I was wondering if you could tell me what makes up a good fantasy story?
That is such a subjective… subject… that I’m not sure I can give you a definitive answer, but not for not trying.
So I’m going to give you a few suggestions based on what I’ve seen work effectively.
- Anti-Hero. Include an antihero in your story. These are usually very dynamic characters that are really getting a solid following. They aren’t usually bad and they don’t really fall into what we typically consider good. Basically they wind up being good guys because of the situation or narrative.
- Show don’t tell. Use metaphor and comparison to describe what characters are seeing, what’s more, keep the descriptions to a minimal. Let the reader put the pieces together or have the characters react to what’s around them instead of just describing it.
- FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T PREACH! This cannot be understated. It is a major turn off for me and 100% of the time causes me to throw the book across the room and demand a refund. If you’re trying to insert a political viewpoint, include it in your writing. Make it situational and show how said stance affects the characters. Having someone break the 4th Wall and go on a preachy soapbox monologue will take readers out of your writing. This is especially damaging in this day and age where politics is literally FORCED into every asset of our lives. See my previous post on this topic.
- Make your story interesting, and keep it that way! At the very least, you should establish your hook within the first 3 pages if not the first few lines, and then go through the motions. Just remember to finish strong! A strong, satisfying ending can make or break your book. If your book has an incredible ending, any boring parts that basically feel like filler, will soon be seen as build-up with an awesome pay off, so it works to your advantage on many levels.
- If you’re going to focus on one character, make it the villain. There are many ways to do this… you could create an anti-villain instead of an anti-hero or a tragic villain. People love a good villain and I even have stated that a good villain can mean the difference between a good story and a bad story. See my previous post on villains.
- Focus more on substance, less on word count. This pretty much speaks for itself.
- Make your characters dynamic. Your characters need vices, people need to be able to relate to them. If you make them cookie cutter, they’ll be stale and uninteresting.
- Create rules to your universe and STICK TO THEM! If magic exists in your world, set limits on it. Make sure that it’s clearly established what magic can and CANNOT do. The same must be said for other plot devices and character behaviors. God characters and deus ex machinas equals a loss of readership.
So hopefully this helps Sarah. Readers, anything else you feel helps a story? Let her know in the comments.
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
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Catch you on the flip side!