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  • Dean Jones

Crafting Unforgettable Characters and Gripping Plotlines in Fantasy Writing

open book with pirate characters popping out depicting storytelling

In the realm of fantasy literature, memorable characters and compelling plotlines are the backbone of a great story. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of character development and plot construction in the fantasy genre, and how renowned authors have mastered these elements to create unforgettable narratives. I think it is important to note that these series of blogs are a culmination of my own research and tips I found useful when writing "Father of Storms" and my other works. I hope these can provide direction for those writers who, like me, find the process onerous and confusing.

Fantasy literature has captivated readers for centuries, taking them on extraordinary adventures through worlds filled with magic, mythical creatures, and epic quests. But what truly makes these stories resonate are the characters that come to life within these fantastical realms and the gripping plotlines that keep readers on the edge of their seats.

book cover for Ursula K. Le Guin novel "A Wizard of Earthsea"

Ursula K. Le Guin, known for her thought-provoking works, emphasises the significance of compelling characters in fantasy writing. She encourages authors to explore themes and ideas that resonate beyond the fantasy genre itself. By delving into social and philosophical concepts such as power dynamics, gender roles, and the human condition, writers can elevate their fantasy novels into truly impactful pieces of literature.

George R.R. Martin, the mastermind behind the morally grey characters in "A Song of Ice and Fire," advises aspiring writers to let their creativity soar. He suggests crafting complex and morally ambiguous characters who evolve throughout the story. By giving them strengths and flaws, virtues and vices, writers can create characters that readers can relate to and invest in, breathing life into their fantasy worlds.

In J.R.R. Tolkien's legendary work, "The Lord of the Rings," the characters are central to the narrative's success. Characters like Frodo, Aragorn, and Gandalf captivate readers with their struggles, growth, and unwavering determination. Through careful development and attention to detail, Tolkien brings his characters to life, making them memorable and deeply relatable.

In "Father of Storms," my own fantasy novel, I delved deep into the personality, motivations, and backstories of Seth, the main character. I gave him strengths, weaknesses, and quirks that make him relatable and interesting. Additionally, I introduced the Mara, powerful Daemons and bringers of nightmares, as unique and memorable characters that accompany Seth throughout his journey.

Crafting Engaging and Intriguing Plotlines

Box set cover for Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Trilogy of novels

While memorable characters are essential, a well-structured and gripping plotline is equally crucial in fantasy literature. Brandon Sanderson, renowned for his intricate magic systems, emphasises the importance of crafting a well-balanced plot, especially when it relates to magical systems. He suggests that writers develop a magic system with clear rules and limitations, ensuring that magic is a tool characters use rather than a deus ex machina to solve all problems. Consistency in your magic system will make your world more believable and grounded.

J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series exemplifies engaging and intriguing plotlines. Each book follows a well-structured story arc, with suspenseful moments, surprising twists, and a balance between magical and non-magical elements. Rowling's meticulous planning and attention to detail ensure that the plot unfolds in a captivating manner, keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

In "Father of Storms," my story unfolds in both the past and present, with a mystery surrounding Seth's capture and the explosion that killed his family. To keep readers on the edge of their seats, I carefully planned the story arc, weaving together elements of suspense, adventure, and mystery. By creating a well-balanced plot and introducing unexpected twists, I aimed to grip readers' attention and keep them engaged throughout the narrative.

A Jane Yolen quote about plot line creation

When constructing plotlines, it's important to establish clear goals and conflicts for your characters. Define their motivations, desires, and obstacles they must overcome. Map out the key events and turning points that drive the story forward. By carefully structuring your plot, you can create tension, suspense, and a sense of anticipation for readers.

Consider incorporating unexpected twists and surprises to keep your audience engaged. Think about how your characters' actions and decisions impact the overall narrative and the world they inhabit. Remember to balance action-packed scenes with moments of reflection and character development to create a well-rounded and dynamic plotline.

In addition to plot, world-building plays a crucial role in fantasy literature. Create a rich and immersive world that captivates readers and transports them into your story. Develop detailed maps, establish unique cultures, and define magical systems that remain consistent throughout your narrative. Immerse your readers in a world they can vividly imagine and explore.

"The Graveyard Book" cover by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman, a master of storytelling, advises authors to embrace the power of myth and folklore. Draw inspiration from ancient legends and timeless tales. By tapping into universal themes found in myths, you can create a deeper connection with readers and evoke a sense of wonder in your fantasy novel. Weaving myth into the fabric of your world adds richness and depth.

In Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, intricate details about parallel worlds, the symbolism of daemons, and the complex interplay between science and religion create a richly imagined and immersive reading experience.

In "Father of Storms," I paid careful attention to detail by using historical events and locations as the backdrop for the world Seth inhabits. This nod to actual elements added depth and authenticity to the settings of both Mercia, England in 732 AD and the modern age. Through extensive research, I weaved battles and historical characters (with some artistic license) into the story, establishing the conflicting religious and cultural backdrop and showcasing the interactions between characters. By paying attention to the smallest details, such as the name of the village where Seth's wife is hunted, I aimed to enhance the reader's experience and create a sense of authenticity.

Crafting engaging and intriguing plotlines and building rich and immersive worlds go hand in hand. As you construct your plot, consider how the elements of your world interact and influence the events and conflicts your character's face. The interplay between plot and world-building is what creates a truly immersive and captivating reading experience.

In conclusion, memorable characters and gripping plotlines are the pillars of a successful fantasy novel. By crafting well-developed and relatable characters, you can evoke emotions and keep readers invested in your story. Additionally, by constructing engaging and well-structured plotlines, you can create tension, suspense, and anticipation that will keep readers turning the pages. Combine these elements with detailed and immersive world-building to transport readers to extraordinary realms that will leave them spellbound. Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we'll explore the art of dialogue and the importance of symbolism and themes in fantasy writing.

Happy writing!

Father of Storms book cover

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