Is it even fantasy at all?
For me writing fantasy was by complete accident. Judging by what I read predominantly when I was growing up, I should be a science fiction writer. Especially the more speculative, contemporary sort of Science Fiction like Stargate and Jurassic Park.
What happened instead was that I got into Terry Pratchett and Dungeons and Dragons as well as the former. When I started dungeon mastering, I immediately threw out all of the base races, because I figured we’re all a little tired of the elves and dwarfs. I made my own. And I made my own setting too.
And then something really weird happened. In University I learned that the Creative Writing program frowns on fantasy, because it’s easy to get cheap thrills. If you need tension, just throw a dragon in and congratulations, you’ve avoided learning the hard work of how to be a good writer and use nuance entirely.
My Academic Experience Changed My Approach to Fantasy
So I took the fantasy world, a world that my friends and family have actually lived in and experience for themselves (I even at a friend who arm wrestled the King) and I demystified it.
I removed everything that could have marked it as a fantasy story, and I ended up writing a sort of historical fiction, except the setting was vague, and instead of fantasy races they were just different nationalities of humans.
Graduating Changed things Yet Again
Since I graduated, I’ve returned the fantasy element of it, but forcing myself to demystify the world rather than to start a whole new contemporary side of my writing allowed me to inject considerable believable realism into my narratives. It also allowed me to become a little more historically savvy. I’m actually that the University had that outlook.
I only realize this recently, but the result of refantasticizing things, my fictional world ended up not having any magic or any sort of magic system. Instead I have a weird set of exceptional or supernatural abilities.
I Don’t have a Magic System, I have a set of Science-Informed Supernatural Systems
People who are so used to fighting through exhaustion and at the edge of consciousness, that they enter a sort of altered half dream state, where their reflexes take over. People who can intentionally control and intensify their adrenaline rushes by manually tapping into the autonomic and dopaminergic systems (see the work of Wim Hof, Iceman). That might be my scifi side coming out.
Although that supernatural, not-so-magical element was not from University, but a function of my players never choosing casters when we play Dungeons & Dragons. We just had a party full of Rogues, Barbarians, a Fighter and a Ranger. Magic was kind of never on my radar. Not even healing.
So if you want to be really technical, maybe I don’t even write fantasy. I write alternate universe historical fiction, that has supernatural and scifi elements. Supernatural Historical Fantasy, perhaps.
Thanks for reading,
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