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  1. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not "fantasy" enough

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Lea`Brooks, Nov 1, 2016.

    Do you every worry your fantasy world isn't "fantasy" enough?

    When I have an image in my head for a location, I use Pinterest to find something similar to what I see. But often, I see these beautiful scenes in extraordinary worlds. And nothing I see in my head even slightly resembles that. My world feels so basic and traditional. And it worries me. Maybe I should be thinking more outside the box. Maybe my world is boring!

    Has anyone else ever thought this? What did you do?
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, sometimes this happens to me. For me I think it's because of overcompensation. I get impatient when a writer wants to spend two and a half pages detailing the Tudor elements in the fa├žade of a thatched pub that has been there so long no one even remembers when it was built. I want description, yes, but don't wax rhapsodic at me. So... I find in rereading my stuff that sometimes my characters are acting on a rather blank stage. I have to make myself remember to paint in the setting. What do I do about it? I've decided that in first draft it's not something to worry about, for me. I can always go back and paint the scene brighter, deeper, richer. My fantasy story isn't really fantasy so much as science fiction in disguise, so I'm actually pretty committed to keeping this world "real". It's not Earth, so there are different animals and flora is described enough to let you know these are not things that are found on Earth, but nothing crazily fantasyesque gets used in my story.
     
  3. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Heck yeah! The world in my head is never very . . . there. I picture a few mountains and maybe a river running through the middle, or something. Nothing detailed, nothing big, and certainly nothing out of the ordinary. I find it very difficult to describe anything in my story, and I worry about my world and especially characters having no visual substance for the readers. I don't want them going, "Uh, where are they?" because I didn't describe the scene well enough. I also don't like reading a lot of description, so naturally, I don't want to write it. Like Wreybies, I've decided to not worry about it in the first draft. Description can always be added later.

    Hm, I think I went on a tangent there. I've read a number of fantasy stories where the world itself was basically the same as ours (though I don't read ones set in modern times), and I never thought of them as not being fantasy enough for it. If the characters and plot are interesting and the story well written, I really don't care if the story takes place in Boringtown, VA on the planet Earth. There just has to be one element to make it fantasy, like a toad that has a fish tail or a culture that doesn't really exist.
     
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  4. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    Is the story about the world, or about the people in it? Making the world more "fantastical" is all well and good, but if you go too far, you'll draw the reader's interest away from the characters and what they're doing. Add as much as you need to, and no more.
     
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  5. Ebenezer Lux

    Ebenezer Lux Member

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    The characters make it a fantasy as much as the setting. Having said that, there definitely is a set market and set demographics (if someone can point me to those stats however, I would be much obliged). I do worry my stuff isn't fantasy enough, and that can be troubling if you want to grab the market's attention. But I just try to embrace the unorthodox trailblazer in me. Mindsets change as do markets.
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The world doesn't matter. There are great fantasy stories set in non-magical, mundane worlds.
     
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  7. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Honestly, when I read fantasy I prefer the kind that focuses more on the plot and characters, less on the setting. There are certainly readers with different tastes, but when I write fantasy I write what I want to read, and that means not all that "fantasy".
     
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  8. halisme

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Low fantasy is popular at the moment. So it's fine.
     
  9. terobi

    terobi Contributing Member

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    I don't think it matters too much. Having a world that's close to ours helps your audience connect with your characters more.
     
  10. Chester Stark

    Chester Stark New Member

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    When I write fantasy, I find that I want to describe things way more than the reader probably wants to hear. I just keep the ideas of what my world is like in the back of my head, ad slip in as much description as I can without taking the focus too much away from the characters. I get the feeling you're thinking of, too, when I see something really beautiful, its like a kind of nostalgic wonder, and I immediately want to go back and change my whole book. You've just got to realise that describing the setting isn't everything, although it is definitely fun. It can also, often, be used in tandem with furthering the plot. e.g. 'She walked down the steep mountainside, grabbing onto the sparse heather to stop herself from sliding, and trying desperately to peer through the mist that swirled around her like an impenetrable curtain.'
     
