It wasn’t until I stopped writing for the market and started writing what I really wanted to write did I realize that I was writing fantasy. And the more I wrote, the more I loved writing about magic, other worlds, and supernatural creatures. Simply put, I was completely in love with the limitless possibilities for imagination. But how does one write a fantasy book exactly? Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned on my publishing journey:
Love Fantasy: Write what you love. If you genuinely love fantastical things and stories, it will show. You’ll also be more likely to create an original story since you’ll have a good idea of what’s already been done.
Read Fantasy: Not all Fantasy books are 5,000 pages long. Not all are cheesy. Not all have orcs. There are actually dozens of Fantasy sub-genres. Find the sub-genre that inspires you and study the popular books in these categories. See what other authors have done and study how they did it. While writing my debut novel, Strange Luck, I was reading several Neil Gaiman books, The Neverending Story, The Princess Bride, The Maze Runner, and lots of H.P Lovecraft. These groundbreaking books really pushed me to try to think outside the box. Plus, they are so much fun to read! It also doesn’t hurt to watch fantastical movies to help get your creative juices flowing.
Do Your Research: If your story is completely fantastical, anything goes, so have fun with it! Do you want to have a character who shoots rainbows out of her eyes? Go for it! Why not? It’s your story and as a fantasy author, you have the power to create something original and imaginative. However, if your story is set in a specific period of history, like medieval times, research medieval life and get your facts straight (e.g., types of clothing, food, décor, etc). If something magical happens in the story, like there’s a sword that doesn’t behave like a real one, be sure to explain its magical properties.
Map It: Planning a magical world is hard world. Mapping your world with pen and paper will help you write about places and their characteristics more accurately. If you’re more advanced, use map making software. Including a finished map in your book or on your website is an awesome extra for readers.
The Rules: Figure out the rules of magic in your story, including limits. If a character can do absolutely anything, then there will be no suspense or struggle and your story will flop. Let your readers know what the most important rules are and be sure to follow them. Let your protagonist conquer obstacles and solve problems based on his or her abilities.
Be Original: Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones—they’ve all been done. Be creative and use your imagination to create something never seen before. Remember, it’s fantasy, so anything goes!
Keep Your Story Moving: It can be so much fun to create worlds and creatures with their own histories, geography, and supernatural rules, but sometimes these details can overshadow the actual story, leaving you with a lot of awesome detail, but with a story where nothing is happening. Your main character(s) should have a goal or problem that they need to solve. Throw in some complications and you’re on your way!
Share Your Story: The most important piece of advice I can give any author is to have other people look at your work. No matter how many times you’ve reviewed your story, there will ALWAYS be an inconsistency or error. That’s just what happens when you’re so close to something. Give your book to family and friends to read and ask for their honest opinions. Once you’ve ironed out some bugs, give it to people who love to read fantasy and see what they think. If you’re struggling to find people to read your story, join a local writer’s group or look for one online. Once you’ve ironed out any remaining issues, it’s time to hand it over to a professional editor.
Good luck on your fantastical writing journey!
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