This isn’t a list of do’s and don’ts or advice. It’s more of a list of elements that I’ve found to be common in most fantasy tales. Feel free to make suggestions about what other words you’d pick for this list!
A – Adventure. What good fantasy tale doesn’t involve an adventure? It doesn’t have to be a thrill-a-minute tale, or involve more traveling than Frodo’s hike from the Shire to Mordor, but “going on an adventure” is a foundational element in many fantasy stories.
B – Bad Guys. Whether the villain is the personification of evil itself, or a conflicted, misunderstood character, it’s not much of a story without an antagonist.
C – Creatures. Most fantasy stories have some sort of fantastical animals. Whether it’s a classic fire-breathing dragon or a creature you invented from scratch, readers expect beasts of magic or mystery.
New, different, unexpected – these are the things we all want in a story, right? After all, if the story is too predictable, too much like all the others we’ve read, then why bother with it? While this is very true – both readers and writers are always looking for the unique element – I believe there is room for some degree of predictability.
First off, there is the conventions of the genre. This can be very broad, but I believe it’s the most important form of predictability. Readers pick up certain genres because they enjoy the conventions of that type of story. A reader of classic sword and sorcery will not be pleased to find space ships and vampires half way through the novel. Pick your genre/sub-genre, learn your genre, and gain an understanding of what some of the most common or popular elements are. The fantasy/paranormal sub-genre of vampire romance involves – you guessed it – vampires and romance. If your story is lacking these key elements, then it’s not a vampire romance. Continue reading →
I love Twitter, and I’ve used it for years. I believe that Twitter is one of the best social media sites for writers, because it’s so easy to engage with people. You can follow, be followed by, and actually chat directly with everyone from readers and fans to editors, agents, and publishing companies.
Another powerful aspect of Twitter is the hashtag. The # symbol (yes, it can also be called a pound sign, number sign, or sharp sign) is called a hashtag when used on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
The hashtag is a powerful search tool. When you click on a hashtag, it brings up every tweet that contains that hashtagged word or phrase. This can be a great way to reach readers, commune with other writers, find other professionals in the book industry, even find new story ideas or writing prompts.
Here are some powerful hashtags that writers of every genre and level of experience can use on a regular basis: Continue reading →
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I haven’t done any writing for several weeks. No writing at all. No journaling, no writing on stories, not even blogging.
I’ve been busy ever since Christmas with a new job, and then in mid-January I got sick. Nothing serious in the grand scheme of things – just an energy-sapping bug that lingered for a good three weeks. Getting out of bed and making breakfast left me exhausted for the rest of the day, and so summoning the energy and willpower to write was just too much. Not very professional of me, I know. A professional writer writes whether they feel like it or not. Whether writing is a full-time job or not, treating as seriously as one is key.
But anyway, apparently I’m not quite there yet. I am, however, slowly getting my life back on track, so at least I’m moving forwards. And I’m finally setting my new year’s goals and resolutions. Continue reading →
What is historical fantasy? Well, in my mind, historical fantasy is just what it sounds like: historical fiction with a fantastical twist. Just like contemporary fantasy or urban fantasy has a present-day setting but features magic, monsters, and other elements of fantasy – historical fantasy is the same, but just using a time and place from history as the setting.
Right now I am writing historical fantasy – specifically I’m writing dieselpunk or decopunk, stories set in the 1920s, but with magic and some advanced technology. I’m doing a lot of research, but I’m also doing a lot of world-building from scratch.
Here are some tips that I am applying to my own work, and that I think are important to consider if you want to start writing historical fantasy: Continue reading →
Everybody loves Hobbits and Thestrals and Wookies.
A Thestral from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
What do these creatures all have in common? They are unique to their particular stories or worlds (as in Middle-Earth, the Harry Potter series, and Star Wars, respectively). It’s fun to read about (or watch) new creatures in fantasy stories, and it’s just as fun to create them. Inventing the name for your new creature, what the adults look like versus what the babies look like, culture and language, what they eat, where they live. All of these are important world-building tasks, especially if you’re inventing a new species from scratch. We all want to be original and have our fantastical races stand out in the fantasy-creatures crowd.
But I’d like to make the argument that it’s okay to be unoriginal – at least to start with. Thousands of years of human culture has given us hundreds of amazing and creative creatures in mythology and folktales from around the world. Continue reading →