Behind the Scenes: What It’s Like Writing Fantasy

Hello to all the Archer’s Aim readers! Today, I thought I would address some questions which I received on Goodreads where someone asked me about my approach is to writing fantasy. While I answered those questions in that format, I’d like to expand upon those in order to do the topic justice.

As you can see from the screenshot, I received a couple of questions from a Goodreads friend, the first being about what it’s like to write fantasy. My first answer is that it’s very challenging, as there are quite a number of details that you need to plan. In such a short sentence, that covers quite a lot. There’s far more to writing speculative fiction than that simple answer. First, you must understand the genre or sub-genre, meaning you must read what you write. I have plans to dip my writing toes into LitRPG so I have to read some of those to understand how those kinds of books are developed, then add my unique approach to it.

Fantasy is always about development, as is science fiction. An author needs to spend plenty of time developing all of the surrounding setting, which is called world-building. This term really means development of setting, background and all that entails what the story covers. An author to get as detailed or remain as broad as possible, depending on the demands of story. For instance, if the plot has a lot to do with language or culture, then I might spend quite a lot more time developing aspects of those topics in order to make sure those are suitably incorporated into the plot. You can easily go overboard on the number of details, however a good rule of thumb is that the more you describe to yourself about your story, the easier it is to develop around your basic plot characters.

Denaria was drawn years ago, one afternoon while I was thinking of all the fascinating lands that could exist in the story.

How an author goes about developing a fantasy world varies greatly. I suppose that the current projects on which I’m working need more world building since I have worked mainly on writing the rough draft (I started backwards since my agent needed samples very quickly). As a consequence, I have developed aspects of each world almost on the fly. I’ve had to come up with names or places off the cuff so I may not have enough details about those setting to satisfy the needs of the story. Going into the editing, I will spend more time world-building and then incorporate those details back into the rough drafts. To my mind, it’s not the best way to actually develop a fantasy story. Instead, I would like to spend time developing all of parts and pieces before I begin my writing. However, I want to develop the world and the plot together so that they are interwoven as a whole. That doesn’t mean that my current works in progress are bad, just in need of some balance to better round them into form.

My short answer to the original question is that writing fantasy is challenging, but it is also quite a lot fun. Because you fantasy is so flexible in terms of what you can put into it, you can take your story almost any direction. The main point, is to make sure you develop a sense of consistency about what can and cannot happen. This means that you must think in terms of how the society works and how it doesn’t work, or how magic works and does not work. It’s always best to put in limitations so that you can easily manage plot without getting out of hand and falling into some gross mistakes in your writing (being painted into a corner means a lot of work to correct the problem). But it’s also important to get a few readers or an editor who are going to challenge your writing so that you can find off as many holes in your development, plot and characterization in order to stitch together for the best quality writing and entertainment for readers.

As I go along with my projects, I’m looking for better ways to world-build so that I can be faster and more thorough at development. The tool that I am trying to start using for my upcoming projects is notebook.ai. This is a web-based tool which you can use to develop all the details of a world. So some of my upcoming books will be developed first on that platform so I will have a good sense of everything I need in order to proceed with writing. My hope is that in the near future I will share some specifics about what I’m doing that can provide some better insights behind the scenes without giving away spoilers.

Thanks for stopping by today. If you are a fantasy writer, please leave your comments about how you approach world-building. If you have more questions as a reader about what goes on behind the scenes please leave in the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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8 comments

  1. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I develop on the fly. I have my storyboard, and it gives me an idea of the setting for each segment. My current WIP exists after a big war, so I’m having some consistency issues, but I have a notes page to help keep it all straight. When I commit to something about the backstory/setting, it helps me develop the next part, because some options were eliminated.

    Liked by 3 people

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