The Essential Elements in Every Fantasy Novel 
Thu, April 22, 2021

The Essential Elements in Every Fantasy Novel 

Fantasy novels are popular among fans and authors alike because of the boundless potential the genre has for storytelling / Photo by: Nicoleta Ionescu via Shutterstock

 

Fantasy novels are popular among fans and authors alike because of the boundless potential the genre has for storytelling. There are millions of story ideas that can be explored and it’s already been proven through the years by fantasy genre greats like “The Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien, “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin, and J.K. Rowling of the “Harry Potter” series. 

What about you, who are starting off a career in writing, not knowing how to tackle your very first fantasy novel idea? Well, here’s a list of essential things you need to incorporate in your story and enrich it. 

 

Magic (Or At Least a System Similar to It) 

Most fantasy novels have magic—that much is true, but not all of it needs to be based on magic. See, the wonder of writing fiction, in general, is that you have the freedom to make everything you want how you want it. And the system may not be magic per se, but it’s almost always a kind of it. According to The Creative Penn, a writing blog run by author Joanna Penn, a magic system or simply a system is usually used in fantasy novels to establish how mystical things happen in the world you are building. 

Penn described the difference in certain magic systems where some characters read spells aloud, some eat various things to complete the effect of certain spells, and some magic is usually restricted or let loose by where they come from and how exactly they are used. Added Writer’s Edit, a young online literary magazine created especially for writers and book lovers, the key is making an “innovative, intriguing magic system” so that your novel stands out in the market. The fantasy genre, after all, is quite popular, which means everyone capable has tried their hands on it. 

Well-Crafted World 

It is often said that the king of world-building is none other than Tolkien, the mind behind one of the greatest fantasy franchises of all time. His talent in creating a different yet totally believably world may be unparalleled, but that doesn’t mean that you should feel disheartened about your world-building skills because you can’t even approximate Tolkien’s. Don’t worry, practically no one can. 

The best advice here is to not be daunted by the task. Just remember that on a grander scale, Tolkien’s talent in world-building came from the fact that expanding and exploring the little details of Middle-earth was his life’s work. For beginners, it is perfectly fine to start somewhere small. Everyone starts somewhere. 

If you can’t handle creating an entirely new world, you can always resort to known settings and locations already, suggested Writer’s Digest, an American magazine aimed at beginning and established writers. Just make sure that every detail you will be including—if the place is well-known like London or New York—will resonate with the audience in that they will be “as familiar with the rules of public transport, commerce, law enforcement, and local weather as they are with the laws of the supernatural.” 

If you can’t handle creating an entirely new world, you can always resort to known settings and locations already, suggested Writer’s Digest / Photo by: Vinsintus via Shutterstock

 

Dive Into Mythology 

In fantasy, you are creating a story that is unique and has not been explored before so it’s always good to not shy away from creating a mythology for your fantasy world. Penn set Tolkien as an example again, illustrating that the author’s borrowings from Nordic, Germanic, and archaic English cultures and incorporations in the book made his world somewhat believable for a fantasy world, and that’s usually a good thing. 

Fantasy allows you to have boundless creativity and opens you up for new experiences in terms of storytelling. While building your world, you can also incorporate intrigue in the world you have created so that things are more interesting. In urban fantasy books, stated Writer’s Digest, mystery is a necessary part of storytelling because it is the hook, the unanswered question that your readers will be confronted with at the start of the book. 

Establish a strong enough source of mystery and you’ve got yourself some very hooked audiences. 

In fantasy, you are creating a story that is unique and has not been explored before so it’s always good to not shy away from creating a mythology for your fantasy world / Photo by: Markus Gann via Shutterstock

 

Don’t Forget Complex Characters! 

Of course, it goes without saying that a good book is not nearly as good if your characters are vapid or useless. Complex characters are always a must and are usually the drivers of good stories. They might be an ensemble cast, a tricky but fun thing to pull off, or they could be fewer than three. Regardless, they have to be fleshed out, well-developed, realized, and complex. It’s true there will always be a “standout” character, said Writer’s Edit, but that’s usually a character used to “sharpen focus” in the readers or give them at least a character to latch onto. 

Relatable characters up your chances of a story that will hook and intrigue your audience into reading more and further keep them on the line if you decide to make a series out of your work. 

“No matter which method you choose, the key thing to focus on is creating complex, flawed, believable, relatable, and realistic characters,” added the Writer’s Edit.

So go ahead, unleash your imagination. The world could be better for it.