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Becoming a Fantasy Writer

There is something unique about the fantasy genre that draws us in as readers far more than the likes of crime, romance, western, or even horror, or science fiction. Fantasy literature takes us to impossible worlds and for the majority of us, that’s one of its biggest attractions.

But even more unique in terms of the genre, is the way it makes readers want to write. Readers of a good fantasy novel will often start their own novel the very same day they finish a series. It is something you really don’t see in any other genre. You don’t see people putting down a crime novel and writing about their own detectives, you don’t see people finishing up a romance novel and telling a love story, and you won’t find a reader of a western penning their latest cowboys vs Indians piece upon its completion.

Something about what fantasy authors do makes us want to write. So, what is it? It is the ability to take every single idea within your imagination and put it down onto paper. In fantasy there are no required character traits, we don’t have to stick to a Earth like geology, we can create new species, people can perform magic, in fact, the rules of the universe don’t even exist. We can do away with gravity or the sun and we can travel as fast as we like, how we like. Basically, any idea inside your head is plausible in fantasy. That gives you a lot of scope.

So where am I going with all this?

Well today, I wanted to do an article on what it takes to become a fantasy writer. Although I am not an author, I have met A LOT of authors. I work within publishing myself and thought maybe I could share a bit of insight and a bit of advice with people who are looking to get started or are at least thinking about it.

There are, in my personal opinion, four steps to writing a novel.

Number 1: Deciding on The Story and More Importantly The Characters
Number 2: Writing the Novel
Number 3: Drastic Editing and Revision
Number 4: Getting an Agent or Choosing to Self-Publish

Number 1: Deciding on The Story and More Importantly The Characters

So, you’ve picked up your pen or sat yourself down in front of the keyboard and are ready to write your novel. It’s time to walk away. I would NEVER suggest writing without some kind of plan. I have looked a lot into the creative process of successful authors and they seem to have one thing in common: They all plan extensively.

Some use time-lines, others use cards with key scenes on them and throw the cards away as they write them down, the majority just have pages upon pages of notes that they refine, refine again and refine harder. This is something that should take you a long time to do. You should brain storm everything and let it all develop because the last thing you want to do is have an amazing two or three chapters and then find out you’ve lead your characters into a dead end and they can’t really go anywhere.

You need to think of the story – why is this a readable story? What is so important about your fantasy world and what is about to occur that would make a reader invest 10-20 hours into it. You then need to think about how this story is going to grow, twist, turn, be resolved, drawn out, and yet kept interesting. How are the characters going to grow, will the readers be willing to follow them and accept the changes that happen to them? These are just some of the questions that should be swirling around in your head, but there are so many more you need to think about that it would take its own article to cover just a quarter of them.

Number 2: Writing the Novel

Maybe though, you have an absolutely fantastic story, amazing characters and yet…sadly…your writing just doesn’t cut it. Sadly, writing is a very, very specialised craft. An author does not get published with their first novel, (VERY) rarely anyway. I would guess that most authors have between three and five novels rejected before they get published and that’s the good ones.

To write a successful story that someone wants to read you need to be able to capture that reader within your writing style and literally transport them to your world and allow them to see it, feel it, experience it. I love the phrase, “Make sure you show and not tell,” because it simply is one of the hardest things to do as a writer. Using descriptive language to paint a picture that the reader can see in their own mind takes a lot of practice and it isn’t simply relating to the reader what you want them to see either. To get good at this will take time, revision, perhaps even study. Not all authors are graduates, but a good number do come through a university and it is there they learn these skills.

Almost as important as painting a picture is creating realistic and enjoyable dialogue. When characters talk or interact it has to feel natural. If it seems robotic or out of character you can completely kill a reader’s belief in your world and lose them. They need to feel that this character could step off the page and talk with them. Another thing is they almost need to be able to guess what your characters will say and do. This is one thing that readers love is the relationship with your characters. They must be so lifelike and so real that when they arrive somewhere, the reader knows what they are going to want to do. I have found in some failed novels that unpublished friends have sent me (this is a biggie), that I just cannot relate to the characters. I cannot connect with them and I can’t see what they are going to do in situations – I have been lost as a reader.

