I love writing fantasy books. It’s the genre that inspires me the most. That being said, I do write other genres as well: thrillers and horrors. But, my most precious books as of right now, is my fantasy one. And, it’s coming out in 2021! So, I know that there are tons of writers out there who also want to write fantasy. Well, for those who want to: here are some tips from a fantasy author to a new one!
- Identify your market
You might be confused by this one. Because: isn’t fantasy already known as ‘the market?’ No, it isn’t. Is your story steampunk, urban or grimdark fantasy? Is it written for children or young adults? Does it involve elves or tech? Does the story evolve in the modern world or is it a re-imagining image of an alternate past? It’s such a broad genre, which needs further digging to find a proper niche. And, your subgenre doesn’t only inform your characters and setting, it also helps you to identify the book with your audience. Because when you write about teenage characters, you should write for YA or MG, not adults.
2. Create your world through short stories
A good way to build your world is to write short stories that feature some of the characters you want to use. Make sure you do this with the intention of excluding these stories from your book. Say you’d add them in, it means you’ve got less space to create a new universe with no boundaries.
3. Plot out the story before you start writing
The fantasy genre is often complex and epic, which means it’s important to plot it out before you get started. Trust me, you don’t want to trip over all your storylines and be the writer who gets to the end of the book while realising that they forgot to tie the knot in one part of the plot. You’ll know your world much better if you know your story first. You can use that plot structure as a skeleton to show where you want to build your world, which makes it easier to do this scene by scene.
4. Put your worldbuilding into the plot
Plot and worldbuilding should see eye-to-eye. After all, you want to be unique for it to sell. So, what sets your world apart? A rich universe can be a major player in your plot, which is just as important as the role of any other character. Use the environment as a plot point when you describe seasons and add architecture to it. It sounds simple, but shows complexity.
5. Make the story relevant by using real-world themes
Whatever your thoughts are about politics, culture, environment, technology, racism or violence, these issues and your opinions can be explored in inventive, eye-openings ways when it comes to writing fantasy. We can create new perspectives, new solutions to old issues or raise awareness of what’s at stake. Say something frustrates you in your life. You can easily explore it through your story, seeing as the world is your own. And you speak to your readers, sharing your perspectives. It might change theirs.
6. Use all five senses
It’s important to use specific details, preferably sensory. Sure, you can be as inventive and magical as you want to in your work, but it only works when the writing is detailed enough to seem unique. Abstract clichés don’t count though. No one will be impressed by the description of a man with grey eyes that are the colour of a storm. Instead, use your senses to make the reader feel that they’re really there.
7. Give your world rules and don’t break them
A world should feel real and functional, so it should have rules. This includes everything from the workings of your society to your magic system (if your universe possesses magic.) Become familiar with the basics of economics, politics, philosophy and magic systems that are already used (don’t copy-paste, but use it as an inspirational source). That said, the rules aren’t made to just be broken. Say, you say that using magic weakens a person, taking their energy from them. It would ruin the story when the protagonist uses many magical spells in the final battle, without getting tired at all. Jot everything down, is my suggestion for consistency. At what time does the sun rise? Will only 18-year olds be able to develop powers? Will children under 10 be able to fly? When casting a spell, will it transform the object its used on or create an object? Also, remind yourself to only break the rules on purpose, if necessary. Otherwise, don’t.
8. Ask questions while building your world
The most powerful tool in creating a world is the question: where do big cities pop up? Are there trade routes? Where do rivers come from? Fantasy works when you read it and feel as if it’s real. You want readers to read the story, knowing there are stories and adventures within a world that exists far beyond the story they’re currently reading.
9. Act as a cinematographer
Some write block paragraph after block paragraph, filled with descriptions. This is a mistake. It’s important to not tell your reader what the world appears to be, but provide them scenery, let the characters interact with their surroundings. Cinematographers, for example, carefully plan each shot to give the viewer a view of where the actors are. This is what you want for your fantasy as well, the correct way to show your world.
10. Interview your characters
Good character creation and development is important in every genre, so this isn’t specifically based on fantasy. And trust me, the best characters are complex and somewhat original. Let them own real motives and weaknesses, changing over time due to events and supporting characters in the story. So, take your character in front of you and interview them. What are their fears, their ultimate goals? What are they willing to do to achieve their goal? Make sure to do this with all the characters you want to include in your fantasy.
11. Don’t introduce all characters at once
The number of characters in fantasy series is mostly infinite, so it often turns out to be hard to keep track of them all. This is very hard when you’ve got two characters who are similar in name, but having one letter difference. So, don’t make it even harder on the reader by dumping all your characters in the first two pages of the book. Also, be aware of dumping all the information of how the magic system works on one page as well. This causes the reader to try to memorise the world and/or characters right from the start, before they’re actually introduced in the story. That causes them to drop reading the story, which is the worst case scenario.
Love, Deem ❤
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