BASICS:

Genres:

  • Alternate World: A setting that is not our world, but may be similar. This includes “portal fantasies” in which characters find an alternative world through their own. An example would be The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Arabian: Fantasy that is based on the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Arthurian: Set in Camelot and deals with Arthurian mythology and legends.
  • Bangsian: Set in the afterlife or deals heavily with the afterlife. It most often deals with famous and historical people as characters. An example could be The Lovely Bones.
  • Celtic: Fantasy that is based on the Celtic people, most often the Irish.
  • Christian: This genre has Christian themes and elements.
  • Classical: Based on Roman and Greek myths.
  • Contemporary: This genre takes place in modern society in which paranormal and magical creatures live among us. An example would be the Harry Potter series.
  • Dark: This genre combines fantasy and horror elements. The tone or feel of dark fantasy is often gloomy, bleak, and gothic.
  • Epic: This genre is long and, as the name says, epic. Epic is similar to high fantasy, but has more importance, meaning, or depth. Epic fantasy is most often in a medieval setting.
  • Gaslamp: Also known as gaslight, this genre has a Victorian or Edwardian setting.
  • Gunpowder: Gunpowder crosses epic or high fantasy with “rifles and railroads”, but the technology remains realistic unlike the similar genre of steampunk.
  • Heroic: Centers on one or more heroes who start out as humble, unlikely heroes thrown into a plot that challenges them.
  • High: This is considered the “classic” fantasy genre. High fantasy contains the general fantasy elements and is set in a fictional world.
  • Historical: The setting in this genre is any time period within our world that has fantasy elements added.
  • Medieval: Set between ancient times and the industrial era. Often set in Europe and involves knights. (medieval references)
  • Mythic: Fantasy involving or based on myths, folklore, and fairy tales.
  • Portal: Involves a portal, doorway, or other entryway that leads the protagonist from the “normal world” to the “magical world”.
  • Quest: As the name suggests, the protagonist in this genre sets out on a quest. The protagonist most frequently searches for an object of importance and returns home with it.
  • Sword and Sorcery: Pseudomedieval settings in which the characters use swords and engage in action-packed plots. Magic is also an element, as is romance.
  • Urban: Has a modern or urban setting in which magic and paranormal creatures exist, often in secret.
  • Wuxia: A genre in which the protagonist learns a martial art and follows a code. This genre is popular in Chinese speaking areas.

Word Counts:

Word counts for fantasy are longer than other genres because of the need for world building. Even in fantasy that takes place in our world, there is a need for the introduction of the fantasy aspect.

Word counts for established authors with a fan base can run higher because publishers are willing to take a higher chance on those authors. First-time authors (who have little to no fan base) will most likely not publish a longer book through traditional publishing. Established authors may also have better luck with publishing a novel far shorter than that genre’s expected or desired word count, though first-time authors may achieve this as well.

A general rule of thumb for first-time authors is to stay under 100k and probably under 110k for fantasy.

Other exceptions to word count guidelines would be for short fiction (novellas, novelettes, short stories, etc.) and that one great author who shows up every few years with a perfect 200k manuscript.

But why are there word count guidelines? For young readers, it’s pretty obvious why books should be shorter. For other age groups, it comes down to the editor’s preference, shelf space in book stores, and the cost of publishing a book. The bigger the book, the more expensive it is to publish.

  • General Fantasy: 75k - 110k
  • Epic Fantasy: 90k - 120k
  • Contemporary Fantasy: 90k - 120k
  • Urban Fantasy: 80k - 100k
  • Middle Grade: 45k - 70k
  • YA: 75k - 120k (depending on sub-genre)
  • Adult: 80k - 120k (depending on sub-genre)

WORLD BUILDING:

A pseudo-European medieval setting is fine, but it’s overdone. And it’s always full of white men and white women in disguise as white men because around 85% (ignore my guess/exaggeration, I only put it there for emphasis) of fantasy writers seem to have trouble letting go of patriarchal societies. 

Guys. It’s fantasy. You can do whatever you want. You can write a fantasy that takes place in a jungle. Or in a desert. Or in a prairie. The people can be extremely diverse in one region and less diverse in another. The cultures should differ. Different voices should be heard. Queer people exist. People of color exist. Not everyone has two arms or two legs or the ability to hear.

As for the fantasy elements, you also make up the rules. Don’t go searching around about how a certain magic spell is done, just make it up. Magic can be whatever color you want. It can be no color at all. You can use as much or as little magic as you want.

Keep track of what you put into your world and stick to the rules. There should be limits, laws, cultures, climates, disputes, and everything else that exists in our world. However, you don’t have to go over every subject when writing your story.

