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Is this actually a bad idea, or am I just asking the wrong people?

Marscaleb

Scribe
I was working on the map for my story, and I decided to share my creation on a few sites.
It was not received well; people hated it for reasons I'll get to in a moment.

Before I go on, I want to share some context about my story.
My story follows a person from our world who gets reborn into another world. As she grows up, she discovers some strong similarities between this new world and where our world was just before the first world war. As the war begins, she realizes that it will probably turn out the same way our history did, and so her self-proclaimed purpose is to prevent all the fallout that led to second world war and all the tragedy that came with it.

With that in mind, the map I drew was mostly historical Europe, but also mirrored East-to-West.

But people hated this map.
Now, part of this was because I didn't explain the context properly; I largely implied that it was just a typical fantasy world, and made no effort to explain that the main character was from our world.
But even on the sites where I shared the map with the proper context, I didn't get any favorable responses.

Now, *I* think that having a mirrored world is a great way to approach what I'm trying to do; it makes it clear that it's not some time travel or alt-history shenanigan, but it also can be similar enough that the main character genuinely feels that history could repeat itself. But I'm not seeing that kind of response from people. People seem to think that I need to make it a full-on alt-history, or a fully original world.

I don't like those ideas. If it's an original world, I can't see anyone being willing to put their life on the line to try to prevent WW2. If it's an alt-history, then it just gets weird every time I make something different from our history. Especially since I am adding magic to this world, (and having alt-history-magic-WW1 makes my story a bit too much like a certain other story; one that people will already be comparing mine to.)

But maybe I'm just too close to this to be able to see the problem.
So is it just me? Is this actually a bad idea that will turn people away, people that actually would have loved my story if it had an original map?
Or is the negative response coming from a lack of context, and I'm putting too much weight into the opinions of people who wouldn't read this story anyway?

Can I reasonably have an "alternate world" for my story that lies between alt-history and fantasy? Or will people only accept it if it is one or the other?
 
The same key as with everything... do it well, and some people will love it. Like it. Be indifferent. Dislike it. Hate it. Do a poor job, and it's forever more downhill than that.

In general, people are worse judges of ideas than they are a finished product. So, do it. Then ask.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
It sounds to me like a kneejerk reaction to the map itself, when the brain says, "This is familiar, but unfamiliar at the same time. Do not like." I think it's an intriguing idea, and I've seen similar premises before so you're not out in the water alone. There are no bad ideas, only bad execution. Let's see how it plays out on the page.
 

Marscaleb

Scribe
Additionally, perhaps I should mention that I was crafting to my map to be different in a few ways from a straight-forward mirrored world. I kinda get that this would be a problem, and I was really hoping to get feedback for me to determine how similar I should make this alternate world, but I don't really get the impression that my changes were the problem. Or maybe that is the real issue, and what people were really upset about was how my national borders were selectively similar to the historical sources, that it looked like Europe but also had differences.

It's also worth noting that a mirrored Earth would have differences in climate. I think this is a fun detail to add, but some people who recognize this are irked that my history still paralleled our world, as the changes in currents and trade winds would lead to different histories. I mean, that's true, but I also think it's the kind of thing that people would "generally accept" for the sake of the story. Hang a lantern or a lampshade, and just move on.
Technically there was only one guy who really thought this way, but he represented a large percentage of the serious/ration responses I got from one of the sites where I shared my map. So does anyone here see it that way?

I could go into details, but I posted this on the "writing" forum rather than the "worldbuilding" forum because that's what I'm really looking for opinions on. This is going to influence how I approach my story; I might need to adjust the political scheme to more-closely resemble history.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
So...initially, I read the OP and thought...how silly is this? Just took a map and flipped it over, for a mirrored world no less, makes sense to me, and probably gives a neat place to play with an make the story. I was even about to say GRRM did this with Ireland for his own map.

But...I was curious, so I did a google search for flipped over Europe. At first, the map I saw looked pretty cool, but then I started to imagine the political lines, and how it might play with a war on it (and taking from my experience with many war games based in Europe), and all of sudden, it just started to hurt my brain. I had to do extra work to keep flipping it in my head. And then the questions...if the map was flipped would the same areas be desert or green? Strangely enough, flipped over Europe looks more vulnerable to me, like it would be easier to sweep into Spain and push them into the sea. That must be a trick of my reality. Its like I am so used to pushing west and not east that it would just be easier to push east.

In the end, I did not prefer it. It just made me do too much work to accept it as such.
 

