Saturday, 16 October 2004

How To Write Best-Selling Fantasy Fiction

A complete paint-by-numbers guide is now available. Let's give it a test, by seeing how well it copes with a work just outside the genre. A Space Opera. Say, in a Galaxy, far, far away....
1. Create a main character.
Most of the people who read your book will be unconfident males. So make your main character a Loser. Aimless, shy, cowardly, guilty, ill, lazy, rural - any of these will do.
Let's say, Oh, Luke Skywalker. An orphaned country bumpkin farmboy who wants to become a Jedi like his father.
2. Create a Quest.
Out of the blue, the Loser must be suddenly told that the fate of the whole world – or some other world - rests in his incompetent hands. To save the world he must perform some task, confront some nameless foe, learn some mysterious skill etc.
Become a Jedi, Deathstar Destruction, check.
3. Create a Motley Bunch of Companions.
The Loser/Hero must have a Motley Bunch of Companions drawn from different human species e.g. dwarf, elf, Rotarian etc. Each of these companions will have one particular skill such as sword fighting, lasso twirling etc which will come in handy at a particular part of the story.
Wookie, Rogue, Comedy-duo Robots, Check.
4. Create a Wise but Useless Guide.
The Guide is wise adviser who knows all about the Quest, but never fully reveals it. He also appears to have immense powers but will not use them when they are most required.
"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobe, you're my only hope.". Check.
5. Create the Land
The first thing the Motley Bunch must do is travel some phenomenal distance through an assortment of vastly different terrains and climates. All Fantasy Lands have every conceivable form of climate and landform - mountains, deserts, swamps, glaciers, forests - arranged randomly across the landscape contrary to any known principles of geography or ecology.
Agrculture on a Desert Planet. Check....
6. Create the Enemy
Every Fantasy Land has a Dark Enemy, an almost omnipotent ArchVillain who is trying to utterly destroy it....
Calling Darth Vader! Call for Mr Vader! ...and so on. Hey, the System Works!

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