If you have the confidence in doing all this, it is time to sit down and write. How much should you write? It does depend, but I can give you a rough idea of what publishers are looking for. Publishers DO NOT want a standalone novel for a début author. What they want is an author who is going to make them money. An author who is going to make them money, is one that has lots of ideas, a series that has a lot of potential to gather a following and they want all of this to fit a few conventions. Firstly, they want your novel to be of a length that slots in well with others in the genre. For fantasy you are looking at around 125,000 to 150,000 words FOR THE FIRST BOOK. Anything more and you will struggle to find that agent because it is just too big a book for a début.

Secondly, believe it or not they don’t want the book to be completely unique. Some new authors think that when writing they need a unique idea but it is simply not true. You need a unique twist on a story, but your characters, your setting, your plots (revenge, growth, theft, etc) don’t need to be unique. Why? Simple. Because when you pick up a fantasy novel you want it to be familiar in the sense that there is magic, mythical creatures, epic story lines, bold characters and so on – when reading a book you want to feel comfortable. Some of the worst books I have ever read are the ones where the author has tried too hard to make every single thing their own and steer away from what has been done before. You wonder where you are, what everyone does needs to be explained in huge detail, and characters are just not relating to you.

Am I sure? Yes, I’m pretty sure. When a publisher buys a book, they buy it based on business sense. They look at what the book is, how similar books have sold and so on. If they have nothing to compare it to or it is a huge gamble because it is completely unlike anything else they have then the risk is far greater for them.

Number 3: Drastic Editing and Revision

You have just finished the final page of your novel. YES! Oh. No. Huh? Writing a novel is one of the quickest parts of writing a novel. The refining, the editing, the reviewing, the changing things based on people’s opinions, the restructuring, the removal of scenes, the adding of scenes, and so on can take months or years to get right. There are authors who have started on books and only finished them 10-15 years later.

You need to consider that your novel will have a word limit. My advice would be that if you want to write fantasy you need to be within around 100,000 (minimum) to 150,000 (maximum). For your first book, anything more or less would be pushing it with a publisher. Wherever you get to once you finish your novel I would say – get people to read it with the sole purpose of cutting out 10% of the book. Ask them: what is boring, what doesn’t need to be in there and so on.

Usually when we write, we write one or two things that really don’t add anything or develop the story but because we love our work we just can’t admit it to ourselves. A reader who has been given that purpose will be able to do it for you and explain to you why. In addition to cutting scenes out, sometimes things will need re-ordering, you will need to add a scene to explain something or maybe develop an idea a bit more – it will all come down to making your story flow better.

It is a process that will take a huge amount of time and I really think you will need an editor. There are freelance editors around and really if you want to publish a piece of work you should be ready to invest in paying someone to professionally review your work, make suggestions for changes and even help you with your grammar, your storytelling and writing in general. Editors are ALWAYS thanked in books (as you have probably noticed) and this is because they work damned hard. They work countless hours reading through books and refining them so that they are readable, marketable and complete.

Number 4: Getting an Agent or Choosing to Self-Publish

A lot of people say that getting an agent is the hardest part of writing a novel. It isn’t really true. The hardest part of writing a novel is preparing a piece that will convince an agent it is going to sell. You need to have a perfectly formatted manuscript (a document laid out to industry standards), you need to have an intriguing first chapter and by the end of the second, it needs to be unputdownable.

One agent in a chat said when describing their perfect manuscript, “A wonderfully-written, creative and inventive science fiction or fantasy story that has the potential to both get great reviews and sell through the roof, from an author who’s willing to work hard editorially and otherwise to make their book the best possible.”

