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Do and do nots of fantasy writing

By / June 23, 2012 / no comments

I’ve never written a complete fantasy novel. I’ve never had anyone ever read any parts of my work. So do I know what I am talking about when it comes to fantasy writing? Do you need to be a chef to know if something tastes good? Do you have to know what you eat for your taste buds to say yay or nay?

I’ve reviewed quite a few books over the years and have read quite a few atrocious books in my life. Being a reviewer usually means reading through lots of bad books and suffering through them.

So, are you a budding author? Perhaps these are some tips on how to not write your book.

1) Edit your work

This is a huge one and probably the biggest trap that most authors fall into. The problem with a lot of authors is that they think they have good spelling and grammar. Sure they probably do, but spotting one’s own mistakes is very hard. As author’s we know what we’ve written on the page and so we tend to skim read or read what’s in our mind rather than what is actually written on the page.

Editing is important because poor editing can very quickly derail what might have been a good story. As a reviewer I would stop reading (as I did recently with a book called Math City). As a consumer who might read a few pages in a book store or sneak a peek on amazon, this would affect them too. Would you buy something that had 2-3 bad grammar or spelling mistakes on each page in the first few pages?

Solution: Get people to read it. The more the better. However, I strongly urge  to pay for a professional copyeditor to edit your book. Trust me, the investment is worth it.

2) Self publishing and Vanity publishers (two peas in a pod)

This really depends on your end goal with your book. Do you want to just publish your book so you have something real and tangible in your hands or do you want people to buy your book?

If it is the former then, sure go ahead. I would recommend that you still get an editor to edit your book. Once it is published, no eraser can fix your mistakes. Also make sure you shop around. Think about things like what size will they print it in and what is the quality like? This quality also means title and cover art. I would recommend you get an artist to do this for you. Vanity generic title font and art is usually worst than my 7 year olds’ art work

If you want to sell your book, then self publishing/vanity publishers are one of the worst ways to go. There are ones that say they are going to take some of the costs off you but they don’t. It is usually really expensive and to sell your book means the consumers takes most of the brunt. Take a look at these three books for example: Abroad In LesothoWhere To Be? and For the Love of Paris. The first two are from the same ‘Vanity Publisher’. Do you want to pay $20 and $26 for a 120 page and 78 page book respectively? Referring back to the cover art on the previous paragraph, do these book covers inspire you to even grab it, let alone buy it? For the Love of Paris has much better cover art and layout but $18 for mass market paper market? No thanks.

a) Self Publish. If you don’t want to pay someone to edit it, then get as many friends and/or associates to read your book to find mistakes.  However, a professional copyeditor is the best way to go.
b) Vanity Publishers. I wouldn’t go down this road. This is the death of any author in my opinion.
c)  Play the waiting game. Send it to publishers with some renown. If you get rejected, you get rejected. Perhaps you didn’t write a decent enough book. Take it on the chin and write a better book. Don’t give up.

3) Stay away from cliches

There are many when it comes to fantasy, so I won’t delve into them all. My biggest warning. Stay away from kid who inherits magic powers and/or magical sword. I mean really. Are you that unoriginal? Sure, it will work if you are targeting the young adult market but not the adult market I can assure you.

Solution: I don’t have one. You are your own creator, if you want to do a cliche, make sure you have a massive twist that isn’t a deus ex machina or have such in depth characterization that readers can over look the cliche re: Joe Abercrombie.


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About the author


Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!


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