How to write a fantasy novel


All of my life I’ve known I wanted to write fantasy novels.  I knew I wanted stories filled with magic, as well as cool characters like knights, faeries, satyrs and dryads.  But even at a young age, I knew having cool characters was only a small portion of a fantasy novel.  It wasn’t until I got older and started reading and writing a lot of fantasy that I began to see certain trends emerging.  Over the next few days I will try to share what I’ve learned through research, trial and error, on how to write a fantasy novel.  Afterwards, with your help, we’ll try together to figure out how to piece it all together and market fantasy novels to the young adult/new adult audience.

Let the fun begin!

Step 1

What’s the first thing you need to write a fantasy novel (besides the obvious pen/pencil/paper/computer)?

An idea.

I know this sounds so incredibly simple and easy, but it’s not.  First, we have to have an idea that hasn’t been used before.  If you want to write about a boy who attends magic school to become a wizard…well, sorry, but that one’s been taken.  However, if you want to write about a magician who attends school to become non-magical…you might have something.  The story has to be workable.  There has to be an element of truth, of reality.  There has to be a logical structure.  You’ll need rules, guidelines.  Magic and the characters that use them will have to have limitations.  Your plot needs room to grow, expand, and your world needs to be large enough to compensate for the idea.

Step 2

Make your idea

Smart and Believable.

Simply being a magician who wants to become non-magical ‘just because’ is not enough reason to write a story.  However, if becoming non-magical can save the magical world from destruction, you might have something.

Step 3

Make your idea

Interesting

I’ve found through my own trial and error the plot of the book, the characters of the book, should pertain to something you are passionate about.  The last thing you want is for your book to end up on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.  You want people to read it.  To ensure that happens, you must write from the heart.  If you’re like me, you know what I’m talking about.  How many times have you written something your heart wasn’t into because your boss or teacher asked you to?  Too many, I bet.  Now compare those papers to those you wrote about subjects near and dear to your heart.  See?  It’s like night and day.  If you can find a way to incorporate your passions into your novel, that enthusiasm will shine through and your reader will feel it, too.

And there you have it, the first step to writing fantasy.  Have an idea that’s workable, smart, and interesting.  Tomorrow I’ll take a look at outlining – should you or shouldn’t you?

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14 thoughts on “How to write a fantasy novel

  1. Fantasy requires a TON of world-building, but what I think some writers might overlook is that all fiction requires that SOME world-building be done to introduce the reader to the setting and allow them to become familiar with it. Delving into the world-building required for writing fantasy and developing that skill set can allow a writer to excel in other genres when it comes to introducing setting, which all fiction requires.

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    1. How right you are and I’ll get into world-building in a few more posts. Maybe you can be a guest blogger on world-building since you used to design video games????? Yes, Yes??? 🙂

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  2. Ahh, Jenny, I love that you’re doing this – so helpful, no matter what we’re writing about, thank you! I look forward to reading more of these posts! 🙂

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  3. I look forward to reading more of your advice. I might be able to salvage the fantasy story I wrote almost 20 years ago that my writer’s group trashed – and with good reason. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing back then. 🙂

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  4. Step 2 is probably the most important. I’ve read some fantasy novels that try to hard to be unique and as a result they don’t have much substance. The very best fantasy novels are the ones rooted in a real world that has flare. 🙂

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