Agents and publishers WANT to make money. The sad fact of the matter is that if 99% of us published a book it wouldn’t make them any money. If we send them a piece that they feel likely is to make money based on our writing style, current writing trends and return based on investment, they will pick it up, no doubt about it.

Well known editor Diana Gill said in another blog:

“What will get me reading onto page two? Honestly, that depends on how good page one is. If you can get me to read past the first paragraph (and yes, we can tell by the end of the first paragraph if we want to read any further), get me interested in the story, or the character, that’s a very good thing. If the first page isn’t absolutely intriguing, but is nonetheless well-written (without the little green elves, say).

I think one really important thing to remember is that an editor’s primary function is to act as a reader–if I don’t want to read any further, why should someone want to buy the book and then read it? Give us (and yourself) something to be interested in. And no, that doesn’t mean the first sentence has to have an explosion or some other really glossy hook, but do think about what’s happening. Make it interesting. What are manuscripts most missing? Originality. Yes, there are only a few plots and stories out there, but there are endless things you can to take that boy-meets-girl theme and make it interesting.”

So how do you find someone willing to take your work? First, make sure everything is perfect. As Diana says above, you need a perfect page one at the very least. Your first page is the big ‘THIS IS ME’ and ‘THIS IS WHAT I CAN DO’ of the novel. If it says ‘I am boring’ or ‘my grammar is bad’ the publisher will simply say, “thanks but no thanks”, put your piece down and pick up the next book that would potentially make them millions.

The first chapter should also be next to perfect and just because that is your hook doesn’t mean it should stop there – as we have said, the editing process should have been an absolute killer, but now done –worth while.

So you have all that? Now you need to go to your bookshelves and pick up books you own that are similar to your work. You will then need to visit their websites, view their submission policies and submit your work. Generally, they will just ask for a summary of what your book is, who it is for and so on. Once you have done this – within a few weeks you will get a reply saying ‘send us more’ or ‘sorry this is not for us’. If they ask you to send them more, send what they ask and wait. The likely hood is (around 96% apparently) that you will get a ‘sorry not for us’ style email with little more than that.

Expect it and move on. You can send your summary, and should they ask for it manuscript, to as many publishers and agents as you would like. Start with the books on your shelves and then type into Google ‘fantasy book publishers’ and work your way through the list. You want to choose the biggest names first (ones you have heard of) and then as the weeks, months and years go on work your way down the list to lesser name publishers.

If the publisher is interested, they will call you. Be careful not to just say ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes’ in excitement to everything that is said. There is a reason most writers have an agent. If a publisher contacts you, arrange a meeting and consider getting professional advice. A literary agent will ensure that you get a good sum of money for your work (although they will have some too!) where as going in on your own, you may leave with far less than you expected – remember that a publisher is a business owner.

What if you never find a publisher? It’s not a huge problem. It certainly makes it less likely you will get rich from this novel, but if you believe in it and you think people will buy it, there is the self-publishing route. Self-publishing is where you pay to have your book printed and then you market it and you sell it. It’s not easy I can tell you that, but it is doable. Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle (Eragon being the most famous) is just one example of a self-published millionaire (there are plenty more if you Google them). It is more likely that taking the self-published route is going to be a lot more work though because it is now up to you to make money for you, not the publisher to make money for themselves and share it with you.

How do you do it? I’m not going to go into too much detail because I have an article on self-publishing and a number of interviews coming up that will allow me to go into far more detail. But I will get you started.

You first need to find someone to print your book. It is not cheap. Most paperbacks cost between £2.50 & £4.50 each (around $5.00 to $9.00 in the USA). Now, you need to consider that you will have to order around 5,000 to 10,000 books to get these prices. There are cheaper deals, more expensive deals, but I’m trying to be fair and realistic here based on local printers.

Now, the average book sells for around £7.00 to £9.00 in the UK or around $12-$17 in the US (RRP). You can see here there is a pretty big gross profit margin, BUT consider you will need to pay for marketing (adverts, website, free review copies, marketing materials, etc). And should you sell through Amazon for example, they will take a big amount of your RRP for themselves as commission.

