incorporating language

by Marcus
(Philadelphia )

Question: I really want to get this right and need some guidance, so I've been planning to write a fictional book that includes sorcery and spells and stuff like Harry potter, but want to incorporate a language and symbols a map basically how to create a whole new world I've created Like the Hobbit books, but how do I do that exactly? I can't just describe it I want to show it. How and where would I illustrate pictures of what it looks like? If I can How do I incorporate it all into the book properly? can I just have chapters and separate scenes giving a sense of some of it at time without explaining and giving a chart of the language like the movie Avatar it showed it had a different language in some scenes but didn't go into it and you got a sense and knew it was genuine. sorry its long I'm just want an answer it would be so helpful if you give me your feedback.


Answer: Generally, you want to avoid lengthy passages of description or "infodumps." You also don't want to distract from the story by making the reader learn a language or study the geography of your world. Remember that even J.R.R. Tolkein, the role model for most fantasy worldbuilders, knew enough to put much of the information about Middle Earth into appendices -- and the majority of it remained unpublished until after his death.

The general rule is that, as you write, you tell the reader what he needs to know, when he needs to know it, and through the eyes of the main character.

What appears in the book may be only a small portion of the information you have created about the fantasy world - the portion that's needed to follow the story. You may also hint at other aspects of the world, but there's no need to provide a lot of information that's mostly irrelevant to the plot. A few hints or tidbits are often enough to create the feeling of authenticity.

Similarly, a few words of another language can be enough for the reader to understand that it exists. Longer passages should be translated, so the reader does not have to flip back and forth to a glossary to work out the translation. The more work you make your readers do, the more likely they will put the book down.

As for illustrations, they cost money, so it will be up to the publisher how many you can include. Publishers usually hire the illustrator (though you may work with them). If an illustration aids the understanding of the story (such as a map), it stands a better chance of being included.

Remember that the most important thing is the story and the characters. They will pull the reader in. The world is important, but secondary.

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