Write a Fantasy Novel: How to Create a Unique World. | Jack Dreger | Skillshare

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Write a Fantasy Novel: How to Create a Unique World.

teacher avatar Jack Dreger

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Lesson 1: Avoiding Tropes


    • 3.

      Lesson 2: Worldbuilding


    • 4.

      Lesson 3: Making Races


    • 5.

      Lesson 4: Creatures & Monsters


    • 6.

      Lesson 5: Writing Cultures


    • 7.



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About This Class

Want to write a fantasy novel? Tired of seeing the same tropes used in every story? Learn how to create a new and interesting world in this class! We'll go through several steps on how to write interesting fantasy fiction. Follow along with the class example and post your own to receive feedback. 

In this course you will learn how to build a fantasy world, create a unique fantasy race, make new creatures, and write interesting cultures!

This class is perfect for beginner and intermediate writers who are interested in writing fantasy stories.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jack Dreger

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hello everybody. Welcome to my course on how to create a unique world for your fantasy novel. My name is Jack Traeger, and I am an amateur fantasy novelist and I am a huge fan of the fantasy genre. And I have noticed many tropes throughout the genre and my many years of reading. So I'm here to help you break free from the chains of these tropes and create your own unique world. In this course, you'll learn how to avoid the tropes of fantasy writing. How to make interesting worlds, how to make unique races, how to create unique creatures, how to write new fantasy cultures. And we'll learn how to tie all these together to create a cohesive fantasy world, story, plot and characters. Throughout the course, you'll follow along with my class example. And you'll write your own blurb at the end of each lesson, which you can post below. For feedback from me and your peers. In these blurbs, you'll write a short description of your unique world, unique creature, unique culture, and so on. So I hope you'll enjoy this course as much as I enjoyed making it. And I hope you join me along this journey of helping to create your fantasy world. 2. Lesson 1: Avoiding Tropes: So let's start this course by going over the problem that many fantasy novels and counter. We'll learn what to avoid when you're trying to write unique fiction. Fantasy as a genre, has many common tropes. There's a huge reliance on generic fantasy, and we'll go into a little further depth on how generic fantasy may be defined later. But for now, you can think of it almost as Tolkien inspired fantasy. Tolkien, of course, is a huge influence on the whole fantasy genre and many other genres as well. But many creators tend to rely too heavily on Tolkien sq world-building. The second trope that I want to cover is the issue of fantasy races and alignment. There is a problem that I have found in different fantasy and a good example is Dungeons and Dragons, which they're now trying to solve this issue, which I commend them for. But the issue that certain fantasy races are inherently tied to a moral alignment will go into that later as well. And then third I want to talk about is, why be unique, why try to break away from these tropes? So let's start with some of the main Tolkien sq tropes. How many fantasy stories have you seen? That has orcs, elves, dwarves of magic weapon, a farm boy, protagonist, a big faceless bad guy. So of course, you know, you've probably seen a lot of the stories. And we want to learn how to kind of make a unique mark on them and not just rely on the same plot points, same world-building. And all of these I think, can be broken down into, you know, like I said earlier, token inspired. And of course, there are good and bad uses of these tropes. We wanna try to avoid the bad uses. And what I mean by the bad uses is just is just using them without thinking about why they would make sense in your world and why they would make sense in your plot. If you use these tropes, I would want you, and I think you would want yourself to think deeply or just think consciously of do these make sense? And are they a good fit in your world? So the issue of alignment in a fantasy stories, there is an unfortunate trend of races and fantasy being tied to an alignment. So a good example of this is orcs always being used as the savage and evil race and fantasy. And this is a, this is a problem for many levels. One is just bad writing. Now, of course you can have a, a group in your fantasy novel, be the bad guys. But to have a race of people be inherently good or bad is just, I mean, I, hopefully you see why that could be an issue. So when you're writing your story, try to think about individuals having different alignments instead of a group of people. Of course, there are exceptions to this. You could have a hive mind race. Other examples could be subtractions and groups following a certain ideology. Tried to think about how you're using races and your fantasy story and try to think about this issue consciously while writing. So let's talk a little bit about why you might want to break away and it might be obvious, but, but having a unique voice in a fantasy genre could help your story stand out. Not only that, but having a fresh story with your own ideas can help you train your creative side and get you to think more consciously about all the elements of your fantasy world to a point where you're writing will become better over time naturally, at a faster rate than if you were relying on old tropes and old Tolkien ask fantasy elements. 