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Worldbuilding For Fantasy Fans And Authors (Forging Fantasy Realms #2)

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Worlds can exist without stories, but fantasy stories cannot exist without a vibrant and enthralling world. But what makes a good fantasy world? Be you a top-down planner, a bottom-up pantser, or a fantasy fan experiencing the worldbuilding from the inside-out, this comprehensive guide has you covered. Adopting a “tools not rules” approach, you will discover dozens of world Worlds can exist without stories, but fantasy stories cannot exist without a vibrant and enthralling world. But what makes a good fantasy world? Be you a top-down planner, a bottom-up pantser, or a fantasy fan experiencing the worldbuilding from the inside-out, this comprehensive guide has you covered. Adopting a “tools not rules” approach, you will discover dozens of worldbuilding strategies, including: Ineffective, effective, and inspired worldbuilding. Designing comprehensive magic systems. The four Cs of worldbuilding and how to use them. The ins and outs of immersion. Enhancing the audience experience with fantasy conceits. Also featuring: Case studies from famous worldbuilders. Map design 101. Survey results showing what audiences want. Answers to these questions and more were once scattered throughout the realms, but have finally been compiled and synthesized for fantasy fans and authors alike.


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Worlds can exist without stories, but fantasy stories cannot exist without a vibrant and enthralling world. But what makes a good fantasy world? Be you a top-down planner, a bottom-up pantser, or a fantasy fan experiencing the worldbuilding from the inside-out, this comprehensive guide has you covered. Adopting a “tools not rules” approach, you will discover dozens of world Worlds can exist without stories, but fantasy stories cannot exist without a vibrant and enthralling world. But what makes a good fantasy world? Be you a top-down planner, a bottom-up pantser, or a fantasy fan experiencing the worldbuilding from the inside-out, this comprehensive guide has you covered. Adopting a “tools not rules” approach, you will discover dozens of worldbuilding strategies, including: Ineffective, effective, and inspired worldbuilding. Designing comprehensive magic systems. The four Cs of worldbuilding and how to use them. The ins and outs of immersion. Enhancing the audience experience with fantasy conceits. Also featuring: Case studies from famous worldbuilders. Map design 101. Survey results showing what audiences want. Answers to these questions and more were once scattered throughout the realms, but have finally been compiled and synthesized for fantasy fans and authors alike.

44 review for Worldbuilding For Fantasy Fans And Authors (Forging Fantasy Realms #2)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Filip

