How to write a fantasy novel?

by Mrignayni Pandey
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Have you read the marvelous work of Rowling and wondered how the only thing wrong with that book was that it was difficult to put it down once you had started reading it?

But Expelliarmus!

You find yourself at your wit’s ends when it comes to writing or thinking about such stories, isn’t it?

Harry Potter
Answering how to write a fantasy novel

Don’t worry. I will tell you the six magical charms for it.

Each of those potions in the right amount will tell you ‘ how to write a fantasy novel ‘ and what works and what does not.

But for the beginners a quick introduction first!

What is fantasy fiction?

fantasy novels
My collection of fantasy novels

Fantasy novels are a kind of speculative fiction which has a medieval nature of plot-setting and derives its story primarily from popular mythos, legends and folklore. Most fantasy novels involve witchcraft, sorcery and magic happening in an unknown fictional world where the theme setting usually resembles European middle ages.

From the raging game of thrones that shook the literary world and almost became a cultural phenomena to the Harry Potter series that took the book world by storm, fantasy novels, in the twenty-first century, rule the mainstream world of literature.

Now coming to the central question, How to write a fantasy novel ?

Read, read and read fantasy literature.

Step 1 of answering how to write a fantasy novel

step 1 of answering how to write a fantasy novel
Answering how to write a fantasy novel

The ease and intimacy with your writing that is needed to write good fiction can come only when you have read other books by writers in your genre.

Did you know that there are sub-genres even in the genre of fantasy novels?

Once you have located the sub-genre on which you will be writing your fantasy novel, gear up. Read similar books you in the sub-genre and see how established writers have build their fantasy world. The more you read, the better you will know how to use the elements of writing a novel.

Some of my favorite fantasy novels include-

my favorite fantasy novels
Answering how to write a fantasy novel

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin-The story needs no introduction. The first book in Martin’s ‘A song of ice and fire’ series, the book is one of the most magnificent fantasy world created by any author. The verisimilitude he gives to the characters, along with the vivid plot settings with delectable dialogues rich in their subtexts. He tops the chart of famous fantasy writers, simply because he did not take the easy way to writing fantasy by falling back on the cliched use of existing myths. The lassitude of his vision, the intricately woven plots,the riveting narrative with attention to each and every detail all in his sumptuous flair of writing simply makes him the most commendable fantasy writer you can ever read.

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The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson– A fantasy world where mystical swords and suits of armor transform ordinary men into invincible warriors and kingdoms are won and traded for Shardblades, The way of Kings has one of the most beautiful plot-settings I have ever read in a fantasy world. Though a bit simple, and shallow in its depth, Sanderson’s narrative is very eloquent and has the effect of producing profound imagery in the minds of the readers.

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The Lord of Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein– With musings like ” I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve” to tell us about his characters, J.R.R. Tolkien has won zillion hearts in the reading community of the world. Creating the enchanting wonderful world of the Hobbits in Middle-Earth, the story is about Frodo Baggins who has embarked on the journey to destroy a ring, which will ensure the destruction of its maker, Lord Sauron. Tolkein is phenomenal in the imagination and was fifty years ahead of his time in his vision. His story has one of the most brilliantly chiseled characters arcs you can ever read.

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Know your plot

Step 2 of answering how to write a fantasy novel

step 2 of answering how to write a fantasy novel
Answering how to write a fantasy novel

No matter whether you are a discovery writer or an outline writer, create a rough skeleton of the story you are planning to write. Knowing the plot (the sequence of events in your story) is the first step towards the process of writing an epic fantasy novel. Doing this will help you concretize your abstract ideas and make sure that you stay true to the direction of your story.

Mrignayni's tips on how to write a  fantasy novel
Answering how to write a fantasy novel

Research on the myth or lore that has inspired your idea. The more you know about what you are writing the more easily you will see the story flowing from your pen or hitting the keyboard.

You can build your fictional world and answer the 5 W’s in no time once you have a base layout to work on. This base layout will serve as your outlined narrative arc.

narrative arc
Answering how to write a fantasy novel

What if you enter a bakery to buy a sandwich cake and the baker offers you a cake in which the icing and jam were stacked in the bottom and the sponges were piled over it.

