What if you had the power to create your own world? What would your heroes look like, and what would their names be? In this article we’ll guide you through some of the basics of writing a fantasy story.
How to Write a Fantasy Story
A fantasy story is a story that features magical or supernatural elements as a plot device. Some of the most successful books, movies, and television shows rely on fantasy as a primary plot device.
One of the most popular literary works in history – and one that is still in wide distribution today – is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
There are many different kinds of fantasy, and each has its own unique traits. Here are some of the most common types of fantasy:
Arabian Nights tales – These stories come from a collection of folk tales from Arabic nations.
They were first told over a thousand years ago, and though they originated in oral tradition, they have been published in books for centuries. The Arabian Nights depict many varied types of fantasy, including magic and flying carpets.
Fairy tales – This type of fantasy stems from early childhood and the imagination, and in most ways it is a step away from reality.
Fairy tales are intended to be imaginative stories that do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, or nationality. Some of the most popular fairy tale stories include “The Wizard of Oz,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Pinocchio.”
Greek mythology – In many ways, Greek mythology is one of the earliest forms of fantasy.
The Olympians, such as Zeus, Poseidon, and Hephaestus were gods, but they fought alongside humans and had human weaknesses like jealousy and greed. These heroes have influenced the fantasy genre for thousands of years.
Narnia – A series of books written by C.S. Lewis that tell a Christian allegory augmented with fantasy creatures and lore.
Fantasy literature is replete with a wide variety of ideas, characters, and settings. The genre has changed over the centuries as new writers put their own spin on the genre.
Today, new fantasy books are published each year, and many have become part of popular culture. Some of the most famous fantasy books include “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and “Harry Potter.”
What Makes A Good Fantasy Story?
The best fantasy stories are the ones that are able to transform the imagination of the reader. In fact, reading a good fantasy is practically an addiction.
There is something incredibly satisfying in immersing yourself into a world where humans can travel at faster-than-light speeds, and where they can develop relationships with mythical creatures like dragons.
A fantasy story doesn’t have to be complex to make it great. In fact, the most popular fantasy books are often written in an incredibly simple style.
Many of them are written in third person, past tense. They also often include basic life issues that readers can understand.
In some cases, writing a fantasy story is easier than writing a contemporary story, because it’s possible to leave out many of the details and supporting characters that don’t serve to advance the plot.
Fantasy writers can take bigger risks with their plot lines, introduce more daring characters, and write about places they’ve never seen.
How to begin a fantasy novel – What is a good opening sentence for a fantasy story?’
“There was a forest in the middle of the city.”
That’s a great start! Immediately the reader is wondering what is up.
- Is there a magic forest?
- Is it an enchanted forest?
- How big is the city, and
- What kind of city is it?
We’re hooked, and we don’t know why.
- Where is the city?
- What kind of people live there?
- What kind of forces are there that threaten the city?
We begin the story with the basic element of all great stories – the reader must want to know what happens next.
This is achieved by not letting the reader know enough to feel they are lost, but also not giving them too much information.
The characters, settings and point of view should be chosen carefully to set a tone and mood for the story. The first thing we must consider when writing a fantasy story is what type of story it will be.
Readers want to be entertained, and they want to be surprised. They also like to read about new worlds or universes that are entirely different from the one they live in.
What are some common settings for fantasy stories?
Fantasy stories can take place in a variety of settings. Common settings for fantasy stories include:
Swords and sorcery – This is the most common setting for fantasy stories, and it’s perhaps the oldest type of fantasy story.
In this setting, magic is used as a weapon, and many times it is used to accomplish impossible tasks that would otherwise be unachievable.
These types of stories are typically adventure or action oriented and they often feature swordsmen, wizards, or other types of warriors.
This is very similar to an adventure story, but they also include romantic elements. They are perhaps the most popular form of fantasy stories today, and much of the best fantasy literature is filled with this type of story.
Fairy tales – A more fantastical take on fairy tales, these stories are usually set in imaginary worlds that mirror our own. Fairies, elves, and trolls are often featured in these types of stories.
Fantasy stories that play off of old fairy tales tend to have a lot of humor, because some of the most popular fairy tale characters become comic relief characters, or even villains.
