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I know this isn't the conworlding forum, but I'm not asking for a critique on my conworld. I'm asking how people would receive such a thing as a constructed world not based off of ancient cultures, or our fantasies of what the future may be like, but off our own modern world.

Let me give some details. Its a superhero setting. I know, its impossible to make superheroes make 100% sense, and I'm not really trying to do that. I just wanted to put more serious thought into the affect superhumans would actually have on our world if they did exist. Also their history isn't based off of the different 'ages' of comics that you often see. In my world, superhumans aren't new. Imagine if fictional characters like Hercules and Merlin weren't fiction, but were 100% historical, and the history books were litered with characters like them, and there was still people just like them still walking around today!

Another thing that maybe a problem, is that the supernatural plays more a role in the setting than science fiction. For one, I had wanted to write a fantasy novel for the longest time, so I'm more familiar with that, and besides, science fiction always ends up looking dated after a while. Not that all characters are magic, but you often see magic where you would normally see science fiction in your more typical superhero story. And yes, I've had some people suggest I should do some research into urban fantasy.

Anyway, I'm not asking for a critique of this (its still a work in progress anyway), I was just worried that all of this may be too outlandish for your average reader. I've never heard of a case of someone making a completely fictional conworld full of people with a more or less modern technology level. The closest you see are worlds that are just 'our world, except when mentioned otherwise'. In my world, nothing is familiar (aside for the fact that its inhabited by humans, and the same animals as our world). The nations aren't the same for one. There is no US or China. Nor is it alternate history. The layout of the continents aren't even the same. Even the religions and cultures that reside in this world aren't the same as ours. Now, why would I make a world so familiar yet alien? Mostly for social commentary. I forget what the technique is called, but its a technique where you create something fictional but normal to the reader so that they can see their own beliefs from the outside.

But if I did this, I may confuse readers. So, I have a modern world full of skyscraper cities and modern technology, and there's people with fantastic powers wearing spandex running around. But the names of the nations and cities and cultures and religions are all entirely fictional, and you have people wearing magic suits of armor in place of power armor, and mages are everywhere, and you in general you see A LOT of characters who have powers based in magic. I mean, I already have sketches for a few characters that literally look like knights! Knights that can do weird things that you normally don't see in fantasy (one for instance has an energy sword he can reshape into whatever he needs, kinda like the Green Lanterns), but knights none-the-less. Magic isn't really that rare. Pretty much every superhero team has a magic member. Being a mage is no more rare than being a paragon or a not-batman. That's not so say science doesn't exist in their world, but no one's really any more advanced than us. Even if I do feel tempted to include a mad scientist character wearing power armor.

So what I have is a weird world full of magic, modern technology, superheroes, people in full plate armor with weird abilities, and names that people wouldn't recognize.

Am I trying too hard to create something new? I don't see why you don't see entirely fictional worlds based off of time periods later than the renaissance. Why can't you have a conworld where people have cars and jets and computers, but without it being set in the future or our own reality? I would like to do this, but I'm afraid of what kind of reception I would get.

  • How is this effectively different from, say, Watchmen? – Weckar E. Aug 9 '17 at 7:29
  • The most significant difference is that superheroes aren't new, they've existed since the dawn of history. No one's really looking to have them made illegal, I mean, some run nations, and some ancient superhumans are now worshipped as gods in certain religions. And like I said, there is no America, or Russia, or cold war, or ww2. This is why I think it may be too alien. – user26166 Aug 9 '17 at 7:32
  • I see what you mean. I don't think your question mentions WHY you want to use a new world for this, and not adapt our own. (It's a little long and there's a lot of fluff, I may have missed it) – Weckar E. Aug 9 '17 at 7:36
  • Welcome to Writers SE! Honestly, I am a little torn on the question at hand. I can see this being a bit opinion based/critique/how to... which are off topic for our site but I can also understand what you are trying to ask. The other issue is that this is a little on the subjective side. Some here may say yes this is not good, others may say yes this is okay to do, but there is no objective/definitive answer we could conclude with the question. Would you mind editing the question for it to be a more generalized/objective based one? – ggiaquin16 Aug 9 '17 at 17:05
  • Also you may want to check out the answer selected to this question as it may provide you some helpful insight: Creating a story in which the Hero(es) lose – ggiaquin16 Aug 9 '17 at 17:07
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I don't see any problem in creating a supercool world where there is magic, technology, and all sort of fun things. The main issue is its execution. There has to be a compelling story apt for that setting to bring the world alive. That depends mostly on the writing and how the writer incorporates it in the story.

If there is a complex world to begin with, it must come to life via its characters, thier motivation, desires, and shortcomings.

The complexity​ of the world will not amuse the readers if they don't connect to the story. World building is the physical body of the novel, which means nothing without its story–its soul.

How well the audience accepts the fictional world solely depends on the ability of the author to pull it off with his writing.

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No, that would not alienate readers.

We've seen this kind of conworld all the way back to Gulliver's Travels, and in more modern form, something like Hogwart's, the TV series Magicians (where they spend most of their time in conworlds), the Sci Fi movie The Fifth Element, and so on.

