How to Write a Fantasy Novel – An Explanation

Fantasy novels have always been an integral part of our culture. They incite people’s imagination, excite their emotions and take them on a journey they have never been before. From ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ to Harry Porter, fantasy stories are now past the boundaries of the fringe genre. Moreover, they are everywhere in pop culture. With this volatile genre, authors like Patrick Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clark continue to stretch, subvert and interpret the plots to attain distinct pinnacles.

However, writing an original, distinct and credible fantasy novel is tricky. You are creating a new world. This includes creating characters, personifying things and ideas, and making people believe it. There is no denying that it requires careful consideration and planning. To establish an imaginary world, you need to create characters that captivate readers, draw them in and make them feel real.

Although fantasy novels are the fictional universe, it has some rules. The genre fantasy has divided into many subgenres in which high fantasy is one many author admire the most. It is set in an entirely different parallel world. Its plot does not only narrate magical characters, objects and creatures to create an immersive story. However, it subverts the readers’ expectations to make them perceive the world as a different place altogether.

If you want to write a fantasy novel, it is important to unleash the boundaries of your imagination. Only then, you can become a part of fantasy literature. The tips given below will help you compose an engaging and immersive fantasy novel.

Tips for Writing a Fantasy Novel

1. Study the Useful Insights of Fantasy Genre

There is no doubt that reading is essential to become a good writer. This is your very first step to get into the world of fantasy literature. You need to get insights into ’What elements make fantasy novels different?’  Read extensively to examine the distinct features of the genre. This is how you can do it:

  • Study Setting:Examine how authors create a complex, imaginary and immersive world. Compare the examples from different fictional plots. For example, think how peaceful the village from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is different from Mordor’s smoking, desolate volcanic wasteland.
  • Study Character Building: Examine how authors develop the characters. Observe everything from their demeanor to their quirks and peeves. How they go through the trials and challenges? How do they evolve?
  • Compare the Internal Logic Of The World:The good thing about fantasy novels is that they do not bind their readers’ thinking. Even the imponderable events in the plot follow some logic. A magic system has its own rules to follow. It is very important that you examine the internal logic of the fictional world. How they affect the character’s life and take the story ahead.

The first phase of novel writing requires you to think beyond the boundaries of the realistic world. You need to study the approach of the best fictional authors. How do they tackle the challenges of fantasy writing? Read as much as you can to learn how you can create a believable fictional world. Reading fiction consciously this way helps you become a better writer poised to write a top fantasy novel. It will further help you create the best fantasy outlines.

2. Explore Different Ideas

Knowing how to write a fantasy novel requires you to explore creative ideas. Many top fantasy novels were only able to convince readers because they had unique and creative ideas. The genre of fantasy writing has so much scope to explore creative freedom and cultivate ‘out of the box ideas’.

Many young-adult fantasy novels, over the past few years, have explored the boundaries of science- fiction and reality. The idea behind this was to create something that helps the reader escape the present, and confront the exclusivity of an unreal world. In this regard, ‘All the Birds in the Sky’ is a precedence of wittiness, fictional science, and the real world. The writer Charlie Jane Anders came up with a new idea and won the hearts of her readers.

Similarly, ‘A Closed and Common Orbit’ is a new fantasy novel by Becky Chamber. The novel, by following two genetically modified protagonists, set a new theme. The fantasy novel presented the journey and growth of two characters beautifully.

In other words, creating a fictional world for your readers requires you to cultivate fun ideas-particularly for the setting. You can get them from anywhere; for example:

  • You may watch a documentary on National Geographic that triggers an idea to create a fantasy planet for animals
  • You may get ideas by exploring unusual settings and observing unusual things
  • Reading top fantasy series can also trigger your imagination. Compare settings and make notes of the elements that make them feel unique and real. For example, examine the contrastive features of a regular school and Hogwarts
  • Do not forget to jot down these ideas in your notebook. Write minute details like weather, housing, and scenery to see a clearer picture of your imaginary world. With time, you will see things come together and begin to feel real.

3. Describe Your Fantasy World

Good authors make their readers see the world through their eyes. This quality is what makes every writer different from the other. Therefore, if you want to make your story feel more realistic, it is essential to focus on the physical features of both settings and the characters.

Develop a clear vision of your fantasy world to describe everything in detail. Talk about physical features of the town, planet, village, universe or even a tiny hut, where your fantasy story takes place. It does not mean that you should write chapters on describing scene settings. It simply means that your reader must be able to picture the environment of the characters. Here is how you can practice this:

  • Start observing and describing the real scenes, sit outside and describe everything in detail by using descriptive language. Incorporate all your senses while illustrating things on the paper. How does something feel, smell, or look?
  • Try this same strategy when describing your fantasy world. Describe plants, their smell, appearance, and colors. Add details about weather, environment, lingering noises in the air etc. Create a contrast in atmosphere or landscape, depending on where your character lives. It will heighten your reader’s perception and imagination.
  • Most importantly, describe your characters’ appearance, such as what makes them different, height, complexion and other features to let your reader create his picture in the mind.

