Believable Fantasy

Okay, so I got a bit off track the other day.  Today, let’s talk about the elements of a good fantasy novel.  What makes it work?  Believability, for starters—is this world one with history?  Does it have some unknown depths?  Are there specific dangers or benefits to being in that world?

What about the characters?  What do they look like?  What do they wear?  What do they aspire to achieve?  What holds them back?  Would anyone really notice if this character were to die?  What if he doesn’t complete his goals?  So what?  Many of the characters I am reading about now, even if written in the first person, don’t seem real and compelling to me.  So they don’t get the prize—so what?  Convince me they’re worth my time and I should care.

Show me a fantasy cliché, but then don’t just embrace it.  Stand it on its head.  Make it do a double back flip.  Make it explode.  Something, anything, to break the mold….Maybe the dragon is a traveling salesman?  Maybe the princess is not to be rescued—maybe she’s the threat?  As I said, just something a little different.  A vampire who faints at the sight of blood, maybe?

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