By Brina Cary
Someone recently asked me why I decided to write Fantasy. At the time I wasn’t sure how to respond. You see, you don’t choose to write Fantasy. It chooses you.
I began by reading as many stories as I could and by watching as many movies as I could possibly stand. When reading stories I generally pick a story that grabs me and absolutely refuses to let me go. I need something that’s going to make me think about the characters long after I’ve finished reading their story. Each story is a chance for the characters to become who they were meant to be. It’s their chance to find out just how strong they need to be and just how strong they can be. Think “coming of age tales”, but with a lot more trials thrown in. Think of superheroes, think of average individuals that won’t survive by being just average, and live the story under the premise that nothing is as it seems.
In Fantasy the odds of failure are even greater. The ones that survive have to be made of some truly tough stuff. Just think diamonds. They’re coveted, beautiful, and strong enough to cut glass. However, in order to become diamonds, as a simple hunk of coal they have to survive being subjected to enormous amounts of pressure. This is their journey. Their battle. Their life.
Life in general is hard. There are moments when our own battles seem unable to be won. The odds are just too great. Then to see these characters that we’ve absolutely fallen in love with win their battles, with even greater obstacles… It can give us the strength to win the war that is waging inside of us.
In writing Fantasy there’s a choice, a conscious choice, to let your imagination wonder. You have to be willing to see alternate universes, talking animals, purple skies, etc. Fantasy has certain set rules; however, rules are made to be broken. If you plan on breaking the rules, then keep in mind that you will only be successful if you break the rules in a way that is plausible. As long as you can build your world in a way that will let readers immerse themselves within the world you’ve created, then you can give life to your characters. As long as your characters and the situations they endure are conceivable in the world you’ve created then your characters have the potential to be loved by those that read their story. Even if the story is breaking all the conventional rules to get them through the battles that must be won.
Ultimately when writing, whether it’s Fantasy or any other genre, a writer’s goal is to give birth to their story in such a way that the characters become so well loved that the readers connect with them. That the readers want to see them succeed. It doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with children that have suddenly found out they have superpowers, witches that desire to save the world, or even mages that wish to bring the downfall of the current society. I’m partial to mages trying to topple governments, or even werewolves running amuck. You’d be amazed at the story lines that can evolve once you just let your imagination take over.
I personally think that one of the best Fantasy stories I’ve ever read is Lord of the Rings. There are so many different personalities that could be incorporated from the characters alone. The characters all come from different backgrounds and have different goals. The settings alone are magnificent; however, the concept of the Shire just gets to me. The idea that these hobbits leave such a peaceful place to save the world, it gets me set up to think that this is really something that has to be done. Something that they have no idea about. You see, they were ill prepared for the battles that they would face; however, they still stood up to adversary and won.
The Epic Fantasies have the most leeway. They can pass along moral tales, switch from person to person effectively, and showcase whole worlds. The battle scenes alone in Epic Fantasies are worth reading for. Yes, I do realize that I use the word battle a lot. It’s apparently my favorite word of the day.
The concept of standing up, despite all the people preparing for your failure, to those that would do harm to innocents is a powerful thing. In the end it’s the most powerful storyline. We, as humans, are constantly berated by horrid tales of abuses. People abuse the power granted to them either through politics or their strength, they abuse the trust others have placed in them, and they abuse the needs of their loved ones. In Epic Fantasies the most innocent, unarmed, ill prepared individuals can stand up against the most dangerous antagonists and win. It gives us the belief that we too can accomplish the same. That we can win against the same odds.
Epic Fantasies tend to have their main character fighting in teams. It is necessary for success for the story to have someone to help the protagonist through that dark moment when all might fail. Frodo had Sam, Batman had Robin, Tony Stark had Pepper, etc. Personally, I don’t know who I would want fighting with me, but I would hope that they had a sense of humor. For me, a sense of humor can light the way even in the darkest of times. Therefore, I leave you with this parting thought… If you were against all odds, who would you want fighting with you?
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