When you think of fantasy fiction, you might think of novels like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, etc. Have you, as a writer, ever thought how the writers developed these worlds? Have you been inspired by these authors to create a world of your own making? I’m sure many of you have been intrigued and influenced by fantasy authors to create your own universe. Many of them just find it difficult and back away, daunted by the challenging task, but there are some of them who take it head on and manage to create a world that is as intriguing as the books they have read.
Fantasy is a genre that is sought out by people of all age groups, ranging from children to aged people. What makes this genre tick is the curiosity it generates and how rich the universe can be.
As we all know, fantasy is a vast genre and is further classified into various sub-genres. In this article, we will learn about high fantasy and how to create one in a step-by-step process.
High fantasy is a sub-category of fantasy where a secondary world or an alternate universe is used for depicting stories and usually uses medieval themed cultures. However, some might use ancient myths for influence. Magic may or may not be involved.
It is a difficult endeavor to create a story of such a caliber. The plot is not the only important thing; the world in which the story is based is also important. So when you are starting with writing a high fantasy, do ample research and build a believable universe.
Let us now go through the steps which writers must undergo while building a high fantasy concept.
Step 1: Form an Idea
This is the basic step a writer follows while embarking upon a story of any genre. An idea is essential. However, remember that this story must be set in an alternate universe or a secondary world.
Step 2: World-Building
The first difficult step is to build a world. For this, a writer must embark upon research. Knowledge of history and mythology helps a lot in this phase. A writer must think of the following points:
- The culture/s in the world. Do the people in the universe follow different cultures or are the rules of society similar?
- The languages spoken also reflect the cultures.
- How the people look in the different regions of the world? It is the same. Like in our world, Asians looks pretty different than, say, the Americans, even though the biological structure remains the same.
- Is magic involved? What kinds? How does it affect the societies? Do these societies have cults?
- Where do people live? Where is the population crowded and where is it sporadic? Geography is important when answering this question.
There are many other questions besides these. When building a world, do ample research on history, mythology, and geography.
Step 3: Map-making a.k.a. Cartography
The readers need to know the lay of the land. While drawing maps, one must be careful. Geographical rules must be observed. You can use any one of the many software products available to you or you could draw it yourself on a piece of paper and then scan it.
Step 4: Outlining the Story
Whether you are a plotter or a pantser, you must have the basic plot of the story, especially if you are writing high fantasy. Here you will ask yourself many questions. Is this standalone? Is this a series? And, likewise, you will outline. For a plotter, this phase is extensive. Generally, the number of characters, both major and minor, in a high/epic fantasy exceed that of any other genre. Make sure you are not confused and know where one character goes from a plot point to another. Also, make sure that the character develops in a way. There must be an overall story archetype. For the series as well as the individual book. Many events may occur at many places, depending upon the plot, and all events may become cohesive at the end of the series.
Step 5: Writing
Start writing your story. Remember that since this is a secondary world, the writer must be able to describe the world and its cultures, and be able to draw the reader in. How descriptive your novel needs to be, it is up to you. A high fantasy novel has a usual length of 125k words and above, but do not let this limit stop you. A story should be only as long as required. Follow the outline. Be true to the culture. Incorporate your research well.
These are the five basic steps to writing a high fantasy. Hope you have found this useful, and good luck for writing a fantastical concept.
About the Author:
Varun Prabhu is an author who is invested in creating mythological retellings and interpreting them to suit current scenario. He also writes fantasy, horror, science-fiction, and mild erotica.
His debut work, a retelling of the Mahabharata, titled The Mahabharata Simplified, is already out. The first book in the series, Exodus, has met with much adulation, prompting him to accelerate his work on the remaining 17 books planned in this mega-series.