I am currently in the middle of my attempt at fantasy. Actually I am over half a million words into it and going strong.
But it does beg the question of whether my own fantasy world is somehow better than the real world. Quite worrying, indeed.
I love getting under the skin of a character for the first time, seeing how they think, how they react, what private thoughts they have, even where they are ticklish. I know Fantasy is meant to be about huge magical explosions, dark, mysterious thoughts, and rooms lit only with candle light and strange blue auras, but actually, I am far more interested in how the people wrapped up in the world think when they cut their finger, go for a piss, see a girl/boy/dragon that they fancy, or celebrate the big five-oh-oh!
There are two sorts of dragon in fiction, broadly speaking; dumb beasts that screech and have an orc sitting on top of them and eat princesses and ones with interesting senses of humour voiced by such luminaries as Sean Connery and Sir John Hurt. But if a dragon is an intelligent, well spoken and such literate fellow, why would they be running around in the nude and living in damp nasty caves?
I have realised that every time my characters wander into a tavern or inn that the first thing they ask is what is there to eat. Now this probably says a lot more about me than it does about them, but I have also begun to think that perhaps the taverns that I invent are the ones I myself would like to visit.
What is the difference between a mythical creature and any other invented creature?
This deep philosophical problem is possibly more important to the reader and the author than either might necessary realise. It might govern whether the creature can walk or not, can talk or not or even just survive.
Write about what you know about. This is the first bit of advice anyone gets when they first start trying to write a book. But does that mean write about the commute into town? Or perhaps the type of school you went to? Maybe about how you learned to drive?
For me, the real advice is to write about WHO you know about.
It is a recurring problem this; how fast is my army, wagon, horse, dragon, bloke on foot going to travel across my land in my story?
In fantasy, of course, they can travel any speed you like with a wave of a wand. But what happens if we want to make it a little closer to real life? Well, research time!
As much as I enjoyed Lord of the Rings and even Eddings' Belgariad, I was always puzzled by the fact that when the heroes won the war, what the people ended up with was an absolute monarchy with no votes and no say. It may have even been Feudal. So, if we are lovers of democratic rights, should this appear in our writing?
As I work my way to an important battle in my current book, I am pondering over how much build up I should have before swords are drawn and the blood-bath gets going.
It is an interesting puzzle because it brings home the emotional response to war and death in a way that just shouting "go" doesn't.
Creating a map for your fantasy world is far more than giving your readers a helpful, absorbing bit or artwork on the inside cover of your book, it is about making your world make sense and is a vital part of planning.
This tutorial is not trying to turn you into an artist, but talk through one way of creating maps that will help you bring life to your work
One drawback of working on a series of books in a make believe world is that I find myself constantly trying to think up names for places and characters.
Really, I could use anything, but something inside tells me that I need to think it through a little more than that.
Johnson Farthing shifts Dirt for a living. That is his lot. The bottom of the pile with no future, no expectations and no reason to think anything is going to change.
And then, his sister is kidnapped and his world is turned on it's head.
Start your journey on the world of Dirt today with this FREE standalone short story.
Yona is a slave, held in a cold, lightless room in the North Hoar Ridge of Bind. When she and her friends have the opportunity to escape, they are helped by an amazing, huge beast that carries them across the continent.
Unless you are creating a surrealistic world with floating rocks and see through mountains, the chances are that your fantasy world resembles our own in many ways. It has oxygen, is in the "sweet spot" around the local star and people attempt to eat three meals a day.
Writing DIrt has included lots of interesting research about our own world, which has taken me by surprise.
I can't help myself; I woke up in the middle of the night and realised I had started writing the sequel, or perhaps the prequel, to Dirt.
Set seven thousand years earlier, it is a very different book...
As we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, I cannot help but think about how his writing and his approach to the human condition influenced fantasy writers around the world - including me!
In advance of the forthcoming audiobook version, I have released a re-edited version of Dirt book one. You can update your copy at Amazon and other retailers.