Saturday, July 16, 2011

Great Fantasy

Okay, Eunice old girl.  Yesterday I wrote about what makes for a great police-procedural novel/series.  Today I want to take the same tack and talk about the making of a great fantasy.

(Yes, dear.  A fantasy!  No . . . . no . . . I'm not fantasizing about Angelina Jolie!  Books, you mad hatter!  Books!  Fantasy books!)

Anyway . . .

There's a huge audience for fantasy novels.  Huge.  And since the audience--and the money to buy them--is quite large, you can well image at least a google amount of writers (yes, google is a number) are chucking out fantasy novels as fast as they can write them.
The question is--what makes a good fantasy book something that sticks with the readers?  Readers who demand more and more for the author.  So devoted to their work readers actually treat a book--and the author--as, more or less, a part of the family.  How does this happen?

Ask J.K. Rowling.

If you don't know who J.K. Rowling is then you must have died about fifteen years ago and people forgot to tell you.  Maybe you'll recognize this name.  Harry Potter.  Yeah, that Harry Potter.  Seven books, fifty or sixty million books in print.  More actually  . . . I ran out of fingers and toes counting.  Millions of fans all over the world.  Films that created millions of more fans.

(No, Eunice!  They're not all red headed and they're not all my relatives!  Go back to sharpening your bayonets and reloading shotgun shells!)

Rowling created a fantasy series which is probably going to live forever.  So . . .the question is this:  what's the formula for success?  I think I might have an answer.  And it's just one word.


Great fantasy requires the reader to be pulled completely into the story.  To be immersed into a world from head to toe, from nerve ending to nerve ending.  So absorbed into this make-believe world the real world the reader lives in becomes temporarily suspended in time.  That's what happened with the Harry Potter series.  The more you read the books, the more you became immersed in a world so well developed, so nuanced, you found yourself reluctant to leave.  But here's the real kicker;  great fantasy is written by writers who were not thinking about writing a great fantasy.  All they had in mind was to just create a good story. A good, entertaining story.

That's great fantasy.


To write great fantasy one has to win over, body and soul, the reader.  The large majority of fantasy writers don't do that.  They right formula.  Not fantasy.

Fantasy is big nowadays, Eunice.  Big name publishing houses and movie studios are climbing over the walls and looking into every crevice they can find in search of the next big fantasy series.  I write fantasy.  I try . . . diligently . . . to create a world so complete, so real, it immerses the reader into an alternate reality.  Will I be 'discovered' by a large, adoring crowd?  Will I have fans clamoring to bring the next book out as soon as possible?

How the hell should I know?

(All right, Eunice!  I'll wash the dishes!  But remember to sew the thumb you just sliced off with that bayonet back on before you come to bed tonight.)

1 comment:

  1. I just posted the first chapter of my fantasy novel on a different site than the regular one I use. The site, new to me, is I immediately got 3 reviews. One pointed out a few things that didn't add up, yet on the whole, loved the story. Second one, loved it. Third...I can't begin to tell you how lengthy this review was. They pointed out everything I was doing wrong---lots of things apparently, yet went on to tell me they couldn't wait for the next chapter.'ve told us what makes great fantasy, but could you tell us some things to avoid doing, like what makes bad fantasy? Because I think I'm getting somewhere with the immersion thing...I somehow have this person liking it despite what they see as wrong with it. I really do hope you post about what pitfalls to avoid when writing this genre. Thank you.