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Fantasy Novel Essentials

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.


  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”
  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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What Is a First Page?

“What Is a First Page?” by Joan Y. Edwards

The first page is not to be mixed up with the Title Page, Copyright page, or Dedication page.

What is a first page?

  • A first page is the magnet that brings a reader in.
  • It’s the hook that brings your reader into your story and keeps him there.
  • It’s the grabber that yanks him with words and emotion so strong that he can’t set himself free, until the problem is solved at the end of the book.
  • It’s the trap that holds readers inside the pages of the book.
  • It’s the enticement to stay a little longer in this make-believe world
  • It sells the rest of your manuscript

At the most, depending upon the genre, a first page double-spaced could be 250 words.

What does the First Page Do?

What makes a great first page? It tells who, what, when, where, and why should I care? Hmm. You say. That sounds like the same thing that should be in a pitch. Yes. You’re right.  I venture to say that each page in a book should contain something about leading up to the solution of the problem or the making it worse.

A first page hints of the dilemma facing the main character.
Tells the inner and outer conflict of the main character.
Tells the setting. A sense of place – are you in the air, on the ground.
Tells the time. When you read it, you know by the first page whether it is 100 years ago or sometime in the same century as you. A sense of time of day or night.
Why should the reader care? It pulls you in with emotions that a reader can identify with.

Just for comparison and enlightenment: Let’s look at the first pages of three of your favorite top-selling books in the genre you have chosen to write in.

You get your books in front of you or go to the Amazon link to its first page.

What must a first page have? A main character, setting, time, goal, and obstacle/opposing force/villain.

Wait. That’s not all. On this first page you must also give emotional pull on the reader that shows him why he should care.

Look at 3 first pages. Have the books open to the first page or click on Amazon where they show you the first page of this best-selling book.

Print out the first page of the manuscript you’re ready to send off to a critique group, editor, or agent.

Look at the first page of the story  in Chapter One. Look for the things a first page has:

  • Main character
  • Setting
  • Time
  • Goal
  • Obstacle
  • Emotional pull (Why Should I Care? Universal Emotion)

Chances are they’ve given you hints of the major problem in the story. What’s at stake for the main character? Life? Death? Success? Fame? Fortune?

Does your first page have Pizzazz? Raise curiosity in the reader?

Can your readers relate to the main character? Feel for him? Cheer for him? Be scared with him? Cry with him?

If your manuscript lacks this emotional tug at the heartstrings of your reader, add it. When an agent or editor can’t get your character out of their heads is when you have them, hook, line, and sinker!

Good luck with your publishing dreams. Keep unwavering faith in you and your stories.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it inspires you.

Never Give Up!
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards