I’m no expert on writing fantasy. But I have written my fair share of the fantasy genre. I’ve written a couple of (totally not flushed out) short stories and I have written a novel or two with a few other ideas.
And when I say fantasy I mean I’ve written about mages. I’ve written about wizards and elves. I’ve written about superheroes. I’m all over the place with it.
I’m giving these tips because this is what I’ve learned along the way (and we can pretend I’m some sort of expert on writing fantasy), but also because I’m writing fantasy for NaNoWriMo.
So, here we go!
1. Keep it “real”
Fiction is fake, fantasy is out of this world. Still, there’s a little bit of truth in everything we write. Sometimes we base characters off of ourselves or someone we know. Sometimes we take places and warp them just a little bit to fit in a fictional land or some stories are based on real-life places.
You can always create and base elements of your story on real-life people or places. Take a myth or lore into your hands and add a twist to it. Research is your friend.
2. Mythical creatures
Like I said in the above point, you can do a lot with real-life people or places or even creatures. Unicorns and dragons don’t exist, but they can in the fantasy world. Dragons especially usually have big parts in the fantasy world. However, while you can make them your own in your world, you can also do research on them.
It took me a long time to realize that mermaids are not in fact like Ariel in The Little Mermaid. They are, supposedly, not nice creatures. It shattered my childhood, but I used that information to my advantage in one of my fantasy novels.
J.K. Rowling created the spells in Harry Potter using the Latin language. It’s not Latin exactly, but she twisted it around so that the spells were her own and they could kind of be “translated.”
I’m not saying you have to create a magic system just like Rowling did, but it should still make a little bit of sense.
4. Know your world inside and out
If you’re writing the kind of fantasy where you need your own Middle Earth area, you have to know the world as though you’ve been there in real life… as though you’ve lived there all your life.
Create a map. Do they speak another language? Do they have a different currency? What kinds of food do they eat? What are the seasons like? You may not need to know all of that, but it’s helpful to know anyway.
5. Use a map
Maps are important. Your fantasy novel may not need a map necessarily, unless it’s Middle Earth, but creating a map for yourself won’t hurt. It’ll help you keep track of all the areas which in turn will help you write it and allow your readers to understand.
6. Create character names that can be easily read and pronounced
Yeah. I don’t know what Flbergsted is. There are plenty of fantasy name generators out there on the Internet. Use your vowels wisely.
Sometimes I take names of people I know and spell them backward. For example, Rachel would be Lehcar. Even then you still have to mix some letters around to make them comprehensible, but most names work backward.
7. Do your research
There’s no wrong way to write a book, but research never hurts. There are so many sub-genres of fantasy. Some are way more complicated than others.
There’s a lot on the Internet and there is so many fantasy writing craft books out there. Not to mention fantasy novels in general that you can read. Just brush up on your fantasy knowledge.
8. Know your fantasy genre and subgenre
This kind of goes along with the point above. Fantasy is a vast genre and there are so many sub-genres to it. Like I said earlier in the post I’ve written many different kinds of fantasy. I go from Lord of the Rings style to X-Men style. Both are fantasy, but that’s just about all they have in common.