What are Vital Steps in Writing a Fantasy Novel?

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Answered by: Josh, An Expert in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Category
Fantasy is a unique genre to write within, because it requires an immense use of the imagination and the creation of a world (and even a set of physics) that has never existed before. However, just because the fantasy genre revolves around magic doesn't mean you get to just make things up willy-nilly. There are, in fact, guidelines that are best followed when writing a fantasy novel. Guidelines that will help your story excel. For instance:

1. Uniqueness. Most fantasy novel readers have come across the cliche adventurer party with a warrior, wizard, and thief bound together on a quest for a magical talisman. Other genre tropes include dragons, zombies, a dark lord, and a children finding portals into other worlds. No doubt you can think of a few fantasy novels you've read that include all of those tropes at once! What are you going to create that sets you apart from the hundreds, if not thousands, of fantasy writers? What new twist are you going to bring to the genre that makes your story unique? If you can't answer that, then you need to stop everything and figure that out first.

2. Consistency. Oddly, when writing fiction, one must work harder to make the events in the story come across as realistic so the reader is able to suspend their sense of disbelief. When writing a fantasy novel, you're going to present readers with impossible events and creatures. If you fashion a consistent framework of rules around these events and creatures, it makes them feel more believable. Ask yourself questions such as, "What are the limits of magic in my fantasy world?" "Why can't my hero/heroine just use a magic wand to solve the problem?" "What is the cost of using magic in my story?" Then, once you have these answers, stick to them throughout the whole of the story so that readers know you aren't going to cheat them out of a properly satisfying ending or plot twist.

3. Culture and Consequence. In a fantasy world, magic will affect everything, including the political and economic structure. If magic can be used to turn lead into gold, for instance, what are people going to use as currency that will actually keep any sort of value? If magic can be used to fly, would there be any need for roads? What if the magic is evil and can be used to hurt people, animals, or crops? What sort of defenses would have to be put in place to defend the land against it? What sort of jobs would a magic-user be good at? How would their life be changed by being able to wield magic? For the better or for the worse?

All of these considerations and more must be taken into account before you begin writing your fantasy novel. But by taking the time to think through all of these, you will create a more solid and consequential fantasy world that will be more believable and accessible to readers.

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