Greetings! When we last met, we were discussing the four aspects of a storyworld (setting, characters, conflict, and tone) and dug into the setting and characters of The West Wood.
Today I'd like to continue that discussing by looking at The West Wood's conflict and tone.
You can't have a story without conflict. In a storyworld, you need a broad, accessible conflict that can fuel more stories than can ever be told. Or at least enough stories to fuel a book series and a cheap SyFy channel movie.
On the surface, the core conflict in The West Wood is between the locals (humans and fairy-folk alike) and the latest wave of invaders surging in from the Kingdoms of Man. But below that, the true conflict is between the old ways and the new.
Now, it's easy to think of "old versus new" as "good versus evil" (especially since the newcomers aren't especially nice people). But for the natives of the frontier, the "old ways" include things like eating people and magical slavery… which are frowned upon by most modern members of society. So it's a complicated conflict, which can lead to complicated stories--and creating stories is the whole point of this exercise.
Finally, the tone of a storyworld is what separates, say, James Bond from Austin Powers and Jason Bourne. They're all stories of international super-spies, but each has its own particular texture and attitude.
The tone of The West Wood is serious and a bit dark, but the fantasy elements give it a touch of weirdness and whimsy. It's more Grimms' Fairy Tales than Tolkien. Or (as I like to think of it), a magical western as written by Neil Gaiman.
Coming up Next! Just enough backstory to give us context for everything else.