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How to Write a Fantasy Story

Writing your own fantasy story is an incredibly rewarding process. To make the fantasy world seem realistic, describe the setting in detail, create some rules regarding magic and the supernatural, create interesting characters with realistic motives, and then write your story down. Have fun using your imagination to create a world that draws readers in!

Establishing Your Setting

Describe the physical surroundings of your fantasy world.

What does your fantasy world look like? If you want your story to feel realistic, you need to create a clear vision of your world for your readers. Describe the sky, buildings, ground, and flora and fauna to help your readers imagine the world for themselves.

The setting of your story can be as broad or narrow as you like. For example, your story could be set in a town, city, planet, or universe. If your story is set in an actual place, explain this to your readers. For example, the Harry Potter series starts in modern England and transitions to a hidden world.

Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings is a good example of a foreign universe being explained. Incorporate all the senses into your description. What does it smell like, feel like, and look like?

Draw a map, if it's helpful.

Many famous authors included maps of their fantasy worlds in their work, such as JRR Tolkien's map of Middle Earth, to help you imagine the setting. This is particularly useful if your fantasy world has multiple different locations in it or if your story includes a journey from 1 place to another. Draw a map on a piece of paper and include the major landmarks, cities, rivers, oceans, etc.

Draw a series of trees to represent the looming, mysterious forest in your world. Draw a star to represent the capital of each city. Draw ripples of water to indicate rivers, streams, and oceans. Even if you don't include the map in the final copy of your story, it can help you to imagine the setting.

Describe the culture and the political setting of your world.

This gives you great scope to use your imagination. Make note of details such as the political system, the currency used, common cultural practices, and the history of the place. This helps to give your world depth and makes it seem more realistic.

If you are creating your story in an actual place, describe any aspects of the place or culture that deviate from real life.

Decide what level of technology your society has.

Ground your fantasy world in a certain moment in time. If your fantasy worlds take place in the future, invent technological advances to make it seem futuristic. If you're writing something set in a more primitive society, include basic technologies, such as horse and carts instead of cars or hover-boards.

Research the technologies to make them realistic. For example, If you want to incorporate a cure for ageing, read some articles on the process of ageing. Understand how and why ageing occurs so you can depict how it could be paused or stopped altogether in a fashion that feels realistic.

If you want your story to take place in an ancient world, research how past cultures lived.

Making the Rules

Create social conventions if your story is set in a fantasy land.

If you're creating your own world, describe the different social classes and conventions to make your world feel more realistic. Outline any distinct class systems to your reader and describe the common customs and rituals?

Many fantasy writers base social conventions on aspects from the real world. For example, most societies have rituals like birthdays, weddings, funerals, and holidays. Try to think of similar rituals for your own world. How do your characters celebrate growing older, for example? How do they mark death?

Researching other cultures can be a great way to come up with ideas. Many fantasy writers borrow their ideas from older cultures or different cultures. Research rituals from ancient cultures or isolated cultures to help you gain ideas.

Decide how supernatural elements work in your story.

Supernatural elements are key to most fantasy stories. Consider if magic is an accepted part of your fantasy world and if ghosts are real and can interact with humans. Describe the origins of the magic powers. For example, do they come from Gods or Goddesses, are they a natural part of the world, or can they be attained through certain rituals?

If a character's powers are secret, make note of this. For example, if your character can talk to ghosts, is this known by other characters.

Write specific rules for how weapons and supernatural objects work.

Fantasy stories often include advanced weaponry or supernatural objects. If you choose to incorporate such things into your own story, make sure to describe how each object works. In Harry Potter, for example, the wand chooses the wizard. Use rules such as this to make your story to feel credible.

If your characters fight using a particular style of weaponry, do some research. For example, if your main character is an archer, learn about the basic skills and equipment used in archery.

The mechanics of the resurrection stone in Harry Potter is a good example of describing how a magical object works. In order for the resurrection stone to raise the dead. you have to turn it in your hand 3 times while thinking of the deceased relative.

Follow your own rules consistently.

When making rules for your fantasy world, be consistent. Audiences will get frustrated if rules are bendable based on the situation or conflict. Once you establish a rule, do not change it. For example, in the popular fantasy show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, characters can only bring someone back from the dead when that person died of supernatural causes. Therefore, when Tara is killed by a stray bullet, Willow is unable to save her. It's tragic, but it follows the rules set out by the show. This makes the program's fantasy world feel credible.

Write down any rules you establish as you write your story. This will prevent you from inadvertently breaking them later.

Defining Characters

Create non-human creatures to add variation.

This helps to give an extra element of fantasy to your story. Part of the fun of a fantasy world is seeing mythical creatures come to life. Use traditional mythical creatures, such as elves, fairies, ogres, and vampires, or create your own.

If you use traditional mythical creatures, such as vampires or mermaids, establish what these creatures are like in your story, as variations of mythical creatures vary. In Twilight, for examples, vampires can choose not to eat people and sparkle in the daylight. In Buffy, however, the majority of vampires cannot control their tendency towards evil and will die if exposed to sunlight.

