Continuity leads to epic fantasy and sci-fi
I am finding a very interesting phenomena when writing fantasy books. Unlike some short stories or fiction set in this world, no matter the time frame, fantasy and sci-fi novels require an element of world building. This is to say that you need to not only create characters with detailed and realistic emotions, motivations and back stories but you also need to create worlds, land masses, folk law, rules of magic and technology, histories of nations and even languages. If you were to write something set in Russia in World War 2, present day London or the French Revolution you have a wealth of real world information to draw upon. A little research will show you maps, timelines, period costumes, flags and banners of different factions as well as a general idea of why different sections of society did different things. This is not the case in a fantasy or sci-fi novel as the author needs to create all these elements themselves and these elements need to be believable before a reader will immerse themselves in the story. In writing The Wings of Aysh-Karal, I am starting to think that this notion of world building is what creates epics. But where does this world building start, it is in my belief that it comes from making sure there is continuity. If someone mentions a place, a crest or a period of history this needs to be consistent throughout the novel. In my writing I find that I have living documents that give detail of character biographies, historical points and maps of different locations. In The Wings of Aysh-Karal this was simply so I did not need to re-read chapters multiple times to make sure I was being consistent. However, as I write more I am noticing that I need more history, more back stories to help explain why certain characters do things and why cities are in different places or have risen or fallen. I have some ruins but what happened to the city to make it so desolate? If I do not know that I cannot really use it as I may mention one history at one point then contradict it later. The documents I created then developed to show consistency of dress that explains what each type of soldier for different factions wears. I then moved from city maps to the surrounding areas and then the whole continent. This has meant I have needed to add more cities and to think about how these are connected. Some of this is vital for this book, some is incase I need to use the information in the future and some simply for the joy of world building. I have most recently started work on a historical timeline of the continent, some of which will not be used in this novel. What I am now noticing is that what I saw as one book has moved to four and now I have ideas for more that are set in the past. This has not come from a preplanned world but from adding elements as I write. Someone once said to me that a writer needs to build the world first and have a plan of what will happen. I, however, feel that an author can have the bare bones of a story, a start and end with key points along the way. As the story builds, keeping meticulous notes will allow continuity but will also slowly build a world which can, in turn lead to more stories and develop an epic storyline set over many generations.
If you wish to read The Wings of Aysh-Karal you can do so on wattpad. It is slowly being updated, so let me know what you think so far.