Fantasy books are a popular genre with readers and among BookWorks authors. Book of the Week author, Amie Irene Winters, stepped up to share her experience as a fantasy writer, in the hope that those of you who share her love of all things magical will be inspired to pursue your own self-publishing goals. Thanks, Amie...
It wasn’t until I stopped writing for the market and started writing what most appealed to me that I realized I was writing fantasy. And the more I wrote, the more I loved spinning tales about magic, other worlds, and supernatural creatures. Simply put, I was completely in love with the limitless possibilities for imagination. But how does one write a fantasy book exactly? Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned on my publishing journey:
Be a Fantasy Book Fan
Write what you love. If you genuinely love fantastical things and stories, it will show. You’ll also be more likely to create an original story since you’ll have a good idea of what’s already been done.
Read Fantasy Books
Not all fantasy books are 5,000 pages long. Not all are cheesy. Not all have orcs. There are actually dozens of fantasy sub-genres. Find the sub-genre that inspires you and study the popular books in that category. See what those authors have done and how they did it. While writing my debut novel, Strange Luck, I was reading several Neil Gaiman books, The Neverending Story, The Princess Bride, The Maze Runner, and lots of H.P. Lovecraft. These groundbreaking fantasy books really pushed me to expand the boundaries of my imagination. Plus, they are so much fun to read! It also doesn’t hurt to watch fantastical movies to help inspire your creativity.
Do Your Research
If your story is completely fantastical, anything goes, so have fun with it! Do you want to have a character who shoots rainbows out of her eyes? Go for it! Why not? It’s your story and as a fantasy author, you have the power to create something original and imaginative. However, if your story is set in a specific period of history, like medieval times, research medieval life and get your facts straight (e.g., types of clothing, food, décor, etc). If something magical happens in the story, like a sword that doesn’t behave like a real one, be sure to explain its extraordinary properties.
Map Out Your World
Planning a magical world is hard work. Mapping your world with pen and paper will help you write about places and their characteristics more accurately. If you’re more advanced, use map making software. Including a finished map in your book or on your website is an awesome extra for readers.
Establish and Stick To Your Rules
Figure out the rules of magic in your story, including limits. If a character can do absolutely anything, then there will be no suspense or struggle and your story will flop. Let your readers know what the most important rules are and be sure to follow them. Let your protagonist conquer obstacles and solve problems based on his or her abilities.
Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones—they’ve all been done. Be creative and use your imagination to invent something never seen before. Remember, it’s fantasy, so anything goes!
Keep Things Moving
It can be so much fun to conjure up worlds and creatures with their own histories, geography, and supernatural rules, but sometimes these details can overshadow the actual story, leaving you with a lot of awesome detail, but with a story where nothing is happening. Your main character(s) should have a goal or problem that they need to solve. Throw in some complications and you’re on your way!
Get Feedback From Trusted Readers
The most important piece of advice I can give any author is to have other people look at your work. No matter how many times you’ve reviewed your story, there will ALWAYS be an inconsistency or error. That’s just what happens when you’re so close to something. Give your book to family and friends to read and ask for their honest opinions. Once you’ve ironed out some bugs, give it to people who love to read fantasy books and see what they think. If you’re struggling to find people to read your story, join a local writer’s group or look for one online. (You can also hire a beta-reader.) Once you’ve ironed out any remaining issues, it’s time to hand it over to a professional editor. (Don't skip this step...NO ONE can effectively edit their own work...not even professional editors!)
Good Luck and Have FUN!
Good luck on your fantastical writing journey! And please share your experiences or questions in the comments section below. I'd love to hear from you.
Amie Irene Winters was born and raised in California but now lives and writes in western Pennsylvania. She is the author of the best-selling Strange Luck series. When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dog, baking desserts, or breaking a sweat in kickboxing class.
To learn more about Amie and her books, visit amieirenewinters.com
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