Mine? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and it comes from the incredible Libba Bray so don’t just take my word for it). Write what scares you. It applies to any writing of course, but it’s especially pertinent to fantasy because if we don’t free ourselves, how can our imaginations ever fully develop the worlds that await?
Here are some more nuggets of wisdom from my Inkie sisters:
Kate Coombs: My best fantasy-specific advice is to read Diana Wynne Jones's Tough Guide to Fantasyland and try to feed your characters something other than stew! I would also say you should play around with your ideas extensively so that you can come up with a fresh premise and fresh world-building. Don't be satisfied with ordinary fantasy; it's a genre that deserves to be breathtakingly extraordinary.
Hilari Bell: My advice for new fantasy writers--new writers of any kind--is to go to writers conferences. You get to network with other writers and, at many conferences, pitch to agents and editors. You can learn about craft, and maybe even more important--or at least harder to find in books and articles--you'll hear people talk about the business of writing. You get tips about all kinds of things, like how best to submit, and who's looking for what kind of story, and avoiding scams, and managing your taxes, and building a platform before you publish, and...almost everything. And I don't know why I say "almost." Writers conferences are great
Ellen Booraem: The advice that's helped me most came from Ann Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE (a fun and funny read). I can't quote her verbatim on a family blog, but she basically says that all first drafts are supposed to be dreadful, and books only start to make sense in the second and third drafts...and beyond! This is a particularly useful thought when writing fantasy--your story can take a sudden left turn that may not make sense in terms of whatever world-building you've done, and you just have to trust that you can make it right on revision. Fight off despair and follow the story, no matter what.
Marissa Meyer: I guess my fantasy-writing advice would be to not get SO focused on world-building that you forget to tell a great story. It's so much fun to create a world that's pure imagination - where you have your choice of creatures and social heirarchy and the complex rules of magic - that it's easy to forget you still need an exciting, suspenseful plot to take place in that world. Your story should read like a great story first and foremost, not a travel guide to Middle Earth.
Marissa Doyle: Don't be afraid to write dreck. Most successful authors have several half-completed or even fully complete stories and books locked away in drawers or hard drives that are terrible and will never be published...but that's how they learned to become better writers. Musicians practice for thousands and thousands of hours before performing in public; why should writers be any different? Give yourself permission to be bad, and practice, practice, practice!
Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban : I agree with Read, Read, Read. I would specify though, read the classics. Also, keep it simple. As they say about lying, the closest you stick to reality, the less chance you have to make mistakes. And do your research. Inventing a believable fantasy world is incredibly difficult. You must know how real societies and civilizations have worked over the years to be able to create a coherent one. As a corollary of the previous one: If you want to write fantasy to skip the research, don't.
Anna Staniszewski: Your readers trust you to create a world they can lose themselves in. They trust that you've answered all the questions, figured out all the logic, so they don't have to.
-As important as creating a memorable world is, your characters need to be just as unforgettable. The world and the characters should exist together, one informing the other.
-Finally, I think a powerful story (fantasy or otherwise) taps into some deeper truth or emotion. Fantasy can let us escape from the real world, but it also has the power to remind us of the things that are important, disturbing, etc.
Bryony Pearce: I reckon you should immerse yourself in your world so much that it seems normal and everyday and then write about it as if it is normal and everyday - almost as if you're writing contemporary urban fiction - you shouldn't feel the need to explain every little thing. If your characters treat their world just like they would if they were living in our world, it will come across as more natural.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard? Share!