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Five Tips For Planning A Fantasy Novel

If you want to write a fantasy novel then follow these planning tips!

Writing a fantasy novel is great fun – you can, literally, let your imagination run wild. It’ a little different to writing a novel set in the real world as, unlike books set in reality where you can use real life as examples, you’ll have to invent everything in your new fantasy world. So how do you get started? Well, read the five tips below and you’ll be on your way to having a great fantasy novel:

Tip 1. Read as many classics as you can find! This’ll give you a good idea about what works and what does not. But, take care not to simply copy the ideas you’ve read. If you find yourself dealing with elves, half-lings and orcs whilst being a reluctant hero on a quest to destroy a powerful item, it’s probably best to scrap it and start again. It is true that all stories are a combination of those the reader has encountered over the years. But, you should always try to find an original angle and it certainly should not be obvious what the source material was. Reading the classics will also allow you to discover how well-crafted characters interact with each other as the story progresses.

Tip 2. Use established myths and legends as the basis for your fantasy world. Think about what your fantasy world might be like. Is it most like a celtic, roman or medieval world, or something else entirely? Once you’ve chosen, go and read about the myths and legends relate to it. The mythological creatures and characters and their stories will give you a great basis for your new world.

Tip 3. Get to know your imaginary world – you need to be able to describe it in detail if you are going to convince your readers, for the duration of the book at least, that it exists. Some things to think about:

  • Physical – what does your fantasy world look like? Think about and make a note of:

    • the colour of the sky
    • what other planets can be seen from the surface
    • whether the air is breathable
    • what the plants look like
    • what creatures live there
    • whether there are seas
    • what the landscape looks like

  • Residents – decide who lives in your newly formed fantasy world. You should spend time thinking about how they look, what they eat, how they move, whether they need sleep, how they speak to one another, and so on.

  • Society – what kind of society exists? Do they need money to buy things? Is there a complex system of politics they follow? Do they have a police force, a king or president? Is there a religion?

  • Special powers/magic – Do the residents have any special powers or use magic? If so, what are they and why do they exist? Does everyone have use of them or only certain people?




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Lizbeth Crawford"My debut novel, Hate To Love You, by Elise Alden (my pen name for contemporary and historical romance), received three offers of publication. I went with Harlequin Carina Press.

"So, thank you Writers Bureau, to which I am extremely grateful. The Novel and Short Story course gave me the tools I needed to write my first novel."

Lizbeth Crawford


Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

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