World Building:

Cliches:

Note: Species (like elves and dwarves) are not cliches. The way they are executed are cliches.

CHARACTERS

Read More

silentlymunchingcorpses asked writersyoga:

To be honest, I think writer’s should be more focused on making better PoC characters than “strong” white female leads.

I agree that the “strong” female lead issue gets more attention and I can definitely see your frustration. I think it’s important that writers focus on capturing life as it is and creating realistic characters. I’m white and my life is filled with PoC who are diverse and strong and passionate about the things they love and are not stereotypes of any sort. These are the sorts of people that I believe writers should focus on writing—real people and not just “strong” white female leads. However, I think all characters—white, cis, trans, gay, PoC—all deserve that treatment. But should we start calling for some more amazingly well done PoC? Absolutely. Should we call for amazing queer characters? Yup. Basically, I think we should call for characters that reflect life around us and they should be true to. After all if all you’re writing are white male and female characters, I think you’re missing out on all the stories that PoC characters have to tell.

- Ash

Like Ash said, I think the “strong female character” gets a lot of attention be it because feminism is a movement that’s gotten a lot of ground earlier in history, or if because it was one of the earlier “problems” to be spotted with literature, movies or just media in general. 

Representation of all kinds is definitely powerful in media, as the younger Mulan-obsessed me will attest to, and we try our best to make sure that people understand that, especially issues like lack of PoC and queer and other underprivileged people that are relatively newer to the general community. Like Ash said, we need to represent the world as a whole, in all its glorious, diverse aspects. 

That being said, most of us didn’t start writing because we felt the need for greater representation in media. Most of us started writing because we wanted to tell stories, and if someone’s story doesn’t happen to include a PoC character, a strong female character and a queer character all together, we shouldn’t be the ones to judge them for that. All we can do is make sure that the people who are writing white or cis or abled characters just because that’s the default for them realize that that’s not what the world looks like. 

And of course, who’s to say we can’t populate media with strong PoC women?

- Sam

Hearing your frustration about prioritizing cardboard “strong” white females over PoC!  It’s definitely a trend that needs to be corrected and/or called out, as the real word is made of many more kinds of people with different but valid levels of complexity.  Nonbinary, PoC, neuroatypicals represent!  :) (Hell I don’t even hear people trying to get intersex character visibility but that should be a thing the world needs.)

That said, we can’t force people to write the characters we desperately need.  What we can do is point out, Repeatedly And At Large Volumes:

  1. People are resorting to white, cis, abled, neuotypical characters as defaults (due to social conditioning).
  2. That people are not actually like that as default; default people types aren’t even really a thing; and the world and people are MUCH more diverse and complex than that.
  3. It is possible to write experiences authors haven’t personally experienced (the experience of being not whitecisabledetc) if they do extensive research, avoid stereotypes, and are respectful of people sharing their life experiences.

We can encourage people by buying particular books and such, but we can’t force people to write PoC characters.  We need to encourage, and if we keep encouraging, we’ll get there eventually.

- Liren

Another Note on Writing Minority Characters

Why you should feel compelled to write minority characters:

  • They exist
  • They are underrepresented
  • They are misrepresented
  • Books, movies, tv shows, and video games have a lot more influence on our society than you think they do

Why you should not feel compelled to write minority characters:

  • You’re afraid of being racist/homophobic/ableist

anonymous said:

How can one describe acharacter who's afro american without mentioning color, since I want to focus on the characters personality, but one feel more of the story if there are a few look descriptions..!

I’ve heard mixed opinions on this from people of color and I can’t give you a definitive answer because I’m white, but I do know that readers will assume your character is white if you don’t describe their skin tone or if you don’t give major (unoffensive) clues to their ethnicity.

Another opinion I’ve heard about this subject is that neglecting to describe your character’s skin tone erases the representation and experiences of people of color. However, I’ve also heard opinions that say otherwise.

Personally, when I compare it to representation of queer characters, I would much rather have the character known as queer within the story than have it come from the Word of God. So i’m guessing the first opinion in the paragraph above would be more favorable.

If you want to focus on the character’s personality more than their appearance, it’s really just as simple as focusing on their personality and their character arc and development.

Maybe a follower can expand on this subject?

anonymous said:

The protagonists in my book are pretty powerful, generally nefarious people. I was planning on them being POC, but I realized that might be offensive? I really want to have as much representation in my book as possible, but I don't want to perpetuate more harmful stereotypes.

A similar question was answered here. When talking about how powerful a group of people are, it’s usually in reference to their military power or how much control they have over a region. Most, if not all, powerful and successful empires and populations have been effective because of their aggression, military power, and harshness. It’s necessary to keep large populations (or even small populations) in order to avoid chaos, though sometimes that aggression would not show up unless absolutely necessary such as when people started slacking off and things got out of hand.

