Isekai and Portal Fantasy

Good morning and welcome to the weekend!!! I recently came across a word that I didn’t know: Isekai. I had to look it up, and turns out it’s a Japanese genre of Portal Fantasy that revolves around a person (or people) who are transported to and have to survive in another world.
This could be a fantasy world, a virtual world, another planet, another time (future or past), or a parallel universe. The draw of this type of writing is that the reader learns about the new world at the same pace as the protagonist – the reader is transported along with the character(s), while at the same time empathizing with them.

I think all writing is, in a sense, Isekai. Even if the setting is mundane, it is another world for the reader in that they are experiencing it through the eyes of the protagonist. But I’m especially drawn to stories where the setting is fantastical rather than mundane, because it strips away all of the day-to-day cares and concerns of the main character and forces them to zero in on what’s important: the quest, getting home, some aspect of their personality, a situation in their mundane world that needs changing.
The possibilities are limitless, but when you throw your protagonist into a strange new world you can explore a single issue without having to be distracted by everyday life.

I am particularly fascinated by parallel worlds that are just slightly different from our own. For instance, I am working on a portal fantasy where the main character, Brea, goes through a door and emerges in a world that so similar to her own that it takes her awhile to realize that something has changed. There are minor differences in this new world: her mother’s eyes are blue instead of green, the convenience store is on the opposite side of the intersection from where it is supposed to be, the library has a red roof instead of a blue roof.
All of her friends and family are still present, but the relationships that Brea has with each individual are slightly different from how they are in her ‘real’ world.
In this story, Brea’s alternate-universe counterpart has switched places with her, and she has to help her alternate-self solve a particular life problem before the two of them can switch back to their correct worlds.

Do you write this type of story? Do you read this type of story? What are some of your favorite things to see in a portal fantasy? What would you DO if you found yourself in a strange, new world?
Drop a comment below and let me know! And as always, happy reading, writing, and blogging.

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