Map Out Your Story

Drawing a map with the story is one way to make the reader’s understanding clear. Thus, many famous authors practice this to incline their readers artistically. If you think, it will help your reader understand the complex set of your fantasy novel, you can draw it.

Moreover, highlight some important landmarks and mark oceans, streams, and rivers. You can create symbols to indicate the cities and towns.

Set the Time Frame

It is another significant part of your fantasy novel. It has to be set in a specific timeframe. The characters and setting of the story entirely depend on the timeframe. If it is set in the future, the story revolves around technological advances. However, if it depicts any historical era, the timeframe represents a primitive society. Hence, it is important that you consider timeframe while establishing the setting of your story.

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  • Research the ideas of timeframe, how authors incorporate it into their story’s theme. If your fantasy novel is futuristic, you must do some research into the technological advances. Predict the changes in the characters and settings.
  • If your story has a time frame of the ancient world, you must have sufficient information about the past cultures and traditions. To make it realistic, you need to add the details that portray the timeframe in your plot. For example, traveling, cultures, norms and characters’ appearance.

Make Social Conventions

The social classes are an integral part of our society and culture. People are divided into different social classes and have different lifestyles. To make your fictional world feel realistic, you must decide on some rituals and customs.

  • You may incorporate the aspects of the real world’s social conventions. For example, elaborate how characters in your fantasy world mark death? Do they celebrate any festivals, weddings or birthdays? Cultivate ideas like these so your reader can relate to them.
  • Doing research on some diverse cultures is the best way to come up with new ideas of new social conventions. Like many other authors, you can borrow the ideas of rituals from older cultures.

Supernatural Elements of Fantasy Story

Supernatural elements are the main part of the theme in most fantasy stories. Not only does the reader expect something beyond the realities while reading a fantasy novel, but they also accept and believe in it. In addition, there are numerous ways you can incorporate supernatural elements in your fantasy story.

You may make ghosts talk to the humans or make wizards protagonist of your story and so much more. However, for incorporating them, it is important to establish some rules for making supernatural elements work in the story.

  • The first thing is to decide on their origin. Are they divine characters? What natural or magical powers do they have?
  • Decide how their character affects the plot of your story and how it is different from other characters in your story.
  • Decide what imaginary objects or weapons will your characters wield? How will they work? Do research to come up with some unique weaponry if your character is a fighter. Think how your character will use it?

Decide the Theme of Your Fantasy Story

Theme scaffolds the whole plot of your story. It shapes the characters’ thoughts, and beliefs. Hence, decide what you want to communicate to your readers. Do you want your story theme to depict romance or bond between two people? Alternatively, do you want to show a battle between good or evil?

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Set the Rules for Your Story

You can make the plot consistent and strong by making rules for your fictional world. Make sure they are not susceptible to change; otherwise, your reader will lose interest and get frustrated. For instance, if your character has the magical powers to talk to the spirits in the presence of the full moon, do not make him use this skill when there is no moon.

Create Mythical Creatures

Like supernatural elements, non-human creatures are the keys to so many fantasy stories. You can personify things; create a mythical creature to make your fictional realm feel real to your readers.

  • Conventional mythical creatures such as mermaids, aliens or vampires can be good options. Establish rules for them, like in Twilight, vampires chose not to feed on human blood.
  • Practice your creative freedom and create your own mythical creature. Decide his characteristics, features, and other traits

Define the Protagonists of the Story

Hero, villain, and mentor, are the three key characters of any fictional story. Each has distinct characteristics that define them. Hence, plot your characters in a way that their role contributes to the story and takes the events forward. In addition, you need to decide how they will resolve the central conflict of the story.

Outline Your Fantasy Story

Once you decide on the theme, plot, characters, setting, and time frame, it is the right time to outline everything in the sequence. Drafting an outline before writing can help you analyze the twist and turns of the events. In addition, you can create headings and divide events into the chapters to make it more comprehensive for your readers.

A story pyramid is an ideal way to structure your story. Divide the events broadly into three phases:  beginning, body of the story and climax. Moreover, compile the events by showing the course of actions, turning points, conflicts, and resolution.

Final Phase

The final phase is the editing phase where you go back and make final changes. It is better to take the feedback of an experienced author or publisher to improve it before publishing it.

Bottom Line

Overall, writing a fantasy story is all about playing with your imagination. Hopefully, these tips will guide you step by step on how to write a unique fictional story.