That Time I Wrote an Isekai Short Story

Hello, folks! I’m back with another blog post. This time, it’s not about a light novel I read – it’s about something I wrote myself!

I wrote what I’d like to call an “isekai” short story. It’s called The Librarian at the End of Worlds. Alas, it doesn’t have any frogs in it, but it’s a self-contained short story that captures the essence of what I like about isekai fantasy web novels. Check it out and see what you think! (The link opens in a new tab.)

The rest of this blog post contains some brief commentary about why I decided on this genre and theme. I recommend you read it after you finish the story since there are some spoilers.

Why an Isekai short story?

The pragmatic reason for this is because I thought that the word “isekai” would pique the interest of my followers. It’s hard to get others to care about your original story, especially when you don’t have a reputation as a fiction writer, so I relied a bit on a gimmick this time. Such is the nature of the contemporary “isekai” genre, which was partly born out of fanfiction.

However, the actual story doesn’t mention the word, nor does it reference the typical light novel tropes. It tells a story about another world, but it isn’t a parody, a meta-commentary, or a deconstruction. It’s my hope that it can be enjoyed by general fans of fantasy and sci-fi.

I didn’t want my imagination to be constrained by genre conventions, but I still wanted to capture some of the themes of my favourite isekai web novels. The definitive isekai novels in my mind are Re:Zero and Mushoku Tensei. They’re stories about starting a new life in another world, and I like how pointed they are in particular about describing regret. They are all the more poignant because the protagonists can never go back and live their old lives in a better way.

I didn’t necessarily set out to write a short story, but as I was writing I decided that it was the ideal format this time. What I essentially did was write the first chapter of a novel and then cut off the story there. It’s like if Konosuba ended at the part where Kazuma drags Aqua into the other world. I think that a narrower focus allows a story to develop themes that would get overlooked or diluted in a long-form narrative. And if the story makes you frustrated because it makes you want to see more of the world, I consider that a compliment as the author. Heh heh.

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a work of fiction – five years, in fact. The reason why I stopped is the usual story: I got a job and became too busy for it. I’m glad I came back to it eventually, though, because this was a lot of fun to write. Thanks for reading!

Posted on May 14, 2021, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hating isekai is so trendy these days that I’m already starting to wonder when someone mentions this “genre” in a positive or even neutral way. Well, if this is interesting to you, then I wish you best. I myself like the idea of ​​being inspired to write something of my own after reading my favorite works.

    • This comment gave me pause for thought: What kind of connotations exist around the word “isekai”? Is it such a maligned genre that by calling something “isekai” I’m putting off people who might otherwise be interested in a fantasy story about waking up in someone else’s body? Selling your work is very hard when you’re a no-name author, especially since I don’t want to spoil the possible surprises in a story just to get people interested…

      For what it’s worth, I like to think the story may be interesting even to people who don’t consider themselves fans of isekai or light novels. I’ve even received positive comments from people who say they don’t like the genre. I think that may partly be because light novels aren’t the only influences I draw upon, so it’s more of a hybrid kind of story. I’m not trying to write something that’s exactly the same as what a Japanese light novel author would write, because in that case you could just read one of the dozens of isekai novels that are available in translation instead.

      At the same time, I really don’t like the idea of talking down about my inspirations as if I’m “improving” on them. I hope that my respect for my influences can come through, because at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have tried writing a story about being transported to another world to begin with if it weren’t for Re:Zero and Mushoku Tensei.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment, and if you haven’t read the story yet, I hope you give it a try!

  2. This was such a great read and I really enjoyed it

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