BASICS:

Genres:
Alternate World: A setting that is not our world, but may be similar. This includes “portal fantasies” in which characters find an alternative world through their own. An example would be The Chronicles of Narnia.
Arabian: Fantasy that is based on the Middle East and North Africa.
Arthurian: Set in Camelot and deals with Arthurian mythology and legends.
Bangsian: Set in the afterlife or deals heavily with the afterlife. It most often deals with famous and historical people as characters. An example could be The Lovely Bones.
Celtic: Fantasy that is based on the Celtic people, most often the Irish.
Christian: This genre has Christian themes and elements.
Classical: Based on Roman and Greek myths.
Contemporary: This genre takes place in modern society in which paranormal and magical creatures live among us. An example would be the Harry Potter series.
Dark: This genre combines fantasy and horror elements. The tone or feel of dark fantasy is often gloomy, bleak, and gothic.
Epic: This genre is long and, as the name says, epic. Epic is similar to high fantasy, but has more importance, meaning, or depth. Epic fantasy is most often in a medieval setting.
Gaslamp: Also known as gaslight, this genre has a Victorian or Edwardian setting.
Gunpowder: Gunpowder crosses epic or high fantasy with “rifles and railroads”, but the technology remains realistic unlike the similar genre of steampunk.
Heroic: Centers on one or more heroes who start out as humble, unlikely heroes thrown into a plot that challenges them.
High: This is considered the “classic” fantasy genre. High fantasy contains the general fantasy elements and is set in a fictional world.
Historical: The setting in this genre is any time period within our world that has fantasy elements added.
Medieval: Set between ancient times and the industrial era. Often set in Europe and involves knights. (medieval references)
Mythic: Fantasy involving or based on myths, folklore, and fairy tales.
Portal: Involves a portal, doorway, or other entryway that leads the protagonist from the “normal world” to the “magical world”.
Quest: As the name suggests, the protagonist in this genre sets out on a quest. The protagonist most frequently searches for an object of importance and returns home with it.
Sword and Sorcery: Pseudomedieval settings in which the characters use swords and engage in action-packed plots. Magic is also an element, as is romance.
Urban: Has a modern or urban setting in which magic and paranormal creatures exist, often in secret.
Wuxia: A genre in which the protagonist learns a martial art and follows a code. This genre is popular in Chinese speaking areas.
Word Counts:
Word counts for fantasy are longer than other genres because of the need for world building. Even in fantasy that takes place in our world, there is a need for the introduction of the fantasy aspect.
Word counts for established authors with a fan base can run higher because publishers are willing to take a higher chance on those authors. First-time authors (who have little to no fan base) will most likely not publish a longer book through traditional publishing. Established authors may also have better luck with publishing a novel far shorter than that genre’s expected or desired word count, though first-time authors may achieve this as well.
A general rule of thumb for first-time authors is to stay under 100k and probably under 110k for fantasy.
Other exceptions to word count guidelines would be for short fiction (novellas, novelettes, short stories, etc.) and that one great author who shows up every few years with a perfect 200k manuscript.
But why are there word count guidelines? For young readers, it’s pretty obvious why books should be shorter. For other age groups, it comes down to the editor’s preference, shelf space in book stores, and the cost of publishing a book. The bigger the book, the more expensive it is to publish.
General Fantasy: 75k - 110k
Epic Fantasy: 90k - 120k
Contemporary Fantasy: 90k - 120k
Urban Fantasy: 80k - 100k
Middle Grade: 45k - 70k
YA: 75k - 120k (depending on sub-genre)
Adult: 80k - 120k (depending on sub-genre)

WORLD BUILDING:


A pseudo-European medieval setting is fine, but it’s overdone. And it’s always full of white men and white women in disguise as white men because around 85% (ignore my guess/exaggeration, I only put it there for emphasis) of fantasy writers seem to have trouble letting go of patriarchal societies. 
Guys. It’s fantasy. You can do whatever you want. You can write a fantasy that takes place in a jungle. Or in a desert. Or in a prairie. The people can be extremely diverse in one region and less diverse in another. The cultures should differ. Different voices should be heard. Queer people exist. People of color exist. Not everyone has two arms or two legs or the ability to hear.
As for the fantasy elements, you also make up the rules. Don’t go searching around about how a certain magic spell is done, just make it up. Magic can be whatever color you want. It can be no color at all. You can use as much or as little magic as you want.
Keep track of what you put into your world and stick to the rules. There should be limits, laws, cultures, climates, disputes, and everything else that exists in our world. However, you don’t have to go over every subject when writing your story.
World Building:
Fantasy World Building Questionnaire
Magical World Builder’s Guide
Creating Fantasy and Science Fiction Worlds
Creating Religions
Quick and Dirty World Building
World Building Links
Fantasy World Building Questions
The Seed of Government (2)
Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy
Fantasy Worlds and Race
Water Geography
Alternate Medieval Fantasy Story
Writing Magic
Types of Magic
When Magic Goes Wrong
Magic-Like Psychic Abilities
Science and Magic
Creative Uses of Magic
Thoughts on Creating Magic Systems
Defining the Sources, Effects, and Costs of Magic
World Building Basics
Mythology Master Post
Fantasy Religions
Setting the Fantastic in the Everyday World
Making Histories
Matching Your Money to Your World
Building a Better Beast
A Man in Beast’s Clothing
Creating and Using Fictional Languages
Creating a Language
Creating Fictional Holidays
Creating Holidays
Weather and World Building 101
Describing Fantastic Creatures
Medieval Technology
Music For Your Fantasy World
A heterogeneous World
Articles on World Building
Cliches:
Grand List of Fantasy Cliches (most of this can be debated)
Fantasy Cliches Discussion
Ten Fantasy Cliches That Should Be Put to Rest
Seven Fantasy Cliches That Need to Disappear
Avoiding Fantasy Cliches 101
Avoiding Fantasy Cliches
Fantasy Cliches
Fantasy Cliche Meter: The Bad Guys
Fantasy Novelist’s Exam
Mary Sue Race Test
Note: Species (like elves and dwarves) are not cliches. The way they are executed are cliches.

CHARACTERS
[[MORE]]

Like any genre, you need great characters. Fantasy opens up more opportunities for characters because of the world you created around them.
These characters are part of an impossible world and they are the link from the reader’s life to their universe. Fantasy stories are more often character-driven than plot-driven, and with good reason. The characters of fantasy are meant to do great things, whether those acts of bravery, valor, or kindness are large or small. The reader is supposed to root for your heroes and heroines. The reader should look up to them. They are what makes your story great.
Learn about what makes a great hero and look into using archetypes to base your characters if you don’t know where to start.
Check out the morality alignments (links and explanation. in the “Guide to Writing a Villain” post) to act as a guide for certain characters.
In-depth Analysis of Archetypal Characters
Archetypal Transformation
Character Archetypes in High Fantasy
The Twelve Archetypes
Hero is a Four Letter Word
Eight Female Archetypes
Guide to Writing a Villain
Writing Lycanthropy
Fantasy Name Generator (2) (3) (4)
What “Type” is Your Character?
Writing Young Characters in Fantasy
Articles on Character Development


RACES AND SPECIES:

It’s fantasy. You can do whatever you want,
BUT
it should reflect the real world in some way. There can’t be a world full of white people with the occasional magical negro or any other magical minority person. Put diversity in your world.
That being said, you have to be careful with culture. Different regions in your world will differ with culture, whether that difference is large or small. Don’t appropriate any cultures if you borrow from our world.
And with culture comes the patriarchal society that seems to be present in 90% of fantasies. This is overdone. It’s boring. It’s socially backwards. You’re writing a fantasy. You can do whatever you want. So please rethink what you’re writing about.
Musings on Race in Fantasy
Writing About Race in Fantasy Novels
Minorities, Race, and Ethnicity in Fantasy
Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Minorities
Racism in Fantasy
The Ultimate Fantasy Species List
Racism in Fantasy
Racism in Fantasy and its Effect on POC
Race and Fantasy