Ewww.

The cream and jam would get stuck on the serving plate and the sponges would topple off the layers because the cream is all at the bottom!

example of a narrative arc
Narrative arc

A narrative arc is to a story what arrangement of the layers are in a sandwich cake. The layers of the cake can be compared to the plot of the story.

Every story follows a sequence of events in a particular order. These events taken together are called the plot of the story. The plots taken in the sequence in which they weave the story together is the narrative arc.

Now, what are the elements of a narrative arc ? How to structure the plots of a story?

Freytag’s pyramid tells us about the elements of a narrative arc and the way one can structure the plots of a story. I have expounded the five-acts of a that constitute a narrative arc or dramatic structure in detail here!

Freytag's pyramid
Freytag’s pyramid

A Character arc is to a character what a story arc is to a story. I have already written a detailed article that you must read before you deliberate on building the characters of your story.

To read the article just Click Here!

Build your world

Step 3 of answering how to write a fantasy novel

step 3 of answering how to write a fantasy novel
Answering how to write a fantasy novel

Plot creation and building of your world should run parallely. This is the most crucial step in writing a fantasy novel. You have to brainstorm everything about the world you are creating. Start by describing the physical surroundings and settings. What does your fictional world look like? Where is it situated? What is the culture and shared history that connects the people that inhabit your fictional world?

Plot setting of a song of ice and fire
Mrignayni’s tips

Answering such questions would be very important when you are building your fictional fantasy world.

Mrignayni's tips on how to write a fantasy novel
Mrignayni’s tips

Also, the way your story is told has a huge impact on what your fantasy novel will turn out to be. You have to decide the vantage point from which you want to tell your story.

Tropes

Step 4 of answering how to write a fantasy novel

step 4 of answering how to write a fantasy novel
Answering how to write a fantasy novel

Your tropes are the most important part of your story. They have to be convincing and endearing to the readers. I have linked an article below, that will succor your writing to create believable and endearing fantasy tropes.

Click Here!

Piece by piece

Step 5 of answering how to write a fantasy novel

step 5 of answering how to write a fantasy novel
Answering how to write a fantasy novel

Writing a series of books or a novel is not a piece of cake, surely. But then how do some of those writers did it?

To answer this, you will have to tell me how do we eat an elephant? Piece by piece, one bite at a time, right?

The same works with writing a fantasy novel. You cannot start straightly working on your idea once it has come to you. You might be able to do this if you have been thinking about it for a very long time before actually starting to write but there is a high probability that you won’t go anything further than 25 pages of text.

To be able to work on such a colossal task you have have to write multiple descriptions, notes and short stories that will succor your process of writing your fantasy novel.

Mrignayni's tips on how to write a fantasy novel.
Mrignayni’s tips

Get ahead with the process and edit, edit, edit

Step 6 of answering how to write a fantasy novel

step 6 of answering how to write a fantasy novel
Answering how to write a fantasy novel

The important thing to know is the points I have suggested are not strict rules that you have to follow. In fact, writing is a process where there can be no rules. In a creative writing class, Brandon Sander had told the students that these discussions are meant to help you when you are stymied. But if it flows freely, don’t be worried about these rules. Just go about writing naturally.

Remember that writing (books of any genre) is a process and not a checklist of things to do.

Mrignayni's tips on how to write a fantasy novel
Mrignayni’s tips on writing a fantasy novel

And finally as I have mentioned time and again that writing (in any form) is actually a process of re-writing. No great work gets done in one draft. You have to keep editing your work again and again to get to the final polished product. Also, do not be a writer and editor at the same time. In that case, you will not be able to write anything at all. And DO NOT IGNORE THIS ADVISE. Write everything as it comes to you naturally. (And this will depend on the extent to which you have internalized your story and characters subconsciously) Close the work and get back to it the next day. Turn an edit, edit the work and resume writing ahead.

Enjoyed the blog? Have something to ask? Did I miss something while answering ‘how to write a fantasy novel ?’ Feel free to comment in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you.

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