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

High School to College

You’d think trying was enough, but no. College. It is somewhere I haven’t gotten to yet, but I’m in the process of applying.  I’d like to share a couple of things with you guys who may be somewhere a bit earlier in the process than me. These are the things I wish someone told me.

  1. There is always someone who is going to be smarter than you and have it easier than you. Some of your friends may be applying to Ivy Leagues. That’s great! Wish them the best, and focus of yourself. If you’re that kid, the one that gets straight A’s in all the hardest classes without trying very hard (I know a few of these), congratulations. If you’re like me, and you’re not that kid, but you are dedicated to your future, don’t sweat it. Do the best you can knowing that there is only so much you can do. Don’t hate yourself for having a lower GPA than some other people. You are going to end up at a school that is academically fit for you. And truthfully, if you don’t get into one of your schools, it was probably not the best fit for you. You will end up where you belong.
  2. This is not the final round. If you don’t get into your dream school, IT’S OK. If you have your heart so set on it, you can always try to transfer once you are already in college. Persistence is key.
  3. Those damn test scores. I’m saying what we’re all thinking: whoever came up with standardized testing is Satan. Unless you are the kid from #1. on my list. Then you probably think standardized testing “is easy” or you always “get lucky.” But for the rest of us, yes it sucks. I really want to emphasize to all of you rising juniors, get in the game early. First, figure out which test is best suited for you, ACT or SAT. Then, if you are able to, get tutored for the SAT or ACT over the summer going into junior year. The timing is perfect because while it is not a fun thing to do with your summer, it reduces the stress of getting tutored and balancing it with your 5-7 other classes during the school year. If you can’t get tutored, sign up for something like khan academy (it’s free) where you practice a little bit everyday. Take the first SAT or ACT offered in your junior year. Then maybe skip one test date and take the next one. Then take it a third time. Whatever you do, don’t just take it once, even if you are satisfied with your score. If you do, you will end up wondering Where would I be at if I took it again and got an even better score? Did I sell myself short? 
  4. Work on college essays as soon as the prompts come out. Once again, this will save you from stressing during the school year. For common app, they were released early in the summer, and the app opens august 1st.
  5. Pick your colleges sorta early but not too early. Don’t waste your time thinking about colleges you want to go to as a freshman, unless you’re unusually intelligent or the aspiration of getting into a certain school will drive you to increase your GPA. You don’t really know who you will be in 4 years or what your grades and test scores are going to look like. Work hard in school and start looking into colleges at the end of sophomore year. This way, you will know how much you will have to increase/maintain your GPA to get into those schools and what test scores you will need to strive for. During junior year, hone your list so you don’t have 5 billion trillion zillion schools to apply to. Once you’re in summer before senior year, you should have a pretty concrete list of schools you’re applying to. Make sure on that list you have at least 1 reach, target, and safety school.
  6. Don’t choose your future blindly. Too many people follow the crowd. So many students just go to schools because they’re well-known or a lot of people they know are going there. To somewhat of a degree, I think going to a well established school is beneficial, but just because something is popular doesn’t mean that you will actually like it. You need to research the colleges you are thinking about applying to. Find out what they’re known for and what they lack. Research alumni and what fields of study they are known for. You may not know what you want to major in, but you probably have an idea of what you like. If you’re an english person, don’t apply to a school that is only known for its math department. Also, research the social scene, size, and location of your school. If you are able to, take a tour. If not, take a virtual tour.
  7. Don’t regret. I had a semester where I really lost focus on school and got caught up in the social scene. It brought down my GPA a lot, and I got my first and only B- in my life. For a while I would look at my cumulative GPA and cringe, because my grades from that semester brought me down so much, but the truth is I can’t do anything about it now. So just let go of what you can’t fix and focus on improving what you can.
  8. Find out what you really enjoy. This is something that people say all the time, but never actually do. So many adults work their nine to fives at a company they hate, not being efficient because they can’t stand their jobs. Therefore, they never get much done for their employer or move up in their job position and remain stagnant for the rest of their lives. Sound familiar? It’s the premise of the show The Office and probably, to some degree, why it’s so popular and relatable to such a large demographic. Best case-scenario, you get a job you are good at and hate, but at least you make a ton of money, though you hate every moment of making it, and therefore spend 5-6 out of 7 days of the week waiting for the weekend, wishing your life away. Why would you do this if you could just pursue something you actually enjoy? So what if you’re not wealthy? At least you will be happy! Plus if you do something you love, you are pretty much destined for success, because of how much time you will spend doing it. You have to be willing to give up the promise of a stable mediocre life to get the risky rewarding life. So try to find your passions while you are in high school. You already subconsciously know them. They are the things you do with your free time, the things you want to do without anyone telling you or asking you to do them. Once you find them, focus on improving them and making connections in those fields. Also, colleges take interest in passionate people who are confident in what they want to do. It makes you less of a risk to change your mind and shows you have personal initiative.

I know it’s a stressful topic and something you generally want to push to the back of your mind and ignore, but it is something that needs to be addressed. Do your best to represent yourself with a high GPA and test scores and then let it go. I know it is easier said than done, but just have faith in yourself and the people who are going to be looking at your application. If you don’t get to go where you wanted to go, then maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I’m not a big believer in fate, but in this circumstance I think everything works itself out as it should be.

Good luck my friends,

Morgan