Fantasy Genre: Defined
Most fantasy uses magic or other supernatural elements as a main plot element, theme, or setting. Magic, magic practitioners (sorcerers, witches and so on) and magical creatures are common in many of these worlds.
An identifying trait of fantasy is the author’s use of narrative elements that do not have to rely on history or nature to be coherent.This differs from realistic fiction in that realistic fiction has to attend to the history and natural laws of reality, where fantasy does not. In writing fantasy, the author uses worldbuilding to create characters, situations, and settings that may not be possible in reality.
High or epic
• *High or epic fantasy: Set in a magical environment that has its own rules and physical laws, often involving a quest or a conflict between good and evil.
Low or Magical Realism
• *Low fantasy: Set in the real world, with unexpected magical elements that shock characters or readers.
• *Portal fantasy: Set in the real world, with a portal or gateway to another world or dimension that is fantastical.
• *Urban fantasy: Set in a contemporary urban setting, with magical or supernatural elements that coexist with modern technology and society.
*Dark fantasy: Set in a dark, gloomy, or horror-like atmosphere, with elements of fear, violence, or death.
*Fairytale fantasy: Based on or inspired by fairytales, myths, legends, or folklore, often with a twist or a modern adaptation.
*Heroic fantasy: Set in a medieval or ancient world, with heroes or warriors who face dangers and enemies with courage and skill.
*Science fantasy: Combines elements of science fiction and fantasy, such as futuristic technology, alien worlds, or time travel, with magic or mythical creatures.
Word Count Guidelines:
High Fantasy: 85-100,000 words
Urban Fantasy: 70-95,000 words
YA fantasy/scifi: 60-75,000 words
Novellas: 35-50,000 words
Novelettes: 15-30,000 words
Short Stories: 2,000-10,000 words
Short Shorts: 1,500 words or less
Many of the books are cross-genre fantasy, meaning they contain elements from several different categories.
HIGH FANTASY: The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
Genre: Fantasy (General)
Despite including certain magic elements, it is generally considered to be a different genre from fantasy because magical realism uses a substantial amount of realistic detail and employs magical elements to make a point about reality, while fantasy stories are often separated from reality.
PART II: HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES:
Beginning, Middle, and End
Each of the three components of beginning, middle, and end contain specialized elements to tell a good story. Each component should include:
*Grabbing a reader’s interest.
*Sustaining a reader’s interest.
*Steadily increasing tension and suspense regarding the outcome.
*Guiding readers through an emotional catharsis.
*Providing a satisfying resolution of events.
*Answering the story question.
*Delivering poetic justice.
◦ Generally speaking, a novel should be divided into thirds. The beginning and ending will be the shortest sections, with the middle section taking up the majority of the book.
◦ Does this mean the middle can be longer than the beginning and end combined? Yes!
◦ Why should these three parts be of equal length? They’re not measured by the same intensity. But, writer beware! The middle can be the trickiest part of the book to navigate, and many unwary writers can “drown in a swamp or wander forevermore within a maze of muddle, never to emerge.”
“One of the worst mistakes I see among inexperienced fantasy writers is the desire to teach their readers.This impulse manifests as the dreaded fifty-page explanation, background summary, and info- dump opening whereby said writer informers his readers of his world’s terrain, climate, history for the past nine thousand years, mythology, and magic system.
…Write the history if you must.Write the explanation. Describe all the mythology and magic in loving detail. Get that all keyed into your computer.
Then set that file aside and don’t insert it into your manuscript.”
If you aren’t allowed to info dump, then what? How do you relay the importance of your awesome magic system and complicated world? Here are a few suggestions.
Instead of lecturing, get your protagonist into trouble in the first scene, and keep her there.
As you hook readers, small snippets of information can be woven in from time to time—but not too much. A sentence or two is fine.
Lure your reader into wanting to know more about the history and background. Promise to explain later.
It’s not until readers care about or sympathize with your characters that they’ll want to know more.
“When the novel’s beginning is over, and readers are well and truly hooked, then—out there in the middle of the plot, when the pacing permits a brief lull in the story action—you can share a few paragraphs of what you’ve invented.”
Now that we’ve discussed an engaging hook, a likable protagonist is key to drawing readers in and keeping them interested in the story. An unlikable character can doom a novel from the beginning. Here are a few hints to get started:
CHARACTER CHEAT SHEET:
◦ What is your character’s full name?
◦ How old is your character?
◦ Physically describe your character.
◦ Where is your character from?
◦ Describe/explain your character’s background.
◦ What is this character’s personal objective or dream?
◦ If this character’s worst enemy were to state what’s wrong with him or her, what would it be?
◦ Why should a reader like this character or want them to succeed?
◦ What are his or her weaknesses? List three.
◦ What are his or her strengths? List three.
11. If this character can perform magic, describe his or her skills.
12. Describe this character’s childhood and parents.
13. How is this character like you?
14. How is this character not like you?
15. What mood is typical for this character?
16. Is this character a loner?
17. Can this character trust and/or work with others?
18. Does this character ever confide in anyone?
19. Who is this confidant?
20. What does this character need to learn?
◦ S- Situation. The backdrop of trouble, the threatening change in circumstances that will force your protagonist to take action.
◦ P- Protagonist. The central character in your story. This individual must drive the story forward and carry it through to the end.
◦ O- Objective- The protagonist’s goal. It can be the solution to his/her problem—what he/she wants and can’t live without.
◦ O- Opponent. The antagonist of the story. The person directly preventing the hero from succeeding.
◦ C- Climax. The ending of your story. The most intense and dangerous portion of your plot. This should be a direct conclusion and answer to the story question brought up in the first scenes—the solution to the situation.
Now try this exercise for your story idea. You can’t harm your premise, but you may find holes in it. If so, be glad. You now have the opportunity to fix them.