    This review was originally published over at The Fantasy Hive! A copy was provided by the author for review. The great works of fantasy draw us back in, time and again. Not because of the plot, experienced and so no longer shocking; not even because of the characters (though they certainly help). It is the quality of the worlds that call back the loudest, and it’s a universal constant in the works of the most accomplished authors of our field: Tolkien and Le Guin, Jordan and Hobb, Erikson and Jem This review was originally published over at The Fantasy Hive! A copy was provided by the author for review. The great works of fantasy draw us back in, time and again. Not because of the plot, experienced and so no longer shocking; not even because of the characters (though they certainly help). It is the quality of the worlds that call back the loudest, and it’s a universal constant in the works of the most accomplished authors of our field: Tolkien and Le Guin, Jordan and Hobb, Erikson and Jemisin, to name a few. Can you categorize the process that goes into the crafting of a world? M.D. Presley believes so. In Worldbuilding for Fantasy Fans and Authors, Presley first sketches out an ambitious set of goals (“to distill many of the existing worldbuilding theories and philosophies to create a shared vocabulary, to sift through…find the patterns, and compile them here.”), then defines the term “worldbuilding” itself (as verb and noun), and finally sets out the defining philosophy of the work (“tools, not rules”). All of that in the introduction alone. The short of it is, Presley succeeds in his goals while keeping to a philosophy of offering the reader tools rather than prescriptions. The book can be divided in two, the first part examining the more theoretical elements of worldbuilding—its nature, aims, and breaking points, to name a few. Why are tropes so popular and how do they function, anyway? What makes worldbuilding efficient, what makes it inefficient, what makes it inspired? Can mathematics ever be used to define an element of fantasy? The answer to that last one is a surprising “Yes,” accompanied by an actual function. Don’t let it scare you away. Virtually no actionable element of worldbuilding is left untouched in the latter section of the book, whether examined closely (like geography, biology, physics and magic), or merely given a nod at, as is the case with culture, due to the overwhelming denseness of the topic. To write about culture in worldbuilding and cover it in full would necessitate a book even denser than this one. What Presley offers might be better; an introduction to the thinking required in creating and defining a unique society. I disagreed with Presley on some points – which is natural, healthy, and makes for deeper engagement. The only thing worse than a bland academic text is one so agreeable you might as well stab yourself in the eyeball, if only to break the tedium. A particular annoyance is the use of “consumer” in tandem with “reader” and “author”—the connotations to mindlessly consuming entertainment rather than engaging with art make the term odious; no less so for how commonly it’s spewed from the mouths of entertainers, news anchors, politicians and everyone in-between. The sheer amount of research done is staggering and a love letter to the process. The “Works Cited” section at the end of the book is a treasure trove of resources; dozens of works for further study and exploration await, some of them familiar to me—Erikson’s occasional essays and fire chats, Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel—much of them unknown. Presley offers wit, good humour, and unmistakable love for the craft and art of creating worlds; having read the author before, these come as no surprise. The sheer quality of this academic work—now, that was a pleasant surprise. That’s not to say I had low expectations—I didn’t—but what I have come away with is a deep admiration of the work put into this book. I will be sure to get a physical copy of Worldbuilding for Fantasy Fans and Authors as soon as I am able and I will browse through it often as I write fantasy fiction. Just as often, too, when I find myself lost for words and looking to define what efficient worldbuilding does right in one fantasy novel, what inefficient worldbuilding does wrong in another. It is a book I might very well choose to use in my academic career, going forward. Recommending it to you, then, is a no-brainer.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anna K. Scott

    Worldbuilding: it's hard to define, but we've all heard of books that had great worldbuilding. With this book, the author defines his idea of worldbuilding with a definition that is broad enough to appeal to most, and give fans and writers alike the tools to identify the aspects of worldbuilding that work, with critical theory and vocabulary. Why should anyone listen to this author in particular? Well, he provides his credentials, having worked in screenwriting for years and with some books of h Worldbuilding: it's hard to define, but we've all heard of books that had great worldbuilding. With this book, the author defines his idea of worldbuilding with a definition that is broad enough to appeal to most, and give fans and writers alike the tools to identify the aspects of worldbuilding that work, with critical theory and vocabulary. Why should anyone listen to this author in particular? Well, he provides his credentials, having worked in screenwriting for years and with some books of his own under his belt. It's not too informal but not as stuffy as many academic works I've read. He cites plenty of other sources, and includes information gathered from surveys of communities such as r/worldbuilding on reddit, as well as his own personal anecdotes. The first few parts deal with introducing a lot of concepts and theory, drawing some links to human psychology, while later parts go into detail about worldbuilding topics such as geography, technology, physics and culture. So what is the best way to build worlds? Planner or pantser? Info-dump or not? It depends. Every author has their own personal method, and Presley does a good job of bringing together various pieces of information and providing examples, mostly within five main worlds: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and Avatar: The Last Airbender. These are all obviously very popular and well-known worlds, but the author encourages readers to use their own preferred world of choice and examine it with the tools provided. It's a good springboard for thinking about worldbuilding in a more critical light, and many of the non-fiction works cited (such as by Jemisin, Tolkien, Wolf) would be excellent additional reads for a deeper understanding of the topic. Knowing the theories behind crafting a world can help authors make an informed decision when choosing which method to use, although it may end up being another source of procrastination instead of actually writing (but Presley isn't to blame for that).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz

    4.5/5 Well-researched, informative, fun.