The most important aspect of deciding ‘Is it worth it’ is can you sell 5,000, 10,000 or even 50,000 books. How much belief do you have in your work? Is your story REALLY, REALLY worth reading and would you be prepared to invest all that time, that money, that effort into getting it out there and read? If the answer is yes, then perhaps this is a root you should risk. We do only get one life after all!

Anyway, that just about brings us to a close. I hope it has been educational, enjoyable and a worthwhile read. I have three more articles to come in this series. One about building a fantasy world, one about writing styles, and one about self-publishing. I hope you come back and check them out.

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18 Comments

  1. Overlord says:

    For those in the UK there is a very good article here on Self Publishing, the costs and so on:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/6946979/Unleash-your-inner-novelist.html

    A good US one here:
    http://blog.gmbooks.com/

    A good global one here:
    http://www.writing-world.com/publish/subsidy.shtml

  2. Kieran Roy says:

    I am going to put in my two cents about planning. For *some* authors, planning is a necessity and a recipe for success, however for others, that’s not necessarily the case. Lynn Flewelling just released her eighth novel and is hard at work on a ninth, but never outlines or plans, precisely. If she gets an idea for a later scene in the book, she writes it, and uses those as lantern-posts, but says when she plans or outlines, it tends to kill the story. (I use Lynn as an example as I recently took a workshop with her, and she dedicated a segment to just this sort of thing.)

    Writing by the seat of your pants doesn’t work for everyone, but neither does planning and plotting everything in advance. It’s best to try both methods and see which one works better for you.

  3. I think you offer some great points, but don’t necessarily agree with #1. “They all plan extensively?”

    While there are many that do plan, there are also many that think of themselves as ‘pantsers’, meaning they write by the seat of their pants. Refining is part of the editing process and I’ve spoken with quite a few authors who simply sit down and write. The refining, checking chronology, etc. happens later.

    Maybe it’s just that we’ve each spoken with a majority of authors who share a different mindset but I think it could scare away potential writers who think they have to outline and take notes before (or during) the writing process.

    Like you said, the fantasy genre allows new worlds with new rules to be created. This allows the greatest amount of freedom without having to double-check the population of certain areas or what the weather is like in North Dakota during February. If your fantasy character happens to visit North Dakota at that time then research can be done later. The first step is to get the basic story down on paper (or in Word).

    On a personal note, I’m a future published author (gotta keep the optimism going) and my greatest block was the whole planning process. It seems to stifle creativity for me. Writing by the seat of my pants allows the story to flow naturally in the direction it needs to go without having to force it in a certain direction because my outline says it needs to go that way.

  4. Overlord says:

    I think you both make a good point there… I was talking about authors I know / have read about and giving advice to new writers. I think a lot of new writers have an idea for a story but get lost along the way… that is why I suggest planning.

    I didn’t so much mean that you must plan everything with pin-point accuracy, I mean… I have written scenes before that literally came out of no where. But I do think that having a rough idea of what happens when and where help you get from a to b to c to d. If you already have that in your mind though then great!

    I found the opposite to you Marty, I get getting stuck because I was thinking ‘what should I do now to get to… x’ and then just stopping. However, that being said – I love the idea that it is such an individual thing and literally we can say ‘each to their own’ and end up at the same finish :D

    Thanks again guys for your thoughts and feedback – it has been insightful :)

  5. “I love the idea that it is such an individual thing”

    Exactly, the writing process seems to be different for everyone, and what works for one stops another dead in their tracks.

    I think it’s great because the various ways of writing allow everyone to adopt their own style.

  6. Komal says:

    Planning is so important with everything. The world around fantasy can become so intense and rich; I’ve been planning for years now and still there is need for micro planning of stories and subplots among bigger arcs and history etc etc.

  7. Overlord says:

    I have just been reading ‘Desert Spear’ by Peter V. Brett, not sure if anyone has read this – but the detail he goes into in the first 200 pages regarding the culture, their laws, their philosophies, etc – must have taken so, so much careful planning.

