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Naomi Hughes @NaomiHughesYA
, 9 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
As an editor specializing in YA and MG, I tend to see a lot of portal fantasies (stories where the protagonist finds themselves in another world, where most of the conflict then takes place). And I've found that sub-genre to have some very common problems. A short thread!
The most common problem I see with portal fantasies is that the conflict is impersonal. The protagonist is transported to another world, one they usually didn't know existed, then required to save and/or escape it. My question: why should they (and therefore we) care?
Questions to ask to avoid your portal fantasy having an impersonal conflict: why does this world matter to the protagonist in a deeply personal and unique way? What does it mean to them that it doesn't to anyone else? Why/how will it continue to matter after they save/escape it?
Another common problem with portal fantasies: negative goals. By that I mean, the MC typically wants only to get home or to avoid being captured/killed on this new world. Without a positive goal to back this up, it ends up making the conflict feel stagnant and, again, impersonal.
As you write your portal fantasy, ask yourself what your character wants beyond escape or survival or to save this other world just because that's the right thing to do (or b/c "fate"). Could saving this world lead to him/her getting something they want, maybe in their own world?
Another way to make a portal fantasy personal if the character's central goal is to simply survive or save a world they have no reason to care about: work that growth arc! How can they change while hiding from the evil alien monkeys on Earth-2? How does that impact their future?
Another common flaw in portal fantasies is poor world-building. Don't be afraid to dig deep, get wild, think about how the differences between that world and your character's world would stand out and affect things at a level your readers might not have realized.
A well-done portal fantasy: Ready Player One (the movie specifically). The Oasis (the "other world") MATTERED to Wade, & the stakes, though Oasis-focused, were grounded in the real world. The Oasis's salvation was deeply entwined with Wade's growth arc. Great world-building too!
If your YA, MG, or romance needs critique, let me know! I still have two openings for full manuscripts in May, plus I'm running a special right now, so you get a free query critique thrown in to boot. 🙂 naomiedits.com
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