Wondering how to write a fantasy novel? As a professional writing coach, I’ve learned that following a few important guidelines can make all the difference! Here are some magical tips to help you write fantasy fiction, from me—and NEW YORK TIMES best-selling fantasy author Lev Grossman.
Quick tips for writing fantasy fiction
World-building: Your fantasy world may be an ancient one, filled with a long history of dwarves and elves and dragons. Or it might exist in a contemporary city, where magic hangs heavy in the air.
Whatever your fantastic world, make sure you establish consistent rules to govern your magical elements. Also, even if there’s not a dwarf in sight, you will still need to include the background of your world.
To do so, answer questions like these: What is the origin of magic in your world? Who is allowed to use the magic? How does the magic manifest? Are there factions in your world? If so, what is the source of their differences?
Limit point of view (POV) characters; Your fantasy may encompass many characters. However, if this is your first foray into writing fantasy, I suggest you limit yourself to no more than four POV characters.
Limiting POV characters makes it easier to map out your story. It also allows you to create an internal arc for each POV character. Those arcs ensure your readers invest in your characters as well as your plot.
Create a stand-alone first novel: Fantasy novels are often developed into series. However, if you’re a first-time fantasy novelist, I suggest you write a stand-alone first novel. Forcing yourself to complete a significant narrative arc in a single book will keep you from drowning in story-line possibilities.
If you love your fantasy world, you may decide to set another story there. Eventually, you may find you have created a series! But if you follow this advice, each volume of that series will be a satisfying read on its own.
Of course, as you dig deeper into your fantasy-novel-writing craft, you’ll be ever-better prepared to commit to a full series, right from the get-go!
Let’s learn from Lev Grossman!
My short list of tips covers what I consider to be the most important for fantasy writers to consider. However, Lev Grossman has written a terrific essay on novel writing that addresses many other points of interest for fantasy—and other—writers.
Check out his Buzzfeed piece “How Not to Write Your First Novel,” subtitled, “It is Okay Not to be a Genius.” (Hm. Reading about Grossman’s chilly, oddly heart-filled journey through six cold months in Maine, I’m pretty sure I see his genius shining through.) Grossman is the author of THE MAGICIANS, THE MAGICIAN KING, and THE MAGICIAN’S LAND, among other well-regarded fantasy titles.
Wondering how to write a fantasy novel? A chat with a top writing coach might help!
As a novel writing coach, I support writers working in a number of genres, fantasy, among them. Whether you’re world-building or developing your characters, I would love to see how I can help you, too. Schedule a free initial consultation with me. And also check out THE WRITER mag article “Should I Hire a Writing Coach.”