Saturday, August 1, 2015

Writing Fantasy, We Could Make Believe by Shirley Martin

     The game of just supposing is the sweetest game I know-o
     Our dreams are more romantic than the world we see

     And if the things we dream about don't happen to be so-o
     That's just an unimportant technicality

Or so wrote Oscar Hammerstein for the musical "Showboat" in 1927.  (Jerome Kern wrote the music.)

All fiction writing is make believe, but perhaps writing fantasy is even more so. Some years ago, a fantasy critic remarked that writing in that genre was more difficult than writing in any other. This may be a matter of opinion, yet writing in the fantasy genre has its own challenges.  The reason? A wrtier of fantasy is free to create worlds and any type of characters he/she desires. A fantasy writer could create characters with purple skin who walk on their heads, but even fantasy novels must have a certain degree of realism.

When someone creates fantasy, she must consider what races she wants to inhabit her make believe world.  There are so many fantasy races one can create.  Think of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" series, with Gimli the  dwarf, a multitude of elves, those nasty, ugly orcs, and even walking, talking trees.

A fantasy writer must create an imaginary world with its own culture, mores, religion, etc.  Many fantasy novels use the Middle Ages as their world, with castles and knights. I've read several novels based on the Roman Empire and one centered around an Aztec-like culture.  Since I've found the ancient Celts to be a fawscinating people, I've based my Avador series on their culture, with my own variations.  Unlike the Celts who for the most part lived a primitive life, my Avadorans inhabit cities with palaces and temples of religion.

One necessary ingredient of a fantasy novel is magic. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, magic is a power that allows people to do impossible things by saying special words or performing special actions.  It is a use of means (chams or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces.

So a fantasy writer creates her own world with its own characters, culture, and religion. But she must still tell a story.

In my fantasy novella, "Allegra's Dream" the hero, Rowan, fears that Allegra is in danger. For her safety, he takes her to another world, a place outside normal space and time.  As I wrote one chapter, I intended to have a dragon play a part in this world.  At first, I considered having the dragon capture Allegra, after which Rowan would kill the dragon and rescue Allegra.  But then I considered that scenario too mundane.  Gee whiz, heroes slay dragons every day. So I gave the story a different spin.

Grenalda, the green dragon, does indeed capture Allegra and carries her off to a cave.  Alerted by Allegra's screams, Rowan rushes to rescue her. Then unexpected things happen.

"You can't have her," said Grenalda, "she's mine."

"What?"  A dragon that talks?  Now he'd seen and heard everything. . .

As it turns out, Grenalda just wants company.  "I want her."  The beast hung its head.  "I get so lonely here. I don't even see other dragons. I just wanted to make friends."

"Well, you've picked a mighty peculiar way of making friends. . ."

After Grenalda releases Allegra, Rowan prepares to leave.

A look of sadness came over the dragon's face.  "Can't you stay awhile?  Talk to me?"  Tears ran down her face, dripping on the limestone, where they hissed like acid.

Eventually Rowan and Allegra develop a plan with Grenalda and show her how she can make friends and help others.

For me, fantasy novels are fun to write and fun to read. If you go to Amazon and click on Books, then type in 'fantasy novels' you'll find an almost infinite list of books for your reading pleasure.  And I'm hoping you'll choose some of mine.

Besides fantasy, I've written historical and paranormal novels and novellas. Please check out my website here.
You can also find me at my publisher's website,
My Twitter handle is
And Facebook is