September 27, 2020, 05:47:39 AM

Author Topic: How important is a state of disorder in the world?  (Read 1514 times)

Offline Yora

How important is a state of disorder in the world?
« on: January 04, 2016, 10:07:09 PM »
I've come across a piece of advice for writing fantasy, which is that very often an important aspect of the background and setting is that the world is in some state of disorder. It's not just the villain who is stirring up trouble, but the world as a whole is not right. Something is wrong with the world and while fighting the villain, the heroes are simultaneously also working on setting things right again.

I would not go as far as saying that this is always the case and that it's inherently necessary for any kind of heroic fantasy (the kind with swords and monsters, regardless of scale). I can think of many works where this clearly is the case and also some others where I am not sure. But I can't really think of any examples that would proof that you can have adventure fantasy without a state of disorder.

It certainly is possible to write a fantasy story in which the world as a whole is fine and all conflict takes place only between the protagonist and the antagonists. But do people commonly do that in works that are generally considered to be good? Or is there perhaps something to that idea that a world in disorder is a quite integral part of how we percieve fantasy fiction of the 20th and 21st century?
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

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Offline AshKB

Re: How important is a state of disorder in the world?
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2016, 10:29:32 PM »
I'd adore more fantasy where the world itself was fine, or normal, and the plot was driven by something else. More natural disasters, more murder mysteries, more character-driven plots set not about the end of the world or the fate of kingdoms, but the politics of a small town, a school, the dreamweaver's guild, a merchant's travels, a naturalist's explorations.

That'd be really, really interesting, actually.
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I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow - Woodrow Wilson

Offline Mr.J

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Re: How important is a state of disorder in the world?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2016, 12:54:07 AM »
I agree would be very nice to have a 'relatively' stable state of play in the world and have some other event drive the book, something more relatable and real and just as harrowing as destruction of somewhere.

However what sort of world is ever not in disorder? Look at ours, its fucking awful atm. Even in times or decades where you may look back and think it was 'better' than now where you lived in your own country or continent there was probably something going on somewhere else.

But yes I'd love to read some fantasy about that basically, no all out world wars or civil wars, doesn't mean there wouldn't be masses of tension, spying, drama, intrigue etc.

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: How important is a state of disorder in the world?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2016, 12:58:17 AM »
I've seen fantasy worlds that are only in trouble because of the villain, and it works just fine. I don't really have a preference. The plot just needs to be awesome.

Offline AshKB

Re: How important is a state of disorder in the world?
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2016, 01:13:21 AM »
However what sort of world is ever not in disorder? Look at ours, its fucking awful atm. Even in times or decades where you may look back and think it was 'better' than now where you lived in your own country or continent there was probably something going on somewhere else.

I didn't explain it well, but that's also what I meant by 'normal' - there's always going to be something, somewhere. The action, however, doesn't need to be set in somewhere that's under a state of collapse to be interesting.
The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted - Plutarch

I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow - Woodrow Wilson

Offline ArhiX

Re: How important is a state of disorder in the world?
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2016, 02:20:12 AM »
I'm sure you can have no actual "disorder" in a world, and story will still function. For someone who is just digging in ancient tombs or leaving his home to hang out with giants in search of long lost treasures it doesn't matter if the world is in war or not, if dragons or zombies are ravaging his whole homeland or there is just one bad guy hidden in an old vulcano. What matters for him is that this chest full of gold and jewelery is guarded by some ugly mummy.

So when it's not necessary - it sure helps to flesh things out. It's not good vs evil kind of deal, where we set things in motion using some cliche moves. It's just another, neutral viarable, that can make the story unique and as that - too good to just pass over it like that, and most authors propably won't. Baby-eating dragons? Zombies biting dongs? Dark lord destroys local brewery? It's fun stuff!

Well... I can't say it for sure, as I'm just a random guy from the internet, and not a divine oracle, but yeah - I think 'world in disorder' will be used extensively. Even as almost not important stuff that takes place somewhere in the background.
"The world is full of stories, and from time to time, they permit themselves to be told."

Offline jefGoelz

Re: How important is a state of disorder in the world?
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2016, 05:46:57 AM »
It applies to a dystopia, but I can't see why it should apply to anything else.

Offline CryptofCthulhu

Re: How important is a state of disorder in the world?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2016, 09:57:43 AM »
I like the world to be in somewhat of a chaotic state, though perhaps not throughout the entire story. War has been a common occurrence throughout history, so even if it is just two warring nations that are in disorder and the rest of the world isn't all that concerned, I don't see it as a problem.

I just don't like the whole evil dark lord villain trying to take over the world for some rather arbitrary reason and there is a chosen one that is the only person that can stop the villain. Those stories have been tackled in the past well enough.

I like villains that are basing their ambition on philosophical and moral choices. The world can end up a certain way but the people will prosper, even if they are essentially slaves under a dictatorship, or they can live free and risk being unable to find stability and might not be able to avoid unnecessary wars. So the "hero" has to make a choice that isn't black and white, and he's making that choice for thousands or millions of people.

Just look at the dictators from the 20th century. They were basing their will to power on philosophical choices. Some benefited from this, others suffered terribly. Hitler's inner circle was all on board in the beginning but eventually there were plots to assassinate him because in their eyes he'd gone too far. Hitler still fascinates people to his day, so I imagine a villain type that had that sort of mindset would probably interest a lot of readers.
“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.” ~ William S. Boroughs