The first problem all those writers had to overcome is the problem I see in your setup: You need somebody the audience will quickly relate to, as your hero, with motivations, language and beliefs they can relate to. In the stories mentioned; this is typically accomplished with what is called the "stranger in a strange land" idea: We are introduced to Hogwart's and Magic by a magical boy raised as a common boy ("muggle"), so we can see all the wonder through new eyes. Gulliver is our stranger in those stories, Bruce Willis as the grizzled Future New York cab driver is our commoner that catches the magical girl in The Fifth Element. (Flying taxis and high tech are introduced without any explanation needed, modern audiences already accept anything presented and treated (by the characters in the story) as routine high tech machinery: Even holograms, transporters, robots, anti-gravity, etc).

The second major problem I see in your story is failing to address basic ramifications; in this case, plausible control of the magical by the non-magical. To be clear, you don't have to address every ramification, but if you don't address the few most likely critiques, your audience cannot suspend their disbelief for very long.

So what prevents a few million super-beings from enslaving the non-magic regular people in your world? To be remotely like Earth, so you can make commentary on real life with your fictional world, you need the bottom 95% of people (billions) to be struggling with systemic poverty, starvation, at war over water and arable land, or religious differences, or power struggles. Why don't a few dozen of the strongest of these magical beings that are everywhere just use their powers to take control? Why worry about genocide if 5000 invulnerable Superman's can just pick them up and put them in prison?

If mages are everywhere, why have they foregone the black magics that could let them take over our corporations, win elections, and control everything?

If I have a superhero on every city block fighting petty crime, then (a) why is there still petty crime? and (b) among non-magical beings who is dumb enough to try and commit it knowing a super-cop is probably patrolling within a quarter mile?

With a tiny fraction of the crime in our world (no theft, muggings, murder, assassination, genocide, nuclear threat, invasion threat, not even secret pollution) how can this world reflect anything about our world?

The reason most stories are "our Earth except where noted" (Like "Magicians") is this means the author doesn't have to explain the world to the audience, and there are plenty of regulars they can identify with. Often (even in this series) the heroes are newly aware of the magic (in the series pilot the main protagonist Elliot is astonished to find that the fictional world of Fillary actually exists; that the magical fantasy fiction he was obsessed with is actually a historical record written as a story).

Your work as a writer is to keep a thread in your story with enough touchstones that comforts and teaches the audience how to interpret this world. That is easier with a stranger in your strange land, the exposition needed can be provided by other characters as "explain to the newbie what is happening, or how this works, or why that is true". Without a central "know-nothing" character, you need a substitute or series of substitutes so you aren't engaged in a constant lecture to the audience about why your world is logical. Unfortunately without that logic coming through somehow, you pile up so many unexplained story twists that you will exceed your credit limit for suspension of disbelief, and your work goes to waste.

You cannot just handwave that people still have computers, jobs, become doctors and soldiers and cops, if magical people can do all of this better than they can. And you cannot just handwave that millions of beings infinitely more powerful than humans don't go to war with each other, or end up in charge of the nations, corporations, and politics at every level, and for some reason are usually obeying the laws of the humans. Consider that Lex Luthor's intelligence was magically induced, making him a magically evil genius: If I have a million Lex Luthors then Lex Luthors would control all 10,000 or so corporations on the New York Stock Exchange, and every single corporation, bank or corner grocery store in the world. They would control the food supply and every job and acre of land on the planet, all entirely legally by our current laws -- which they would rewrite to suit themselves anyway.

So why isn't that true in your world?

  • I have been thinking about that, but I think I would prefer to not give away too many details. I do have answers to some tings, but I also have many things to address that still need to be addressed. But like I said, its impossible to make superheroes make 100% sense anyway. A common saying is 'the more you make supeheroes make sense, the more it just falls apart'. Besides, I'm leaning towards making it metaphorical anyway. I'm willing to eschew realism a bit for social commentary. – user26166 Aug 9 '17 at 13:00
  • And I wasn't asking for a critique. I was asking how people may receive something like this. Oh, and superhumans aren't that common. They aren't even that common in comic books. – user26166 Aug 9 '17 at 13:18
  • I was answering your questions! Quotes in italics: Why can't you have a conworld where people have cars and jets and computers?, also, and mages are everywhere, and you in general you see A LOT of characters who have powers based in magic., also Magic isn't really that rare., also I'm asking how people would receive such a thing as a constructed world not based off of ancient cultures, or our fantasies of what the future may be like, but off our own modern world. Any claim of why they might receive it negatively needs explanation, which I provided. You aren't being consistent. – Amadeus Aug 9 '17 at 14:37
  • The short answer, without critique, is YES, you are trying too hard to create something new, and IMO people will put this down after a few chapters of unanswered questions. But nothing wrong with creating your own little world for your own enjoyment, I think every author does that, as a kind of prerequisite course in learning the ropes of writing stories that other people will find enjoyable. – Amadeus Aug 9 '17 at 14:45
  • Why assume all superheroes are good (or at least similar)? A story has to have conflict. A necessity in this setting would be two or more groups keeping each other in check. There will be supercops, but there will be supercrooks as well. The unpowered will develop their world in the shadow of this struggle. – Ralph Crown Aug 9 '17 at 17:06

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