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There are essential elements that make high fantasy novels come alive, but the characters are the banners. Without having characters that people care about, stories will flop. That said, if the characters are admirable, then the story can sag, and people may still continue to read on.

Fantasy novels must have certain elements if they are to fit into the mold of the mainstream fantasy.

1. The world must be consistent.

If the rules can be broken, then the laws of the world seem to be unreliable lies that the reader will reject. On earth, gravity is a law. If I am writing an autobiography, and I explain that I soared through the air, then I’ve lost all credibility because I’ve broken the rules of my world. The same is true in fantasy.

2. There needs to be a sense of a quest.

High fantasy that does not bring to life some sort of adventure will flop. This genre does not have the luxury of having two people telling their war stories in a hospital room as they reflect on their past. If this happens, then the entire story had better be a flashback so that the reader can experience the adventures.

3. Complications of that quest should arise.

The more that the main progresses towards his goal, the more difficult obtaining his goal should become. New twists and new challenges should emerge along with the abrasions that appear from the main rubbing shoulders with his quest-mates.

4. Usually there is some item or items that must be connected with.

High fantasy’s common staple is that the writers incorporate the usage of some heirloom or some other type of enchanted item. The main must interact with that item or those items, and he must prevail.

5. All or nothing.

With high fantasy, everything is left on the table. If the main does not fulfill his quest then something is lost forever. That could be an item, but more commonly it’ll be a relationship or a philosophy / way of life. If the main is defeated, then so is quest and mankind or … elf-kind or…tiger-kind or whatever-kind.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope this helps.

4 thoughts on “FANTASTIC FIVE

  1. Layla

    I’m flirting with a fantasy tale, and you’re spot on with the rules here. Fantasy is about characters, believability, and a quest.

    1. William Stadler Post author

      Thanks man. Yeah high fantasy is tough to write, but it’s the most fun and the most rewarding to me. The trilogy that I’m writing is probably somehting like Medium Fantasy because there’s not a destination like going from the Shire to Mordor. But there are elements of a quest within in the novel. It’s just that the action all takes place within more confined region. My novel was inspired by Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth.


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