Fantasy Writing Tips for Fantasy Fiction Writers 

  Subscribe to our
Free Newsletter!




Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy

Fantasy Writer's Companion


Top Eight Rules For Writing Fantasy
By Melissa Kelly

So you want to write a fantasy novel? You love the work of so many fantasy writers and you have a partially formed idea about an elf, a dwarf, and an odd love triangle. Where to begin? The answer is the first of my eight rules for writing fantasy. Enjoy!

Begin with the world.
Creating the world where your fantasy novel is set is one of the most important parts of creating a successful fantasy novel. And this world must be pretty fleshed out before you move on to the next step. Why you ask? Because just as earth has specific rules that cannot be violated without explanation (for example, the law of gravity), your world will have laws too. It will also have its own geography, weather patterns, animals, and races of people and/or other fantasy creatures. If you jump right in and begin writing your fantasy novel without any consideration for these rules, you will find yourself in a situation where you will need to rewrite carefully to avoid any contradictions once your world has been fully created.

Create maps.
These can be very general except in the areas where the action will be taking place. Maps help lend depth to your story as you write. Your details will tend to be more grounded.

If your world is going to include any form of magic, then you must create the rules for its use before writing about it. You must decide its limits, its costs, its required actions, its possible uses, etc. Only by creating the rules of magic will its use make sense and seem believable.

If you are going to have different races living in your world, then you will need to create a history and a description for the characteristics of these races. You will also need to know how people of different races treat each other. If there are prejudices between races you will need to have an understanding of why these exist. The detail of your history and descriptions will be based on how much you will be using a person of that race in your story.

Characterizations must be made from the point of view of the fantasy world. You can’t take a person from 21st century earth and transplant them to the world unless that is the whole point of the story. Otherwise, the character will not be believable.

Your story will probably revolve around a theme. One of the most common themes is good vs. evil though there are many to choose from. Once you decide on your theme, try to avoid making overt statements concerning it at all costs. Let the reader learn about the theme and make conclusions on their own. Don’t make conclusions for them. You don’t want to be preachy – this is a huge turn off for readers.

Beware of deus ex machina. This term refers to an unexpected and improbable solution to a problem in your story. Think of it like the hand of God which suddenly shows up to fix the problems that you as a novelist created and can’t now resolve. These artificial resolutions are death to a fantasy novel.

Stay away from fantasy clichés unless that is something that you require for your novel (i.e., you are writing a fantasy spoof). You don’t want to have readers groaning over something you’ve written. Dwarves with long beards who love mithril and hate elves, elves who are long, willowy, and haughty, and short-lived humans who just want to fight and have fun – it seems I’ve read all of that before….

I wish you the best of luck as you create the next great fantasy novel. I can’t wait to read it!!!

Melissa Kelly is a published author who loves all things fantasy. You can read more of Melissa’s thoughts about fantasy writing, books, and movies and participate in weekly fantasy polls at her website:


| Home | Site Map | Articles | Links |
Fantasy Market Listings | Book Store | Fantasy Store |
About Us | Contact Us |

Fiction Factor Main Site
    © Copyright 2000-2010 Fantasy.Fiction
Fantasy.Fiction is a subsidiary of the FictionFactor Group
All work remains the property of Fiction Factor, unless expressly granted by written permission from the author. Individual articles remain the sole property of the original author.