5 Tips for Beginner Fantasy Writers

#1. Research what you are writing about, or better yet, learn it!

When writing fantasy beginners have a tendency to not research a variety of things and just make things up. While this might be acceptable to some, many readers will notice mistakes.


There is no such thing as an Alpha Wolf in a wolf pack. This is a complete myth. It is based upon shoddy research which has since been debunked because it involved a group of wolves, all males, which had been taken from different packs of wolves and forced into captivity together. They were not a pack, not even remotely.

Thus if you're writing a story about a pack of werewolves then you should know the leaders of a real wolf pack are actually just the oldest wolves. Male or female, doesn't matter. The elders are in charge. A writer who bothered to research the topic would know this.

Same thing goes if you're writing about swords, horses, archery, castles... Research the topic so you actually know the difference between an arming sword and a kriegsmesser.

In certain instances, like if horses play a very large role in your story, then you should actually learn how to ride and groom horses. Get lessons in the topic.

Why is this important? Because readers will notice mistakes and if you want to be a professional writer then you cannot just make it up all the time. Every time I see a book is featuring a so-called Alpha character I get annoyed and it immediately makes me dislike the author.

#2. Worldbuilding is a Necessity

Fantasy stories are often set in imaginative and vivid worlds that are different from our own. To make your world feel real, it's essential to create a rich and detailed environment for your characters to inhabit. Think about the history, geography, food, culture, and magic system of your world, and how these elements interact with one another.

Use sensory details and vivid descriptions to bring your world to life for readers. When describing something many beginner writers only talk about the visual appearance of something, but you should also sometimes mention the sounds and smells (and possibly tastes and textures) of the thing so that the reader can more readily immerse themselves in the world.

When researching ideas for worldbuilding I recommend watching tourism/travel videos. Eg. Rick Steve's Europe is quite good if you want a mixture of history, architecture, art, food, culture, local festivals, etc.

#3. Character Development

Your characters are the heart of your story, and it's crucial to make them three-dimensional and relatable, despite the fantasy setting. Give your characters strengths, flaws, and unique quirks that make them feel like real people. As you write your story, ask yourself what motivates each character, and how they will change over the course of the plot.

One of the things I like to do is to give my characters short term goals and long term goals, which may fluctuate and change over time.

You don't have to do this with every character, obviously, but you shouldn't skimp on the minor characters either. Even a minor character should have a description, demeanor, and a short term goal. Eg. The city guard's short term goal might be to finally get off duty and go drinking, so he keeps cracking jokes about drinking and is in a rush. For more depth he might even start singing a drinking song, in which case you get to write a drinking song and that adds to the feel of your story.

Minor characters can be given more time and attention if you ramp up dramatic tension too, giving you more time to talk about their mannerisms, appearances and actions.

#4. Plotting the Story

Fantasy stories often have complex plots, and it's essential to have a clear sense of the story you want to tell before you start writing. Develop a strong outline that details the main plot points and subplots, and use it as a roadmap for your writing. Think about the pacing of your story, and how you can keep readers engaged with twists and turns in the plot. Remember to tie up loose ends and resolve conflicts by the end of the story.

For example you can plot your chapters in a way so that you can use cliffhangers at the end of chapters which end up encouraging the reader to keep reading and saying "One more chapter!" even though it is late at night and they need to sleep. (GRRM does this and it is annoying because his chapters are usually about 5000 words long.)

Also sometimes you should beware of subplots becoming too cumbersome or possibly annoying. You shouldn't be afraid to scrap a subplot if it just isn't working.

Avoid using dramatic cliffhangers at the end of a book. They can annoy readers, especially if there is a large delay between when the next book is coming out. You can tantalize the reader a bit, but if there is a huge cliffhanger then some readers may just rage quit if they have to wait years for the next book to come out.

Looking at you GRRM.


#5. Avoid Common Fantasy Tropes

While there is nothing wrong with using fantasy tropes such as elves, dragons, or magic, relying too heavily on them can make your story feel cliche and unoriginal. To make your story stand out, try to put your own unique spin on these classic tropes or come up with entirely new concepts. Challenge yourself to think outside the box and create something truly original that will captivate readers. Additionally, if you do use classic tropes, make sure to give them a fresh take, and avoid stereotyping characters based on their race or species.

So for example I kind of regret including elves and dwarves in my fantasy kingdom Korovia. Thankfully I have made them nuanced and different in my own way by making them more realistic. Too many fantasy books, in my opinion, create this stereotyped / idealized version of such characters in which they are the perfect archer, have a certain type of personality, frequently look like Legolas, and have flowery names.

If you read my book "The Demon's Sacrifice" you will note that the elf Grier doesn't have a flowery name, that he is an archer, but the archery is realistic, and his personality is a bit stand offish.

I am also exploring other fantasy races like gnomes and minotaurs (which are under represented in fantasy books), but they allow me to explore those tropes whilst making significant changes. Eg. One of the big differences is that my minotaurs are vegetarians, and they each have an interesting / almost philosophical view on life.

And if a minotaur is NOT a vegetarian, well then there is likely an interesting story behind that... Something nuanced that I can play with.

Happy Writing!

Follow me on instagram.com/charles.moffat if you love fantasy writing memes.


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