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Having a problem with creation story for fantasy world

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Maggie Black, Oct 9, 2021.

  1. Maggie Black

    Maggie Black New Member

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    I was trying to come up with some kind of creation/origin story for my fantasy world as it exists in the main part of the story, and have run into a bit of a race issue. I was thinking it would be cool if there were different hollows in this world that were each run by a family and had an animal emblem/representation, and the way that came to be was that there were individuals who were led from the ordinary world into the magical world by each of these animals, and those individuals started those families and used the animal that led them as their emblem.

    The problem with this is that because my world TAKES PLACE ON EARTH and INVOLVES A PORTAL TO THIS MAGICAL WORLD and is going to be euro-america-U.K.-ish (Just cause that's who I am and what I understand and relate to), the only way for that origin story to make sense is if they were a bunch of white people all chosen by these animals to be taken to this magical land...that just feels weird, right? Like, here, white people, you are the chosen ones and you will be taken to this magical european land just for you...if this world that takes place on earth is basically just Euro-fantasy-dom, it's gonna feel like I'm ignoring the rest of the world...any ideas?
     
  2. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

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    If your portal is located in Europe, then you have an excuse for Europeans going through it? My own primary fantasy world was likewise populated by folk passing through portals, two of them like poles on opposite sides of the earth. One in the Pacific, passing the very occasional Austronesian or Oceanic individuals, and the other in the Urals, so it has had a mix of 'European' and Turkic people going through it over a very long period. And Neanderthals before them! Anyway, this means that there are two different culture centers where they emerge in their new world, far apart.
     
  3. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

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    How long ago did people go into the portals into this other world? If it was a really long time ago, there might not even have been that many white people yet lol. If these portals ONLY showed up in Europe....that would be pretty sus. There was probably never a time where the majority of people on Earth were white people (ESPECIALLY during the middle ages with the plague and all).

    Honestly I'm glad that you noticed that it would be Really Weird for it to only be white people, most people don't have enough self-awareness to notice that. If these people went into your fantasy world a long time ago, their cultures/religions would vary a lot from modern day [whatever]. As a writer, you're always writing people that aren't like you. You can't use magic, you aren't killing orcs, you aren't attempting to take over the world. Writing someone who's another race or ethnicity as you (or is queer when you're cishet) requires a bit of research, yes, but it makes your world more alive.

    And it gives you so many more options, too! Like why limit yourself to ONLY animals from Europe? Would people brought there by polar bears think they're related to people brought there by grizzly bears? If the traveling happened in pre-history, then you can have chalicotheres and haast's eagles. You can even have different species of humans like there are in asoiaf!
     
  4. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    Make these portal appear randomly across the world. Then you'd have Asian people, African People, South and Central American People... people of all genders, colors and cultures. It could help explain the affinity some cultures have with certain animals. The "Jaguaros" of central Mexico in pre-columbian times, or the Inuit of Northern Canada /Alaska whose totem poles honored the animals of the region as protective guardians. Early Native American in the US in the southwest had an affinity to coyotes, and there are countless others throughout history. Why shouldn't your world reflect that diversity?
     
    Rosemary Tea likes this.
  5. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Well, unless the plot of the story involves the fate of the entire magic world you could establish that it's limited to the part that maps to Europe. Maybe somewhere far off there's a Japanese hollow with a kitsune for an emblem?
     
  6. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Inkling

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    It sounds like your setting is culturally Western/Anglophone, but that in itself says nothing about race. The Anglophone world is racially diverse. Why couldn't the people in your fantasy setting be?

    Have you established when in history the people came through the portals? If this is a fantasy world, it could exist in any time: the present, the past, or the future. And it doesn't necessarily have to run on our time. If it's like Narnia, where hundreds of years can pass while very little time passes in our world, then your fantasy world's inhabitants could be descended from people who left our world in the twenty-first century. They could have come through in Europe or America and be a racially diverse bunch, because America today is racially diverse (it always has been), so is the UK, and increasingly, so are parts of continental Europe. And centuries could have passed in their new land while it's still the twenty-first century here.
     
  7. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    I had a thought that may be totally not what you're looking for. I thought what if the was a portal for each hollow/family. If they were originally set equal distance apart (ring formation) hundreds of thousands of years ago, or even father back on Pangea. But now due to continental drift the portals are in vastly different places, such as Europe, South America, East Asia, etc. Now the portals happen to be among different cultures and your story happens to be about one particular portal or group of people.
     
    Chasejxyz likes this.
  8. Solusandra

    Solusandra Minstrel

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    Umm...no? What you're describing is all over British folklore. If you're feeling racist and guilty that's not a problem of the story. The animals totems are going to choose the people they are most familiar with, so if white people are the ones living in the hollows and owning the totems then it only makes sense. If instead its a minority community bringing their totems to england and setting them up in their racial ghetto then they'd be the ones most likely to be chosen. It would only be weird if the community was mostly mixed race and only one race was chosen. Then you'd need to answer the question of why that race? Is one race sacrificing another? Is it a closed community inside a larger community? Does the choosing body choose by another characteristic that just happens to mostly appear in one race?
     
  9. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

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    Yikes!
     
  10. Solusandra

    Solusandra Minstrel

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    No-go zone sound better?

    Do you at least understand the thrust of my response to the OP's setup? Or are you just on about the word choice?
     
  11. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    My rule of thumb is to never address one word responses. Especially when it’s an interjection like “yikes”.

    To speak to your initial response, I think you bring-up a good point about addressing the apparent racial bias within the story.
    To a divine spirit, I’d assume, they wouldn’t care to much about the race of the people - it would be like the difference between red ants and black ants to us. It could be address in the story that the divine beings chose the land and white anglophones just so happened to be the people living there.

    Like, white Christians and black Christians generally don’t seem to have much of an issue with Jesus being middle eastern. It’s just understood that the messiah only incarnated in one location and that location happened to be Israel. Fretting about race seems to be something only humans do. Animals don’t do it. Nature doesn’t do it. So no reason to believe mystical spirits would do it.
     
    Solusandra likes this.
  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    There is color and then there is culture. If you make your various families more or less like modern post-industrial Western white humans, then making some of them non-white isn't actually accomplishing much. I didn't take note of the OP's gender, but that would enter into the equation as well.

    As others have pointed out, there's enormous cultural diversity in Europe, even today. Roll back a few centuries and you get even more. If the point of your story is to explore culture clash, there's plenty of raw material there. And you don't have to work very hard to find people of color within that narrative, going all the way back to ancient Europe. So if that's where you're headed, you have many pleasant years of research ahead of you!

    OTOH, there appears to be a market for stories that have people of color in them but where everyone behaves more or less the same. I notice this mainly in recent TV shows. That's fine by me. The case can be made that showing diverse people operating in space (physical, cultural, economic, etc) that has traditionally been viewed as white has a role to play. So you can put someone with non-white skin into 18thc wig-and-flounce, call them duke or princess, and it's fine. So if that's where you're headed, go right ahead.
     
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