Fictional Worlds

Create Your Own World!

“Create Your Own World!” is a motto of visionary artists. We all enjoy escaping into, and journeying within, fictional realms. Some aspire to create their own unique artistic worlds. 

Intended for all readers who love literature and film, and especially for writers, educators, narratologists, media scholars and practitioners, screenwriters, filmmakers, and videogame designers, the new set of books about narrative world-building points at new ways of navigating, exploring, and creating entrancing fictional universes.

Available in print and as a four-part Kindle set, Fictional Worlds was also released on iTunes as an interactive, illustrated and expanded transmedia edition. The Fictional Worlds books are part of a new series Storytelling on Screen. 

Enter and browse Fictional Worlds  the book set and its website! We invite all visitors to leave comments and ask questions. Let discussions begin!

fictional worldbuilding, Film and media studies, video-game design, creative writing, and screenwriting

stay tuned! Visit This Page for news and events (the newest on top)

February 10, 2019

Happy New Year!


NEW PUBLICATIONS in 2019. Coming soon: three updated and expanded, illustrated and interactive volumes of the Fictional Worlds series on iBookstore, on iTunes.


IMAGINARY WORLDS Spring 2019 Flyer.jpg

Poster design by Lily Alexander

NEW COURSE. In addition to the regularly taught courses on comparative mythology from around the world, we announced a new interdisciplinary course IMAGINARY WORLDS on Worldbuilding, launched in the Spring 2019, with the support of the English Department of Hunter College, City University of New York. The course filled in within days, with a waiting list.

The course will explore a spectrum of sources, including L.A. Alexander's Fictional Worlds book set and the fascinating chorus of authors with diverse visions and voices from the new Routledge volumes (2017, ed. Mark J.P.  Wolf) Revisiting Imaginary Worlds and The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds. Looking forward to an exciting semester with enthusiastic students from various CUNY programs!


BOOK AWARD. The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds (2018), ed. Mark J.P. Wolf. received a 2018 “book of the year” award in the category “the best of scholarship” from the American Mythopoeic Society. This volume has three articles contributed by this author: “The Hero’s Journey,” “Mythology,” and “Genres.” See below.


NEW PUBLICATIONS. Three new articles by Lily Alexander on fictional world-building (FWB), its theory, and practice are published in 2018 in The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds, ed. Mark J.P. Wolf. The three new essays on various aspects of FWB are titled: "Mythology," "The Hero's Journey," and "Genres." The latter essay further develops an anthropological theory of genres in the context of how genre systems can enhance many types of interactive narratives, including videogames. The articles in the Routledge Companion outline the effective ways of "conversion of the old with new" (as per Henry Jenkins' paradigm). See detailed Table of Contents under CONTENTS on the Routledge page here.


CONFERENCES.  Part of the fictional world-building discourse, a new study by Lily Alexander was presented in June 2017 at the Stony Brooke University, NY, at the international conference "Cognitive Futures in the Arts and Humanities", titled:

Fictional World-Building and the Anthropology of Consciousness:

Beyond the Human Perspective -- the POV of the Gods, Heroes, Aliens and Fantastic Beings


The paper offers a comprehensive overview of the mutual impact between the anthropology of consciousness and recent narrative/media theories. In particular, we will discuss the evolving new knowledge through fictional world-building, its theory and practices, highlighting how this type of activity facilitates the construction, and understanding, of alternative perspectives on the world, and, hence, the development of the mind. The anthropology of consciousness and symbolic anthropology have a tremendous influence on the theories of the mind because these disciplines have the apparatus to examine the diverse forms of consciousness, particularly, in the historical perspective and in its interactions with cultural and social practices. Anthropology is a necessary and “experienced” ally in the studies of cognitive futures, and we must add its point-of-view and conceptual apparatus to those of cognitive sciences, philosophy, literary studies, cultural studies, critical and film theory, and performance studies, which will be also touched upon in this presentation. The essential terms/concepts that are critical to this presenter’s research include: society, ritual symbolism, advanced knowledge, Aristotelian astonishment and anagnorisis (recognition/revelation, including of the hidden truth), and the genre as the behavior-modifying cultural mechanism (as outlined in my book Fictional Worlds). The focal points and case studies will be linked to the fictional worlds of contemporary media and narrative discourse as well as the genres – in particular, the genre systems in the media as a whole. The paper will analyze how the perfomative representations and interactive activities facilitate new POV, helps in developing empathy and new social bonds/affiliations. The print and screen stories associated with (but not limited to) such prominent names as Tolkien, Rowling, Del Toro, Miyazaki, as well as the Strugatsky Brothers and the Coen Brothers will be discussed in the context of genre practices, world-building, and alternative forms of consciousness. 


