One freakish crossover...

Question: OK, I have this idea for a novel that I really want to do, but I really want your opinion on whether or not it's likely to work. I know in fantasy/sci-fi writing, the sky is the limit (kinda...), but this is a crossover I'm not sure I can pull off even though I love the concept. The idea is to have a fictional continent divided west/north from east/south by a range of mountains so immense that their slopes vanish into clouds half-way up, and their peaks are never seen. It's hard to describe without rambling on, but basically the mountains divide the continent so thoroughly that the people on either side have never crossed them, or seen or heard anything about each other. The Northern people would be a culture not unlike Britain or Germany during WW1, kinda like steampunk but with bigger guns. The Easterners would be a culture of warriors and sorcerers based on the ancient Middle East. So essentially, a cross between steampunk and high fantasy. Guns meets spears, bombs meets wizardry, bayonet squad meets chariotry, etc. And that's just some of the war aspect of their cultures. There's no way I could go into real detail here. anyway, I really like this idea, but do you think I might be going a bit overboard with such a stark contrast?

Do the two dynamics clash too much to be a coherent story? Thanks for your answer!

P.S. Sorry to ramble!

Answer: I see two key issues here.

First, to make your world believable, you will have to find answers to the questions readers are likely to ask. Things like, why can't the two cultures use boats to interact? How do they stumble upon each other? Why does the war break out? Why doesn't magic play a role in both countries, etc.? You want a good consistent understanding of how this world works. If you can find a plausible explanation for the nature of your world, then anything is allowed. (You might invite friends to ask questions about your world, as a way of discovering what answers you need.)

The other, and more important thing, is the story itself. Can you create a great main character with a story the reader will relate to?

Without a great story, the best world-building is worth nothing. With a great story and main character, small defects in world-building can be overlooked.

And with that, the deeper guideline is: ideas are important, but it's the execution that really counts. If you're a good writer, you may find yourself fixing flaws in the idea during the execution (writing), whereas bad execution can ruin the best of ideas.

Best of luck.

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