When writing and creating a fantasy world for a novel, I knew that I needed to explain the world and the way it works in non-sleep-inducing manner. Too many fantasy novels begin like a history text, explaining the background and setting the scene. I hate that. I don’t want to have to study before understanding the story.
In ARCH ENEMIES, Terin is a young lad who has very little knowledge of the world and the ways of magic. He has lived at home until just before the book begins, runs away to find fame and fortune, and learns as he goes along. Rather than having the narrator explain everything at the start, ARCH ENEMIES is told in first person. Things happen in the early chapters that don’t make sense to Terin until much later.
Our reluctant hero is accompanied on his quest by an older squire who teaches him along the way, but her lessons never take so long that the action stops. In fact, much of my second and third drafts consisted of me saying “This gives away too much too soon” and “this slows things down too much” and moving whole chunks to later in the book. I even removed entire sections that explained much about the world but were irrelevant to the story.
Terin also asks many questions about the novel’s basic mysteries along the way. What am I supposed to do to solve the prophecy? Why am I not allowed to read it? What if I am not the person named in the prophecy and they grabbed the wrong guy? Why are the dwarves being attacked and having their memories erased? Who stole the magical homestone needed for the ritual? Why did that barbarian look at me in fear and call me “Bishortu?” He comes up with theories for each of these which almost always are proven wrong, but this allows the reader to consider them as well and come up with their own ideas.
Giving away everything at the start is no fun. Everyone loves a mystery. And the same goes to the “rules” of the fantasy world in which the book exists.