By contrast, fantasy stories that are based on old fairy tales can be harder to grasp. The reader has probably watched a lot of Disney films about these types of stories, so it can be difficult to come up with new ideas and new plot lines that are as captivating as the ones that were already used in the past.
Where does the word “fantasy” come from?
The word “fantasy” comes from the Latin word “fantasia,” which means “to make a story up.” In fact, the word is Latin for “make-believe.” This is actually the root of many words related to fiction, including fictional and fabrication.
What are the different kinds of magic in fantasy books and movies?
The types of magic in many fantasy stories are limitless, but there are some that are used more than others. Here is a list of the most common types of magic seen in fantasy stories:
Herbs and potions – Herbs and potions are sometimes said to have magical powers. This type of magic is often said to be used for healing purposes, but it can also be used to cause harm or poison someone.
This is the most common type of magic in fantasy stories, and while many people are familiar with it, most do not know exactly what it means.
A lot of fantasy books and movies do make reference to potions and herbs, but it is important to note that while these types of tales are similar, they are not the same.
Sorcery – Sorcery is actually a type of black magic that involves forcing someone to do something against their will. This is also known as spell magic, and it is often used in fantasy films and stories to make characters do things they do not want to do.
Some famous examples are when the character is forced to commit murder. Some of these magical stories also use witchcraft.
Sorcery can also be used to create spells that are supposed to work for good as well, but some evil characters will use it for their own personal gain, so they may cause more harm than good with this type of magic.
Black magic – Black magic is an evil type of magic that is used to do bad things to others. This type of magic can be used for selfish or evil purposes and can also do harm to characters.
It is also sometimes connected with witchcraft. Witches and sorcerers are often portrayed as black haired females in fantasy stories, and this is a common misconception that people have about these characters.
There are actually many different types of specialty spells, but these four categories give insight into the types most commonly seen in fantasy stories.
How do I write my own magic spells in a book or movie? (How to Add Magic to Your Story)
Since this is a common theme in fantasy books and movies, fantasy authors and screenwriters are often asked how they came up with the idea for different types of magic spells. The following are some of the most commonly used ideas for different types of spells:
Normality/Ritual: In real life, magic often comes from being able to do something that isn’t normal. The invention or discovery of new technology is an example. But magic can also come from ritual or performance.
By performing a certain set of movements, certain words, or chanting a certain spell one can confidently say that they ARE able to do something that’s not supposed to be possible.
The ritualistic aspect is an important part of magic and it works through willpower. Having done this enough times, you develop a kind of confidence and security that lets you say “I can do this; I’m safe”.
Incantations play a big role in magic in fantasy stories because they are used to cast spells. For instance, in the Harry Potter books, the incantation for the person to open a locked door is “Alohamora”.
The incantations are meant to be chants that one can immediately repeat over and over again until a magical result happens.
When to Use Magic In Your Fantasy Story
Tempting though it is, magic shouldn’t be used as an easy way out in a story. It can give a story a more interesting and dramatic feel, but it should be used to strengthen the plot. Sometimes magic tricks are just part of an overused plot device that doesn’t always in every fantasy story.
Magical abilities are usually handed out to the protagonist for no good reason. The character is a particular hero type who is already special, and they get magical powers to make them even better than they already were.
Writing a fantasy novel world building – When to include fantasy creatures
There are two kinds of fantasy creatures – the helpful, friendly kind and the evil, bad kind.
Examples of the helpful, friendly kind: Good fairies and elves populate fantasy stories more than any other type of creatures.
They are usually portrayed as curious, helpful creatures who can bestow magical abilities and powers on the main character. Wizards are also common in fantasy stories because they have magical powers.
Examples of the evil, bad kind: Dragons are the most common example of an evil fantasy creature. There are several different types of dragons in stories and movies that range from friendly to very hostile toward humans.
Like magic, they should be used sparingly and blend in with the plot. They shouldn’t be an excuse for a series of un-interruptable action sequences. The action and adventure has to be natural and organic to the story or it will become unbelievable and silly.
How to write a good fantasy novel – How Do I Create a Unique World?
