Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Writing Tips - An Overview of the Fantasy Genre

Thinking of writing some fantasy? Here's an overview. Enjoy.


When one thinks of fantasy, JRR Tolkein comes to mind. Peter Jackson's wonderful movie trilogy of Tolkein's work highlights all the elements which embody the fantasy genre.

Fantasy doesn't deal with the "theoretically possible," (that's Science Fiction) but the impossible. Fantasy creates new worlds and embodies them with a degree of familiarity to make them appealing. In fact, it's possiblily the most popular children's genre, appealing to children and teenagers with their coming-of-age stories.

Fantasy, however, is not an easy genre to write for. While there are no set rules, there are "standard elements" which are expected to be in a fantasy story.

As you flesh out your stories keep the following elements in mind - you'll need to weave them into your story: create a fantasy world, establish myths, legends, and fairytales, establish rules for your magic, define your archetypes, draw maps, flesh out the characters' journeys, and establish a suspension of disbelief that is believable.

As you prepare to write your fantasy story, you've got to create your world. "The Lord of the Rings," used a pre-industrial setting, akin to Earth's middle ages, and this is usually used in most writings, however this setting isn't set in stone. Growing more common are futuristic worlds. Drawing maps goes hand-in-hand with this element. It allows you, the writer, to visualize your world, its countries, the land, and the people who populate your world.

Next, you have to establish your world's myths and legends - an imaginary past, if you will. Most myths and legends have their roots in what's considered eternal truths. (good vs evil, for example)

Magic is crucial to your fantasy world. Without it, logical explanations would have to be found for your fantastical events.

The fantasy genre is grounded with archetypical elements - the wise old wizard, the young hero, the divine child, a quest, dragons, unicorns, a walled castle, a wasteland, and a dying king are some examples. They're expected to appear in some form or another in the genre.

Fantasy writing usually deals with journeys or quests, and nothing connects better with young readers as a "coming-of-age" story. As we follow our hero on his/her journey, we get familiar with our fantasy world that we've created.

The fantasy genre does require the reader to suspend their belief about the natural world, but that doesn't mean, you, the author, can let anything slip by. Every world has laws and rules that can't be broken. By keeping your characters grounded within the laws of your world, you make them believable.

By staying true to these elements, you should establish the back bone of a good fantasy story.

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