How to Reveal Your World

If ever you’ve taken a tour through a castle, an old house, or museum, the guide giving the tour probably stopped often to tell you about the place where you were. The guide might have given you all sorts of information about that place and the people who once inhabited it. As fantasy writers, we do something similar. We guide our audiences through the world we’ve created. And yet our task is different than that of a tour guide.

A tour guide’s goal is to give information. Our goal is to tell a story. A tour guide will share with you as much about a place as they possibly can whereas an effective fantasy author will share with you only what is necessary to tell the story well.

Prolific fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson states:

In my personal impression, page one [of a fantasy or sci-fi book] is about two things….Number one: being able to describe and world build in a way that does not info dump and bore the reader. And number two: about being able to do a view point and voice in a way that is engaging and evocative without boring the reader.

So here’s the challenge you’ll face when revealing the world to your audience through your story: Figuring out what to share and what not to share. As I mentioned in another post, most of the world you create won’t be seen by the audience. And the small part that you do share will not be revealed all at once but in bits and pieces as your story progresses.

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