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Resources for Fantasy Writers

A selection of websites for the aspiring fantasy author

When you’re starting out as an author, one of the most common recommendations is to write what you know. It’s terrible advice. If people did that, there would be no Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire or Neverwhere. True, there are elements in all three of these taken from the experience of the author and the world we live in, but they’ve gone beyond the everyday and created mesmerising new realms (or realms below our own).

Writing fantasy is a freeing experience, at least for me. New universes, species, and characters are all mine to craft. I can make them whatever I want, only limited by my own imagination and words. That’s not to say I don’t get stuck from time to time, because I’m limited by own imagination and words.

I write because I love it, but I also want other people to love it. If someone can read my book and say they were entertained at the end, I’ve been successful. But they aren’t going to say that if they can’t follow your journey, relate to your characters or imagine your world. There have to be rules. Magical systems don’t exist independently – they’re interlinked with the world your characters inhabit and determine what they can or can’t do.

Before I began The Transcendent Saga, I made notes. I started with an historical overview, mapping the beginning of my universe and continuing to where the story picks up. I included all key events, many of which are important for how the trilogy unfolds. I defined the traits of each species, how their social hierarchy works, and any other random titbits which might come in useful. Each of my characters has their own profile; taking into account their abilities, looks, personal experiences, and little pieces of the weird and wonderful. For example, Nate loves a Christmas jumper. It might not ever enter a scene, but it tells me something about him.

Enough about me, what resources are out there to help you begin your journey? Here’s some I’ve found useful, though it’s hardly an exhaustive list. A big shout out and thank you goes to the people who wrote these. They’ve put a lot of time and effort in, so make sure you give credit if you share.

World-Building

The World Building Academy shares lots of helpful tips. You’ll get exclusive content if you sign up but there’s plenty available on the main site.

The Writer’s Edit offers a comprehensive guide on how build your world, be it fantasy, SF or real.

NY Book Editors has a fantasy world 101 guide, and you can download a free fantasy world building worksheet.

Avoiding Tropes & Clichés

James Whitbrook at Io9 offers some helpful advice on avoiding obvious and overused ideas.

Silver Blade Magazine provides an extensive list, however, do take this with a pinch of salt. There’s nothing wrong with adopting these ideas – you can use them in inventive and creative ways.

The Tattooed Book Geek has a hilarious take on overused tropes. Read it for a giggle.

Characters

Fantasy Faction has brilliant suggestions for all aspects of fantasy writing. Here’s a quick blog on developing believable characters. Check out the links at the bottom of the page for further reading.

Hero Machine helps you create a character by choosing how they look and dress.

Charlie Jane Anders at Io9 offers 10 top tips for creating memorable characters.

Overview

Reedsy offers advice on any number of topics, all geared towards helping you as a writer. Read their mini-guide on fantasy, and don’t forget to click the links for more tips.

Now Novel lays out a wonderful overview, giving tips on everything from making up new languages to character names and politics.

Daniel Arenson’s site has sections on all aspects of writing fantasy. You can also download three of this USA Today best-selling author’s books for free.

Comment if you have tips or resources you’d like to share.

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