If your protagonists hold a certain trait because of their race, then it’s offensive. If it’s because of their background, because their culture is centered on strength (like Spartan culture), or because of any other reason that made that type of behavior the norm in their society or in them, then it’s simply a matter of culture, morals, and values.

If it’s in a contemporary setting, research harmful stereotypes and break them down. Individuals can still be nefarious, but they should have other qualities too. Your characters are humans and are just as complex as real people. If you attribute certain stereotypical traits to all people of that race regardless of their upbringing, what subcultures they may belong to, and anything else that could affect their behavior and thought, then you’re being offensive.

anonymous said:

I intended for the character to be of Tasmanian descent, they'll be attending high school in America, and they're parents are very knowledgeable on their heritage. The thing is i want my main character to be aware of the political/social/cultural issues aboriginals overall face in modern day Australia. Are aboriginals struggles in Australia similar to the struggles African Americans/native Americans face in America?

I strongly recommend seeing the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence. There’s also a book that the movie was based on and the book was based on a true story. It’s about the indigenous people of Australia in the 1930’s and it follows the story of three girls and all the things they have to go through (like re-education (basically stripping away their culture)).

Based on what I saw in the movie (it’s been a while, so I may be wrong), there were similarities between what they faced and what happened here in America. The similarity was that children of both groups were forced into “re-education” in which their culture was stripped from them and they were taught Western ways of life.

Your character will be a part of whatever culture they grew up in, though they can learn American culture and will probably learn it faster than their parents. If this character is aware of all the issues, they’ll probably do a lot of research just like we do with other issues we like to know about.

You’ll have to know as much, if not more, as your character will. Read up on the history, the culture, and the issues. You’ll need to know the ins and outs. I would suggest finding an ethnology about them to learn about the culture.

If your character is passionate about these issues, they’ll try to spread awareness and will probably try to relate their schoolwork back to this (like reworking essays so that issues important to them can be relevant to the topic). However, being aware and knowledgeable about these topics does not mean your character must also delve into their cultural past. They may be aware of the culture they came from, but they could prefer American culture.

More:

anonymous said:

Is it okay to not directly state a character's race when describing them if it isn't important? Leaving the reader to interpret them as they wish?

There’s a gray area with this because:

  1. Readers are going to automatically assume the character is white
  2. Writing “colorblind” contributes to the erasure of the experiences of people of color

Even if it’s not important to the story, it’s best to describe everyone’s skin color because there are a lot of people who want stories where a person’s race is not an issue or where racial issues don’t make up that person’s life, but they don’t want that person’s race neglected either.

It’s a gray area because sometimes a person’s ethnicity or race is up to interpretation and it’s done well, but there’s still some description such as saying “dark skinned”. The reader knows the character isn’t white, but they’re not sure what ethnicity that character is so it’s up for interpretation. And then in Welcome to the Night Vale, I’m pretty sure the skin color of one of the characters (I remember having this conversation before, but I can’t remember which character or what the details were) is up to interpretation, but he’s been compared to other characters in terms of appearance so it’s not entirely up to interpretation.

anonymous said:

I just read your post about adding diversity into our stories. My problem is I would like to, but I feel like I'm still doing it wrong. There's a character who the main protagonist goes to for advice and is gifted with 'seer' like abilities (she's not the only one, she just happens to be the oldest). I had always imagined her as a POC, but I'm scared that that's stupidly cliche and even offensive. How do I go about this?

I think what you’re getting at is the magical negro trope, which can be harmful because it uses a POC as nothing more than a stock character who only exists to support a (most often white) protagonist’s quest and character development.

If you imagine the “seer” as a POC, then go ahead and write her like that. Just make sure she’s something more that a stock character. Give her a back story, give her aspirations and motivations, give her flaws, give her a sub plot (if it fits, don’t force it), and give her a character arc.

It’ll come off as offensive if you portray this seer character as some mystical, tribal, or more “primitive” being who is shown as being superior because of their connection to spirituality, nature, or wisdom. That doesn’t mean this character cannot think they are superior though. That would be the flaw of arrogance or ethnocentrism (if the character believes her society, not just herself, are superior).

Another cliche with wise old mentors is, well, having a wise old mentor who only exists for the protagonist’s advantage (though the wise old mentor itself is more of an archetype). Other elements of this cliche are being an old guy with a beard (how most old wizards are portrayed). With two famous characters that fit that description, it seems a lot more cliche than it actually is, so making the wise old mentor something other than an old guy with a beard is already a step toward expanding that archetype.

If you’re still insecure about your portrayal, find someone of the same race or ethnicity of your character who is willing to give some feedback. Find more than one person, if you can.

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