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first time writing fantasy, help please?

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Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:38 am
psudiname says...

so judging by the poll, it seems somewhere around 75 percent of people here on YWS write fantasy...
I was wondering, since there are so many of you, if one of you could give me some tips. I, like other fantasy writers, have created a world with different rules than our's has. I'm struggling to get those rules across to the reader in a way that is a little more subtle than "this is how the world you're reading about is different: ..."

the specific rules I need to get across are that everyone has a twin, whom no one else can see. this twin is called their Chi, and can give them help by strengthening them physically, or making them faster, have better reflexes etc. this is how I've delivered it so far.

""Thrust your full body into it," Robert had said, "don't rely entirely on your Chi, he can only do so much."
"Yeah Duncan," teased twelve year old Dean, "you act like I'm a Spirit of the Beyond or something. I can't do everything for you."
"I'm doing my best. Hey would you mind a little more in my legs and not my arms?" I asked Dean telepathically. Dean shifted the boost of strength he had been sending to my arms to my legs, and my sword thrusts became dramatically faster. I had never needed this much physical energy for anything other than chores like chopping wood, but now that I had started the training to become a warrior, Dean and I were just getting the hang of the assistance he could give me.
If not for Robert's Chi, he would have no idea how much effort Dean was putting into our lessons, but unfortunately for me (and Dean), if either of us began to slack off, he was swiftly informed."

please post a way I can do this subtlely below.
if anyone wants a review, post on my profile and I'll get to it in a couple days.

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Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:45 am
Griffinkeeper says...

I think the best way to introduce something that is common is to treat it that way.

In this case, I would have the chi and the protagonist talking as if you would to a normal person. Then another character can come up to him and say, "Hey, you talking to your chi again?"

"Yeah, he's really annoyed with me."

"Yeah, mine has been giving me a heck of a time since Thursday. Ready for training?"

And so on...

The easiest way to get it across that they are different is to make them appear differently. Phillip Pullman did this by creating Daemons, animal representations of the spirit of the person at any given moment. Some might make them transparent, or even glowing.

A good question to ask is whether or not you actually need to use the idea of a chi in the first place. If all you want to do is make your character stronger at critical moments, then why not use magic? Unlike chi, readers are very familiar with magic, which makes explaining it much easier. If you want your character to have someone to talk to; then why not have a confidant instead?

Perhaps the relationship between the chi and the protagonist is more like a Cortana-Master Chief dynamic; in which case you might want to make the chi more exclusive. Instead of everyone having a "Chi," people would have enchanted swords etc. that have a soul attached to them. So, pick up the sword and suddenly you have the spirit of some great warrior in you, dramatically improving your handling of the sword.

Those are ways you can modify the idea to make it easier to describe.
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Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:27 pm
ultraviolet says...

I'd say, explain bits at a time. Only explain certain things when you need to, though you may have to bring up things a while before they appear otherwise it'll seem like that bit of information was created solely for the purpose of helping out in a situation. And something to remember - something that Suzanne Collins pulls off wonderfully - is that it is sometimes just fine to tell, not show. As long as the information is relevant, and by either action or suspense you've already gained our interest so we actually want to know about it.

But like Griffinkeeper said, if it's so common, treat it as such. Don't make a big deal about it. If your character acts like it's normal, and doesn't put too much emphasis on it, it'll seem natural in there. And remember - just a sentence or two of relevant information can communicate a lot better than a paragraph or two of stuff we don't need to know. Oh, and recalling times where he learned something or used something can also work.

Really, it all depends on how you want to do it. And don't worry about getting it right the first time. You still have many more drafts to fix it in, and us here on YWS can help you sort it out if need be.
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Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:28 pm
Cspr says...

My suggestion is: Pretend everyone knows about it. I mean, it might come as a shock, but if everyone has a chi, then why explain it? Everyone knows! The reader will catch on eventually...if you do it well. Otherwise, I think Orson Scott Card had something to say about this: Introduce a child, or an outsider. Maybe have one character not have a chi, and have someone try to explain to them how it feels to have one, or force them to believe they do, etc.

Yeah. Hope that helps you.
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Mon May 02, 2011 4:28 pm
Skorpionne says...

In my opinion, the best way to explain something to the reader is to explain it to the character. You know how some little children ask who their shadow is? Maybe a young character could ask who their Chi is, and has to have it explained to them. This is also quite a good way of getting an idea of the character's past.
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Tue May 03, 2011 4:50 pm
Rosendorn says...

Skorpionne wrote:In my opinion, the best way to explain something to the reader is to explain it to the character. You know how some little children ask who their shadow is? Maybe a young character could ask who their Chi is, and has to have it explained to them. This is also quite a good way of getting an idea of the character's past.

Just a caution: you have to be careful this method doesn't come across as a needless infodump. Not to say it can't be done, but it all depends on the context of a scene. Trying to work in a scene like this can come across as forced.

My suggestion is pretty much untraviolet's. Give the readers information through narration when the information becomes important (not before, sometimes after if you're looking for a mystery aspect. Not much after, though; also, only give us as much information as needed in one sitting), and treat it as a common thing in the world. Reader'll figure it out eventually, if done well.
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