BEST Tips for Writing FANTASY Part 2
We are back. Let’s get started
Number Four (4):
Magic systems come in all flavors. As we already covered, magic is not required in fantasy. However, it is VERY common and highly recommended. That means the odds are high that your story is going to include a magic system, and you’ll have to decide between a soft system or a hard system. Generally speaking, a soft system doesn’t have hard and fast rules, at least as defined by the reader. A hard system is the opposite; it has very specific rules, guidelines, and limitations. What you want to write will depend on these two factors. First, which character are you following? If you’re following a magical character or a character who is learning magic, then the intricacies of your magic system are going to be relevant, in which case a hard magic system makes the most sense. And second, how important is magic to your world and story? If magic is the crux of your story, then a hard magic system will help readers understand what the hell is going on.
Number Five (5):
Build the world as you go. I know people are obsessed with Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings is a classic, but the truth is that style of writing probably wouldn’t get published today. Storytelling changes over time, and modern audiences reading modern books have modern expectations. Obviously, it will vary depending on the sub genre. For example, epic fantasy is probably going to be more world heavy than, say, urban fantasy. But typically, you introduce the world to the readers as it becomes relevant, and you do so by showing the world around the characters as they travel through your story. NOT through massive info dumps. This means if your character is trudging through the desert, this is the perfect time to describe the hot climate
Number Six (6):
Your world and plot go hand in hand. Many aspiring writers, spend years building their world before they even touch their plot, that’s a BIG mistake of their writing career. The plot and world go hand in hand. The world exists to build a foundation for the plot, and the plot exists to complement the world. What is the point of creating an entire race of mermaids in a strict class structure if that’s never at all going to be relevant to the plot? Maybe the story is about a high-class mermaid and a low-class merman, and they want to be together, but societal norms are ripping ‘em apart. I don’t know, it’s your book! Figure it out.
Number Seven (7):
Fantasy can be character-driven, plot-driven, or both. A lot of popular high-fantasy novels are plot-driven, so people tend to assume that ALL fantasy has to be plot-driven. However, whether or not your story is plot-driven or character-driven is going to depend on the themes of your novel, the sub-genre, and of course, the plot itself. For example, if you’re writing romantic fantasy, then the odds are this is going to be character-driven, because the story revolves around two or more people falling in love. Fantasy adventure, on the other hand, revolves around – you guessed it – adventure! Which means the plot is going to be the focal point.
Number Eight (8):
Develop your characters. Obviously… This should go without saying, because characters are a pivotal part of the writing process, but it is ESPECIALLY important to develop and plan out your characters in fantasy. Fantasy gives writers a multitude of options when planning their characters, because we are not limited by this world’s narrow scope of humanity. Your characters can have magic, or super powers. They don’t even have to be human! This is why you got a take a deep dive into your character planning process, and there are a few very important things to consider. If your world is deeply magical, this may mean your character is familiar with magic to the point of apathy. Second, how does society affect their lifestyle and personality? If you’ve created your own world, that means you’ve created your own customs and social norms. And when necessary, our third point: pinpoint the relevancy of their race.
Number Nine (9):
Keep it fresh. Some writers get into the game because they’re a big fan of a particular author or a particular genre, and that’s fine. This is an issue ESPECIALLY prevalent in fantasy. How many people have you met claiming that they’re gonna be the next George R. R. Martin? It’s okay if your story shares similarities with other stories. Some sense of overlap is going to happen.
Number Ten (10):
Outline. I know pantsers are very protective of their method, and I’ll concede that it can work for some writers, but fantasy is NOT the genre to pants. Fantasy is one of the most complex genres in fiction, because not only are you creating a cast of characters, a plot, and a subplot – you’re also creating a brand new world. Add to the fact that a lot of fantasy writers also create creatures within that world, and those creatures have their own lifestyle and customs. And alongside those creatures, a lot of fantasy writers are creating at least one magic system, if not more! And lastly, a lot of fantasy novels also have a large cast of characters, which means you gotta keep track of a ton of different people, and all their relationships, and all their individual stories and subplots.