TEXTBOOK. Fictional Worlds is currently being used as a textbook (Spring semester 2017) at New York University and The City University of New York. It has been effectively employed in various classes for the last four years and, as reported by colleagues and allies, in ten courses.


NEW ARTICLES. A series of four recently completed studies -- a follow-up to Fictional Worlds --  takes a discussion of world-building in new theoretical directions.

One (see below) is already published, and three are forthcoming in Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds (2017), ed. Mark J.P. Wolf. London--New York: Routledge.

The first of the four new studies, Lily Alexander, "Fictional World-Building as Ritual, Drama, and Medium," is part of the comprehensive volume Revisiting Imaginary Worlds, edited by Mark J.P. Wolf. London--New York: Routledge, 2017.  The Kindle edition offers a free sample, including the first pages of this article. Individual articles are available through the academic libraries.

The new publication "Fictional World-Building as Ritual, Drama, and Medium" has the following sections and foci:

Heteroglossia: It’s a Bird? It’s a Plane? (On the debates on what "fictionality" means)

Untying the Knots of Fiction and Reality

Why Always? The Roots of Imaginary Worlds

Fictional Worlds and Ritual Structure: Advancing Self and Society

Being There: Total Immersion, Astonishment, and Enchantment

Guess What? From Myth to Video Game

Interlinking Storyworlds and Perpetual Mythic Networks

Fictional World-Building as Drama: Stories Bring Worlds to Life

Breach and Imbalance: The Dramatic Premise of the Fictional World

Kingdoms of Violence and Spheres of Hope

Fictional World-Building as Medium

The God’s-Eye View: Consciousness of the Higher Order

The Big Bang of the City-Civilization

Strange Urban Types: The City as a Riddle

The Novel as a New Medium

Parallel Lines Crossing: Confusing Math of City Demographics

Modernist as Demiurge: The Creator of Worlds

The Media Is the Message and the Mind

Toward Conclusions

The Play Is the Thing to Catch the Conscience of the King



Reviews of Fictional Worlds are published in academic journals:

Semiotica, May 2016

The Russian Review, Issue 75, April 2016, pp. 305-307, and in

Film & History, July, 2016.

The discussion of Fictional Worlds at Harvard University, March 19, 2016.


See Call for Papers for a new book collection.


A new course for graduate and undergraduate students based on Fictional Worlds is introduced at New New University, Spring semester 2015. The Tisch School of the Arts, and Dept. of Cinema Studies. 

January 2015: a promotional page and interview published on a popular European book site. 


November 2014. A NEW EXPANDED, ILLUSTRATED, and INTERACTIVE edition of Book One is available on the iBookstore, part of the iTune Store. Titled Fictional Worlds I: The Symbolic Journey & The Genre System (282 pages, 25% additional information compare to the 1st print edition, and 100+ visual-interactive features).  Three other volumes are coming soon.

PRINT VERSION. Fictional Worlds: Traditions in Narrative and the Age of Visual Culture (Vols. I-IV), which contains all four books of the set, was published in October, 2013. It is available on and in stores: Barnes and Nobles, campus bookstores, and other retailers.

DIGITAL VERSION. The four-ebook set, Fictional Worlds, volumes I, II, III and IV, is published on Kindle, visit The Symbolic Journey & The Genre System, Book One of the four-part Kindle set is linked to the print edition.


Interview with Henry Jenkins, one of the world's leading media theorists, is posted on his website:

Professor Jenkins planned this interview series as a six-part discussion of the book Fictional Worlds and its ideas in April 2014.

Please send your questions and comments, using the contact form on this site. Some of the most interesting questions and comments (with permission of their authors) will be posted on For readers' comments, see page AUTHOR ASKS READERS.


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New books by L.A. Alexander are in the pipeline for the Storytelling on Screen series:

On story villains

On story twists

On the art of comedy

On the chronotopes - the time-space models - of fictional worlds (See CHRONOS & TOPOS page of this

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