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6 Unexpected Things I've Learned From Writing Fantasy

By gia · Apr 20, 2017 · ·
  1. I'm working on my first fiction novel. I've written nonfiction for years through my blog and also nonfiction books and manuals. Switching into fiction has been fun and a bit of a learning curve. Here are 6 things I've learned on my journey so far:

    1. Writing fantasy is a lovely escape from the real world. I can take normal day stuff that is inspiring and incorporate it into my story. Or I can take normal day stuff about people who drive me crazy and incorporate it into my characters. It's a lovely revenge when I feel helpless about current events.

    2. Writing is a very passive, non-active event (except for fingers typing on a keyboard). I am challenged by having to write a highly active story with characters who aren't sitting around at all. Writing, then, has inspired me to get out and be more active in the world. It's a backward kind of thing that makes me smile.

    3. I struggle with inventing new conflicts. I mean it's all been said already! Now, I've started to second guess myself. Am I getting a scene from my own creative voice or from some book I read a long time ago and forgotten the book but am remembering the scene. To get past this challenge, I've learned to make sure I am energetically connected to just the creative voice of my story. There's an energy protocol I use to do this. I can tell when I've forgotten to use it and I'm sitting in front of a blank page or words that aren't original.

    4. Being creative with my words is something else I'm learning. I once asked on FB for a word to describe something bigger than a twig but smaller than a branch. Everyone jumped in with suggestions! It was a lively discussion. No one said the word I came up with though (stave). However, it jogged my own creativity.

    5. It sometimes takes a lot of back story or research to come up with one line in my story. I've read many books about forests and trees for my book The Power of Trees. I've probably used all that information in one paragraph. But I have found that having a website where I can add more information from my research has satisfied that part of my process. No one else may be interested, but as a reader I always want to know the backstory of the author and of the story itself. So that's what I've created.

    6. When I get stuck writing a chapter or scene I read "how-to" books on writing. Something in them will spark an idea or a new approach and off I go. Otherwise I don't bother with those books. Got to leave something for an editor to do!

    Now it's your turn...what's one thing you've learned from being a fantasy writer?
    Rkcapps and Taniwha like this.


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  1. Taniwha
    Nice write up!
    Hmmmmm, I've learned that I can't really read other people's good fantasy fiction while I'm mid-writing. I'm constantly in fear of their story appearing in some way on my pages. I want what I write to be original to me and to have the integrity of the world I first saw and created.

    I've learned the HUGE value of having people willing to read my work as I go - the feedback is great and constantly reminds me of the disciplines needed.

    I've learned how awesome it is to create a universe in my mind and appreciate how awesome it is to be doing that while I'm doing mundane things.
      Rkcapps likes this.
  2. slimafe
    Everybody walks past tons of story ideas every day. Fantasy, Romance, Tragic..! good writers are the ones who see five or more of them. Most people don’t see any.

    I ask my self..? Why am I so driven to write? I guess it’s a way of keeping things alive. Saving things that will eventually die. And if I write it down then it will last forever.

    Sometimes only paper will listen to you. As a writer inspiration is always nice, all good known writers will agree that you should never wait for inspiration to start writing.
      Rkcapps and Taniwha like this.
  3. gia
    What a lovely invite! My brain immediately went blank! lol
  4. Black Dragon
    This is a wonderful article, Gia. You should consider writing an article for the Mythic Scribes home page. If you are interested, here's the info:

    Write for Mythic Scribes
  5. gia
    It is totally a lot of effort building a new world...makes me appreciate everyone who has done so already.
      Taniwha likes this.
  6. pmmg
    Thanks for the read Gia.

    I am not sure if I can quantify everything I've learned, and I am not sure it would all relate specifically to fantasy.

    I think the hardest thing to learn, and I think it applies to all writing and not just Fantasy (and maybe to other areas of life as well), is forgive yourself. Its okay to make mistakes and experiment and even decide its all crap and start over. Writing as if it is all supposed to be perfection is a recipe for never getting finished.

    Maybe the second hardest is just not allowing one’s self to be so easily distracted (by forum groups and the internet and the like).

    I think you will find that its all been done before (point 3 above) is true in any writing endeavor. Its not the goal to have the most unique conflicts, but have a story that is compelling and different enough that it is yours and your creation. I find in my own writing, I can see all of those things that have influenced me, and I fear...ah, if I write that people will think I stole it from..., but I didn't. I especially hate it when I see or read things and have that moment of "crap, That was my idea" but it happens. What can you do? Just the best you can.

    Something I learned about fantasy? It takes a lot of effort to build it all.