Girl Sitting and Reading Next To A Castle
We spend enough time online. Get into your imagination instead. (Illustration By Emmalia Godshall, Columbia University)

Creating a Fantasy World Can Help You Manage the Current Reality

For a mental escape, consider turning to your imagination and sketching out a few elements that could make up your very own fantasy novel.

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Girl Sitting and Reading Next To A Castle

For a mental escape, consider turning to your imagination and sketching out a few elements that could make up your very own fantasy novel.

Whether through Zoom calls, discussion boards or pre-recorded lectures, tedious and repetitive online assignments dominate student life. Even outside of online coursework, many remain online, playing video games or watching videos. Finding new hobbies may be difficult, especially during a time when online activities are now the social norm. Instead of continually turning to virtual communities for an answer, look inside your imagination and use what is already there: Make a fantasy novel to pass the time offline.

Although writing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is more to a fantasy novel than simply writing. You can first plan several other of the story’s elements — such as the world, how that world came to be, the continents, the type of people, their beliefs, their trademarks, the languages, and the list goes on and on. All these factors do not mean more writing, only more planning, which can be done in a multitude of ways.

Different Interests Achieving One Main Goal: Creating A Fantasy World

If interested in the “physical” blueprint of the world, designing a world map along with some important locations and characters may spark some inner muse. How many different kinds of landscapes are there? What sort of aesthetic are you aiming for? Does the world look primarily medieval, steampunk, modern or a little bit of everything? How many races are there? What do they look like? What physical features make each of them unique? These questions can be answered by writing, or if you would prefer, through the power of art.

One famous illustrator, Ross Tran, also known as Ross Draws on YouTube, published his first illustrated fantasy tale, titled “Nima: The Black Lotus,” in July after working on the concept since 2017. The world, referred to as the NIMAVERSE, revolves around the main character, Nima, and tells her story through a series of original artworks. According to Tran, his design for Nima dated back to 2013 and he has been working on the artbook for nearly a decade — showcased in his reveal video where he offers his fans a quick sneak peek of the book itself. Anyone can see how enthusiastic he is about sharing a world he spent a lot of time on; telling a wonderful and inspiring story does not have to be done through pages filled with words.

If interested in music, a talented musician or songwriter could first compose a series of instrumentals to explain the general vibe of their characters, races or the world itself. Similar to making an original soundtrack for a movie or a song with lyrics, those who express their inner feelings through music have the chance to shine. What melody can a musician or songwriter create that automatically makes other people think of the world or character they created?

One iconic OST that many fantasy lovers may know is the “Game of Thrones” opening song, which perfectly “summarizes” all eight seasons. The might of war, clash of swords and cackle of flames — all in the quest to conquer the Iron Throne. Another iconic composition, though this time with lyrics, is “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” from the Netflix TV series “The Witcher,” unironically composed and sung by one of the characters — a humorous bard. This song brings out his whimsical and comic personality, which makes him a favorite among fans.

For food lovers and critics, what about creating an authentic and visually pleasing recipe using the ingredients in your kitchen? For dancers, what about making a choreography that a group of characters know? The possibilities for getting involved in “another world” are endless.

Simply writing out all the details serves as an additional way to create a fantasy world. Fantasy is a fairly popular genre in the writing world since it involves using the imagination to its fullest extent. Through the power of imagery, authors can weave the structure and appearance of their world as easily as those who can draw it.

Imagination Is Good for Mental Health

The first thing that people may assume about the imagination is that it is reserved for children because they do not have big responsibilities in the way that adults do. However, in the same way that it is beneficial for children, having a creative imagination is also beneficial and valid for adults.

I grew up loving to read and write about fantasy worlds as a hobby. However, there were many times where I was told that it was a waste of time and that I was better off engrossing myself with something more historically accurate. Yes, it is important to learn about history and how the world and its people came to be; however, being able to indulge in personal interests and enjoy the things I do is important, not childish.

Having an active imagination also keeps people motivated and serves as a great stress reliever. When in need of an escape from the physical world — especially during these hectic times — journeying to another world can be both productive and comforting. For writers, artists, musicians or even just dreamers, looking back at something they created may give a boost to their overall mood. Being able to flesh out just one character, design one location or write a single lyric can give you more motivation than simply watching videos and waiting for the day to pass.

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