fantasy
fantasy

Worldbuilding: How Much is too Much?

There is no such thing as too much worldbuilding. The greater the depth of the author’s knowledge of the setting of their book, the better. There is no detail too small or universe too big to be fully fleshed out in the author’s mind—or more likely, in extensive notes, maps, timelines, character bios, Plottr portfolios, and whatever else the often chaotic mind of the author chooses to store this information in. Unless you put it all in the text of your book. Hemingway said, “The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above...

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Crafting a Magic System

If you ask a thousand fantasy authors what makes a good magic system, you’ll get a thousand different answers. I am not going to give you answer one thousand and one. I’m not going to do that simply because the details of your magic system don’t matter. It doesn’t even matter if your system has details. Or if there’s a system at all. Some authors—and their characters—treat magic like a science. If magic is common enough, it seems human nature that it would be studied, codified, even standardized to some extent. Spells are like recipes or language, things to be...

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Speculative Fiction — The Big “If” Umbrella

More and more, books and publications that were once exclusively science fiction or fantasy or horror are calling themselves “speculative fiction.” But what is speculative fiction and why does it matter? Though the term “speculative fiction” has been around for a long time, it really came into vogue within the last few decades. And whereas at its inception, it was purely a replacement term for science fiction, it has come to mean most any genre that falls into the category that I call the “What If?” genres. These genres ask the “what if?” questions, where the supposition is definitely not...

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Books to Read for Writing Fantasy

Nobody springs fully formed from the head of Zeus, and none less so than the writer. To attain any skill in writing, we devour thousands of books, write millions of words, and talk endlessly with each other about the act of turning our private thoughts into stories for strangers’ consumption. This list isn’t anywhere near exhaustive, and some of the selections may seem downright strange, but I’m hoping to showcase some books that maybe you haven’t heard of before. Note: I am a big early/middle medieval guy, so a lot of the history books on this list are centered around that time...

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