  11. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I have a writer friend whose (excellent) book can't get published because of this. Publishers keep praising it to high heaven but saying it isn't fantasy enough - it's very much about the characters, who are fantasy characters, but their fantastic-ness is a background thing.

    The setting is less important, I think.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Surprising, given that there is a lot of that sort of thing on the shelves. Maybe look into which publishers are putting that kind of work out there. Orbit is one. Also Subterranean.
     
  13. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    She has one of the best fantasy agents in the business, so I don't think they're targeting the wrong publishers. :)

    I think you have to read it to realise what they mean by "not fantasy enough." At first I was confused, because the premise is so clearly fantasy. Once I read it, I understood.
     
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe. But I'm talking about fantasy novels that have no fantastic or supernatural elements whatsoever, and are very much character driven. Those works are out there. What do you think is the biggest problem in your friend's manuscript as far as being fantasy enough? Sometimes it helps to identify other similar works. Although it sounds like your friend's agent will know all this info already.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  15. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    Totally. I can't tell you what I did about it since it's still a WIP. But I'd say it's at least as much history or alt-history as it is fantasy, and I may end up just re-jiggering it to fit into one of those genres instead. In fact I'd say the genesis for this book came from my conviction, after spending a lot of my life reading a lot about history, that human history, no matter how much you want to scrutinize it for practical lessons, is mostly just really weird and unrelatable and to make it any less so is just a presentist bias. History (I mean our real-world history) is, to me, "fantastic" and I wanted to convey at least some of that blend of feelings to readers.

    Of course, as some have mentioned you don't necessarily need to make your world that "Fantastic" to be successful.
     
  16. Jaiden

    Jaiden Member

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    I have never written anything 'proper fantasy' beyond the first chapter. Barely do they get beyond the planning stages because I want the perfect world for my characters to run around on. I can't say I've solved this issue as it's more that I've just moved away from it sheepishly, but I am working on a story about magic, old tribes, a mountain, and so I went to the Lake District and walked around it on a rather snowy and foggy day, visited some ancient neolithic stones, and thought about what it would be like to actually live there. I don't have elegant descriptions of the grass and how the sunlight gleamed from it, but I know how I felt being in that location, and if you can feel it, the rest will follow eventually. Even if you have to add in the details a slither at a time.
     
  17. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't tend to think visually about my stories in the first place, so this hasn't been a problem with my Urban Fantasy so far ;) I get more excited about the logic of how everything works (characters' motivations, magic preparation and effects, tactical planning...) than about what anything looks like.
     
  18. Freddy van Zandt

    Freddy van Zandt Member

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    The reality of your setting could make people feel comfortable. What you need to do to inject the fantasy aspects, aside from magic should that be a factor, is to accentuate some key difference between it and our world. To give an example: in Brandon Sanderson's Wax & Wayne Mistborn books, the world is thriving in the industrial era, but there are no radios, even though the tech is at the point where that should be common. The magic there can be used to get messages places fast enough that nobody ever thought to make them.

    Pick something which makes sense for your magic system to supplant and, well, supplant it! That, and draw a map. Having a map always makes that place seem a truly different world.
     
  19. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Who wants waffles...? Contributor

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    Nope, I write the Sci-fi. :supergrin:

    While I have dabbled in something that may be considered fantasy due to the
    fantasy based character models from lore. It is not hard to add in the little
    elements that make the setting fantasy. Though I tend to lean away from using
    too much magic, otherwise things get way too out of control. So have some sort
    of rules/laws that work logically within your world, otherwise it all comes off
    as plot demands (and might unravel faster than a cheap suit).

    Best of luck with you on this story, you got this. :supersmile:
    Also just because... :supergrin:
    ShiretoMordor.jpg
     
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  20. G.A. Kainne

    G.A. Kainne Member

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    For me this isn't much of an issue, but I can understand your frustration completely. When it comes to writing it's easy to make something look simple, but the imagination is your target here. If it's relatable to reality this is a good thing, it helps bring your readers deeper into the rabbit hole.
     

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