Discover Online Classes in Creative Writing
Fiction, storytelling, copywriting, and more.
From The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter, from Percy Jackson to Game of Thrones, the fantasy genre somehow appeals to niche audiences and mass followings simultaneously. These fantastical worlds are imagined, yet tangible. They’re fabricated, yet immersive. The creators of these fantasy stories have constructed entire realms in which readers, viewers, and gamers find themselves fully enveloped. You, too, can create a fantastical world all your own! You might be wondering: What are the elements of fantasy? What are good fantasy ideas to write about or some good fantasy writing prompts? Continue reading for a comprehensive look at the fantasy genre and how you can write your own story!
What Is the Fantasy Genre?
The fantasy genre is interesting because, oftentimes, when someone reads a fantasy story, they can easily identify it as such. When it comes to identifying the definitive elements of fantasy stories, however, things get a little more muddled.
First off, fantasy is actually a sub-genre of speculative fiction, which is a catch-all genre for stories that don’t align with standard, based-in-the-real-world fiction.
Typically, fantasy stories are heavily based on familiar myths and folklore and contain supernatural or magical elements. Fantasy stories can be based in some mystical version of the real world or take place in an entirely made-up universe.
Elements of Fantasy
While the fantasy genre is lauded for the unique stories it yields, there are common elements of fantasy that tend to recur across the board.
For instance, the conflict is almost always about good versus evil. Many fantasy stories focus on a protagonist going up against an antagonist or some great evil.
Other common elements of fantasy stories include supernatural creatures, magic, elaborate and fabricated settings, made-up languages, and love. Sure, love is often a theme in many novels and movies, but in fantasy stories, love has power and strength like magic.
How to Write Fantasy
Now that you know what elements constitute this genre, you can use them to determine how to write fantasy stories. Some key things to focus on when writing fantasy are:
Whether you’re creating an entirely new world or simply meshing fantasy elements into the real world, characters are key to story development. Really get to know your characters—their desires, their fears, their talents, their shortcomings—and sketch them out either verbally, visually, or both.
Particularly if you’re creating a world even slightly different from the real one, setting is pivotal in fantasy. It has the power to transport the reader completely . Oftentimes, magical or supernatural elements exist in these stories, which require special detailing and attention in the created space of your fantasy writing.
When creating your own fantasy world—whether it’s an entirely new one or based in reality with some added tweaks and changes—having a set of rules and conditions by which you abide by while writing will help maintain consistency. Even imagined worlds have laws and rules and dos and don’ts!
Fantasy Short Stories to Inspire You
Despite its intricacies, the fantasy genre is even popular as short stories. Short fantasy stories have to work faster and harder to get their audiences invested in the plot. Some excellent examples include:
- “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” by Karen Russell
- “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman
- “You, Little Match Girl” by Joyce Carol Oates
- “Unpopular Gals” Margaret Atwood
- “The Snow Train” by Ken Liu
Fantasy Writing Prompts
Looking to write your own fantasy story but don’t know where to start? Try a writing exercise with one of these prompts! You never know where it will take you…
- You go for a walk and pass a familiar playground from your childhood. You notice it looks the same, yet…somehow different. You go through the gate and enter a different realm.
- On a family vacation, the hotel staff all have a peculiar look in their eye. The uniforms seem too stiff, the colors too flat, the smiles too plastered. The Johnson kids overhear management talking and words like “power,” “control boards,” and “system hardware” stick out. They set off to uncover the secret.
- During her regular morning jog, Willow catches a bright flash out of the corner of her eye. It was large like a wolf, swift like a deer, and illuminated by some magical light.
- Caleb is closing up the community pool for the night when he hears a splash in the diving well. With a flashlight, he goes to see what fell in. When he sees the maker of the noise, his light clatters to the ground.
- Your family moves into a new house. The floor-to-ceiling windows embrace all the natural sunlight and show every inch of the surrounding land. But at night…it’s a different story.
- Taylor loves art—all types—but she harbors a secret. When she draws on her wood canvas that used to be her grandmother’s, something special happens.
- The old watch repair shop, sandwiched between the hair salon and jewelry boutique, hasn’t been open for years. One day, Sam skates by, but something inside catches his eye.
- You see an ad online for a used car for sale. It’s not too old, the specs and pictures look good, but the price seems too good to be true. Soon, you find out why.
- When the Mann family moves to town, they seem just like any other. Things take a turn when the school year starts.
- Just when you think your life couldn’t be more boring, you stumble upon a diamond-like rock in the local quarry. But it’s not a diamond…it’s so much more.
What Will You Create With These Fantasy Writing Prompts?
Whether you decide to embark on a full-length novel or short story, create an entirely new world of awe or brighten up reality with flecks of magic, the fantasy genre is full of opportunities to construct your own piece of unique storytelling!
Make Your Own World!
Science Fiction and Fantasy: Creating Unique and Powerful Worlds