    I think if planning helps you write and gives you confidence you are sticking to your story in a way that isn’t confusing people it can only be a good thing. But as people have said, if it stops your creative process because it seems like ‘too much’ work, maybe just putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and seeing where you end up in an hours time is a better idea :)

  8. topher knowles says:

    I’ve found a combination of the two works for me, just start writing whilst the hunger is there otherwise the idea will drift away and you’ll talk yourself out of it… but keep a skeleton plan that you can keep adding to along the way (mine details a summary of nearly every upcoming chapter, a few character notes and details of how my magic system works).

  9. “So… you’ve picked up your pen or sat yourself down in front of the keyboard and are ready to write your novel. It’s time to walk away… I would NEVER suggest writing without some kind of plan. I have looked a lot into the creative process of successful authors and they seem to have one thing in common… they all plan extensively.”

    Do short stories count in the writing process? I’m a pantser myself, and your statement seems…harsh and off-putting. I have tried outlining on paper, but I find it restrictive. Keeping a rough idea of a story inside my head gives me much more creative freedom. My characters, my story lines, and even the worlds themselves can change at any time as I write. I’ve also written stories around characters who pop into my head out of nowhere. I’ve spread my fingers across the keyboard and stare at the blank screen, not knowing what to write, and six hours later, I’ve written a complete short story.

    With my Urban Fantasy novel-in-progress, I kinda have the whole thing playing inside my head, but I don’t outline anything. I write, a scene or a chapter a day, stopping when I get tired or don’t know where to go, and let the story unfold as I go along. Sometimes I surprise myself with a scene or a new character that I never thought about.

    But I guess for books with convoluted genealogies like Melanie Rawn’s Sunrunner books or her Mages of Ambrai trilogy, or truly epic stories like Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time”, one has to keep track of characters and happenstances.

    Writers are artists, and no two of us are exactly the same. I’m all for stylistic and grammar rules, but having people say how to do (or not to do) things is, as I said, off-putting.

    “An author does not get published with their first novel, (VERY) rarely anyway. I would guess that most authors have between 3 and 5 novels rejected before they get published and that is the good ones.”

    A little depressing, isn’t it? If you write crap, even your tenth novel won’t sell. Write something brilliant. Write a book that your trusted readers and critics love (and by that I mean not your family members). You don’t need to have an MFA to write brilliantly, though I’ve heard it helps. I learn my craft from reading books on writing. More than that, I learn my craft from reading fiction. Lots of them.

    A novel is a time-consuming endeavor. To write 3 to 5 books before writing something publishable seems counter-productive. However, so long a writer learns and improve with each book, I’ll call the effort an investment.

    “It is a process that will take a huge amount of time and I think really you will need an editor. There are freelance editors around and really if you want to publish a piece of work you should be ready to invest in paying someone to professionally review your work, make suggestions for changes and even help you with your grammar, your story telling and writing in general. Editors are ALWAYS thanked in books (as you have probably noticed) and this is because they work damned hard. They work countless hours, reading through books and refining them so that they are readable, marketable and complete.”

    I have to disagree with this one. A writer is supposed to be his own editor, and not rely on others to do his work. This is where you learn where you’ve gone wrong, and how to make your stories better. You have to be able to self-edit before even thinking about sending them out to agents/publishers. Sometimes, your agent will act as an editor, suggesting changes to give a book more “Oomph.” Big publication houses have editors to work on individual books, as well as copy editors to do line-editing and grammar- and spell-checks. But we should always aim to present a finished work.

    For the record, a lot of agents and publishers do not consider having self-published books as being published. It’s not published, but merely printing out books/stories. They used to term it “vanity press”. There are indeed gems among self-published books, especially in this digital age where self-publishing is much easier. But to sift through all the crap, I’d rather buy books from trusted publication houses.

