Winning World-Building

The other day I watched a YouTuber talk about his love for all things Pokémon—the games, the anime series, and movies. He could probably name all 800+ Pokémon, including the regions in which they can be found, and also the different towns players visit in the games and anime.

Now, that’s a fan! When you create a world, you want it to be appealing enough to attract dedicated fans like this who love visiting over and over.

   

Who wouldn’t want to visit a world with creatures as cute as Torchic (right) or as majestic as Xerneas?

With the subject of world-building, maybe by now you’re thinking of the various planets in the Star Wars series or fantasy places like Westeros (George R. R. Martin), Hogwarts (J. K. Rowling), Pixie Hollow (where the Disney fairies live), Wonderland (Lewis Carroll), Narnia (C. S. Lewis), Oz (L. Frank Baum), Windemere (Charles Yallowitz), or Middle-earth (J. R. R. Tolkien).

I think about Lothlórien or Narnia, and how I’d love to live in either place for the rest of my life. (Mordor is a definite no as a place to retire, however.)

 

Hogwarts would be fun also, now that He Who Must Not Be Named isn’t an issue any more. I also think of Oz, since I’ve been rereading some of the books. Who wouldn’t want a lunch or dinner pail full of food that you can pick ripe off a tree the way Dorothy, the plucky orphan from Kansas, did in Ozma of Oz?

       

Even if I wouldn’t want to make my home in a land (looking at you, Westeros), I still enjoy a visit via a book in the comfort of my own home. I love to learn about the different animals and plants in a land. Like Fizzle in Windemere. To learn more about him, click here.

But the aspects of a world that really resonate with me usually meet a felt need. Sometimes when problems crowd the horizon and I feel helpless, I long to escape to a land of magic where full-course meals grow on trees and adventure is just around the corner. Or sometimes, I crave a place suffused with wonder (look—tiny fairies) and peace when life seems gray or full of battles.

Yet many of the worlds I read about have problems like wars and hunger. In Ozma of Oz, Dorothy wound up lost and hungry. Maybe that’s why that dinner pail tree made such an impression on me. She found it after a struggle.

And how could I forget that the peace in Narnia came after the defeat of enemies like the White Witch?

So, maybe the world-building in each series I mentioned really resonates with me, because a skilled author has shown the compelling efforts his or her characters made to overcome their problems, and thus build a better world.

Now, that’s winning world-building!

What is your favorite fictional world to visit? What do you love about this world?

Dorothy illustration by John R. Neill found at the Project Gutenberg website. Westeros/Essos map from geek.com. Lothlórien image from somewhere on Pinterest. Oz map from fanpop.com. Narnia map from toknwasiamknown.wordpress.com. Torchic from imgarcade.com. Xerneas from pokemon.wikia.com. Star Wars planets image from somewhere on Pinterest. Hogwarts from rmvj.wordpress.com. Disney fairies from fanpop.com. Ozma of Oz book cover photo by L. Marie.

36 thoughts on “Winning World-Building

  1. Interesting factor of world-building. While every world has problems, we do get drawn into a story due to someone attempting to fix those problems. We really wouldn’t care if nobody was striving to improve or save the world even by a little bit. Maybe this gives us some hope that the real world problems can be fixed or someone is out there trying.

    • I love the Oz world, too, Jill. Yes, the flying monkeys are frightening. And some of the other people in the books are even scarier. But it is a delightful world! I’ll bet C.S. Lewis was inspired by Oz as he wrote Narnia.

  2. I don’t really read fantasy. I find I have a hard time keeping up with the many magical powers and characters. The only one I read is my critique partner’s work. I recommend her books if you like fantasy. I’m critiquing her latest series now (Marsha A. Moore). However, I do enjoy watching fantasy. I’m not usually a fan of Marvel’s comics, but the latest TV series Inhumans is really good. It’s more a fantasy story than super heroes. But, the TV show I’m super addicted to on Netflix right now (originally on CW) is Reign. It’s taken from the historical figure Mary Queen of Scots, but they’ve made it into a fictional story with an added supernatural twist. I’m so in love with the characters that I even think about them when I’m not watching!

    Heh. Well, you asked, and I went on and on. 😛 Have a great week, EL.

    • Ooo. I haven’t seen that show, but thanks for recommending it, Lori. History with a twist sounds really fun!

      I just looked up Marsha’s books. She has a lot of them!

      • Yes, Marsha has a lot of books. I’m enjoying her most recent stories that take place in Coon Hollow, a magical town in southern Indiana. They are each a story all their own about different (magical) people who live there. Which reminds me. I still have two chapters of hers to critique. 🙂

        Hope you’re enjoying this gloomy Chicago couple of days, EL. I like it, after years of never-ending heat in Florida.

  3. I don’t read a lot of fantasy either, and while I do read more dystopian, those are worlds you really wouldn’t want to hang out in. I like it when authors can turn ordinary places into something magical, the way Katherine Paterson does with Terabithia or E.L. Konigsburg with the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

  4. The fictional world that comes to mind at the moment is Thumbelina’s or anything with fairies and flowers. I must have had a children’s book with pretty illustrations. Alice in Wonderland isn’t as sweet, but I think of it in bright colors with fantastic adventures and fantastic characters.

    • Thumbelina’s world–great choice. (Though I’d hate to be forced to marry a toad.)

      I recently read a book called Dream Animals that shows animals who take you to wonderful places once you fall asleep. You can be taken someplace fantastic without leaving your home. 😀

  5. I did not not enter the Pokemon world, at all ; because I did not have the opportiunity to encounter it .
    But I had to know the saga of Harry Potter and loved much the ability of Rowling to create a universe both magic and logic with , of course , the victory of the good on the evil.
    Love ❤
    Michel

  6. Favorite fictional world? Hmmm. Right now it’s what ever place my current reading is taking me…a lovely type of escapism.

    However, as an example, imagining Narnia was much better than the movie renditions…hence – sorry – couldn’t go see them (after seeing movie trailers only) cuz I didn’t want to ruin my mind’s conception of their world. However (there’s that word again) the original illustrations to the Oz books (Tic-Tok of Oz and Ozma of Oz were remembered favorites) enhanced my perception of that world…more so than the movie….tho that was cool, too.

    Some of the worlds mentioned here are unknown to me, so I guess I’d better start exploring, eh?

    • I hope you will, Laura. I know what you mean about movie versions not living up to what we can imagine. The only movies that lived up to what I imagined were the LoTR movies. New Zealand was the perfect setting.

      I reread Tik-Tok of Oz a week ago. I so love that book as well as Ozma of Oz! Baum’s books are so wonderfully descriptive, along with John Neill’s artwork. No movie could do them justice, unless a director had a huge budget (like Peter Jackson did for LoTR).

  7. When I was in 4th grade, my teacher read The Wizard of Oz to us, a chapter or so a day, after lunch. Many teachers read, still do read aloud to their students after lunch. I think Oz will always remain among my favorite fantasy books. Harry Potter – ah, Rowling’s books are the ultimate in storytelling and in fantasy for me, that she captured the hearts and imaginations of adults along with children is amazing.
    My daughter and son-in-law are reading the Narnia series aloud with our granddaughter right now. I’m not sure who is enjoying it more. 🙂

    • I’m glad teachers still read to their students, Penny. Some kids I know are hearing The Magician’s Nephew in school.

      I love the Harry Potter books too. Rowling is the queen of world-building!

      I remember reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as well as Anne of Green Gables in serialized form when I was a kid in Sunday school!

      • Have you been to the Wade Center at Wheaton College? They have an extensive collection of C.S. Lewis papers and works, among others (the Inklings) AND the actual wardrobe.

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