  4. 4 out of 5

    E.Y.E.-D

    The amount of information in this book is incredible and it covers so much more than I expected when I started. Not only did it change the way I will read fantasy books going forward but I also learned quite a bit of information about the real world that I was completely unaware of. Who would have thought? I guess I always thought that as far as creating a world goes as the author you can just do whatever you want and write it into existence. I never stopped to consider that if your world has eve The amount of information in this book is incredible and it covers so much more than I expected when I started. Not only did it change the way I will read fantasy books going forward but I also learned quite a bit of information about the real world that I was completely unaware of. Who would have thought? I guess I always thought that as far as creating a world goes as the author you can just do whatever you want and write it into existence. I never stopped to consider that if your world has even minor differences than Earth you need to make sure your story reflects that change accurately at all times. Even small things can require a whole line of research to make sure your world makes sense. The primary examples used are all incredibly popular series, Harry Potter, Star Wars, A Song of Ice and Fire, Lord of the Rings and Avatar: The Last Airbender. These work great as references, since I would assume if you are reading this book you are probably familiar with at least one of if not all of these. The book covers a lot of ground including different types of worlds, methods of worldbuilding, geography, biology, physics and magic, metaphysics, technology and culture. Each of these topics is packed full of information about how both our and fictional worlds work. This book should appeal to any authors who want to improve their worldbuilding skills and fans that are more interested in how the authors they read go about creating the worlds they love. I personally recommend it to any fans of the fantasy genre, you will probably learn some stuff.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joe Collins

    Got as an eARC in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book. Flew through it. Was in-depth about the entire fantasy worldbuilding topic. Offers great examples of the topics discussed from popular series to help make his points.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! I'll preface this review by saying that I'm not currently much of a writer (well, outside of academic writing, but I'm not really considering that as something that fits with this topic) so I'm coming at this book from the 'fantasy fan' angle (and hey, maybe I'll actually try my hand at writing some fantasy of my own one day!). I found Presley's Worldbuilding for Fantasy Fans and Authors to be insightful, informative, and entertaining on the topic o Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! I'll preface this review by saying that I'm not currently much of a writer (well, outside of academic writing, but I'm not really considering that as something that fits with this topic) so I'm coming at this book from the 'fantasy fan' angle (and hey, maybe I'll actually try my hand at writing some fantasy of my own one day!). I found Presley's Worldbuilding for Fantasy Fans and Authors to be insightful, informative, and entertaining on the topic of what exactly goes into worldbuilding and what to expect when creating and exploring your own (or others') worldbuilding. Worldbuilding has always been one of the most fascinating components of any fantasy to me because it's one of those things that, when done well, can easily blow me away and leave me wondering how an author can go about crafting something so complex and unique. I think something that particularly stands out to me about this book is that it didn't feel like a "guide" or "how-to" on worldbuilding, necessarily. It absolutely gives great ideas and insight into world-building, but it's not written in a way that felt like I was a reading a guide, but rather an in-depth discussion about worldbuilding and all the details and ideas that should be taken into consideration when crafting your own world. Presley provides plenty of great examples of fantasy worldbuilding that he draws from in order to explain ideas, concepts, and what can be done with worldbuilding. It was a fun experience getting to explore more about fantasy worlds and everything that goes into them from a nonfiction perspective that takes a more analytical approach. Presley utilizes a very casual tone that retains an air of professionalism that gives added authority to his discussions in addition to his background as both an author and screenwriter. I found it easy to follow along with the discussion and his explanations, and I appreciated how much personal experience and effort mixed with examples from outside sources Presley included in order to make this a well-rounded and thorough exploration of worldbuilding. Lastly, I really loved Presley's exploration of different worldbuilding terms. I feel like those alone sparked a lot of new thoughts from me, and I found it really helpful to go through them in depth in the beginning of the book in order to get the most out of the rest. Presley maintains a strong structure throughout the book by laying out some foundational ideas before moving into more topics. Overall, I really enjoyed reading through Worldbuilding for Fantasy Fans and Authors! There was a lot of really great content and exploration of the worldbuilding process and everything that goes into it, as well as providing more ideas to spark discussion around the topic. I would say that if you're a fantasy fan who appreciates worldbuilding and is curious to know more about what goes into it, then you should absolutely give this a read--and same goes for authors who would like to have more information presented about worldbuilding.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Francis Holt

