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Tricky question... hard to explain

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Oomatu, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. Oomatu

    Oomatu Closed Account

    My novel, Islandfall, takes place on a mysterious island called Kuatu Mai by it's inhabitants. The name is used often in dialog, but more in the sense of it being the entire known world. Trying to explain what Kuatu Mai is exactly in the story feels out of place, awkward. It would be like writing a book set on earth... and then trying to explain what earth is. The Island IS their world, all of it!

    My question is this... should Kuatu Mai be described early in the book, or should I assume the reader read the teaser on the back?
  2. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Leave it alone. Don't explain anything. The world is the world. Show it as being different, but I don't think you need to explain it.

    At no point in Game of thrones did anyone stop and say "oh, by the way, westeros is on a large planet with a slow rotation around its sun and that's why we have really long summers and winters". It just was.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Don't explain anything until and if your beta readers (and then your editors and agents) come back to you asking for explanations. Otherwise, you are just inventing problems for yourself.
  4. NerdyCavegirl

    NerdyCavegirl Sage

    It's a mysterious island and the whole world to its inhabitants. That's all the explanation you need. Have all the underlying physics, biology, etc you want, I go down to plate tectonics with worldbuilding (and had to fight the urge go back millions of years with it just to place my mountains realistically), but I only explain things the way my characters would understand it. Sure it matters that you know what exactly Kuatu Mai is, but if it's the whole world to your characters, there's no need to explain it beyond how they would. Just show it through context and let others understand what they can.
  5. Oomatu

    Oomatu Closed Account

    Thankyou! I have developed entire ecosystems and weather patterns for the island, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. A good chunk of the book series, especially the last book, involves discovering what the Island originally was (an inter-dimensional portal). I just wasn't sure how much the readers should know about it off the bat (from the view of the inhabitants).

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