3. Lesson 2: Worldbuilding: Okay, now let's go over how to create a unique world for your fantasy story. When trying to create a unique fantasy idea, think about the technological age, every story, the important history and mythology of your world, and how to connect to the world, to the plot. Thinking about when you're story takes place in the world's history is a great place to get started in creating an interesting, unique fantasy world. Lots of stories go for the medieval fantasy approach on it. And I think that's a great idea, but you can put a little spin on it or change it completely if you want your story to stand out in that regard, which era of technology does your world and inhabit? For example, a medieval fantasy world would have meat evil as technology. If you go a little further in time, you start to introduce steam powered machines. If you go back in time, you might want to remove certain things like trepidation, catapults. And you can change these things variably over time through your story to create interesting world. Thinking about how the technology we rolled affects the people in it is also a great place to get started. Thinking consciously about each little idea and you're sorry. So think about how different transportation would affect your people and how they would get to city to city, and how that would affect their mindset. Maybe someone doesn't want to take a five-hour horse ride to a city, but they could take, they would prefer an hour-long steamboat ride down the river. Put thought into these mechanics ever your world and your story will come out much more fleshed out and complete. The past of your world is very important when thinking about world-building. What are the myths in history of your world and how do they affect the people? Two different myths effect how to politicians make policy changes. Do they affect how families raise their children? Because they assumed were of the world effect that people treat each other. Other clashes and biases based on past events. These things can help little character interactions and also broad-scale world-building ideas. Where does it fit into your world? Similarly to the last point I made it think about how the history of the world could drive different character interactions. For example, would beliefs in two different gods or religions result in conflict in your new characters and story. What they have to overcome these past biases and grudges to solve a problem together with the different histories that they were raised with, affect how they would solve a problem. Your story. Other things to think about when world-building is, how do your people travel across water? Is there a way they can travel long distances across deep oceans? Thinking about the ecosystems and the Florida fauna of your world could help indicate the different fears of going into forests. They've been folklore, languages, and religions. All could affect culture. All these things are good to think about when trying to create interesting little changes and tweaks to a fantasy genre. So now this is the start of the class example. In this, I use everything I just talked about in this lesson to create a small fantasy world idea that technology of my world that I created is a medieval fantasy world on the cusp of its industrial revolution. There's a clash of a faith-based religion and a new newfound culture that worships his son in moons. And these things affect the story because each one kind of relates to each other. So the faith-based religion is kind of stuck in the old ways of a medieval world. Vol, the new culture that worships at Sun and moons embraces the steam revolution, the industrial revolution. And this is incites, a clash between them. As a new threat of the machines makes people take sides. So I created a small blurb here. A new era is approaching. Great machines of iron and steam sprawl lands emanating from the larger cities. The steam powered machines are used for transportation. Medical tech and production. Ports and trade center see inklings of progress and scholars and trade's gonna like traveling and learn more about the machines. But some seek to use this new technology for war, conquest, and power. The old gods clash with the occult as different religions argue over the nature of these machines. I want you to create your own blurb about your world's history, mythology in general, plot and post it in the project section, section of this course. Feel free to give feedback to other students, and I'll give you feedback as well as your students will. So thank you and see you next time. 4. Lesson 3: Making Races: Now we'll go over how to create interesting races for your unique fantasy world. In this section, we'll talk about how to find inspiration for creating races, how to avoid tropes while doing so, and how it connects all to the world. Finding integrations for fantasy races is my favorite part of this process. And I like to look at mythology, nature, and other obscure folklore and media. For example, as these pictures here, there's a Seder from mythology. I interesting, kind of weird looking bird. And so just look around in life and in other media that you enjoy and look for