Otherwise known as portal fantasy, time travel in fiction goes back a long ways. If you’re not too familiar with this as a genre, you are likely aware at least of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Today, I’d like to share my take on portal fantasy. Pros, cons and where we authors may be able to cause a literary revival. All this is just my opinion, since I personally despise time travel. That’s why I’m almost finished writing an entire portal fantasy novel. 🙂
Okay, I’ll cut to the chase. Writers have a very unique opportunity to reach audiences with this genre, and that is key to getting your message across. In writing, my personal message is generally one of Christ, of His light, of His love. Yours may be different, but no matter what point you’re trying to get across to a reader, portal fantasy is a bit of a hidden gem, a portal in itself for reaching people, especially teens and young or new adults.
WHAT MAKES PORTAL FANTASY SO DIVERSE?
It speaks to the reader. It causes them to a see a whole new world, the one you have created in your story, or maybe another time period or planet or galaxy! The possibilities are limitless.
A common plot or subplot in fictional time travel is, not surprisingly, romance, as it is in Lisa Bergren’s River of Time Series. That does, of course, make for a bit of a hassle. I mean, main character goes to another time period or, even better, another word and falls in love. How inconvenient.
But no matter what motives or subplots appear in your work of portal fantasy, it is all a web that ensnares the imagination, the unspoken dreams, the creativity of a reader while a crafty spider – you – comes along and whispers the underlying message, the passion burning in your heart that you must share.
WHAT ARE SOME CONS OF PORTAL FANTASY?
Even if Emerson wasn’t talking about time travel (which I suppose he could have been) when he said this, I think we’ll insert portal fantasy into it today.
From C.S. Lewis and Narnia right down to the many authors of young adult time travel today, there is a common theme. The character(s) are brought into this new “world” via the calling of an ancient prophecy. And many writers of portal fantasy continue to insert this into their work now.
Now, I’m not saying that’s a terrible thing. How can I when my WIP includes a prophecy? 🙂 What I am saying is that, if portal fantasy is to reach its full potential, those of us writing in this genre should consider all options regarding this common – I did not say cliche – trend.
For example, you may want to consider having a faulty prophecy. One that many people believe and trust, but is actually not fulfilled by the character(s) who show up in their world. Or maybe insert a prophecy that is not fully believed, or that is vague. I say these options only because of this:
Portal fantasy is a very unique and opportune genre/sub-genre. Because of the popularity of using a prophecy as a launch pad, this may, in the long run, weaken the full effect of your story’s message. NOT straight across the board, as you may have a plot that captures the essence of a prophetic fulfillment and utilizes it to its full potential. These are simply things to keep in mind when outlining and planning a portal fantasy novel.
WHY IS IT SO UNIQUE? IT SPEAKS TO THE IMAGINATION.
Portal fantasy speaks to the imagination of your audience, captures their attention and creates a megaphone to reach them through. It can resound. It can inspire. It can bring forth your message in a perfectly subtle and powerful way, because of the genre’s popularity.
In addition, time travel may never exist in real life, but there are many who dream of it. Writers of fantasy must plunge forth in this genre, carry it to new horizons, and with it, scale new heights. Write on, brave wielder of the pen!
WHAT DO YOU THINK? HOW DOES THIS GENRE SPEAK TO YOU? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE WORKS OF PORTAL FANTASY?