The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
A Song of Ice and Fire by George Martin
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
What do all of these books have in common? They’re fantasy. Specifically, epic fantasy, a genre I happen to know all too well. I’ve read some Dystopian sci-fi, some regular sci-fi, some different kinds of fantasy (like the urban fantasy found in Harry Potter). However, my heart will always belong to the mystical lands found in the books listed above, and in my other favorite epic fantasy novels.
I’m not sure if I can claim to be an expert; I don’t have a degree in Fantastical Worlds or Magic, or even in Mythology. But I know the difference between an elf and a Fay, I know that magic has to have rules or it doesn’t work, and I know that part of making a really good fantasy novel is building amazing cultures that are both similar to and different than the cultures of Earth.
So I’ve decided that, on top of my weekly Friday posts that serve as an update (as well as offer a writing tip at the end), I’m going to be doing weekly Sunday posts as well. I’ll focus on world-building, magic-building, culture-building, etc. I’ll tell you the difference between an elf and a Fay, a Western Dragon and an Eastern one, etc. And then you can use that information, or toss it out the window and create your own rules (or a mixture of both), for whatever fantasy novel you’re planning on writing.
Hopefully, I’ll have quite the extensive list of posts. My current work in progress was never really supposed to be more than just a fun project, so my writing partner and I never actually took the time to figure out important questions. Now that we’re several drafts in, we’ve got a list of things we need to decide.
For example, did you know that, by determining a currency in your novel (aka, money system), you’ll be saving yourself a world of headache. Also, knowing your curses (like dagnabbit! or “snows above”, etc.) can really come in handy. But I’ll go into more detail about that later.
I’ll kick this thing off next week by talking about geography, a surprisingly important part of any fictional world.