    I really hope this site will bloom into a hub for Fantasy fans and writers. Kudos on your undertaking, and all the best!

  10. Mike Shevdon says:

    This is an interesting article and contains some useful pointers and interesting comments. For me, though, it seems rather rigid about the process of writing and my concern is that it will put someone off who does not fit this model.

    Planning is a personal thing. Like you, I know a number of authors and their approach to planning is as individual as their writing style. Some like to plan extensively, as you recommend, but others find that it steals momentum, as if planning something in detail takes the fun out of writing – robbing it of the sense of discovery as characters react to the emerging story. I would say that for some writers, too much planning can therefore be as bad as too little.

    As to writers not getting published with their first novel? Well, I did. My first novel, SIXTY-ONE NAILS was first published in 2009 (2010 in the US) and has had some very positive reviews (check Amazon for details). Yes, it took many many revisions and years of work, but it is my first book of any kind. Perhaps I am the rarity to prove your point, but it is not impossible.

    Nor did I start with short stories. I have written a few shorts stories, but only after I finished and edited my novel, and then only to give me a different view of the world in which I was writing and the characters within. I find the craft of creating short stories to be a completely different from constructing a novel, though their are some skills that are common to both (grammer, sentence construction, etc).

    In terms of length, some people will struggle to exceed 100,000 words while others will be warming up at that point, but I can think of numerous examples of first novels in the 70,000 – 100,000 bracket. Below 60,000 you are getting a little short for a novel – it’s going to look thin on the shelf unless the type is large – and above 150,000 you’re going for doorstop size, making it more costly to print and distribute. Bear in mind that there is a physical limit to the number of pages before the binding becomes non-standard for a physical book, but for an eBook there’s little difference. These are not hard limits. If your novel is good enough, word-count is not a problem. Quality of writing and story-telling trumps all of these concerns.

    I am in the middle of writing a (mostly serious) collection of articles on my blog about the craft of writing, and one of the things I’ve tried to be careful not to do is to say that there is a right and a wrong way of doing this. Yes, there are some techniques you should certainly try – outlining being one – and techniques and skills you need to develop, but each writer is a unique case and must find their own way to tell their story.

    There was an excellent study done by Jim C Hines (link below) where he asked first-time authors how they came to be published and whether they had agented submissions or previously self-pubbed stories – it makes interesting reading for anyone intending to write professionally: ~

    http://www.jimchines.com/2010/03/survey-results/

    It’s interesting that you quote figures of 5,000, 10,000 or 50,000 for a self-published book. As things stand today, most self-pubbed authors don’t sell anywhere near these numbers (though, again, there are exceptions) with more realistic sales for well-edited entertaining self-pubbed work being in the 200 – 1,000 range. According to SFWA’s Writers Beware, the average POD title sells less than 200 books. That’s the average, so for every POD author selling in tens of thousands, there are a lots of people selling very few copies indeed.

    Unless you’re prepared to fund a great deal of marketing and promotion, you are going to find it’s very hard to exceed these levels of sales. There are mainstream professionally published works that don’t sell more than 5,000 books total, even with distribution through retailers.

    You’ve also not mentioned Small Press, which is another route to being published and which, at least according to Jim Hines’ survey, is more likely to succeed than self-publication. There are some fabulous small presses around and they will often look at things which are outside the mainstream or which the big names would consider too risky. Start by reading what small presses produce to get a feel for their taste and output – which will also help you understand how to pitch your work.

    Overall, I thought there was good advice here which will apply to many new writers, but I felt that you should be careful not to be too proscriptive about an approach. For my own part, I would advise that new writers need to read widely, consider advice from many sources and find what works for them.

  11. Overlord says:

    Awesome feedback – thank you guys :D

  12. Shack says:

    Great article.

