I’ll admit it--I’m much more into lit fic, classics, biographies, and poetry than I have ever been into fantasy. But that interest has taught me a thing or two about creating characters that hold their pain in the subtlest and most realistic of ways, that feel less like characters and more like people you’d meet on the street, that are flawed and not-necessarily loved, but always devastatingly human.
And it is to my belief that they can be applied to fantasy to make your characters more real--less Divergent and more Six of Crows.
Tolkien started with elvish languages, Margaret Atwood with how her character eats breakfast. And you? You can start anywhere you'd like. In fact, you probably already have. But if you're officially lost on what next? or caught in the muddle of how the architecture of the place makes zero sense with the climate? Wondering what holes there are in the world you've created?
Worldbuilding is strange. Forget about one thing and suddenly your whole society is broken. So take the mnemonic EPIC LANDS (all credit to u/mr_nefarious_ on reddit!):
“The best flash fiction changes my life. Full stop. If a story leaves me with wonder, dread, hope, or disgust, then it has done its work.”
What is flash fiction? At bare minimum, flash fiction is a story under 1,000 words (1,250 if you’re pushing it). But great flash fiction does so much more
Writing novels is a long process. Writing SFF novels can be even longer, especially if your world and cast is a large one, with endless amounts of information to keep track of. But if you have a laptop, the Internet, and some extra patience plus a bit of time, you can set up a whole wiki-brain-dump-directory-thing for your book that's as systematic as you want, and completely free. (While I wish we were actually sponsored by Notion, we are not). This blog post will take you through how I use Notion to keep track of the worldbuilding and pacing in my fantasy novel, Huntsman, as well as how I set it up (and how you can too!), before it grew to what it is today.
Lewis Carroll contributed quite a lot to the world of fantasy. His most well known works include Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, and a personal favorite of mine, Jabberwocky.
Jabberwocky paints a picture of an impressive fantasy world in seven stanzas (closer to six, since the first and last stanzas of the poem are the exact same). The poem retells the story of a young warrior’s quest to hunt and kill a hideous burbling monster dubbed the Jabberwock.
Carroll constructs his fantasy world using a couple different tricks. By breaking down Jabberwocky and analyzing the techniques Carroll implements, we can improve our own world building and expand our tool box as writers
Killing your darlings applies to worldbuilding as it does to most elements of a novel. This post will give three quick tips on how to decide what elements of worldbuilding are needed in your novel and what may have to stay out of the final piece.
Elf, Man, Dwarf, Vampire, Warlock, Dragon, even Ghosts, are all fairly established alien or non-human races of the Fantasy genre. On the side of Science Fiction, however, we have races such as the Formics in Ender's Game, and the Wraith (among others) in Stargate. They're less common, but still there. Non-human races are quite the staple of speculative genres, many settings borrowing and reinventing concepts from each other. But it works.
Writing is an art form. And just like every other art form, there are certain rules to follow. However, a sizable part of being good at a craft is knowing what the rules are, precisely with the purpose of breaking them. Take Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story. Writing rules normally say that an author should only put certain words in italics for emphasis. The Neverending Story often features entire paragraphs or pages in italics. Ende purposely breaks this rule constantly throughout the book, and it never feels like an accident. These paragraphs in italics may break the fourth wall (addressing the reader specifically) or foreshadow future events. In this article, we’ll talk about a few guidelines that fantasy writers follow, and what it means when we go out of our way to ignore them.
Have you ever been enchanted by an author’s description of a forest, landscape, or new world to discover?
Nature is rooted into the fantasy genre, especially high fantasy. The rolling hills of the hero’s journey or the wild forest with untamed magical creatures teem with natural energy.
But nature plays a role in sci-fi too. A common goal in the sci-fi genre is to terraform, to bring life and to seek out new lifeforms and resources.
This article explores what it means to put nature in these genres, and what that says about our own nature.
Every well-written plot needs a well-written conflict. From it’s insurgence to it’s ending, conflict is the foundation for a well-written story. It should be the obstacle between your protagonist and their goal. But oftentimes, fantasy tends to be the home to incredibly complex conflicts. Some extend through a series, some feel like a series to read. So, how do people come up with such detailed conflicts? Is it necessary for your narrative? Let’s delve deeper into conflict as a literary device.