Fantasy Fiction Writing

Effective Fantasy Writing Tips

Fantasy fiction writing is an excellent complement to reading today's modern fantasy novels. Get effective fantasy writing tips for writing fantasy fiction with your students!

As a child, my first foray into fantasy fiction was C.S.Lewis'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I was enchanted with the magical land of Narnia and the sacrificial love of Aslan the Lion for his kingdom. At the dawn of the new millenium, the Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling had become the fantasy novels of choice for many young readers worldwide. The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as the novels recounting the adventures of the boy wizard Harry Potter, are filled magical, mysterious beings and main characters with daunting chalenges to meet, not unlike fairy tales. 

However, these stories part ways with fairy tales in that the protagonists are modern day young people, as opposed to knights and princesses of yore. Modern fantasy fiction writing incorporates these elements:

  • Plot: The major events of the tale could NOT literally happen, in the world as we scientifically understand it.

  • Setting: The story is set realistically here on Earth in the relatively-up-to-date present time.

  • Problem: The protagonists often overcome obstacles through magical means or skills.
  • Characters: The main characters are fictional, but their behavior makes sense within a fantasy context.

Modern Fantasy Writing in 3 Simple Steps

Step 1: Create an ordinary hero: someone you might meet in your classes or sit next to on the bus. Perhaps your heroine is the shy girl with the dark eyes and pixie nose who lives in the upstairs apartment.

Step 2: Now let's give our hero a problem with which we can sympathize. Maybe our heroine wakens one morning to discover that her scientist-father is missing and that the kidnappers demand his valuable research.

Step 3: Magical means unfold to help our hero attain a difficult goal. Suppose our heroine has an antique locket, given to her as a birthday gift by her dad, and the locket becomes an enchanted portal on her quest to rescue her father.

The above technique produced effective fantasy writing among my students. Try these fantasy writing tips as well:

  • Keep a fantasy journal, transforming ordinary events into magical ones.
  • Create fantasy versions of realistic fiction or mysteries you've read. Perhaps Nancy Drew leaves River Heights for magical adventures and puts her sleuthing skills to good use in a fantasy context.

  • Write fantasy versions of current events. The American president and the Canadian prime minister jet off for a meeting with the British royal family, but instead arrive in a strange and distant land.
  • Pen sequels to modern fantasies. Have Cassie in The Voyage of the Unicorn continue other journeys drawn from her mother's sketchbook.
  • Update a fairy tale. Cinderella owns a cleaning service!

I wish you and your students many magical moments in fantasy fiction writing!

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