This is the second of a 3-part blog post about building rich fantasy worlds to immerse your readers. In part 1 we looked at two “big picture” elements in building a fantasy world: maps and politics.
Today we will take a “medium-sized” view and see why meat and grog are wimpy. We’ll also learn how to speak in tongues.
3. Proper Menus
We are what we eat. This is also true for your fantasy world people. Engage all of your reader’s senses in the story. Don’t limit yourself to feeding your people the typical fantasy grub of turkey legs and ale. Or roast beast and grog.
To put your reader in your fantasy world, tell them how the food smells and tastes. For example, describe the odors of a restaurant’s cooking food as your hero hurries by on his early morning appointment with the wizard’s school headmistress. Make him hungry so his mouth waters at the smell of coffee and griddle cakes. Or perhaps he’s queasy from last night’s hangover and the greasy-food odor nauseated him.
You can also evoke a mood by listing flavor combinations. In Tredan’s Bane, I wanted to let the reader know how magic tastes to Lanith. The Enchanter’s magical essence has the flavors of chocolate, cinnamon, and a hint of peppery spice. The Church magicians taste like mint, dark chocolate, and rich liquor. The flavor of Lanith’s essence kisses aren’t too bad, either. Or so the Maji’kers tell me.
What is a Maji’ker, you ask? Ah, let’s speak in tongues next.
4. Linguistics for Magicians
Your readers love to eavesdrop. Story dialogue is a treat you should give throughout your entire story. How your story people use vocabulary in their thoughts and speech will show whether they are well-spoken or a hack. Is your wizard precise or sloppy in his word choice? It can show your readers how good of a magic worker he really is.
In Wrath, it was necessary to show Tredan as a skilled magic worker who knew the proper names for magical implements and constructs. Magicians (vernacular is Maji’kers) store their magical power in an internal repository called an Essence Cache. Tredan was bewitched by an Enforcer’s Compulsion Charm (which is different from the gentler Glamour Charm). Note my use of caps to show proper nouns. In Tredan’s world of Sye, magicians refer to their magic craft with precise vocabulary. None of this imprecise “the place where Tredan stores his magical essence” blather. It’s his Essence Cache.
Next time, let’s talk about the decorative apostrophe, and why it’s no fun for wizards to just wave their wands and rule the world.