Writing your first fantasy novel can be one of the most rewarding, awesome, amazing things you do in your entire life. Provided you are willing to roll around in a big old pile of madness while you do it.
You look at them, on the back covers of their novels or on their websites and you might be like me, you might think “She looks like a well-adjusted writer, I bet she’s totally not mad as a hatter.”. Well, you’d be wrong because when you decide to begin writing your first fantasy novel you make a promise to the Universe, and that promise is that in exchange for a world of magic, terror, heroes, monsters, saints and sinners that you will embrace the madness
that comes with birthing a whole new world within the confines of a single human brain. It will be the easiest and hardest thing you ever do and just starting writing will change your world forever.
First Three Steps To Writing Your First Fantasy Novel
Step 1: The Idea- It just needs to be a single sentence. You don’t need to know who the main characters are, or the villains or how it’s even going to end. Don’t worry if it sounds silly or ridiculous because those are usually (caveat- but not always) the best ideas.
“On the desert continent of Saend a young dinosaur rider must find and thing and defeat it with something.” Not much there except the seed go give birth to a whole new world. Good job!
Step 2: Begin Writing Your First Fantasy Novel- Start writing, don’t worry if it’s crap or the spelling is off. You can fix that later, start writing, build momentum, add mass to the story. Whatever comes to you as you sit in front of your computer, or over a notebook or cave wall. Add words, add as many words as you can. Once you start adding wordcount you will notice something each and every time you sit down to write again. You add more. More words every day and soon your novel will have mass, and when it has mass it will have it’s own gravity and that’s when it get’s good. You’ll know when this happens because once your novel has a gravity of it’s own you will start thinking about it all the time. You’ll notice when you’re not working on it. Friends will invite you out…ummm let’s say to go dolphin riding but you won’t want to because you now know how chapter 12 is going to go and you’ve decided to change the magic of Saend to one based off of different colours of sand and if you go dolphin riding with your friends then the world will die and no one wants that happen right?!
Step 3: Keep Writing- Seriously, every day. For at least an hour write a thousand crappy little words. But if you keep at it you can do some amazing things.
Step 4: Editing!: This is the most painful part of writing your first fantasy novel; reading what you’ve written. Read it fresh, read it like you aren’t you, but read it. Here is where like a sculptor you are going to chisel away everything that isn’t your novel. Read the dialogue out loud, how does it sound? Does it sound like something someone from your world would say? Does it sound natural? Look at it with the eyes of your expected audience. Read it like you had just walked into a Chapters and saw it on the shelf. Then read it again and prune and hack and rewrite.
Step 5: Editing Two “Electric Boogaloo”- This is the part where you find out who your friends are, but more importantly this is where you tap into the legions of grammar nazi friends that have hounded you all your life and you beg them, bribe them or threaten them to edit your book (You can also at this point hire an editing company to do that but the purpose of this article is to do it on the cheap so..) Get as many of them involved as you have willing to. But make sure they’re fantasy nerds like you. If they don’t read the type of story you’re writing then they might not have the same zeal as someone that does. And you need them to be passionate about this because they are going to be doing this for a dinner and autographed copy of your book. If they aren’t passionate about helping you then find someone that is because you don’t want to be constantly bugging them if they’ve read it yet. Remember, writing your first fantasy novel is all about a little bit of madness and madness loves company.
NEXT: THE PAINFUL ROAD TO PUBLISHING