A few days ago I said that I would write a review on Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch. I have decided not to do that because if I did I am sure that it would end up turning into a long rant about everything that I found annoying. I do like some of the premises explored in the book and the magic system that the author created but these things are hidden behind flat characters, things that make no sense to me, and a kingdom system where literally all the kingdoms are twisted in some way except for three.
After reading the book I thought long and hard. I came to the conclusion that fantasy is a hard genre to write. I’m not saying that its the hardest because to me either science fiction or historical fiction would fit that role because of all the research that has to be done to make it accurate to real life. Fantasy instead is difficult to write because of the lack of research. Because of this fantasy writers create everything from scratch while maybe adding a few details from our world to make things more relatable. This means that writers can create characters and concepts for their worlds out of nothing but some inspiration. Sometimes there is more thought put behind these ideas but this can happen.
Anything goes for the world that you decide to write in. The problem here lies in the fact that you have to make everything in the world make sense in a way the reader can understand. Your world can have its own logic and everything. Just look at the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Here we have a world where a whole planets worth of people lives on top of a giant disc which is on top of four giant elephants which are in turn on top of a giant turtle that flies through space. This sounds ridiculous out of context but in the context of Discworld it makes perfect sense because Terry Pratchett has successfully created his own system of logic to make the happenings of his novels make sense to the reader. So even though some of the things that you write about don’t exist you still have to make it seem like they could exist.
Magic systems work similarly like the worlds. Anything goes. Magic can be used to explain almost anything from how a character knows more than they should to how a character is seen in scenes after they die. You can go overboard with magic in your world. When you use it to explain everything or it makes one character far stronger than any of the other characters you have gone too far. The world and characters you have created are now weak since they are simply being controlled by the magic. A good magic system either has an exclamation behind why it exists or enhances the strength of the world and characters. J K Rowling did a good job of creating a magic system that adds to the characters in Harry Potter.
The world is saturated with fantasy novels and stories. Its not as bad as with romance novels. I think that since fantasy is literally anything that contains stuff that both doesn’t currently exist and stuff that can never exist in our world people see it as an easy genre to write. I see a lot of fantasy novels that haven’t gone past the minor inspiration and development stage at the beginning. There are a lot of good fantasy novels such as those written by Patrick Rothfuss and George R R Martin. The difference between the good novels and the bad novels is the amount of thought that has been put into their world and characters.
To write fantasy well put a lot of thought into it. Ask yourself a lot of questions such as whether or not something makes sense. If it doesn’t think of ways that you can make it make sense. Choose the idea that makes the most sense to you. With characters think about their every action and whether or not it sounds like it would be something they would do. If its not maybe their is a reason for your character acting out of character or maybe you are forcing them into situations they would never be in.
And one final thing before I finish writing this post. Don’t hold the hand of your writer when you are writing fantasy. You may be excited to explain certain aspects of your world to your readers but don’t over explain things. I saw in Ice Like Fire and the first book in that series some small things were explained regularly. For instance the Winterians had a saying based off of their country. When they went to Cordell and someone said “golden leaves” as a swear it was explained even though it didn’t need to be. You can tell that each kingdom has a saying based off of their kingdom. The reader would have found out the reason for this swear soon anyways. Its just plain annoying.
So this has been why I think fantasy is a genre that is difficult to write. If you want something that is much easier to write well write a story based in our world set today near where you live. You should know most of the small details that will show up in your story. You may need to do some research but since its set near where you live any research can be done using old area records, maps, or exploration without having to go too far. Remember what I have written here next time you decide to write fantasy. Also these are my opinions so if you disagree with them rather than insulting me in the comments explain why you disagree. I am also not an expert on writing but I don’t think there are many people who would claim to be such a thing.