Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Thrillers v. Fantasy

With my Untitled YA Fantasy Idea slowly taking shape, I’m realising that there’s a lot of things that I need to do, but I’ve never done before. For example, map making. With my previous novels all being thrillers/mysteries set in the real world, if I’ve ever needed a map I’ve typed Google Maps into the URL and hey presto! A map!

With my previous novels, my pre-writing stages have pretty much been limited to a few basic steps. Take EXCALIBUR, my editing project:

1. Research to get a broad overview on the topic.
2. Perform more in-depth research on:
          a. Excalibur
          b. King Arthur
          c. King Arthur’s knights
          d. The 10th Century time period
          e. Other topics which I’m sure I’ve missed
3. Character outlines
4. Write plot outlines

So it was pretty simple, really. Research and outline.

But with UYAFI, I’m finding there’s so much more to the pre-writing stage. I’ve got character and plot outlines, but then there are all the world building components: maps, calendars, history, politics… I can’t even think of any more!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that each genre has different challenges and requirements. I think I’m also trying to say the fantasy genre isn’t as easy to write as I initially thought… and I’m probably in awe a little bit of fantasy writers*.

For the comments, have you ever written in a different genre before? Did you encounter anything you didn’t expect? What barriers did you have to overcome? And fantasy writers: do you have any other pre-writing steps I might have missed? Let me know!

* There, said it. You guys are amazing. But don’t get too big for your boots :P


  1. I'm feeling the same way about a science fiction idea that I'm playing with at the moment. The idea came to me back in 2009 and has got my attention now and then. Right now it certainly has my attention and I'm brainstorming more. It's completely daunting to try and extrapolate world history 100+ years into the future to result in something vaguely plausable. It may be time I start reading sci-fi...

  2. I've always written epic fantasy, so I'm very familiar with the complications, haha. And I LOVE them. It's really enjoyable to me to come up with all the little details. =) Another pre-writing thing—this one's kind of similar to the history component, but runs a bit deeper. If you have magic, or any other changes to the fundamentals of the world, you have to start at the very beginning of human civilization, analyze how that change to the world would be handled, then work up to the present day in your novel. A, this affects this, which affects this, which would lead to this, then this, then this, then this…etc.

    I have written other genres before—I have an inspirational YA contemporary, and it was SO much easier. But a little less enjoyable for me, because almost all of the world-creation aspects were gone. And basing a fantasy in our world, in our history, is also easier, because the rules and culture is already there to be worked with. I have at least six plotted novels based in our world, and building them is lots easier than my epic fantasy stuff. But easier world-building doesn't mean easier overall, so each one's still a nice challenge. ^_^

  3. Oh, and btw, I have another blog post idea for you! XD I tagged you in the Lucky 7 Meme thing that's been going around like a bad cold. =P You may find the rules here, if you wish to participate—

  4. This is actually my first epic fantasy. I've started stories in a wide array of genres, so I have a vague feel for them...There wasn't really anything surprising in any of them. The biggest problem I had with my last novel was I didn't know enough Korean slang/cultural...I can't think of the word but I'm sure you get the idea. (it was a paranormal set in Korea). I have picked up more since then, but it's the sort of thing I probably wouldn't be able to truly get past unless I went to the place and spent time in the culture a while (I would be totally cool with that XD).

    As for writing fantasy, I don't have anything that hasn't been mentioned. I really like Amanda's idea. I never really thought about it before(at least, not in an epic fantasy setting; it occurred to me in an urban fantasy setting. Don't know why the idea didn't cross over.), and even though I automatically do it some, I could definitely always work on it more. :)

  5. Kerryn: I don't read much fantasy, so we're definitely in the same boat! Good luck!

    Amanda: I don't think there's going to be a lot of magic in my idea, but magic is definitely one element to keep an eye on! And I saw the Lucky 7 meme - thanks!

    Constance: A paranormal set in Korea sounds really interesting! Weren't you able to Google Korean slang?