Young Harow just wanted to stay on the farm for the rest of his life, but his mother insisted he go to school in the City to study to be a priest. Now the City is in flames and he is racing across unfamiliar countryside trying to get the mysterious and sensuous Queen Reginee and her extremely annoying and very spoiled daughter Desiree-Rose to safety.
Of course there is a rebel army on their heels, black wizardry afoot, and sundry and dangerous creatures and villains, monstrous and common, seductive and evil, lurking along the way. If this were not enough for the youth to worry about, the Queen’s amorous chambermaid and bodyguard Mathilde, a smallish giantess, just wants to get him alone.
Thank you, Mr.R.J. Hore
What do you think about our day fantasy literature evolutions/trend?
Trends seem to come and go more quickly than they used to. Paranormal romance has slipped a bit with the big publishers, zombies are still here, but the zombie mash-ups are fading, and vampires are still sparkling instead of bursting into flame or turning to dust. Which leads me to suspect that writers should avoid trying to catch the latest trend, or the next one, and stick to writing interesting stories. If you consider some of the top authors, they have either started their own trend, or simply written a compelling story that doesn’t fit into a common mold. I like the fact I can write about almost anything without being forced to follow the herd all the time. I have no objection to adding features from other genres into a fantasy tale. A little horror in a scene or a touch of science fiction can add to a story.
The easy answer is escape. A fantasy story can lead the reader into a completely different world, or add magic to solve a problem. The character may be a normal person, or can be other-worldly. A good story makes the reader think. It can also make the reader want to expand their horizons. A tale of knights and derring-do might bring about an interest in history and the middle ages. A steam punk adventure set in the Victorian era could have the reader stopping to look at what actually happened. If not, these stories still broaden the reader’s experience. If nothing else, a good fantasy story will make the reader forget their own problems for a while, or might even encourage them to try writing their own tale.
What a fantasy story must have?
I write both medieval-style fantasy and fantasy detective. (urban?). The medieval story writer should have some basic knowledge of the actual time period being copied when they set down their tale. World building is important. The clothing, weapons, and buildings such as castles, all help to flesh out the story. Readers will complain if armies on foot or riders on horseback cover vast unattainable distances, never stopping to eat or rest. Fantasy doesn’t mean suspending all reality, unless you are writing something like Alice in Wonderland. A good fantasy story should have a well-built world, believable characters, and careful use of magic. Don’t have the hero flying off to escape danger in one scene, if you haven’t explained how he or she can do that before-hand. Be consistent with both the world, and the characters. Would the people you have created really act like that based on what has gone on in the story before? When they say write what you know, that also comes true in urban fantasy. Make that street scene or waterfront area stand out…because you have been there. The medieval writer has to either travel to the exotic locations, or do research through other methods, like museums and books.
Try and avoid the common tropes. When doing your research of publishers to send the manuscript to, you will frequently see references to topics like: no talking cats, no vampires, or no zombies. Beware, if you are incorporating overdone similar ideas, your story has to really shine or have a different twist or point of view. Don’t overdo magic. If it’s too easy, if gets your characters out of too many problems without them (or the author!) having to come up with interesting solutions, that’s cheating. The plot is important, but the characters have to stand out. The setting can be almost as important as the characters. Beware of glossing over holes in the plot or description. If you can incorporate three actual facts about something, like a zeppelin, a steam train, or a sailing ship, your reader will believe you are an expert and may forgive minor sins. Of course, as always, avoid a slow start and try and open the story with something to grab the reader’s attention. Some book-store browsers never get past the first sentence, so catch them while you can.
Often the fans or authors of fantasy may have themselves to blame if they can’t attract new readers. Maybe we frighten them away when they ask what the story is about by confusing them with too much fantasy jargon. For example, take my novel The Queen’s Pawn. I could say it’s a questing adventure, complete with wizards and dragons and strange monsters. It’s the story of a youth who must rescue the queen and the princess from evil villains. You can picture their eyes glazing over. Alternatively, I could simple say it’s the story of a young man who must overcome the odds on a journey to guide a widow and her daughter to safety. It has humor, adventure, and romance. Take a look at another book I wrote, The Dark Lady. It’s the story of a young princess who discovers her parents have been murdered and she is beset on all sides by grasping men who wish to control her, and the kingdom. I could also simply say it’s the story of an orphan girl who must survive difficulties while trying to discover who murdered her parents. Once we lure the unsuspecting reader into opening the pages of a good fantasy tale, I think we have them hooked.
Ron can be found sailing on Lake Winnipeg when not writing novels or critiquing for an on-line magazine He won first prize for a Canadian Authors Association short story contest for a ghostly love story, but his preference is for longer works including a recent trio of medieval-style fantasies and the Housetrap Chronicles fantasy detective series through www.burstbooks.ca . Supervised by his understanding wife and a large demanding cat, most of his writing efforts continue toward fantasy, with occasional lapses into science fiction and horror.
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