Following the release of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and the Harry Potter book series, the fantasy genre has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity and interest. Fantasy has a rich history in literature, going back to J.R.R. Tolkien and beyond, to the present day onwards. It is a genre open to an unlimited number of interpretations and reimaginations.
All manner of stories can be told in fantasy, from adventurous high fantasy like Lord of the Rings to gritty low fantasy like The Black Company by Glen Cook. Fantasy can be set in modern day, as in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files or they can be set medieval-like worlds like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. There is even room in the genre for outright weird and strange as in the works of China Miéville — Perdido Street Station and King Rat to name a few. They can be about an old warrior going off to fight one last epic battle against an invading horde, as in David Gemmell’s Legend.
There are any and all manner of fantasy stories that have been or will be told. If you have a fantasy story to tell, Xlibris Publishing has tips and suggestions to help you out:
Read a Lot of Fantasy: reading a wide variety of fantasy can really help you as a writer. It shows you what approaches to fantasy have been done, and how they have been handled. It introduces you to a range of writing styles and methods, exposing you to differing point-of-view techniques, sub-genres, and tones of fantasy.
Looking into interviews and autobiographies of your favorite fantasy authors will reveal how they too were influenced by the works of their predecessors and peers. Reading a lot of fantasy can also help you decide where you want to place yourself and your work in the genre.
Research is Critical: some would-be fantasy writers believe that, because you are making up worlds and realities, they do not need to do research. They are very wrong. It is rare for a fantasy author to do well without doing even some research.
Writers interested in working with a medieval fantasy setting would do well read up on what life is like for people in those types of settings, whether they be peasants or nobility. You might be surprised to hear that fully armored knights were actually quite agile in their suits of armor, capable of such actions as mounting a horse or picking themselves off the ground.
What is the technology level of your setting and how have societies and cultures tended to reflect said technology level? What military strategy or tactics would be appropriate to your setting? Questions like these and answering these questions will help give your fantasy grounding and believability: yes, believability.
Xlibris Publishing will return with Part 2.
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By Ian Smith