• J.K. Noble

How to Write Good Fantasy

Updated: Aug 30


Are you a fantasy writer or interested in writing fantasy yet are worried about how to go about it? After all, fantasy is a vast topic and can get overwhelming. Soon enough you might start comparing yourself to the authors who've made it big. You might even feel like you're taking ideas and not being original enough. I know I've been there, and have worked over my writing to a point where I no longer feel that way. As the creator of shape-shifting griffins with unique talents gifted by an annual moon, as well as Nymphs, Weylings, Siren, Banshees, soul-stealing witches, and woodland demons, I can help you there!

I'd like to begin by saying that fantasy is such an infinite concept. It's literal definition is the faculty or activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable.



To our mortal eyes there are so many things that are considered imaginary. For example many people believe religious beings are imaginary. I disagree, personally, but that is where the genre gothic fantasy thrives. From biblical topics of the Leviathan, ghosts, demons, angels, and the big man upstairs.


The Fantasy audience is not your general audience. Keep in mind not every person likes fantasy. Why? I have no clue, as it's my favorite genre, but it's very true. Not every one can relate to hocus pocus, or any made up thing. Your fantasy audience loves anything you can think up. They thrive off the plot, world building, and character relationships. They want to feel like they have transported into another world, full of adventure, creativity, and beauty while learning, experience romance, and fighting off bad guys with your characters. High or Epic fantasy usually comes with the whole package. My personal favorites include: The Lord of the Rings (obviously), Avatar the Last Airbender, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Quest for Camelot, Gods of Egypt. In all of these titles I just mentioned— some of which are very underrated— they all have great characters (and character development), emotional storylines, fun plots, tons of action and adventure, beautiful magic systems, and deep world building.



Here is a secret... there's a perfect formula to a wonderful fantasy. And I'm going to share it with you.

Variables:

a = a strong plot

b = character development

c = world building

d = magic system

d^2 = magic system with understandable and consistent rules

e = bonus features like: romance, action, & adventure

f = presentation

y = uniqueness


x = amazing fantasy story that will be cherished in the hearts of readers everywhere


Formula:

x = ( ef (a+b+c+d^2) ) ^ y


Haha, I hope that was funny.


I know that it's all a lot to think about. Remember there are several fantasies that take place in the modern world, using slight magic here and there and have made it big time. There are different genres of fantasy, pick one that would best suit what you are going for!



Magic!

Every fantasy includes magic. From beings with extraordinary talents to cool magical gadgety.

Now all you have to do is decide what type of magic you as an author will be representing.


Magical Powers

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If it's people with powers, you must now figure out which power they will have. Is it a group of people with the same talents (Harry Potter) or is it a group of people with unique talents (X-Men). Are they a species or are they a division of humanity. This is where modern fantasy comes into play. We see a lot of groups with similar powers fighting an identical cause, or being split by controversial beliefs.



Magical Nature

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Keep in mind that magic can also come from nature, as seen in Maleficent and in Avatar. As just mentioned, we see the magic of nature in fantasy where civilizations are more Middle Ages or not yet developed. I personally don't get that. It is almost as if magic in nature cannot exist if humanity becomes advanced, which is not true. Civilizations no matter how grand or advanced cannot take up ALL of the world, it certainly does not take up all of our human world. There are still beautiful places in nature untouched by humans, and one should keep that in mind as a writer if you would like to incorporate magic in nature.



Magical Substances & Hocus Pocus


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Magic can come from something man made (a potion, elixr, etc.) I'm not necessarily talking about gadgetry here, but more of what we know as witchcraft type of substances. Substances related to witchcraft are very popular in fantasy. Now one does not have to be a "witch" in fantasy literature to create such magical substances. It seems that as long as your characters can obtain rare and magical ingredients (eye of newt, wool of bat, etc.) then they are able to make such magical substances.



Magical Humanoids, Species, Monsters, and Mutants

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Here is where topics like Greek mythology come into play. Ever heard of fairies, mermaid, satyrs, unicorns, fauns and so forth? Well, in all honesty, who hasn't?

Some creative enough can invent their own species. Fun examples on TV include: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Amphibia, Avatar, Adventure Time, Fairly Odd Parents, Kulipari, Disney's Mickey Mouse, Animaniacs, Power Puff Girls, and so on. It's strange to see all these prime examples are kids shows. As the fantasy genre moves up to Young Adult or even adult, it seems to only revolve around humans with powers, magical humanoids, or even famous mythological deities, but never really unique species, unless we are talking aliens, which is sci-fi, not fantasy.


For additional information on this topic, check out these helpful articles on the subject:

How to Invent Your Own Fantasy Species

The Complete Guide to Creatures of Fantasy (From Mythology to the Bible)



Gadgety


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This might fall into the steampunk genre if you prefer steampunk technology with protruding gears and fancy top hat, otherwise think of cool magical gadgetry in which your urban fantasy world uses. What does your gadget do? What does it look like? What is it called, and why? How does the hypothetical magic behind your gadget work?

The Flinstones is a fun example of unique gadgetry that correlates to the fantasy world of Bedrock. Here in this world, every gadget is actually a prehistoric animal helping around the house. The creators of the Flinstones get rather creative, and throughout the television series, you will notice the vacuum elephant, octopus dishwasher, the newspaper written in chiseled stone, and the woodpecker inside the polaroid that chisels photographs instantly.



Rules to Which Your Magic Thrives

Every good fantasy needs to have rules. As we are bound by the laws of nature, we must create boundaries by which our fantasy world abides. Can only a certain group of people use magic in your fantasy world? When does their magic work? Do emotions affect the magic? It is most important to remember all the rules you invented for your magic so that your work remains consistent and your audience doesn't feel that there are holes in your work.

Every rule os obviously made to be broken. I've experienced several instances in which my characters had to find their own loopholes through the rules my magic system set in place. The plot would not develop without it. So if you find yourself in such a position like I did, explain how your character(s) were able to do so thoroughly so bending the rules will be believable to your readers.


For additional information on this topic, check out these helpful articles on the subject:

How to Create A Unique Magic System



World Building

Here you will think about the fine details. How does your world look like? What is your fantasy world called? Is there a symbolic meaning to the name you gave your fantasy world? What types of people live there? Are they humans, humanoids, or monsters? What is their culture like? Religion? How do they dress? What problems as a group do they face? Are they segregated groups?

Here is where your readers want to see your creativity shine. And this is how you write a "good" fantasy. Your readers want to transport into a fictional world in which almost anything is possible!


For additional information on this topic, check out these helpful articles on the subject:

How to Create a Rich Fantasy Culture

How To Create A Realistic Fantasy World!




Plot

You might have all the bells and whistles. Your magic might be amazing with great rules in place and epic world building, but that is nothing without the basics of every story which is plot and character development.


For additional information on this topic, check out these helpful articles on the subject:

The Secret to Writing an Irresistible and Successful Story

How to Write a Realistic Character


And finally, if you are struggling or worried that your writing is not unique. Check out this article: How to Break the Cliche Fantasy Mold



This was created based on my personal experience, hopefully, these tips will help you! Let me know what you think in the comments below!


Read HALE: The Rise of the Griffins, today! Click here.

J.K. Noble is a published author of the new YA Fantasy Book, Hale: The Rise of the Griffins! She is also the illustrator of Hale: The Rise of the Griffins Graphic Novel! Want to read them? Find the free previews at Hale-fantasynovel.com !




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