Writing a fantasy novel is just like writing anything else. Outlining your story is essential. Mapping out your world is a must. And defining who your characters are, what they care about, and what their motivations are is crucial. It all takes time, and shouldn’t be rushed into. A slow, measured approach is better than charging in with guns drawn.
There are a lot of slap-dash fantasy novels selling out there; just look at how many don’t appear on the bestseller lists. Writing a fantasy novel to get on one of those lists is a good strategy to follow when you start your story, but it shouldn’t be your only motivation. You’re going to invest a lot of yourself in this world and these characters over the next several months or years, so getting it right is key.
The East is the real power on the continent and everyone from the West wants to get over there. No one from the East wants to go West. The capital city of the East is Pa’dun. It lies to the north of the continent, the closest major city to the Wo’dan Desert. I’d think that this would be a dry and arid region, perhaps with one major river running by. Sandstorms from the desert could be a problem in the city, but I get the feeling this is an advanced place that has some kind of technology to stop that.
Pa’dun is also close to North Post, so it probably has a lot of military people around. I’m not sure yet what the government is like in the East, but the king or emperor or whatever will reside here. It’s a city of plenty, of learning, and of the highest culture in the world. The thing is, you have to make the reader realize that this is the best place. Why does everyone in the West want to go here, to this city? They have magical notions of what it is, but is it? Are there cracks in the luminous façade, or is it really the city of splendors that it’s made out to be?
Nothing’s perfect, and Pa’dun can’t be either. Just the fact that this is a society that holds another in repression, mainly through their unwillingness to help lift them up, or just stop holding them down, means that it has problems. Getting to the bottom of what that is can be difficult in the real world, and quite difficult when you’re writing a fantasy novel. But you can use your imagination to solve the problems.
Lake Lo’tan supports the East. Something is there that makes them money. Is it a mineral resource? Some kind of power source to fuel their cities and way of life? Is it just fish? Figuring out what the key item of desire is for a society is important when writing a fantasy novel. Perhaps something is hidden deep down in the lake bottom, perhaps something that both societies want to or need to forget. I’ve already laid out how the lake is possibly poisoned or has some negative powers to it.
Maybe people living on the lake for too long develop a disease or become weak. If they continue to stay they die. The fishermen that have special visas to move about the waters may only be able to do so for a few years, or even a few months, before the lake forces them into an early retirement, or an early grave.
We already know that the lake sees a lot of bloodshed each year when the Visa fights break out. Could the lake turn red with blood on those days? I don’t’ think there’s that many people in the area, but it’s an idea. When you’re figuring out how to write a fantasy novel, you’ve got to go through all options and explore all ideas.
The Visa System
The East came up with the Visa System several generations ago to try and help the West. Somehow the East pulled way ahead of the West technologically, culturally, and economically, but in which order or how, I’m not quite certain yet. What I do know is that the East wanted to guard this newfound wealth no matter the costs. When people in the West saw how much better life in the East was becoming, they wanted to head over there. A gold rush mentality sprang up, and so did all the shanty towns dotting Lake Lo’tan’s eastern side.
It soon became apparent that the East would have to stop this influx of people from the West. That’s when the Visa System came into place. At first thousands were let across each year, but for whatever reasons, the number grew less and less each year. Perhaps animosity grew up among those in the East over the different ways the people of the West had. They certainly had different cultural attributes, and many of their ways could have appeared foreign to the East.
But I think there were more similarities than differences. It simply became a point of superiority to the East to not let anyone in. The whole Visa System was debated, and many wanted to end it entirely. But a strong sense of social justice had come along with all the other gains made in the East, and an ethical sense of charity grew up. Still, many don’t like the idea of anyone coming to the East from the West, and there are always pushes to end the system.
The Visa System continued, but at a much smaller rate. I’m not sure yet what the actual numbers are on how many Visas are issued each year, and perhaps no one knows. That could be a major reason for all the Visa fights; the people expecting there to be more issued when there’s not.
The Posts necessarily grew up along with the Visa System. If there was to be only one crossing point for those with Visas, and a one-way crossing at that, then the other avenues of getting into the East also had to be stopped. The most obvious were the Swamps of Miletus to the south and the Wo’dan desert to the north.
Lots of people try to cross over at these points, and we know that settlements have sprung up around the areas. Soldiers stationed at the Posts have to be alert, but there’s really not much threat from the people crossing over. It’s really a life of boredom, and one that most stationed there have to suffer through for years at a time.
Do these Visa stragglers get imprisoned, sent back to the West, or simply killed on the spot? You’d think there should be some reward for those lucky enough to thwart the system, but the East would most likely frown on that idea.
There were people who were sent back originally. As the attempts to cross illegally increased, however, things began to change. The same people were caught again and again, and that’s when the killings or disappearances began. There are still a few of these Visa stragglers alive in the West.
There is no way to cross the mountains, although it’s been tried. Roving patrols from the posts often ensure that anyone lucky enough to make it over the frigid peaks will be rounded up quickly.
Do people live in the mountains? How about at the base? And surely there are some caves around, and perhaps some hidden things within? When you’re writing a fantasy novel, your mountains can have a strong allure. But they often just become window dressing for your maps. I don’t think these mountains, which have yet to be named, will play that large of a part in the story, except for some of the history and explanation of the current setting.
But who knows? When you’re writing a fantasy novel, things can change on you as the writing takes hold. Now it’s about time to begin exploring who the different characters are in this interesting world.