Stories can communicate truth in ways facts can’t. Many authors have said this many ways, but this post is titled “why I write fantasy,” so I thought it only appropriate that I should write this from my own head and without researching what other authors have written about the subject. That’s exactly what I’m going to do; even if quotations from Tolkien or Hemmingway would have made me sound smarter.
A good story can be merely entertaining. I have enjoyed many films that offered nothing except witty dialogue, interesting characters, and explosions. The creators of these films, as far as I know, intended for the film to do nothing other than entertain people and make money. Fine.
Many writers hope to do more than that, myself among them. Fiction, and for me fantasy, is the perfect way of communicating with people on a deeper level.
Show, don’t tell. All writers know this.
We writers use this saying to remind ourselves to dramatize the story instead of merely telling the reader what is happening. But it’s also how writers can get the reader to experience a message instead of merely hearing it. An argument usually doesn’t do anything except provoke a counter-argument. An experience is harder to dismiss.
Fiction in general is sufficient to convey a wide variety of experiences. The experience I wish to convey requires a specific genre. Fantasy is necessary to tell my stories for a simple reason.
My experience involves monsters.
I could have also used horror or urban fantasy. These, I think, are also appropriate to tell the sorts of a stories a Christian author can tell.
I choose to write in a world of my own invention, as opposed to urban fantasy which takes place in our own. This way, I get past any pre-conceived notions a person might have about real-world spiritual warfare or deliverance that might distract from what I’m trying to say.
And I don’t like doing research. I prefer to make stuff up. It’s more fun.
Horror tends to be too evil-centric for my taste, although my novels have their dark moments. Spiritual warfare is a tricky business. It’s like biking: if you stare at the rock, you’re going to hit it.
But there are monsters. Real ones. Intelligent, evil beings operating invisibly in our world. It’s not enough just to know they exist. It’s not even the point of my fiction to prove they exist. Otherwise, I would be compiling an anthology of real-life stories, not writing fiction. The point of my stories is to show people what I learned about defeating them.
I’ve struggled with demonic oppression in the past. It wasn’t fun, and my experiences were very mild compared with the experiences of others. Even so, the principles I learned were enough to build a world around. I based the world of my stories (I call it Desylvar) on my understanding of the way spiritual laws actually work in our world.
In Desylvar, spiritual laws are as visible and relevant as the law of gravity. Though really, spiritual laws are similarly visible and relevant. It’s just that not everyone believes the Isaac Newtons running around today, and there are many competing theories. Not everyone in Desylvar realizes the way their world works either, but the reader does.
By allowing my readers to experience the world I’ve created, I can show them what it feels like to encounter evil, what it feels like to have victory over that evil. And I can show them how.
That’s why I write fantasy.