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[Planning] [Request] Making a new take on fantasy, need some help


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So I am writing a short-story, which after a bit of research I found could be described as portal fantasy (please keep reading before rolling your eyes). The thing is, I'm having troubles with the portal part and shaping the story.

I do know that my story will have a) more personal stakes than wide stakes - no prophecies or chosen ones here. (Think less LOTR and more Spirited Away) and b) I am aiming to create a world that is completely separated from the Tolkien/DND canon, not neccesarily heavy on specific aspects of a world like magic or tech. I also know that I plan to use the 'another world' technique as a framing device for the journey (physical and otherwise) of the main character, and connect the world to the characters. (many portal fantasies I've noticed seem to have the other world aspect for it's own sake)

The thing is, I'm having trouble visualizing a unique way to approach the actual world switch (other than a average portal, dreams, or reincarnation), and visualizing other subworlds of the other world (as in, man-made spaces like cities, towns, or outposts). I should note I plan for the main character to return to our world at the story's end.

If people have any ideas, or can suggest some original or fresh ideas, or just want to voice what they think the story could benefit from and do without (it being a portal fantasy and all, with the genre being looked down on a bit), please post them here. Thanks.

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You can potentially use technology to bridge the gap?  I know, it's pretty cliche, but it is still fairly flexible.

Or maybe you can go the "Divine Comedy" route and have a guide which bridges the gap to the alternate world somehow?  I don't see this done very often; could be cool, but it might require too much setup for a short story?

You can have the "portal" area connected to "ley lines"?  Again, it's cliche, but it could really tie into a spiritual journey.

 

In any case, that last point brings up a real question:

A lot of this comes down to genre and how you expect the character to interact with the other world.  What is the story meant to build for the MC?  Emotional self?  Mental self?  Spiritual self?  Willpower?  (lol, they go to the other world to work on their physical self and come back super ripped? - definitely unique 😆)  Anyway, you can work backwards and figure out the how based on the goal you want for your character.  You can even forego an explained transition in its entirety if the goal doesn't fit it.

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43 minutes ago, Tythe Scora said:

You can potentially use technology to bridge the gap?  I know, it's pretty cliche, but it is still fairly flexible.

Or maybe you can go the "Divine Comedy" route and have a guide which bridges the gap to the alternate world somehow?  I don't see this done very often; could be cool, but it might require too much setup for a short story?

You can have the "portal" area connected to "ley lines"?  Again, it's cliche, but it could really tie into a spiritual journey.

I do think those are interesting ideas, thanks.

43 minutes ago, Tythe Scora said:

In any case, that last point brings up a real question:

A lot of this comes down to genre and how you expect the character to interact with the other world.  What is the story meant to build for the MC?  Emotional self?  Mental self?  Spiritual self?  Willpower?  (lol, they go to the other world to work on their physical self and come back super ripped? - definitely unique 😆)  Anyway, you can work backwards and figure out the how based on the goal you want for your character.  You can even forego an explained transition in its entirety if the goal doesn't fit it.

The idea driving the story, for me, is like a 'reverse coming of age'; rediscovering and embracing the youth buried in the adult self. I want to write about that because I imagine it's a common desire for many adults, and I wish such a transformation could occur to me, but at the same time I'm trying as hard as I can to prevent the story from being wish fulfillment or the MC from being a self insert. (While there are some autobiographical elements, I know the story needs to be more.) So perhaps mental/spiritual self would work, given that my idea for the world is a way to visualize the main character's journey.

Appreciate the thoughtful response, thanks again.

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