"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Guest Post: Tips on Writing Fantasy by Nadine Maritz

If you type Fantasy Writing into any search engine these days you’re met with a gazillion links leading to every possible tip and trick to succeed at writing. It can be a little overwhelming so, since I’ve started writing my set of novels, I thought I’d let all the other first timers out there know what I’ve learned on my adventure. Please note, though, this is my opinion only.

I write fantasy, but I wanted to start out by giving more general tips that should apply to any genre. First off, let’s look at some of the things I wish I’d known before I started writing.

1. If you’re a first timer with no background in writing I suggest reading everything you can lay your hands on when it comes to writing.

2. Assess what you want from writing. Do you want to get published more than anything in the entire world or are you really just writing for your own pleasure? If it’s the latter and you’re not honest with yourself upfront it could end up costing you a crap load of money and only giving you a very low morale in return.

3. Know from the word go that in order to succeed you will need to put a lot into it. Writing can be fairly expensive—especially these days, when an author is expected to market themselves for the most part—and it’s never easy. It’s an art, and in order to succeed you will need determination, patience and, for some, money. 

4. Write an outline, create your characters and decide what you want to achieve in your stories. Now, I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but it does help me. By doing this I know exactly what to expect from my characters and I stay focused on where I want the plot to go.

5. Buy yourself some big girl panties (or suitable gender-specific underwear.) You need to know from the word go that not everyone will like your ideas, your style, your characters or your plot. Thick skin is a necessity.

6. Get an editor. Not everyone needs one, not everyone can afford one, but if you’re like me it’s a necessity. Also, to fit my sparkling personality, I didn’t require just anyone. I had to look for someone who is experienced in my genre, liked my idea and was willing to invest time and energy to help me polish my story.

7. Network. Networking is more important than ever in today’s market. I’d say even if you can’t meet with people face-to-face it’s important to get active on social networking. That way you build up a relationship with fellow authors, publishers, agents and potential readers.

Finally, since fantasy is my passion, as I feel it’s one of the most creative genres where you get to create new worlds, I wanted to end off by talking about what works for me, writing in that genre specifically.

1. Setting, in terms of time, needs to be appropriate and convincing when it comes to technology.

2. Don’t expect readers, agents or publishers to visualize something that’s unconvincing. What publishers will look for is specific—a good story, a clear plot structure, well-developed characters and dialogue.

3. Start off with your world. This world needs to be pretty fleshed out before you can move onto the next step.

4. Create maps—you don’t need to get it all coloured up for publishing but by creating this you have a general concept of where stuff takes place.

5. Magic—if your world involves magic, you will need to create—and stick to—rules for it before you start writing.

6. Try to avoid clichés. Parameters have pretty much been set when it comes to dwarves and fairies etc. Focus on developing something new yet realistic.

7. Characterization in fantasy is very important. Unless your world is specifically built to accommodate it, you can’t take a sailor from the 1400s and put him into a 21st century space shuttle.

Remember to write what you love. Know that your first draft will never be your best draft, writing will take time no matter what genre you focus on and, if you take these points into consideration and are prepared to put in the time and effort, I’d like to believe you, and I, will succeed! 

Nadine Maritz ( formerly known as Cloete) was born in 1981 in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa’s City of Gold. A variety of influencing factors and individuals has helped shape her journey towards writing this her first novel. 

Nadine's Novel “My Addiction: My Gift; My Curse,” is a South African contemporary fiction novel that reflects on the relatable day to day livelihood of an Afrikaans vampire nurse that works in an old age home.  This is the first novel of a series.


J. M. Strother said...

I too am an outliner, though my outlines are very informal. I'm also very much into maps, even for contemporary settings. They help me visualize the setting, which I hope translates to the page.

Good luck on your series.

Overspenders Anonymous said...

I'm new to fiction (first book published in Jan. 2013)although I've written non-fiction books. I find fiction to be much more difficult. I appreciate your tips Nadine.
Ben Carlsen

Overspenders Anonymous said...

I'm new to fiction (first book published Jan. 2013) although I've written several non-fiction books. I find your advice very helpful. Thank you.

Ben Carlsen

Overspenders Anonymous said...

I'm new to fiction (first book published Jan. 2013) and I find it far more challenging than non-fiction. I appreciate your tips and advice.