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Strategies for Writing Fantasy

 

Photo Credit: Samantha Myers

Writing fantasy can be tough. Many of us are creating and building a world, but even if you aren’t you still have a thousand elements to keep in line, and one tiny plot hole can go missed by you, beta-readers, and even editors.

We see this with even popular published works.

Never fear, because when writing fantasy, there are ways to keep everything running smooth and making the world believable to readers.

Here are a few strategies you can implement when writing fantasy.

 

Magical/Supernatural Systems

Most fantasy works have some type of magical or supernatural system.

In Northern Knights, my magical system has to do with element control, be it either the classical elements of wind, water, earth, fire, and spirit, or even elements like blood, wood, and metal.

Magical swords that can “bend” several elements will trust the more talented users but this is quite rare, as most users must master each element the sword can utilize.

Also, spirit traveling is a huge concept in Northern Knights and even more so in its future books, where both the living and dead can travel between the worlds but only if they’re born with spirit control ability.

It’s all about keeping these systems in line and yes, it took me several edits early on to do so, and that’s okay. By constantly editing your work you’ll find what works and what doesn’t, so you can keep what makes sense and toss what doesn’t.

Sometimes, you might sound contradictory, just be sure to explain it in your books. I like having my characters explain via dialogue rather than my narration telling the reader as I’ve always found this more realistic.

 

The World

As stated before, many of us are building worlds here or are building worlds within worlds. A good example would be the Chronicles of Narnia, which is a world outside this world, and Harry Potter, a world within this world.

My world is a little different, but I’ll explain it more in future articles as my series churns on.

If you look at the two examples above, I always encourage new writers to take on the Chronicles of Narnia example, where C.S. Lewis literally builds Narnia in front of the reader, as seen in Book Six, the Magician’s Nephew.

I also like the Harry Potter direction as well, since we’re seeing everything from Harry Potter’s point of view and therefore learning new things about the wizarding world as they unfold.

Many authors make the mistake throat clearing, which can be fatal these days even if they worked once upon a time. Throat clearing is a technique used by authors to give the reader background information, however most readers, myself included, want action and we gravitate in that direction.

Such as what I did with Northern Knights, where while Cain has already been exposed to this world since he’s lived in it all his life and shows the reader some of the finer points of the world, he’s been oblivious to the corruption taking place in it due to his love of sports. In other words, Cain shows the reader early some of his supernatural gifts but he and the reader both discover the greatest danger in Gaia.

But again, don’t throat clear which in this day and age will annoy the reader. Instead, use techniques such as the main character, in my case Cain, finding out with the reader as the story moves along, but doing so in a manner of either stumbling upon the problem or through dialogue. Both techniques can work well together, too.

Also, always stay fresh. Both Cain and the reader will find things out in both Northern Knights and Swords of Destiny, but I can’t wait to get deeper in depth with plot elements in books I’ve yet to pen the first draft on. All I can say is J.J. Abrams would love this.

 

Influences

Don’t be afraid to “borrow” from other authors when it comes to influence. I’ve stated many times how influential both Rowling and Lewis were to my own work, but it goes beyond just fantasy authors and book series’.

Go deep, and think about some of your favorite icons in all entertainment. Movies, TV shows, singers, celebrities, sports teams, sports players, you name it there might be some influence.

Some of my influences beyond fantasy can begin with the Cleveland Browns, as if you look to the right of the screen, you can even see the Browns’ influence in the book’s cover with the orange, brown, and white color scheme.

The Browns’ rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers, though Steeler fans think of the Patriots, Ravens, or Bengals as their primary rival, is also given a nod time and again. With one of the main antagonists even being named Rooney, the evil Southpoint Empire’s colors are black and yellow, and even Southpoint is derived from Southpointe, located at the southernmost tip in the City of Pittsburgh.

Beyond this, I also continually repeat an age-old joke regarding the Steelers’ (also shared by the Pirates and Penguins of the MLB and NHL) color scheme as black and yellow instead of black and gold, as most Steeler fans tend to state.

So again, don’t be afraid to use even real life influences as seen in the examples above that can make a work, or break it for some, as I’m sure Steeler Nation wouldn’t appreciate their standing here.

Always compose a list of influences and feel free to place them into your work. It can make for some light-heartedness in a book that might contain a darker plot or something similar.

 

Look Over Your Manuscript

Okay, so now’s the time to take the exercise and look your manuscript over. What do you see in your own fantasy work you can change?

Does the world need to be built in a naturally flowing fashion, or does the magical system contain some flaws?

Take an in-depth look here, because it’s likely you’re going to have something that needs to be changed.
Don’t worry, because when I first penned Northern Knights I changed about everything to make the work, well, work. Making the work work!

There were holes all over the place in my magical systems and the world itself is so complex I found myself writing short story type of projects just to learn its history…yes, that’s a fact, and for more information regarding the history, you can log onto Prolific Works and obtain your free copies of Fighting Tyranny, Fighting Treason, and Fighting the Great Plan: Part One at the links provided.

These works are available for free anywhere but Amazon because Amazon loves to give us a hard time regarding free stuff…nice…but you can get them at Nook, Kobo, and both Tyranny and Treason are available on iBooks and Google Play, with Fighting the Great Plan to follow.

These books will give you a tiny idea at what I had to do to better understand my own created world, and it gives the readers something entertaining for free as I promote Northern Knights and later Swords of Destiny for free as well.

Get Fighting Tyranny

 

Get Fighting Treason

 

Get Fighting the Great Plan

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