Portals and Other Mysterious Escape Hatches
by Rebekah Ganiere
Hi Everyone! Welcome to another of my posts on the FF&P blog. I love this month’s theme. When I first thought about this theme I thought, Wow, those aren’t done much. But then I realized they have been done forever. Mostly because some of my most favorite classic stories have Portals and Escape Hatches.
Alice in Wonderland. Alice fell through a rabbit hole and ended up in Wonderland. Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is picked up by a tornado and dropped in Oz. Chronicles of Narnia. The kids go through a wardrobe in the second book and end up in Narnia. In other books they fall through a painting or other portals. In Dune they fold space to move quickly. All are types of portals or escape hatches.
In my Free short story Kissed by the Reaper– Rose is a reaper who has a store that sits over a hellhole. A hole that leads down to Lucifer’s penthouse. It is warded heavily and only she knows it is there besides the other hellspawn. She guards and protects the portal so no one can get through, however in the second story coming soon, she finds things don’t always stay closed.
In my Fairelle Series I have a group of connected mirrors that people can talk through and travel through. Sometimes they know where they will end up, sometimes they don’t.
So how do you write a portal or escape hatch? Well, in my Worldbuilding and Magic Systems classes I talk about a couple of important things you need when you are writing magic.
Your job as an author is to suspend disbelief. So anything you write that pulls a reader out of the story and makes them say, no way, is breaking this rule. So to make sure you don’t break this rule there are a few things you should do to insure your portals work with your story.
1) Set it up! There is nothing worse than reading a story, getting to the big battle scene, watching the hero be backed into a corner and then magically a portal or hatch appears and they can get away. That is lazy writing. It’s ‘act of the gods’ writing. Don’t do it. Make sure if you are going to use a portal or have one that you set it up ahead of time. I have one that I setup in book one of Fairelle that you won’t see until the last battle in book 8. But you will remember it because there have been hints along the way.
2) Make is Interesting! Put some thought into your portals. What does it feel like to travel through it? What are the after effects? Does it do something to the world or your hero? Does it take minutes? Hours? Can they get lost? Maybe then end up somewhere interesting or unexpected. Think about the portal and give it life. It’s a setting like anything else.
3) How did your portals come to be? You don’t have to explain this in your book, but you need to know. You need to have a way that they came to be. Who made them or how they were opened originally. They don’t just appear out of nowhere and for no reason. They can be a rip in the fabric of the world or designed by Fae or Wizards as a mode of transportation. Any way you set it up, you need to know so that they come off as realistic.
Portals can be great fun to write and imagine. They can suck you into the next room or a new land. They can take you from fireplace to the next in London, or they can pull characters from a book and put them in your world. The ideas for portals are endless. But only if you do them right. So do you have portals? What do your portals look like?