Lisa Hook drops by again today with some tips for writing fantasy fiction your readers will love. Take a peek below.
How to Write Fantasy Fiction that your Readers will Love
Witches, demons, vampires and werewolves… they have been entertaining and absorbing us for some time now and, despite their longevity, the trend for this type of fantasy fiction is far from dying out. Paranormal fiction sales are booming, particularly in the young adult market, and they show no signs of slowing down. The public knows what it likes and it likes the fantasy genre: the darker the better. The challenge today is to come up with something original that hasn’t been done before. Once you’ve done your research, you’re ready to jump into the fray and, with a few simple tips about fantasy writing, you can create the type of fiction that your readers will love and will want to come back to again and again.
The World is the Key
Creating a unique world that absorbs the reader and pulls them in is such a crucial factor in writing good fantasy novels. You need to make the world as real as possible in your own mind, so flesh it out and cover every aspect of it so that when your characters journey through it, the reader will believe it. Think about the laws of your world, the moons and tides and gravity, the weather and geography of the land and races that inhabit the world. If you don’t take the time to create something that you believe in, how do you expect your reader to? The world of Hogwarts, Middle Earth, Never Land and Utopia were painstakingly brought to life because of the detail given to them. It is a good idea to map out the world, as well as the plot.
The world should reflect the characters and vice versa, if they don’t, your reader won’t suspend disbelief in the story. Don’t stick to 21st Century characters because this won’t work if your world is set a long time ago or in the distant future, unless the character is a time traveler. Readers like multiple stories that follow the characters through a series of events, but only if they like and believe in the characters.
Avoid clichés. Let characters be real people, with real problems. The orphan and ‘chosen one’ has been over-used in fantasy fiction and should be laid to rest unless he or she has some great idiosyncrasies that give the scenario a smack of reality. Similarly, there is usually a destiny or prophecy that will be resisted at first, but this causes many readers a great deal of frustration these days and they lose interest in the story. If the character undergoes a series of challenges that are unexpected however, and their personality develops with the story, this is a much better method to employ.
Take some time to think about your character’s personality as well as their physical appearance. The temptation among fantasy writers is to make their male and female leads beautiful beyond belief, with in depth aesthetic details such as the color of their hair and eyes and their lean physical form. The trend used to be that characters were defined by how smart they were, intellectually speaking, but from the 80s onwards, that changed radically to how good they looked.
Imagine instead a character that is quirky and who is defined by their personality rather than outward appearance. Imagine someone who is in the grip of a compulsion, such as an addiction for opium or for food. At once they become more real and more compelling than their counterparts. They could lose what they are striving to achieve because of this simple flaw in their character and at the same time the reader will relate to them. In Dragon Prince, by Melanie Rawn, the magic users become addicted to the drug that enhances their abilities, while in Tolkien’s fantasies, dwarves are often portrayed as drunks. The flaw doesn’t have to be a serious addiction like alcohol or drugs. It may simply be an appetite for something, such as an eating disorder. Research into such topics will throw light on them fairly quickly. For example, a character who overeats because of a compulsion to do so, can be found to be suffering from a craving, because ‘cravings are linked to our emotions and the need for comfort’ according to Licensed Prescriptions. By taking the time to research compulsions, addictions and other psychological traits, you can create flesh and blood characters that evoke empathy among your audience.
Structure can be difficult to keep organized in this genre because there may be sub-plots and various layers to the storytelling that are easy to lose track of. Your reader needs to be kept absorbed and enthralled by everything that is going on: there needs to be continuity in the plot as well as characters. So how do you manage all this?
A good method of organizing structure is to make a list, with each point representing the next event in the story. Writer’s Digest suggests using a stack of index cards, with each one featuring a one-line synopsis of a scene, and stick to one scene per card. You can order your scenes as you want them, and then add one or two sub-plots with your index cards too. Lay your cards out onto a table and order them where they would go best in your novel. When you think you have finished, simply go through them and see if your story makes sense. If it doesn’t, tear up cards and add new ones. A logical method like this can really work when you’re tackling a fantasy novel.
Copyright (C) 2013 Lisa Hook