Thursday, May 02, 2013

Karina Fabian Shares Five Rules for Writing Fantasy

Five Rules for Writing Fantasy

By Karina Fabian, author of

Fantasy should be the easiest thing to write, correct?  After all, anything can happen.  Only your imagination limits what goes on in the story.  Free reign!  Go wild!

In reality, fantasy doesn’t quite work that way.  Every story still needs to have an element of believability or the fantastic simply becomes chaos and confusion, which turns off readers.  Also, to write stories that compete in the market, you need to write to the level of the competition—and that means knowing the rules they follow and how and when to break them in a way that entices rather than repels readers.  To that end, I present you five basic rules for fantasy:

#1.  Internal logic.  Every universe has rules.  Make sure yours does, too.  That means, if you have magic, you need to know how it works, at least in general terms.  What powers it, what can it do, what can’t it do, and what are the consequences?  Anything that happens in your world has to make sense according to your world—or there has to be an acknowledgement of the broken logic.  Otherwise, you get stream-of-consciousness events along the lines of two children playing.  Remember Calvinball, where Calvin and Hobbes kept changing the rules to suit them?  Inevitably, they ended up in a fight.  Readers don’t fight, though—they just put the book down and walk away.

#2.  Know your genre.  I know the standard wisdom is “Don’t write in a genre you don’t read.”  I’ve broken that rule a time or two; in fact, some of my most successful writings have been in a genre I am not a big fan of.  However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn about the genre first.  Read some books similar to what you’re going to write and look for the elements that separate them from other genres.  You may also discover a new genre you enjoy!  Before I wrote the short story, “DragonEye, PI,” my knowledge of noir was from Whose Line is It, Anyway skits.  Now, I love to pop in an old noir movie.  I get lots of ideas for the DragonEye characters from watching them as well.  My current book, Greater Treasures: a DragonEye Novella, came to me after watching The Maltese Falcon.  (It was in the Amazon Top 100 for urban fantasy in April.  

#3 Avoid Mary Sues.  My daughter insisted I include this one.  Wikionary describes a Mary Sue as “A fictional character, usually female and especially in fanfic, whose implausible talents and likeableness weaken the story.”  It’s an easy trap to fall into when the presence of magic can give your character anything with a swish-and-flick.  Watch your character development.  Give her (or him) real flaws that get them into real trouble.  

#4 It’s about the story.  Regardless of how fanciful and fun your world is, if you don’t anchor it in a sound story, you will lose your audience.  Fantasy still follows the roller coaster rule—increasing highs and lows that crescendo into a fantastic ending.  Another way to put it:  run your characters up a tree, have dogs snapping at its base.  Throw rocks.

#5 Have fun!  Even with the rules, fantasy is a great genre to write in because so much can happen.  Only your imagination limits what your characters look and act like, what strange things go on in your world, or how people act and react.  (Just remember the internal logic rule, though).  Piers Anthony had a tree that grew shoes.  Terry Pratchett had a world on a disk balanced by four elephants rising on the celestial turtle.  What will your world have? 
Karina Fabian is the author of Great Treasures, a new book in the DragonEye series of novels and stories.
Being a private detective in the border town of the Faerie and Mundane worlds isn’t easy, even for a dragon like Vern.   Still, finding the wayward brother of a teary damsel in distress shouldn’t have gotten so dangerous.  When his partner, Sister Grace, gets poisoned by a dart meant for him, Vern offers to find an artifact in exchange for a cure.  However, this is no ordinary trinket—with a little magic power, it could control all of mankind.  Can Vern find the artifact, and will he sacrifice the fate of two worlds for the life of his best friend? Buy it at :
Pages: 130
SBN-13: 978-1484848296
SBN-10: 1484848292 ASIN B00CEH934G
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor

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