Marscaleb

Scribe
And then the questions...if the map was flipped would the same areas be desert or green?
Europe itself has mostly the same climate, but it would be colder. There are big changes in Africa; it would be lush and green across the Sahara all the way through the middle East up to India, and then past India it turns to desert from there until the ocean.
I'd like to get a more detailed map of Europe, but the people doing the retrograde Earth models are generally focused on the broad effects.
At any rate, I'm fudging those models a little bit anyway, largely in service of the story.

I'm not planning on having them push into Spain; I was in fact thinking of having them ally themselves with Germany (though these are not their names)
But that's the kind of thing I can't really go forward with until I understand what people are willing to accept. How much can I divert from history?

Thank you for the response; it was informative.
 
How has it been mirrored though? Horizontally or vertically? Or country by country? Changing those aspects does not give an alternate history but more of an entirely different world I would say. In historical fantasy, it is argued that you’d need to keep the vital details such as keeping the countries where they are geographically. But there again there is nothing to say you can’t just go with it and as long as you do it well. But the world wars are always going to be controversial. And perhaps you wouldn’t call your genre historical fantasy.
 

Queshire

Auror
I don't mind the idea of a flipped map. Frankly geography is probably one of the least important parts of the plot you want.
 
I agree with Demesnedenoir and A. E. Lowan that the idea is fine, and it's all down to the execution of the idea. Frankly, ideas matter a lot less than people make them out to be. You can take a terrible idea and write an amazing story about it and have it become a bestseller. While the most amazing idea in the world with bad execution will never become a great novel. So don't worry about what other people think of your idea, and just write it.

Just look at all the silly ideas that make no sense when you think about them, but still make great stories. The setting and story for Harry Potter makes absolutely no sense if you apply any kind of logic to it. And that did pretty well. Inglorious Bastards again makes very little sense, and it was a good movie. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, again made no sense, and ran for 7 seasons and won some awards. I could go on and on.

Believe in your idea and write it.
 
I can't imagine why anyone would give a rat's...

It's a picture of something that doesn't really exist to inform the way an unwritten story plays out.

There's only one thing that actually matters here... is your story any good?
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
But evidently people do care, so the questions are why, and is it something the author needs to address.

How many people are we talking about? Five or five hundred? It matters.

Are they fans of the genre or more friends and family? This, too, matters.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
To answer this question more directly, I think the people complaining are having an involuntary reaction to the map. Its right enough that they know what it is, but wrong enough that they know its not right. I think you map may be in then uncanny valley, and people are reacting to that. And that it is not anything you did wrong.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
I dont know....Finch is rumored to have ripped out a mans eyes with her tiny feet just because he misspelled Canada on a map... but I am sure that is just a rumor...
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
I can't imagine why anyone would give a rat's...

It's a picture of something that doesn't really exist to inform the way an unwritten story plays out.

There's only one thing that actually matters here... is your story any good?
Oh, oh, my sweet summer child. Some fandoms care very deeply, and if you're any good they're going to love you with everything they've got, because they all know that secretly
it's all real and we're sending missives to them from other realms
.

I'm not kidding.

Fantasy is genre that attracts a wide variety of readers from all across the board, and yes, they care that much. :p
 
Oh, oh, my sweet summer child. Some fandoms care very deeply, and if you're any good they're going to love you with everything they've got, because they all know that secretly
it's all real and we're sending missives to them from other realms
.

I'm not kidding.

Fantasy is genre that attracts a wide variety of readers from all across the board, and yes, they care that much. :p
They won't if the story is no good...

Frankly I don't understand why anyone would share something so profoundly important to a story as a map prior to publishing... but I guess this is a writers' site and advice is constantly sought and given.

I suppose the key question for the OP is: will they change the map or story based on the negative feedback?

I don't think I would, but I wouldn't have shared it in the first place.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
Yes, I wrestle with sharing anything on the website. I'd be more likely if it was already published. But this is a map of europe, just flipped over. Not much to protect there.
 

Mad Swede

Auror
Oh, oh, my sweet summer child. Some fandoms care very deeply, and if you're any good they're going to love you with everything they've got, because they all know that secretly
it's all real and we're sending missives to them from other realms
.

I'm not kidding.

Fantasy is genre that attracts a wide variety of readers from all across the board, and yes, they care that much. :p
Really? :confused: You do have some odd fans, I don't think I've ever had any of my readers/fans react like that. But then maybe that's just because Swedes are so introvert? :unsure:

With that written, I'm with The Dark One on this. I wouldn't have shown my map first, but then I don't have maps in my books either. To me the story should carry itself without any map at all, the reader should be able to build their own picture of the world based on what I write.
 
Show us the map! Show us the map! Maybe the controversy was found in the visual, and maybe it will give more context to what you’re trying to get feedback on.
 
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