Ever since I decided to become a writer and publish a book, my stories have been all about breaking the fourth wall. No matter who the characters are, what the genre is, or what the story is about, the plot is centered on a main character who is seemingly trapped in reality. Leo from Netherworld is given the Knowledge that another world exists, and he does all he can to break free of the suffocating misfortunes of life on Earth and visit this planet. Finley from Fiction’s Lie (yes, I just recently changed his name) must travel to the world he created in his fantasy novel to save his characters and reason with his hero who has gone renegade.
I’ve tried writing just fantasy and sci-fi, but there is only one world. I’ve tried writing historical fiction, but there is only one world. I’ve tried writing contemporary fiction, but of course there is only one world—the world I know as well as I’ve been alive. I couldn’t finish those stories, and at first, I had no idea why this was the case. I love writing because I get to not only create different worlds, but I get to set rules and limitations for those worlds. There is always time and space travel involved. There is always a transferral from the trappings of harsh reality where people demonize imagination to a place that seemed to be born from the treasure chest of imagination itself. There is always a connection between the real world and the fantastical world in the stories I continue to write. I’m drawn to that aspect in fiction, which is why I have been inspired by favorite stories such as Narnia, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, E. T., and Stranger Things, the Marvel movies and even Percy Jackson.
Why am I drawn to stories where the fourth wall is broken? Why do I love reading and writing and viewing stories where that is not just the foundation of the worldbuilding, but also the narrative, the plot itself? Why do I love stories where characters discover a new world that offers them a sort of the freedom that the mundane cannot?
Because, in a way, I relate to these types of stories. I’ve always fostered a fascination for the otherworldly, the weird creatures, the stunning, beautiful, antirealistic settings, and sometimes I wish I could just travel to different worlds—either worlds I’ve created or worlds from beloved books and movies. What is impossible in this reality can become possible in these other worlds. I’ve always loved the paradox of time and space travel because you can do anything with that, anything at all. Yes, our knowledge of the fantastical, of the otherworldly, of the extraterrestrial is so limited, that our options as to what we can imagine and explore and experiment about those things in fiction are as infinite as the universe itself. That’s why I love writing fantasy and science fiction—the ideas you could have are pretty much limitless. And writing about different worlds and creatures and magical realms can teach us lessons about reality that reality cannot (but that is a topic for another post).
Another reason why I think I ponder over and dream of other worlds is because I believe in a God that created the entire universe and I am fascinated with His creation of the cosmos. Sometimes I wonder if He did create other worlds with intelligent life forms that are kind of like the worlds we make up in our stories today. Where did our imagination for these fantasy and sci-fi stories come from? Why do we find other worlds awesome and inspiring, and why are they at the center of today’s most popular books and movies? Were we created with a yearning for the fantastical, for the heavenly, because we are spiritual beings created by a heavenly Holy Spirit who has left His imprint on us when He made us? Perhaps we have fostered that yearning for the expanse beyond our own planet Earth into coming up with our own, and so now we have Narnia and Middle-Earth and the Wizarding World and Asgard and Gallifrey. And the characters we write about in most of these stories break the fourth wall, as Harry did when Hagrid took him from Privet Dr. in London to Hogwarts. When the Doctor took Rose from her mundane life on Earth into his TARDIS that could take them to any time, any place in the universe. When Lucy found a wardrobe that took her to the magical world of Narnia, and when we attempted at communication between humans and visiting aliens in Arrival.
Perhaps we wish we could break the fourth wall, somehow, and it shows in the stories we create. And maybe that desire comes from more than just simply valuing escapsim and our mundane, everyday lives.
As for whether other worlds and creatures do exist as well as our Earth? That’s a controversial topic, but it is one I’d like to touch on briefly. Most Christians don’t believe other worlds or that the extraterrestrial exist, for obvious reasons: Jesus came to Earth to die for us. The Bible involves what only happened on Earth (and in Heaven) and not on other worlds. And that’s true, but the Bible never said that other worlds and creatures in the universe don’t exist. We don’t know yet. But God can do anything; we can confirm that just by looking at the night sky.
For now, I don’t know if other worlds exist, though I can speculate as to why God has given me this fascination of the otherworldly, of the extraterrestrial and the magical unrealistic. I don’t know for sure what God wants me to do specifically with my writing, particularly in the sci-fi and fantasy genre. I don’t know how the gospel will show in my stories and my characters without sounding preachy.
But I do know I was created to create. And for now, I just write.
What genres do you write, and what topics do you explore in your writing? Why do you write the genre you are writing in, and what are your thoughts on the topic of breaking the fourth wall? I know the existance of the otherworldly and the extraterrestrial is a controversial topic, and I’d love to see your thoughts below in the comments!