The other day I was working on my YA fantasy novel and realized I had a problem. I needed a disposable cup. In a medieval-type fantasy world.
Two of the main characters were traveling on horseback through a town. I wanted them to be able to order and eat a meal while on the horse, but the father figure made the situation difficult for me because he wanted to order tea, of all things. I could picture him ordering tea and it seemed to suit the moment, so I now had to find a way for him to be able to do this in a way that made sense.
(Side note: It is my personal opinion that when characters suddenly do things—like order tea to go or start talking about fairies, when I hadn’t planned on writing about fairies—that the Holy Spirit is leading my story. I greatly enjoy moments like these.)
The cup couldn’t be something that was “made,” such as wood or glass, because that would be too costly.
Also, what would he do with the cup when he was finished with it? It needed to be something fairly simple to take with him, like a disposable cup would be, and then he needed an easy way to get rid of the cup afterward. I didn’t want him just tossing it into a ditch somewhere.
What’s a writer to do?
Coloring Outside the Lines
I thought about it, and the result was gloriously weird. I’m dealing with a fantasy world, which means that I don’t need to follow real-world rules. So for my “disposable cup,” I ended up using a type of leaf that can become whatever you want it to be. You can fashion them into cups and plates and the like, and then when it’s time to “return them to the earth,” so to speak, the leaf reverts back to being a leaf.
In the end, this cup that lasted for only a few paragraphs is a cool little feature, and it adds a fantasy element that makes the entire world seem more unique and fantasy-like.
Problems and Opportunities
If you write fantasy, you will often run into problems that need to be explained—that is, they might seem like problems, but they are actually opportunities to make your fantasy world super cool.
Writing gives you the opportunity to express God in creative ways. Perhaps this is especially true if you’re a fantasy writer since the traditional physical rules of the world don’t need to apply to you. It’s like you can step into the spiritual realm and start playing with things, just to see what you can build.
One of my favorite things about writing fantasy is the weirdness. I get to come up with why things are the way they are, and I get to be led by the Holy Spirit of God as I do it.