How to Write a Fantasy Novel- Notes

Hello everyone! As I’m sure you have noticed, I have not been posting to my blog lately. That is because my blog has managed to evolve from a public page to somewhat of a diary for me. I have been using it to collect and process my personal thoughts, and so the articles I have written remain as drafts. I wrote this for myself, but then I thought it might be of use to some of you.

As many of you know, I like to write (obviously, I have a blog). Since I was about 15 I’ve seriously wanted to write a novel, but I never had free time. Now, I have the time.

These are some notes that I took for myself to facilitate my process of writing. If you are a writer these might be of use to you. If you have no interest in writing these will most likely bore you and I suggest you click off.

If you’re still here, please don’t judge my notes too harshly. These were taken for me and I did not intend to share them. I have drawn from outside sources and I have attempted to credit them, but I did not include a MLA formatted works cited page, so please don’t sue me if the info came from your website.  

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TYPES OF CONFLICT

Being Hunted- someone wants to kill you and you’re trying to hide, someone wants something you have and you want to protect it

  • evading justice – you did something wrong and now are trying to hide from authorities (falls under being hunted)

Hunting- (finding something before someone else who could use it for evil gets to it, looking for something that is missing, looking for someone who is missing

Time Crunch- having to complete a task within a short amount of time with high risk

Star-Crossed Lovers- separated by the people they care about (family feuds or different socioeconomic brackets / friends hate each other/ one or both people are in other romantic relationships), separated by distance, separated by time (time travel), separated by reality (one person is real the other person is a character from a book/a catfish on the internet/the figment of a mentally ill person’s imagination), separated by form (vampires vs werewolves, people who were homosexual before it was socially acceptable, a person in love with something intangible)

Doesn’t Understand Self- a person with a great capability who doesn’t know how to harness it or know they have it, person who is possessed

Longing- a person wants something they can never have (harry potter longs for the love and affection of his dead parents)

“The Chosen One”- someone who is called to do something that others can’t because they have an unnatural capability (harry potter defeating Voldemort), a person who is the first to do something (when Frankenstein creates a monster, when the first person came out as gay, the first person to invent something that nobody understands)

Unwanted Fame/Responsibility- Being famous when it was dangerous for someone to be, Price Harry? Henry? (IDK his name) when he was younger was supposed to be responsible bc he was famous but he just wanted to have fun and party

Trapped- being trapped somewhere unsustainable for life (Lord of the Flies) (this also requires team work (man v man) if trapped with a group)

Destruction- everything you have is destroyed by war or natural disaster or enemies

Government- government stealing rights or harming ppl (1984)

3 basic types:

man v man

man v nature

man v self

Image result for harry potter fighting voldemort

PLOTS

Quest- (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)

****Excerpt from How to Read Literature like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster: “The quest consists of five things: (a) a quester, (b) a place to go, (c) a stated reason to go there, (d) challenges and trials en route, and (e) a real reason to go there. Item (a) is easy; a quester is just a person who goes on a quest, whether or not he knows it’s a quest. In fact, usually he doesn’t know. Items (b) and (c) should be considered together: someone tells our protagonist, our hero, who need not look very heroic, to go somewhere and do something. Go in search of the Holy Grail. Go to the store for bread. Go to Vegas and whack a guy. Tasks of varying nobility, to be sure, but structurally all the same. Go there, do that. Note that I said the stated reason for the quest. That’s because of item (e). The real reason for a quest never involves the stated reason. In fact, more often than not, the quester fails at the stated task. So why do they go and why do we care? They go because of the stated task, mistakenly believing that it is their real mission. We know, however, that their quest is educational. They don’t know enough about the only subject that really matters: themselves. The real reason for a quest is always self-knowledge. That’s why questers are so often young, inexperienced, immature, sheltered.”

Overcoming the Monster- (Pretty sure Harry Potter series works as an example for this one too)

****Wikipedia: “The meta-plot begins with the anticipation stage, in which the hero is called to the adventure to come. This is followed by a dream stage, in which the adventure begins, the hero has some success, and has an illusion of invincibility. However, this is then followed by a frustration stage, in which the hero has his first confrontation with the enemy, and the illusion of invincibility is lost. This worsens in the nightmare stage, which is the climax of the plot, where hope is apparently lost. Finally, in the resolution, the hero overcomes his burden against the odds.”

Rags to Riches- (Cinderella, Princess and the Frog)

Paraphrased from thewritepractice.com:

  1. character is living in bad conditions (maybe poor and treated poorly) and is called to leave home
  2. Experiences initial success that might cause illusion, allows them to gain hope
  3. Big problem happens they makes us think the character’s way of life might return to how it was initially. They hit their rock bottom
  4. They fix their problem all on their own against all odds and then they face a last confrontation that separates them from their goal
  5. They win and get everything they ever wanted

Voyage and Return- (Chronicles of Narnia, Alice and Wonderland, Finding Nemo)

Paraphrased from thewritepractice.com:

  1. Character has a boring or undesirable life and experiences a “fall” into another world: Alice falls down the rabbit hole, the children in Narnia climb through the wardrobe, somebody goes temporarily unconscious and into a dream state
  2. Character is fascinated by the new world that seems impossible, but feels sort of out-of-place/uncomfortable there (foreshadows return to home)
  3. Things in the new world start to get a little creepy and the protagonist feels scared. The new world begins revealing itself as sort of evil and oppressive. There is a presence of “dark magic”
  4. All hell breaks loose and the new world is basically out to get the protagonist. The darkness of the new world is trying to suck the character into its shadows and destroy it and the character is trying to escape the clutches of death.
  5. The main character makes a thrilling escape and finds their way back home with more knowledge and being changed as a person.

Plots not mentioned: Rebirth, Tragedy, Comedy

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COMMON COMPONENTS OF FANTASY LITERATURE

-a unique magic system with rules of conduct (this can be a cause for conflict or character development)

-a unique setting- unique language, terrain, weather, social norms, history, societal operation, food, religion

-Power System: who has it? Who wants it? How do you get it?

-have several main characters but a single most important one

-more than one POV- (this makes me nervous)

-have smaller conflicts happening between protagonist and himself and the protaganist and other characters while maintaining the central conflict that the protaganist has with an external force that drives the plot

-Don’t just make up conflict if there is no reason for it. It must arise from things like  characters who have incompatible personalities that are forced to work together or from something the character did earlier in the novel. If it doesn’t have a believable cause it feels stupid and forced.

-decide where your characters stand in the hierarchical power structure of the universe (research real systems of gov and societal structures and base it off that)

-make the plot have surprising twists

world-building

-incorporate mythology- (confusing??)

-weapon with special abilities and origin story

-villian often not revealed until near end of story

-usually there’s a love interest, often of different genetic makeup (ex. vampire (edward) and human (bella) in twilight)

 

Ok that’s it for now. Hopefully you learned something– I definitely did. To anyone who is writing a book, I wish you good luck!

Morgan

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