Wattpad

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

How To Write A Best-Selling Fantasy Novel... Or Maybe Not

Australian comedy writer Ian McFadyen has written a very funny article, "How To Write A Best Selling Fantasy Novel" - packed with excellent advice for Tolkien imitator hacks everywhere!

Among McFadyen's many useful rules, I find this to be the most important:
---------------------------------------------------
"7. Make it long. The important thing about an epic fantasy novel is that the reader must be exhausted at the end of it. They must feel that they have overcome as many obstacles in getting through the book as the heroes have in fulfilling the quest. So the book must be as difficult to read as possible. To do this:

(a) Tell the story in incredible detail. Describe every day of the journey, how far they walked, what they ate, the weather, where they slept, especially days where nothing happens.

(b) Fill every dramatic situation with lengthy introspection. At every moment of crisis the hero must minutely examine his feelings, perceptions, identity, whether he left the gas on etc.

(c) Never take the easy way out of a crisis. For example, if the Wizard Guide holds great power, he will never use it to solve a situation."

(From"How To Write A Best Selling Fantasy Novel" by Ian McFadyen)
---------------------------------------------------

In other words, your Best-Selling Generic Fantasy Novel must be an absolute ordeal to read.
OK, sarcasm off. What's the real lesson here?

1. Make it LONG ENOUGH.
2. If you need exposition, scatter it through the entire book.

3. Do... not... bore the reader. EVER. If some part of the hero's journey is uneventful, skip to the part where something interesting starts to happen.

If you can't come up with a good title for your fantasy epic, simply use my
GENERIC FANTASY TITLE GENERATOR (tm):
Just combine words from the following lists into fantasy titles:
1. Subject:
HERO/ES, WIZARD, WARLOCK, ELF, HOBBIT, KING, QUEEN, ORC, UNICORN
2. Object:
RING, SWORD, DAGGER, SCEPTRE, SPEAR, STONE, JEWEL, CROWN, THRONE, CASTLE
3. Relevant Astronomical Object:
MOON, SUN, EARTH, STAR/S
4. Mood:
DARK/NESS, SHADOW, NIGHT, LIGHT, DAWN, SILVER, GOLD
5. Action:
QUEST, FALL, RISE/RISING
6. Fillers
A, THE, OF, OVER
Example: "A Dawn of Unicorns"
Or: "The Sun Dagger King's Quest"
Or: "Fall of the Hobbit-King's Shadowquest of the Moonsword Castle"

Or better yet, don't write a Generic Fantasy novel. Come up with your own ideas instead.

2 comments:

Mark said...

They forgot, "Put a map in the front. Make sure there's a range of mountains called the Mountains of Dhoom (or Dhume or Duuhm or whatever)."

A.R.Yngve said...

I'm waiting for a Generic Fantasy novel where the heroes wander through a huge tunnel underneath the Humongous Mountains on their way to the Dark Lord's Stronghold... only to arrive at a walled-up exit, with the sign:

"THIS TUNNEL CONDEMNED By Order Of the Dark Lord Safety Dept."
;-P

-A.R.Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com