This step isn't essential to all fantasy stories. Use your best judgement to decide which characters will work best in your story.

Decide what motivates your characters.

Give your main characters a motivation to help create the conflict and resolution in your story. This motivation could be a goal, the influence of their peers, or their own personal values. Give your characters strengths and flaws that relate to their motivation to give them depth.

For example, perhaps there has been a tsunami in your fantasy land and your main character is desperately trying to save their family.

Ask yourself what each character wants. For example, maybe a character named Ramona was abandoned by her mother. All she wants is a family of her own. She tends to be overly jealous and clingy with her friends, a flaw, but one that's understandable given her abandonment issues.

Create a hero character with pure motives to win over your readers.

Almost all fantasy stories have a hero. Give this character unique strength and determination to help move the plot forward. Position this character to fight the main antagonist and thus solve the central conflict.

Usually, the hero does not realize he or she is special right away. Luke Skywalker does not realize he can use the force until meeting Obi Wan Kenobi. Harry Potter does not know he's a wizard until Hagrid informs him. Try to choose an otherwise ordinary character as your hero. Readers will more easily relate to a character who seems like a mostly normal person.

Try to find ways to foreshadow that the hero is important. The easiest way to do this is to tell the story from the hero's perspective.

Consider including a mentor to give the story depth.

Many fantasy stories feature a mentor, such as Obi-Wan in Star Wars and Hagrid and Dumbledore in Harry Potter. Use your mentor to help guide your hero throughout the story. .

Traditionally, the mentor is someone slightly older than your hero. The mentor generally knows the rules and conventions of the society your hero is navigating and has often known the whole time the hero is special or unique.

Introducing a mentor is a great way to explain the conventions of your world in a manner that does not feel clunky or overly expositional. Think of how awkward Star Wars would be if Luke simply explained the force to the audience. Having Obi-Wan explain it allows the force to be explained smoothly.

Include a memorable villain to make the story compelling.

A villain is an important element of a fantasy story, as it gives the hero someone to fight against. Make the villains motive clear to make the character realistic. For example, in the Lion King, Scar wants to rule the Kingdom and feels inadequate when compared to his brother. This desire for control and his sibling rivalry drives his actions throughout the story.

Audiences will be more moved by your villain's plight if they feel they understand him or her. For example, give your villain a tragic backstory. This can help explain why he or she has turned to evil in the present.

Writing the Story

Outline your story to help you craft it accurately.

Fantasy stories can include a lot of twists and turns, so outlining the general direction of the story can be helpful. Use bullet points to draft the order of the main events in your story. This makes it far quicker and easy to write out your story.

You can use headings and subheadings to help break up your outline. Headings are traditionally marked by Roman numerals and subheadings are marked by lower case letters or numbers. For example, "I. Introduce Ramona, a. Ramona is in the fields working, b. She is interrupted by the spirit of her Aunt Jean."

Introduce the central problem.

Introduce the central problem early on in your story, as this helps to propel your hero into the conflict and eventually allows them to overcome it. For example, Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute in the beginning of Hunger Games and Buffy Summers realizes she has to accept her duty as slayer when her friends are attacked by vampires.

In many fantasy stories, the character leaving home is the turning point. Maybe your character needs to go on a journey. For example, your character could receive news that their mother, who lives in another country, is ill. She has to travel across a desert, smuggling the medicine that's banned in their mother's home across the border.

Develop the hero's story with mini-conflicts.

Each event in the story should help to develop your hero. Use each event and conflict to test your hero's strengths, skills, and special talents. These skills will eventually be used to help overcome the villain.

Pay attention to how this occurs in your favourite fantasy stories. What trials and tribulations does Harry Potter face that help him accept his destiny as the boy who lived? How does Katniss come to accept she has to lead the revolution?

Script multiple mini-conflicts in the lead up to the climax to test your character's strength and helping her use her skills and powers. For example, your character may have to deal with rival smugglers when she attempts to steal medicine.

How to begin a story

You always want to try and engage your readers and make them want to read on. Try starting with a rhetorical question that makes the reader interested and engaged from the first sentence.

Choose an appropriate ending to finish your story.

Create a climax for your story. This normally includes the hero overcoming the villain. Try to tie up emotional loose ends as well, as your audiences will want to see characters grow emotionally during the progression of the story. For example, your character may be reunited with their parents and thus be healed of their abandonment issues.

A fantasy story can have a happy or sad ending. You can end with the hero winning or losing. You can also end with a partial victory where some evil has been defeated, but there are still unresolved conflicts. This can be particularly useful if you want to write a sequel, as there will still be challenges left for your hero to face.

It is helpful to outline your book ahead of time. Try to think of the big climax before you start writing, then think of all the different ways to resolve the problem presented by the climax. Then, as you're outlining, wait until the plot seems to be winding down, bring the book to a satisfying conclusion that wraps up all the loose ends. Unless you're writing a sequel - in that case, either leave the book with a cliffhanger, or leave it with a few loose ends that you can wrap up in later books.


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