Every person, whether their a writer or not, has fantasies throughout the day. They can be as simple as someone else do the dishes for you or run your errands by the time you get home. Writers are different breed. We have the ability to elevate simple fantasies into fantastical worlds. We transform an ordinary fantasy into worlds ruled by mystical creatures, another dimension of altered time, or worlds that don’t follow scientific rules.
How do we take those fantasies and turn them into novels?
- Read or listen to your favorite authors in fantasy. This is rule number one because you learn who makes the best seller list and you learn what kind of stories you like. Following your favorites authors will also give you a structure to follow. Every author out there also shares their process and how they came up with their idea through interviews and online content. Read, Read, Read.
- Write down the details of your character before you begin writing your first chapters. You need to know their personality. How will they react to certain situations? Do they have superpowers? It’s okay if their predictable because it will give your audience expectations to follow. This grounds your characters and your audience won’t feel conflicted by plot holes or unintentional character flaws. When your audience knows how your character will react, they will feel connected to them.
- Once you know all aspects of your main characters you can begin to build them piece-by-piece throughout your chapters. Ask how your characters walk, talk, and speak. Think about going a speed date with your character. What would you ask them? What would you have asked your partner before you committed to them? Layer the reactions, emotions, and behaviors to build a deeper character. Don’t force your audience to swallow everything about them. If you have the details, you can slowly reveal different parts of them, and their past. The audience will stay more engaged if they are learning something new.
- What are the rules of the world your characters live in? Does the world resemble earth? What can the people or creatures do and not do? Establish the basic rules of the world right away so that the audience has a clear picture in their mind. I’ve followed novels with maps of the world before the first chapter and they don’t always help. There might be several kingdoms in your world but your characters shouldn’t go through all of them in one novel. Placing your characters in 1 or 2 locations grounds your setting for the audience. If you need to go on a quest, consider writing a series because cramming to many events or worlds into one novel will make things difficult to follow.
- Challenge yourself when it comes to dialogue. Writer’s of some genres, you may need to think like a screen or play write. Can your words stand on their own without too many adverbs? Does the emotion come through your characters words? Characters need to be memorable. The words they speak are anchors to a page. Responses, their manner of speaking, and the length of time it takes them to speak all matter. They help carve out more details of your character.
- Keep the story simple. Don’t overwhelm your audience with complexities. Yes, there needs to be obstacles but don’t throw too many at them or it doesn’t seem realistic. Your audience will eventually roll their eyes and ask, “What next?” if you add to many or drag it out too long. One thing that helps me is thinking of my chapters in terms of television episodes. Think about how many words didn’t make it into an episode. It’s painful to cut lines or scenes but they keep everything more intense and focused. Chapters should keep the essentials of the story but not leave the audience feel like your skimming (like some movies do to books).
I hope these 6 tips helps with your writing journey! Follow as I post on my progress throughout the month and share the experience.