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How To Write A Fantasy World Based on Your Experiences

By Eric Owusu · April 11, 2015

Fantasy movies are, and have for a long time, ravenously enjoyed by audiences all over the world. Whether it’s The Wizard of Oz or The Matrix, great movies where the world as we know it gets flipped upside down are intriguing and entertaining. Filmmakers and screenwriters know this, and they also know how fun it can be to create fantasy movies.

Screenwriters conceptualize the basis of fantasy movies. They create the plots, stories, characters and the worlds of fantasy screenplays – the most fun piece of screenwriting, the world building. They use other stories, theologies and their own personal experiences to come up with story ideas and ways to present the world to audiences as their world.

When crafting your own fantasy screenplay, keep these pointers in mind.

Create the World Using Pieces of Your Life (Remember, the Spine of Fantasy/Sci-Fi is Being Human)

It’s your world! The audience is just living in it. Therefore, create it using things you know intimately so that you can convey a clear story world. When Andy and Lana Wachowski sat down to plan their expansive Jupiter Ascending screenplay, one of the first things they wanted to tackle was spaceships. They created in detail baroque and conceptually beautiful spaceships in their screenplay. Now, maybe they should have also focused as much attention on story and character relationships, but that is for another day. 

Their rationale was that the super wealthy people they’ve seen travel do so in vehicles that are exquisitely designed, not in clunky behemoths. They know people like the characters they created in their movie and they gave their created characters traits and even rationales that are similar to ones belonging to people they know. When creating your fantasy world, give your imagined characters and the created things they use aspects that mirror ones you’ve observed. It adds a layer of authenticity and relatable aspects to your characters, even when they’re in a world that doesn’t really exist.

Use True Stories From Your Life

Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the most acclaimed, heavily lauded fantasy films ever made. Its screenplay has fantastical figures that interact with the protagonist Ofelia, one of which is a gnarled faun. The screenplay introduces this character by revealing a “twisted and sinister figure,” covered in roots and moss; a truly terrifying creature upon first glance, or read. What’s even more unnerving is that the faun in Pan’s Labyrinth is based not only on stories writer Guillermo del Toro knew as a child, but also on vivid dreams he had as a child. Del Toro has said in interviews that when he was a young sleeping child, the church bells would ring at midnight and he would dream that a faun like the one in Pan’s Labyrinth would come into his room.

Whether or not you have lucid dreams like del Toro did, be sure to include odd things from your life in your fantasy screenplay. Del Toro’s faun is an intriguing, juxtaposing character; its appearance is terrifying but its actions are kind in nature to Ofelia.

Include Social Structures Based on Your Interests

You cannot have a world, real or imagined, without societies of some sort. There must be structure to the way the characters of your story interact. The Star Wars screenplays are great examples of ones with societal structure in a fantasy setting. There is The Empire, The Jedi Counsel etc. When George Lucas plotted out the Star Wars story world, he created all of these societies based on historical constructs. Luke Skywalker and his family are lowly farmers, Princess Leia is royalty, the Storm Troopers are soldiers, and Han Solo is a hired mercenary. Lucas has said both western cowboys and medieval knights inspired the idea for Jedi Knights and it’s obvious that he looked to historical societies for examples to draw from when creating the ones in Star Wars.

When creating your fantasy screenplay and the world between its first and last pages, use aspects from your life and times to add realism to your screenplay. That way, the fantasy is realistic as well as enjoyable.