Fantasy Novel Essentials

“Fantasy Novel Essentials” by Joan Y. Edwards

Let’s say you’re like me. You’re in the midst of writing a fantasy novel Mine could easily fall into the science fiction genre.  Perhaps yours might, too. Tricky business figuring out the essential elements of a fantasy novel. You want to include them to make your story compelling and unforgettable.

To get a better handle on Fantasy genre, read myths, legends, fairy tales, and fables to ground yourself in fantasy worlds. Read best-seller fantasy novels and watch fantasy movies: Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story, Up, Mary Poppins, The Chronicles of Narnia. But what is a fantasy novel?

Don’t Confuse Fantasy with Science Fiction

Cliffs Notes says that Fantasy fiction is frequently confused with science fiction, which might incorporate some of the same tones and themes, but the plot of a science fiction story will also rely on technology that is advanced beyond what we know today.

However, if you do merge the two genres, you’ll get the new speculative fiction genre.

In Science Fiction, it could happen in real life if certain facts were true.  Science fiction is based more on facts of what could happen.

Asimov, who wrote many Science Fiction novels said science fiction should have only one untrue assumption.

I remember following a newspaper comic strip 1952 until 1963 called Twin Earths.  Another planet similar to the earth where women ruled. On this twin earth was someone who looked like you. It seemed so real. It was amazing Science Fiction.

What is a Fantasy novel?

Fantasy takes magic to make something happen.. It could never happen in real life. It could never happen without the magic element.

Sheila M Johnson states that fantasy fiction has three parts: a magical system, imaginary creatures, and a made-up setting.

Storyboard That says Fantasy is characterized by imaginary and unrealistic elements. Fantasies typically involve supernatural powers, like magic and magical creatures.

Now Novel lists five components for the Fantasy genre. They also offer you a way to test your story ideas.

After reading the resources below, I believe you need these four elements for a good fantasy novel.

What Elements Does a Fantasy Novel Contain?

  1. Magic –  creating results through mysterious, unexplained, or supernatural powers. Fantasy stories often have elements of middle ages (Medieval times)  such as castles, knights, kings, magical swords, and references to ancient spells. Give details of the cost, joys, and dangers of magic.  What are the rules for the magic that appears in your story?  What is the cause and effect of the magic? How does it change the  world and the people in it.
  2.  Adventure – dangers and joys of adventure ; gains and losses of change of imaginary creatures or characters
  3. Struggle for Mastery of Self – Using ones own magical powers effectively and wisely for positive or destructive ends . Show character’s unique abilities and limitations. Are the characters animals? Can the animals talk? What other human traits do they have?  is it a fight between good and evil? How does good combat evil forces there? Have the main character solve his problems without using his magical skills.
  4. Setting – Government, culture, religion, historical era,  geography, neighborhood, community, world,  time of day Where is this community that you built? What does the world look like?  How is it different from our world as it is today? Do they use money to purchase things? Or do they trade? Do they allow more than one wife? Are they allowed to marry outside of their community?  Do they protect the old? Do they allow abortion?  Are they allowed to use fossil fuel? What do they do with their garbage? Place/Setting World’s effects on the main character/ main character’s effects on the real world.

Here is food for thought. Study the genre. Write your story. Then figure out what genre or genres it fits into. There are so many sub-genres today. I’m sure they’ll find a place for your story.

References:

  1. Claire Bradshaw. “5 Essential Elements Every Fantasy Novel Needs:” https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/5-essential-elements-every-fantasy-novel-needs/
  2. Creative Writing Now. “How to Write Fantasy”
    https://www.creative-writing-now.com/how-to-write-fantasy.html
  3. Josh Jackson & Paste Books Staff. “50 Best Fantasy Novels of the 21st Century:” https://www.pastemagazine.com/books/fantasy-books/the-50-best-fantasy-novels-of-the-21st-century/
  4. Myth Creants. “Five Essentials of Historical Fantasy:” https://mythcreants.com/blog/five-essentials-of-historical-fantasy
  5. Now Novel. “Best Fantasy Series – 7 Lessons:” https://www.nownovel.com/blog/best-fantasy-series-7-lessons/
  6. Now Novel. “Elements of Fantasy:” https://www.nownovel.com/blog/elements-of-fantasy/
  7. Now Novel. “Fantasy Book Writing Help:” https://www.nownovel.com/blog/fantasy-book-writing-help/
  8. Fine Me an Author. “Fantasy Fiction Genre:” http://www.findmeanauthor.com/fantasy_fiction_genre.htm
  9. Storyboard That. “Fantasy:” https://www.storyboardthat.com/genres/fantasy
  10. Writers Bureau. “Writing a Fantasy Novel:” https://www.writersbureau.com/writing/writing-a-fantasy-novel.htm

I hope this helped you decide a little about what to include in your fantasy novel.  Please leave a comment telling me your favorite fantasy novel and why you like it. What are your secrets to getting the Fantasy genre straight? Have you written a Fantasy work? What’s the title? Whose your favorite character?

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2020 Joan Y. Edwards

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4 thoughts on “Fantasy Novel Essentials”

  1. Thanks Joan.
    Of course, you can call it “Speculative Fiction,” which includes both fantasy and SF.
    Asimov said, a science fiction story should have one, and only one, untrue assumption. His was faster-than-light travel.
    From what you say, fantasy can have more.
    My problem is, my characters always refuse to keep within other people’s expectations, so I tend to write historical scientific fantasy contemporary inspirational fiction that is more true than reality.
    🙂
    Bob

    1. Dear Bob,
      Thanks for writing. I’m thinking we should just write it and give the main category and let others define it as they may. But having the rules for magic is a good idea, I believe. I appreciate you sharing Asimov’s viewpoint of Science Fiction. Where can I find this quote of his?

      Stay safe.
      Be Well.
      Never Give Up
      Joan

  2. Hello Joan, i love both and there both very imaginary, i like using both for my projects, like title Far Away, science fiction, Magic Reborn, fantasy fiction. Joan keep in touch

    1. Dear Billy,
      Thank you very much for writing. You are right both Fantasy and Science Fiction are fun and intriguing genres full of surprises for authors and readers!

      Good luck with your writing!
      Never Give Up
      Joan

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