Today I am excited to welcome author Michael D. Young, author of The Canticle Kingdom, Portrait of a Mother, and the soon-to-be-released book: The Last Archangel.
Writing Certified Fresh Fantasy
by Michael D. Young
1. Don’t Go on the Same Old Quest: The prophecy. The one true hero. The dark lord standing in his way. You’ve all heard it before. Many times if you frequent the fantasy shelf at the library, there are certain plots in fantasy that are well-loved. That doesn’t mean you need to take your reader on precisely the same path. If your plot follows a familiar trail, look for ways to deviate from the norm. For example, have there be a prophecy about the hero, but have two brothers go on the quest, all the while unsure of which one of them the prophecy was talking about.
2. Play with Character Stereotypes: Could your wizard be Gandalf’s cousin? Has your dwarf been mistaken for Gimli’s stunt double? If so, take a step back. Make sure you are giving characters their unique style, including both appearance and personality traits. Not all wizards have to have billowing robes and long beards. Maybe not all dwarves carry an ax and live underground. Maybe your elven warrior has never picked up a bow, and even better, maybe the hero of your story is some ugly creature instead, like an ogre. (Oh, wait scratch that one…that’s been done.)
3. Erase the Races: Don’t think if you include different fantasy races that they always have to fit the fantasy action figure/Tolkien-based system of having elves, dwarves, humans, goblins, etc. This is fantasy we’re talking about! You are only limited by the horsepower of your imagination. Forge out and found new races. Give them distinctive physical traits, abilities, a history, likes and dislikes, and draw on all of those things when putting them into the conflict of you novel.
4. Mix Up Your Magic: If you story includes magic, take some time to think about magic works in your world. If you want to make your story really interesting, take the time to set up some simple rules, and then stick to them. If you magic is controlled by words, let your readers in on the rules early and by all means stay consistent throughout your story. Pin a post-it note to your computer if you have to, in order to remember the rules you set. Even in fantasy, readers want a clear cause-effect relationship. It’s not enough to explain everything by saying “It’s just magic.”
5. Build on the Foundation: When you write fantasy, you are building on a well-established tradition. You are never going to be able to make every element of your fantasy story unique from anything else that’s been done. But especially in fantasy, the strength of your story is gauged by the power of your imagination. You should know what has been done so that you can go beyond it. You can take familiar themes and twist them with your own stamp. I can’t say what that is for you, but you need to take the time to find it.
Thank you, Michael!
Michael's latest book, The Last Archangel, will be released on the 14th of this month!
You can learn more about it here.
Michael is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a degree in German Teaching and a minor in Music. He puts his German to good use by working to build online German courses for High School students. Though he grew up traveling the world with his military father, he now lives in Utah with his wife, Jen, and his two sons. Michael enjoys acting in community theater, playing and writing music and spending time with his family. He played for several years with the handbell choir Bells on Temple Square and is now a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
His first book, "The Canticle Kingdom", was released in Feb 2010 through Bonneville Books. He is also the author of the inspirational pamphlet "Portrait of a Mother". He has also had work featured in various online and print magazines such as Mindflights, The New Era, Allegory, and Ensign.
You can learn more about Michael and his writing at his blog: http://www.writermike.com