How to write a fantasy novel, Part Two – Outlines


In case you missed the beginning of this series, you can click here.

Okay, so you’ve come up with a brilliant, original idea for your fantasy novel.  Now what?

I found through trial and error the next thing to do is to create some sort of an outline.  Now, now, stop your groaning.  I’m not a plotter, but I’ve found this step to be really important.  It can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make it, but the important thing is you make one.  I made the mistake of writing my first and second fantasy stories without an outline and there were plot holes all over the place.  The outlines I do now are not fancy or long; in fact, they are quite simple, but they include the essentials:  idea, plot points, main characters, setting, etc.  I personally like to do brief outlines for each chapter, that way I have some sort of idea of where I’m going in my story and I can plan my plot climaxes.

So here is what my outline looks like.  I’m making it up as I go so please bear with me.

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 Idea:  A powerful magical teen must somehow figure out how to become non-magical so he can save his world from the evil emperor whom he later discovers is his father.

Hamblet Adams:  16-year-old male main character
Pearly Whites:  main character’s best friend; female shapeshifter
Squeaky Willows:  the village idiot and town gossip
Hopshoggle:  forest-dwelling mage and teacher
Cornelius Krunk:  Emperor

World:

These four characters live in Figswillow, an eastern coastal town on the floating Desmond Isles.

Plot outline:

As punishment for their endless practical jokes at school, teen magician Hamblet and his best friend, Pearly, are ordered to work in the town’s archival library after school to catalog thousands of books and parchments the Emperor confiscated in his latest travels.  While working late one night, Squeaky appears at the library with a book for Hamblet, but it’s not just any book. It’s the Emperor’s secret diary, and in it are his plans to destroy magic.  Hamblet finds out the only way for the emperor to destroy magic is to destroy its source…Desmond Isles, and more importantly, the powerful magician whose very essence feeds the magic of the isles.  Determined to stop the emperor and save the Isles, Hamblet, Pearly, Squeaky and Hopshoggle embark on a journey that takes them to magical places where they meet fantastic creatures – and ruthless villains.  Along the way, they discover allies in peculiar places, courage they didn’t know they had, and a hidden destiny that changes everything.

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 Ok, so this is a very, very basic outline. Like I said, you can do this for each chapter as well as for each character.  I also make extensive timelines so I know what’s going on when. I also create maps that give me a basic idea of where my characters are and what my world looks like.  The maps don’t have to be perfect, but they should be legible enough for you to place your characters.

So, these are my tips on How to write fantasy, Part 2.  In Part 3, I’ll take a look at character development and give you a few tips I learned the hard way through…duh duh duh…rejections.