obscure or under-used elements that you can turn into fantasy races. Here we have a rock creature to think about inorganic matter as well as organic matter. And just try to look beyond what you know. When you think a fantasy races we think faster racism, I think of orcs, dwarves, elves like we talked about before. Just try to go beyond that. If you want to create a unique fancy race, try to go beyond that. Some thoughts to keep in mind when you're creating arrays is their biology, how they work. On the right, I have a just a funny chart of, of a kind of shows a good trope. I got over. It was on a good show, but it's a, it's a trope, right? It's a bad stroke of what goes on in a lot of fantasy art, especially fantasy art, where the males of the species will be these Tino, cool-looking demons and orbits with giant muscles wherever. But the females always just come down to like that, just like regular looking girls but different, like green skin. To try to think about unique sexual dimorphism and how it would actually affect the race. And we'll get into that later as well. How the climate would affect the races, biology, what types of adaptations that would need to interact with the climate and environment? And think about diverging species of races. And example in common, generic fantasy was wood elves versus high elves versus, you know, in Scotland, you know, Elder, Elder Scrolls games, you have the dark elves and everything. Think about how races with diverged based on the climate and time period. Here's some good pictures for the adaptation and species divergence. On the left is some of Darwin's finches. And you can see that these species, while all very similar looking finches, they have different sizes of beaks for their environment. On the right is a half-life had crabs might evolve or adapt. So think about this when creating a fantasy race. Obviously maybe you don't wanna make a head crab or a finch race, but just think about how your race would change over time or adapt to its situation. How does your race live and interact with the world? What kind of agriculture to they do? Do they do agriculture at all, or they know a nomadic species? Do they, like some of the South American civilizations and ancient civilizations, carve their farmlands into mountainsides and hills? Or do they do river farming with irrigation? Where does the architecture like and maybe find some inspiration from real-world architecture. Touch of transportation and clothing, do they use and their civilization. All these things can go into creating a unique fantasy race. And thinking about these consciously will help you create something that's never been seen before. So for the class example, for the segment, I thought of, I looked at nature for inspiration and saw owls and thought maybe an interesting al race would be a good idea. So although droop a little photo of what I thought they might look like. And there's a male and female of the species. And I thought maybe they'd be a deserts living civilization who come out at night. And the sexual dimorphism would indicate the location of the feather masses on their bodies. They do river farming and hunting, and they use a type of sedentary architecture. So they are not a nomadic species, but build, build towns him on the rivers and dunes and desert. So for your idea, for your project, for this section, I want you to come up with a unique ways idea and create a little small blurb about their appearance where they're located. Any sexual dimorphism that might be important or geographic adaptation. Feel free to create an image like I did. You don't have to. Of course, this isn't an art class. But I want you to feel free to put this down below so you get feedback from me and your peers. 5. Lesson 4: Creatures & Monsters: Okay, now let's talk about how to create unique creatures for your fantasy world. Creating interesting creatures as a lot of the same steps is creating interesting races. Finding inspiration. What the significance of the creature is to your world and how they interact with it. So this is the most closely related to step, the previous lesson. Finding inspirations for fancy creatures can be very fun. Look at mythology, nature, folklore and media. On the right here is an example from mythology. And you can use these to create creatures, monsters. What is the significance of these creatures to your world? Do they have any symbology that different civilizations warship? Are they guardians, are gatekeepers of different areas like the riddle Sphinx. Or they've threats are pests to your cities. Are they friends or foes? So your people to people heard them for food, to people hunt them. Or they hunted by these creatures. Or does the overall or general feeling about these creatures and your people's lives? How do they interact with the people? Like I said, Do they hunt or be hunted to, or they domesticated are the uses transportation? Did they have religious significance? On the right is a great example. A person interacting with two completely different animal species. One for transportation and one for hunting. Things to think about when creating creatures is what they have a creature, is it, is it a Reptile Mammal, Bird, water dwelling, insecticide, inorganic matter of feature like a rock creature. To these creatures use tools or are they purely More like a beasts? Are they naturally aggressive, cautious, trusting? What is their general behavior? Do they do they roam around at nighttime? Do