    I agree actually on the whole ‘Planning is necessary” debate. I started off with an idea of what my book was about and just started writing only to get stalled and give up. I came back to it again, having thought out the problems and started again but with no clear outline and got stuck again. It was only after I wrote out a detailed skeleton to build the story around that I manged to not hit that obstacle and to keep going. I’ve still allowed for organic growth as I’ve fleshed things out – one character has even changed sex half way through but I’ve kept to that outline and now I’m a chapter away from finishing the first draft.

    The main thing for me has been discipline in writing every day. To keep writing words are hard to find. To keep writing when I’m doubting the very idea of the book. To keep writing when life gets in the way.

    I’ve learned so much with this book. Like everything, you have to put the hours in to become good at something.

  13. James Kelly says:

    It seems I don’t need to add much of my proverbial two cents; it appears to have been covered already! However I would also add that plans should be taken with a pinch of salt. They’re great for avoiding writer’s block and for detailing a world and backstory. But your article doesn’t point out that plans are just guidelines. A starting point. The writing will likely deviate from the plan and that’s okay!

    You’re also very prescriptive about word count. Worrying too much about the word count early on is like worrying about whether to choose apple green or lime green curtains whilst your laying the foundation. Not worth much brain sweat!

    Last point, I couldn’t disagree with you more about hiring a freelance editor. If you’re not able to edit your own work to an acceptable standard, you’re not ready yet. Being a writer is as much about editing as it is writing.

    Maybe I had enough for two cents after all!

  14. Alexander Knight says:

    When I write, I do both, plan and “pants it”. I plan out the milestones of my novel and then let the creative juices control the flow from point A to point B. Sometimes I have to move a milestone or two, but that usually means the story is getting more interesting than originally planned.

    Anyway, great article. I think you made a lot of good points.

  15. I have tried several approaches myself, and have been satisfied by the results of all of them. I have heavily outlined, I have set up scenes on 3X5 cards, I have sat my butt in front of the computer and just written by the seat of my pants. All have worked, or not worked, depending on the day and mood. Many times my best stuff has just seemed to have happened, defying the script. In my to be released book REFUGE (probably ready by summer 2012) I had a scene where two of my mages (Schizophrenics on Earth, blessed by the gods on the new world) are getting ready to fight the flight of dragons that have come over the valley to destroy the Refugees from Earth. While the German and American forces battle the dragons with the weapons brought through the dimensional gates from Earth, the Wind Mage and the Fire Mage prepare to call their magic down on the flying monsters. The plan was for them to get in a fight with maybe twenty of the dragons, while the ADA vehicles, tanks and helicopters took on the other four hundred of the beast. In the middle of a sentence something just seemed to spark, and I had the Wind Mage go mad with power and start flinging tornadoes around the valley. The fire mage, who is also a world class Physicist on Earth, has to discover a way to get his power through the air mage’s power without killing her. It ratcheted the tension of the battle in two ways. Now I had two characters involved in a life or death struggle in which one of them just wants to stop the other from trashing the valley, and it removed them both from the order of battle of the humans, raising the stakes in the main conflict. All unplanned. Just happened. So I don’t try to hard to conform to any preplanned outline or cards. Still think it is good to have a basic plan of where the story is going, but stuff happens, just like in the real world.

  16. Samantha says:

    Is it possible to send a example and ask how you thought about it?

  17. [...] this site’s own: Marc Aplin wrote in his article Becoming a Fantasy Writer (21 Nov 2011), part of the fun of fantasy is the ability to take every single idea within your [...]

  18. RD Herring says:

    First, I want to thank you for this post. I was very informative, and extremely helpful. Next, I have a question that I would like to pose to you, I am in the process of completing a fantasy novel and am in need of objective editing, in order to tell me how the action flows and in general how the book is. I have had friends and family members read it and they have told me that it is ‘wonderful’ and that it is ‘so vivid’, but like I said I need an objective’ opinion and I am not quite sure how objective the previous readers of the novel are being. I have posted the prologue and the first two chapters on my blog and am awaiting comments of the merits of the novel. Do you have any suggestions as to where a budding writer could go to get a piece read and reviewed?

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