Growing up, I read voraciously, something I still do and which probably every person reading this does, or would like to do if things like jobs and all that did not get in the way. ;3 Though I read a little bit of everything, I mostly split my time between romance and fantasy, and there is still nothing I like more than combining the two.
One of the things I have really come to appreciate through reading and writing is that a good story requires a good foundation. There are hundreds of things that an author must know to write a story, and of those hundred, the reader may see ten. But those other ninety still matter because they're what the visible ten are built upon. This is especially true when a world is being built from scratch. In a contemporary story, for example, no explanation is needed after explaining that gays are hated. Readers know all the reasons that people use, all the cultural, secular, and sacred motivations. Those don't need to be explained to the reader.
In fantasy, it's not always that simple. If the story is short enough or simple enough, then it's possible simply to express that homosexuality is hated, but the more involved the work, the more it matters why. It's not enough to say 'oh, this country hates roses'. Why does it hate roses? There's always a reason for everything, even if that reason evolves over time (like something once done out of necessity now done out of tradition).
Whether or not the country being built accepts or hates homosexuality (or how they regard sexuality period, depending on what is involved in the story) matters because it will determine what becomes the key element of the story, its main problem.
A country where being gay is not an issue opens up questions about marriage, adoption, etc—the author must address why it's okay, or how the country adapted around its being okay, even if the reasons are not explicitly listed out.
In a country where being gay is a serious issue, then the author must decide why (even if, again, not everything is explicitly listed out). Is it a religious matter? Is it a law handed down by a king? Why did he create/change the law? Is it something punishable by death? Is it an outdated and slowly changing belief/custom?
If the matter is, say, a religious one and punishable by death, that's quite different than a law handed down by a king and which may or may not be ignored by the general populace depending on the state of the country and the vehemence of the king. If it's a new law just being instated, or an old one largely ignored, that too changes how the story might play out and what challenges the characters face.
In the circumstance where it's a religious matter and punishable by death, that creates a very dangerous society for those breaking the law. Whatever else may be going on in the story, they are all secondary to that main conflict. Even if the heroes save the world, they're not legally allowed to be together.
So, accepted, not accepted, sort of accepted: whichever you choose changes both the story and where the focus lies. If the writer does not want the majority of the story's focus to be on 'gay is bad' then a society that is less rigid is probably preferable.
And all of this, of course, must be considered right alongside the usual suspects in a fantasy story: races, religion, government, magic/no magic, environment, and, of course, the characters themselves—what they do, their positions in society.
Who and what the characters are is a very crucial element when building a society since what a prince can do is obviously very different from what a peasant can do—but a peasant, merchant, sailor, etc. might be able to get away with things that a prince or noble cannot, too.
Building a world, any world, even a contemporary one, is a matter of detail. The more of that world you have to build from scratch, the more difficult it is going to be—but there is also nothing more fun in my book than creating something entirely new. The additional challenges that come from writing fantasy specifically for the m/m genre only make it all the more interesting and fun. I feel it forces me to think of and account for things that may not have occurred to me in other genres, gives me a chance to play with ideas and concepts that would not have come otherwise. M/M fantasy will always be my favorite stomping ground: for the challenge, for the fun, and because the knights should always wind up with the dragon, not the damsel :3
Megan grew up a military brat and traveled extensively with her family for most of her youth. She lives now in Cincinnati, with two roommates and six cats. She has always been book obsessed, and writing obsessed since she first gave it a whirl in college. Romance and fantasy are her primary obsessions, but she's game to write just about anything and enjoys a challenge. She is a sucker for stories of enemies becoming lovers. When not writing, Megan is drinking too much coffee, cooking, reading , harassing family and friends, or otherwise doing whatever possible to avoid editing.
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