they do they wait peacefully and watering holes? Do they make sense in your environment? Do they fit in with the surrounding area? And if the answer is no, that could also be very interesting. Why are they there? Why are these creatures here? They are an invasive species is a mistake where they brought here by somebody. Perhaps a traveler comes in with an odd-looking, colorful creature to a drab little town. And that creates a lot of questions. The class example that I came up with was something like a World of Warcraft kowtow. These sand delivers these giant sand lizards that my Owl people would use his long distance travel and would even worship them because of their great size and significance to the land. Maybe this is analogous to how camels are used in the real world as transportation over deserts. And my people would use their materials after they've passed for their architecture and clothing, and religious markings and tools. I want you to think about a fantasy creature or group of fantasy creatures and create a small blurb of their parent's behavior and how they interact with your world and the race you created earlier. That's the big thing. How does your race indirectly these creatures and how did they fear them? They love them. Do they hunt them? Down below? So me and your peers can respond. 6. Lesson 5: Writing Cultures: Now we'll talk about how to write cultures for your fantasy world. Creating new cultures is one of the most interesting, rewarding and complex sings when creating a fantasy story. In it, you might want to think about the class system to laws and government. How art is treated in your society, different religions, worships, practices and traditions. And we'll go into all of these and this lesson. So first class and roles in society. The, these structures will affect how your town, city, village, et cetera, will operate on a fundamental level. So when creating a culture, you might want to think about the working class. Who is the working class will typically inwardly do? How did they get paid? Do they get paid? Is it a job to aspire to? Is something that we're forced into. Alright, next, you might want to think about how enforcement or military is treated in your city. Is their regular guard that walks around. Is it a authoritarian iron fist ruling, military or enforcement system? More relaxed? Is as, as themed position to be in, or is it looked down upon by the people? Same thing could be said about royalty and government positions. And you might want to think about how those people are treated by other people as well. So our royalty praised or are they shunned? Whatever government positions are there in your society? Is it an oligarchy, monarchy, democracy? Or religious leaders, traders, scholars, other types of careers valued and your society. Thinking about laws and government of your culture? Or is it a very interesting task as well? Because this might come up in your plot and you know, if your characters do something wrong in a culture or something, they might be punished so that you know what the crime and punishment and who enforces those rules in each culture. Something to think about. You might also want to think about, like I said, is your culture at iron grip authoritarian or are they more egalitarian with they give rights to the people and everything. And what are the laws of your culture concerning other cultures are factions. Are they open or close off to the world? Or does the art and architecture of your world? And how do you people think about it? The people value our order, the symbols and markings, you might see it around your world and culture. Do people value music and writing? What types of music and writing an architecture would your culture make? Would it be beautiful, complex things? Or is it more about function? To more about how it acts in the world and how they can utilize it. What is the culture of your culture? What religions are worshiped? Is there a clash between multiple? What are the common myths in society? And how do they affect your people's psyche? What do people care about? Science, warfare, tradition. And how does this affect how they go about their daily lives? And how do your people feel about other cultures? So the class example. So my Owl people live in the city, that giant city of core redu fee. And these things empathy talk about could apply to all their little cities, but this is the main big city. They thrive off the vast desert. It's home to some of the world's greatest scholars. Their culture revolves around the knowledge and understanding that people can be found in most large cities and ports attempting to learn more. They have sex as scholars that are interested, most supernatural and unknown. They would deep connection to the son and two moons and they embraced the steam revolution. So I want you to come up with a small blurb for your culture. For the RACI created earlier. Where their beliefs and laws are typical government that they have and what military would suit them. How do they fit into the plot of your story? 7. Conclusion: So that's it. You've made it to the end. Thank you so much for sticking along to the end. And hopefully you followed along in the project section of this course. In this course, we went over how to make a unique fantasy world. Hunger make fantasy races, how to make fancy creatures, and how to write new cultures in your fantasy story. So once again, thank you so much and I hope you have a great day.