Books:
New Releases
Best Epic Fantasy
Best Heroine in Fantasy
I See Dead People
Books with Magical Healers
The Not “Normal” Paranormal
Myth and Folktale Retellings
Fantasy Set in/Around WWII
Fantasy Before 1923
Celtic Fantasy
Best Weird Fantasy
YA Fantasy with LGBTQ Characters
Indie Fantasy
Southern Fantasy
Boston Fantasy
Non-Cliche Dragons
Best Fighting Fantasy Books
Stand Alone Fantasy
Best Pre-Teen Female Fantasy Novels
Cinderella Stories
Historical Fantasy
Best Strong Female Fantasy Novels
Best Fantasy Series, Trilogies, and Duologies
Best Fairytales and Retellings
Best Urban Fantasy
Best Arthurian Fiction
Best Fantasy Books Under the Radar
Best Fantasy Books with Gay Main Characters
Best Indie Fantasy Books
Fantasy Books Set in Two Worlds
Sea Creatures
Fairy Tale Retellings
Best Heroic Fantasy
Best Gay Fantasy Romance
The Best of Mythic Fiction
Non-Caucasion Protagonists in Fantasy
Best Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Romances
Best Kick-Ass Female Characters
Most Interesting Magic System
Can’t Wait Sci-fi/Fantasy 2013
Best Steampunk Books
Best Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance
Hidden Gems: YA Fantasy Novels
Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Books with Angels, Gods, or Demons
Books About Faery
Dragons
Sci-fi/Fantasy/Dystopian Books Written by WOC
Fantasy Book Giveaways
Other Guides:
Horror
Science Fiction
Middle Grade
More:
25 Things You Should Know About Writing Fantasy
Writing Fantasy: Tools and Techniques
How to Write an Epic Fantasy Novel
Tips on Planning a Fantasy Novel
60 Rules for Short Fantasy
Tips for Aspiring Fantasy Writers
Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy: Let’s Unpack That
Female Fantasy Armor
Laws of Fantasy
A Good Fantasy is Hard to Write
Writing Fantasy
How to Write Great Combat Scenes
Women and Childbearing in Fantasy
A Theory of Alternate History
Fantasy Armies
Felines in Fantasy
The Care and Feeding of Fantasy Creatures
Using Science in Fantasy

BASICS:

Genres:

  • Alternate World: A setting that is not our world, but may be similar. This includes “portal fantasies” in which characters find an alternative world through their own. An example would be The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Arabian: Fantasy that is based on the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Arthurian: Set in Camelot and deals with Arthurian mythology and legends.
  • Bangsian: Set in the afterlife or deals heavily with the afterlife. It most often deals with famous and historical people as characters. An example could be The Lovely Bones.
  • Celtic: Fantasy that is based on the Celtic people, most often the Irish.
  • Christian: This genre has Christian themes and elements.
  • Classical: Based on Roman and Greek myths.
  • Contemporary: This genre takes place in modern society in which paranormal and magical creatures live among us. An example would be the Harry Potter series.
  • Dark: This genre combines fantasy and horror elements. The tone or feel of dark fantasy is often gloomy, bleak, and gothic.
  • Epic: This genre is long and, as the name says, epic. Epic is similar to high fantasy, but has more importance, meaning, or depth. Epic fantasy is most often in a medieval setting.
  • Gaslamp: Also known as gaslight, this genre has a Victorian or Edwardian setting.
  • Gunpowder: Gunpowder crosses epic or high fantasy with “rifles and railroads”, but the technology remains realistic unlike the similar genre of steampunk.
  • Heroic: Centers on one or more heroes who start out as humble, unlikely heroes thrown into a plot that challenges them.
  • High: This is considered the “classic” fantasy genre. High fantasy contains the general fantasy elements and is set in a fictional world.
  • Historical: The setting in this genre is any time period within our world that has fantasy elements added.
  • Medieval: Set between ancient times and the industrial era. Often set in Europe and involves knights. (medieval references)
  • Mythic: Fantasy involving or based on myths, folklore, and fairy tales.
  • Portal: Involves a portal, doorway, or other entryway that leads the protagonist from the “normal world” to the “magical world”.
  • Quest: As the name suggests, the protagonist in this genre sets out on a quest. The protagonist most frequently searches for an object of importance and returns home with it.
  • Sword and Sorcery: Pseudomedieval settings in which the characters use swords and engage in action-packed plots. Magic is also an element, as is romance.
  • Urban: Has a modern or urban setting in which magic and paranormal creatures exist, often in secret.
  • Wuxia: A genre in which the protagonist learns a martial art and follows a code. This genre is popular in Chinese speaking areas.

