Fantasy novels are packed with cliches and tropes. As a fantasy writer you need to walk the fine line between tropes and originality otherwise you risk boring your readers.
Not to say cliches and tropes are bad all the time. In small doses as they say. But for your fantasy novel to stand tall and proud you have to delve into your imagination and be creative.
So here are some tips to help you think outside the box and keep your fantasy original.
Let’s start off with the characters
Ditch the stereotypes
Yes, that’s right, as difficult as it may be, avoid the stereotypes.
You know, the one. Whether it’s the protagonist who is flawless or the old wise creature, who only speaks in mysterious ways. Do these characters have to be like this? Can’t they be, dare I say it, normal. I mean what’s wrong with a lead character that’s just an average Joe with who your readers can relate.
Then there’s the evil antagonist who was defeated years ago but is accidentally unleashed to wreak havoc on the world once more or the bumbling government officials who aren’t competent at their jobs. The list of stereotypical characters in fantasy novels could go on. You could try adding small twists to your characters to make them feel new rather than going with the cliches.
What motivates your characters?
Along with the characters’ backstory, what factors drive and motivate your characters. Is it the death of a loved one, or the terrible experience of being raped? These motives are too common. It’s important not to let your readers feel déjà vu when reading your fantasy.
We all know humans are complex beings and many things drive us in life. Use these motivational factors as an idea to find something fresh and interesting that motivates your characters.
Same old black and white theme?
A fantasy novel usually always has a battle between “good” and “evil”. But if the protagonist is purely good without a bad bone in their body and the antagonist is pure evil just for the sake of evil then you risk boring your readers.
Let there be grey areas. Have a flawed hero or a rational reason for the antagonist’s evil. Allow them to have elements of the opposite traits to keep your readers engaged.
The fantasy world
Moving on to the tips for your fantasy world.
The biggest tip is don’t be lazy. Borrow lightly from other fantasy worlds, if you want. Or even take inspiration from them. But don’t copy the template of someone else’s world and change a few letters here and there. Spend time researching and coming up with ideas to build your world.
Bear in mind everything doesn’t need to be original. If after pondering long and hard you want to set your fantasy novel in an existing popular world, that’s fine. Similarly, if you want to include the usual creatures, like dragons and elves, feel free in doing so. Who doesn’t like an elf in shining armour?
Consistency is key
Now that you have the concept and system for your world, stick with it. When a story doesn’t follow its own rules it can be very distracting. Make the story believable by avoiding random events that defy the laws of the world you have created.
The same goes for your characters. They should be believable by behaving in line with their personality. You don’t want your readers to throw your book away in disgust because your character has suddenly gone against his morals and values.
The novel doesn’t revolve around your world
All stories depend on the plot and the characters. The world you have built is just the setting for your story.
This is an important point to remember.
So focus on the plot and characters. The moment you start focusing on describing the intricate details of your world know that you have gone off track. Make every detail of your world matter, let it add to the plot, but if the detail doesn’t matter then the reader doesn’t need to know.
Having said that you do need to build your world and explain the rules if it’s relevant to your plot. If there is no relation with the story we might think you’re trying to show off your world and its systems. And nobody likes a showoff.
So to reiterate the novel revolves around the plot.
Stick to the plot
Talking about the plot. Make sure you follow it. Don’t have unnecessary incidents or subplots. This can cause the reader more stress trying to keep up with what’s going on.
If your novel is a combination of romance and fantasy then by all means include romance. Or if you feel romance is a vital part of your plot then go for it. Just make sure the romance has emotions behind it and not just a random occurrence.
If your fantasy novel has no connection with a certain scene, like romance, then don’t squeeze it in just to tick the box. It can disrupt the flow of your story and confuse your readers.
So remember when you write keep your reader in your mind, it will help you make informed decisions for your novel.
So there you have it, some tips to keep your fantasy novel original.
Over to you now.