I've started to write my first Fantasy novel. But there's one question that always bugs me. If I were to have a Kingdom, of course I would have a fictional name for it. So if I have a non-fictional place in my first few books, can I have a non-fictional setting later on in the series?

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    It's not clear to me why you would "of course" give your fantasy kingdom a non-fiction name. Apr 17, 2017 at 14:49

2 Answers 2


Fantasy literature is full of examples of characters passing between real and imaginary worlds. It is one of the core theme of fantasy literature. Indeed, the roots of fantasy literature are all in the long folk tradition that has seen a magical world existing side by side with the real world, and with passages between those worlds, in both directions.

I think it is probably fair to say that the fantasy that happens entirely in an invented world a la Tolkien is probably a very recent thing, at least as a dominant form of the art. It wasn't something his contemporaries practiced. C.S. Lewis' work was all about children passing from England into Narnia. Charles Williams's books (which deserve to be far better known than they are) were all about incursions of Faerie into the real world.

Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, Madeleine L'Engle are all examples of writers who work was about the border between worlds and transitions between them.

In short, no, there is nothing to prevent a transition from the real to the imaginary world. What you do have to be careful about, though, is maintaining a consistent overall tone and mythos. If the transition comes out of the blue and upsets the order of the story world, you are likely to lose your audience. Foreshadowing is your friend.

  • I will second the final paragraph. You have to let your reader know that the real world exists for your story if you start in the fantasy world (or vice versa). Suddenly plunging characters into a world we didn't know existed is very, very jarring. Look to Harry Potter. Rowling makes sure we know about the existence of magic and wizards in the very first chapter (book 1). As a result, we are not surprised when Hagrid arrives and the truth comes out. Imagine reading those first few chapters without that knowledge. Apr 18, 2017 at 17:57
  • Moorcock did this with the Von Bek series. The novels contain a realm called Middlemarch, which lies in the gaps between nations.
    – EvilSnack
    Apr 28, 2017 at 4:46
  • There's one series I've heard of where some of the action is set in London but the bulk of the action is set in this school called Hog-something.
    – EvilSnack
    Jan 8, 2019 at 1:39

"So if I have a non-fictional place in my first few books, can I have a fictional setting later on in the series?"

If you mean, the first three books in the series are rigorously historically accurate historical drama set in, say, Britain, and then in the fourth book the characters head off to the Land of Oz, this could be very tricky to pull off. I can enjoy a historical drama like Downton Abbey. I can enjoy a science fiction story like Star Trek. But if on the fourth season of Downton Abbey the characters were beamed aboard the Enterprise and headed off to another planet, wow, that would have to be done VERY skillfully to work. Most likely I'd say "oh give me a break" and turn it off.

Jumping from one genre to another is possible, but very hard to pull off.

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    The question was not about jumping between genres, but between fictional and real settings.
    – Lew
    Apr 18, 2017 at 12:58
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    There are plenty of fantasy stories that switch back and forth between a real place and a fictional place. It's fairly common for a fantasy story to start in the real world and then the characters are somehow transported to a fantasy world. If your "first few books" are set in the real world and then in the next book they are in a fantasy world, that sounds to me like you are switching genres. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what the OP meant by that sentence.
    – Jay
    Apr 18, 2017 at 13:38
  • Mark Baker covered it in his answer. If you train your dragon in the Bronx, and then fly to Narnia, it is not switching genres, it is switching settings.
    – Lew
    Apr 18, 2017 at 13:41
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    That's true, and maybe that's what the OP means and maybe not.
    – Jay
    Apr 18, 2017 at 13:45
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    The question says, quote, "So if I have a non-fictional place in my first few books, can I have a fictional setting later on in the series?" As I said in my answer, it is ambiguous if that means that the first few books are not fantasy but he now wants to make the next book fantasy, or if all the books are fantasy but the first few are fantasy set in the real world.
    – Jay
    Apr 18, 2017 at 13:58

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