    #16 Worldbuilding For Fantasy Fans and Authors. M D Presley 300 pages #KUCHALLENGE2020 This is obviously not fiction, yet it is on the KUCHALLENGE list. It is only 300 pages, yet it is 300 pages just packed with great instructional material. I normally chomp through 300 pages in an afternoon. This took me 4 days during which I took copious amounts of notes. Incredible. Outstanding. Stuffed with data and insights and how to insider knowledge. Even though it is in KU, I bought it. I will be using it #16 Worldbuilding For Fantasy Fans and Authors. M D Presley 300 pages #KUCHALLENGE2020 This is obviously not fiction, yet it is on the KUCHALLENGE list. It is only 300 pages, yet it is 300 pages just packed with great instructional material. I normally chomp through 300 pages in an afternoon. This took me 4 days during which I took copious amounts of notes. Incredible. Outstanding. Stuffed with data and insights and how to insider knowledge. Even though it is in KU, I bought it. I will be using it for both my own fiction and any writing classes I may teach in the future. Can we give it a triple 5-star rating? Of all the writing books I have read and taught from, this is the best! And he has references, and end notes, and clear, concise, complete, and creative examples.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Suzannah

    A comprehensive primer on worldbuilding for fantasy authors, this book begins with an in-depth discussion of the nature and purpose of worldbuilding before moving on to discuss different realms of worldbuilding (from geography and biology to magic systems and cultures). Presley doesn't go in-depth into any of these topics, instead skimming through them with pointers for further study, and discussing how each area of worldbuilding may build into a vivid fantasy world. Extremely helpful. Presley's A comprehensive primer on worldbuilding for fantasy authors, this book begins with an in-depth discussion of the nature and purpose of worldbuilding before moving on to discuss different realms of worldbuilding (from geography and biology to magic systems and cultures). Presley doesn't go in-depth into any of these topics, instead skimming through them with pointers for further study, and discussing how each area of worldbuilding may build into a vivid fantasy world. Extremely helpful. Presley's take on the purpose and definitions of worldbuilding helped put the discipline in perspective as a tool to further the story rather than a gaping maw to swallow the unwary. His discussions of specific worldbuilding areas sparked lots of ideas for a current project. The survey results of fantasy fans were extremely valuable, while his opinions on the worldbuilding of Tolkien, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Avatar: The Last Airbender were by turns illuminating and quite, quite wrong. (Just kidding. OK, maybe I'm a little serious). My major complaint would be that the book does need a better copyedit, as there are quite a lot of typos (including, consistently, Hemmingway for Hemingway, Kora for Korra, and populous for populace). Otherwise, I found this book very helpful.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    This has some good data within the pages, but it feels overly longer than it need be. Graphs without explanations or purpose, this comes across as written by someone very analytical, which is good to me, but also seems to get lost in their own thoughts and take too long to get to the point. Worth it if you get it under Kindle Unlimited, but maybe not for purchase.

  10. 4 out of 5

    T.O. Munro

    I was intrigued by this book having seen it reviewed by a fellow reviewer on the fantasy-hive website. My own full review will appear their first before being posted here.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marta

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ann A.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mattia

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dyrk Ashton

  15. 5 out of 5

    Naava

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Talisa

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  19. 4 out of 5

    H Layton

  20. 5 out of 5

    M

  21. 5 out of 5

    Esteboix

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dora Baksay

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristian Berg

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jarrett Braden

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hazen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Richa✨ रिचा

  27. 5 out of 5

    Agnes

  28. 4 out of 5

    Richard Maxton

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  30. 5 out of 5

    MG Mateo

  31. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Wernberg

  32. 4 out of 5

    Tina

  33. 4 out of 5

    Marie -The Reading Otter

  34. 4 out of 5

    Isaac

  35. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  36. 5 out of 5

    Nobody

  37. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  38. 5 out of 5

    Romain

  39. 5 out of 5

    Geb

  40. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Newfield

  41. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

  42. 5 out of 5

    Travis Chapman

  43. 5 out of 5

    Dave Stone

  44. 4 out of 5

    Yuri

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