasy Vs Second World Fantasy

  1. mtwilsonhasablog 01/09/2019 / 12:11 pm

    I’m working on a second world fantasy novel right now, and it’s been a while since I wrote this kind of fantasy so it’s really exciting to develop a whole new world. Prior to starting this current project I was working on a science-fiction novel set in a kind of dystopian future, where there is magic, so I was finding it challenging to blend that in with the future Earth I imagined!

    • iloveheartlandx 06/09/2019 / 8:28 pm

      Ooh that’s so exciting! Yes, developing a whole new world is a lot of fun, but can be quite challenging. Yeah I can see how that could be difficult. Sounds good though!

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