The number one rule is to know your world. The author needs to know the rules of the world so it can be portrayed properly.
- What is it like to live there?
- Who lives there?
- How are they different from Earth?
- Are they similar or different from humans?
The more the author knows about the world, the easier it will be for them to write about it.
Creating a fictional fantasy story requires a lot of imagination, which is why fantasy writers often have a wild imagination and are good daydreamers.
What Should My Characters Be Like?
The basic characters are the same in every story – you need a hero that the audience will like, a villain, and an object that the hero needs to retrieve. In fantasy stories, the basic characters can be combined in many different ways.
The reader must love the hero and absolutely loathe the villain. There must be a goal for the hero to complete and something for them to fight for.
The object that they are trying to retrieve can be one of many things or it can even be their own life.
The higher the stakes, the better the story.
How Can I Lead Them On A Journey?
The Hero’s Journey is a classic structure for all good novels. An inciting incident forces the hero to make a choice.
- Shall I go or not?
- What will they do when they reach the goal?
- Will they be successful or will they fail completely?
Their journey must lead them to a greater understanding of themselves and the world around them.
What Role Should Dialogue Play In My Story?
Many authors have created a completely new language or way of speaking that leads the story.
Instead of using “English” as the spoken language of the story, they will use a fantasy language. This allows them to make new words for things that are fairly common, but can also be very creative.
It can also bring a lot more realism to the story because it is based on how people actually speak. In this type of writing, actions are portrayed in a way that can be understood by most people who read it.
How Can I Bring My Hero/Heroine To Life?
Show their struggles through great emotion and their reactions to the things that happen to them.
Their emotions are what fans will really connect with. Their struggles and emotions are what make an audience want to read on.
The reader wants to relate to the hero. They ARE the hero while they are reading the book. They are placing themselves in the same situation and feeling what the hero is feeling. This is how the reader gets emotionally involved with the story.
What Kind of Trouble Should I Throw At Her?
Everything you can, the more severe the better. You want to build up the suspense and keep your readers on the edge of their seats, but you still want your hero to come out on top in the end. Keep them in trouble and make them earn their happy ending.
Each obstacle should be worse and more dangerous than the last. Make the hero fight through their problems and climb to the top of the mountain that they’ve been trying to reach.
What Are The Most Important Tips For Fantasy World Building?
- Give your protagonist a quest
- Create good villains – maintain balance between the protagonist and antagonist
- Explain or invent a world that’s different from ours, but make it believable
- Include magic tricks as part of an overused plot device
- Create a special environment for your characters to use
- Include fantasy creatures, some helpful and some evil
- Introduce your characters to a journey that will be an important part of the story
- Intensify the situation after each event/chapter
How long does it take to write a fantasy novel?
Fantasy stories are often set in an alternative world that is different from our own, so writing fantasy novels can take a long time to write. Some writers spend years researching and making sure that they have the right plot line for their story.
It is also important to make sure that the story makes sense and that it has a good idea behind it. The characters need to be well-developed, and the story needs to have a strong structure.
For some reason, fantasy novels tend to be longer than other types of stories. A lot of the reasoning behind this may be that fantasy stories focus more on the setting than other kinds.
Fantasy novels can vary in length from a few hundred pages to close to a thousand. As long as it is well-written and moves the story forward, then it doesn’t really matter how long it is.
Writers who write in different lengths often disagree on how long their books should be, so there is no set formula for writing a particular length for your story.
It’s also very common for fantasy authors to write a series of books. Many fantasy authors write several books in a series and continue on from one book to the next.
Fantasy writing is a well-liked literary genre because it is used for various types of stories, and these stories are meant for people of all ages.
Fantasy is one of the most creative genres that can be seen today in books and movies. Many people love to read about the magic and mystery that surrounds all fantasy stories.
13 Top Publishers Specializing In Fantasy Novels
- Jo Fletcher Books
- Literary Wanderlust
- Tell-Tale Publishing
- Small Beer Press
- Tanglewood Publishing
- Escape Publishing
- Cosmic Egg Books
- Blind Eye Books
- Polis Books
- Severed Press
- Entangled Publishing
- Chaosium Inc.
- Flame Tree Publishing