As you can read in the first post of this blog, I'm developing a new story. It's somewhere in the range of steampunk, fantasy, SF, or a combination of all three. Still working through it all. Unlike writing crime fiction here on Earth, I have discovered the obvious: in my fictional world, I'm responsible for creating everything.
When the first inkling of the idea for this story came to me, I considered the magical world to be an alternate Earth. Thus, basic geography was set, more or less. If a person was in Florida when he did whatever he did to fall into the magical world, the 'magical' Florida would be roughly the same. Except there may be sea creatures no human from our world had ever laid eyes on.
Now, to some people, that's probably a cop-out and, to be honest, I kind of agree. But, seeing as how this is my first trip across to the fantastical side of things, I'm giving myself a break. I've already started rearranging the geography of my magical world to suit my needs.
For those readers out there, do you prefer an entirely new magical/fantasy land in your readings, a new place that you can explore and discover new things?
I can't help but wonder if the answer to that question is largely yes. Moreover, I can't help but wonder if that is the reason so many fantasy novels are doorstoppers. I'll admit that there is nothing like becoming completely engrossed in a world of fiction. It's like nothing else. But does world building--and the inclusion of every single detail an author has created--necessary in a book?
Take the Harry Potter books for example (currently, until I read more fantasy book, still my prime example for things I'll be discussing): The first two-three books were pretty short. Rowling gave the reader (and Harry) just enough information to keep him moving. As the saga progressed, the books got thicker as more and more of the wizarding world was laid bare. Rowling probably had all the details of the Potter wizarding world in her head when she started but didn't think book #1 needed all that detail. She let the story of Harry suck in us readers and then give us more and more details. I found out that, once I cared for Harry and his friends, I wanted to know more and more details. But, by that time, I was already preoccupied with the story and the characters.
That is the tact I'm striving for with this new work. Am I alone with thoughts such as these?