Word Counts:

Word counts for fantasy are longer than other genres because of the need for world building. Even in fantasy that takes place in our world, there is a need for the introduction of the fantasy aspect.

Word counts for established authors with a fan base can run higher because publishers are willing to take a higher chance on those authors. First-time authors (who have little to no fan base) will most likely not publish a longer book through traditional publishing. Established authors may also have better luck with publishing a novel far shorter than that genre’s expected or desired word count, though first-time authors may achieve this as well.

A general rule of thumb for first-time authors is to stay under 100k and probably under 110k for fantasy.

Other exceptions to word count guidelines would be for short fiction (novellas, novelettes, short stories, etc.) and that one great author who shows up every few years with a perfect 200k manuscript.

But why are there word count guidelines? For young readers, it’s pretty obvious why books should be shorter. For other age groups, it comes down to the editor’s preference, shelf space in book stores, and the cost of publishing a book. The bigger the book, the more expensive it is to publish.

  • General Fantasy: 75k - 110k
  • Epic Fantasy: 90k - 120k
  • Contemporary Fantasy: 90k - 120k
  • Urban Fantasy: 80k - 100k
  • Middle Grade: 45k - 70k
  • YA: 75k - 120k (depending on sub-genre)
  • Adult: 80k - 120k (depending on sub-genre)

WORLD BUILDING:

A pseudo-European medieval setting is fine, but it’s overdone. And it’s always full of white men and white women in disguise as white men because around 85% (ignore my guess/exaggeration, I only put it there for emphasis) of fantasy writers seem to have trouble letting go of patriarchal societies. 

Guys. It’s fantasy. You can do whatever you want. You can write a fantasy that takes place in a jungle. Or in a desert. Or in a prairie. The people can be extremely diverse in one region and less diverse in another. The cultures should differ. Different voices should be heard. Queer people exist. People of color exist. Not everyone has two arms or two legs or the ability to hear.

As for the fantasy elements, you also make up the rules. Don’t go searching around about how a certain magic spell is done, just make it up. Magic can be whatever color you want. It can be no color at all. You can use as much or as little magic as you want.

Keep track of what you put into your world and stick to the rules. There should be limits, laws, cultures, climates, disputes, and everything else that exists in our world. However, you don’t have to go over every subject when writing your story.

World Building:

Cliches:

Note: Species (like elves and dwarves) are not cliches. The way they are executed are cliches.

CHARACTERS

Like any genre, you need great characters. Fantasy opens up more opportunities for characters because of the world you created around them.

These characters are part of an impossible world and they are the link from the reader’s life to their universe. Fantasy stories are more often character-driven than plot-driven, and with good reason. The characters of fantasy are meant to do great things, whether those acts of bravery, valor, or kindness are large or small. The reader is supposed to root for your heroes and heroines. The reader should look up to them. They are what makes your story great.

Learn about what makes a great hero and look into using archetypes to base your characters if you don’t know where to start.

Check out the morality alignments (links and explanation. in the “Guide to Writing a Villain” post) to act as a guide for certain characters.

RACES AND SPECIES:

It’s fantasy. You can do whatever you want,

BUT

it should reflect the real world in some way. There can’t be a world full of white people with the occasional magical negro or any other magical minority person. Put diversity in your world.

That being said, you have to be careful with culture. Different regions in your world will differ with culture, whether that difference is large or small. Don’t appropriate any cultures if you borrow from our world.

And with culture comes the patriarchal society that seems to be present in 90% of fantasies. This is overdone. It’s boring. It’s socially backwards. You’re writing a fantasy. You can do whatever you want. So please rethink what you’re writing about.

Books:

Other Guides:

More:

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