Saturday, 17 June 2017

What We Want In Fantasy and How We're Writing It

Ahhh fantasy, a favourite genre for many including me but one that can be a little predictable. We all love reading stories about the chosen one, about the rebel going out and saving the day. We want those stories but we also want more than that and fortunately, we are starting to get a little more variety.

An example of an amazing YA fantasy
Because of this, I thought I'd write a little something about what I'd like to see more of and how I've included that in my own novel ;). Ah I know, shameless self-promotion but considering I'm still in the editing process, I thought this could be a way to show how authors can be doing these things and to see what readers actually want in YA fantasy specifically.


Let's start off with the obvious one, shall we?

Diversity is something we need more of in all fiction but I can think of more contemporary examples of diversity than fantasy. And I don't even like and read contemporary fiction. I said in another post that we're all tired of the typical white fantasy crap. To have a realistic world, you need to have people of different ethnicities, people who have different skin tones and are a member of different cultures. It's just how the world works. I'm not saying that authors need to jam characters from every culture in their novels and stories but you need to have at least some diversity. Mention other countries, have side characters pop up who've clearly come from somewhere else. In reality, we want more stories with PoC mains and preferably they should be own voices. To hear about other cultures fantasies is always amazing and the people who can write those cultures best are people who have lived within the culture or have at least done all the research.

I get that not all authors don't want to write a main who isn't their own ethnicity because they're afraid of offending them. You can still easily do so in a fantasy world simply by using racial stereotypes. It's something you have to be super careful about and I'll admit, part of the reason my heroine is the white girl is that I didn't want to offend anyone. But as I wrote, as I came up with all these stories of important characters who aren't white, I realised that it's really easy to do. Because you just write them as a person, just a person whose culture and skin is slightly different to your own. Book 2 of my duology will have a second main character and he's a boy from a Japanese inspired country.He's such an important character already and I'm excited to write from his perspective. Hey, I'm pretty sure he's going to be popular actually.

Of course, diversity isn't just mean ethnicity. We need characters and romances that aren't just cis and straight. I couldn't think of many LGBTQA+ fantasy books that I've read and liked the other day which was actually a bit of a disappointment. I want more. My current novel has a gay boy who is going to narrate book 2, his boyfriend is also simply gay but the boyfriend's sister is beautifully bi. I know I'm going to have lesbian and ace characters in the second book and I'm excited for them as well.

The only thing I don't really have in my book - other than trans characters - is a disabled character. That's something I could one day write about from experience but for now, I'm going to say, authors. We need more disabled characters. Just remember someone who is disabled is the same as you and me, they just may need extra help and may act differently. Or they might seem completely normal. Just research the disability and talk to disabled people and their families and it'll be easy.

Magic Has Rules!

Seriously, magic should always have rules. I'm a roleplayer too and let me tell you about the many times I've had people submit characters to me with these powers that would make them extremely powerful. Yes, you'll have people with strong magic but they shouldn't be able to do anything they like. The witches and wizards of fairy tales are long dead and we don't want our heroes and villains to be able to do everything with magic.

That being said there are a lot of great examples of limited magic in today's fantasy literature. But all fantasy authors need to stop and think about the rules of their magic before they start writing it. I've stuck to elemental magic as the rules are easy to follow but you can do something a little different and still magic limited magic work.

The Good, the Bad and the Heroine

Okay, can we please stop with the bad boy love interests, please?

It's not fun to read about a guy treating a girl like crap and then them falling in love. It's actually really gross. It's worse when a nice guy is turned into a dick for the sake of making the bad ship work. Yes, I'm talking about a certain popular dystopian fantasy series that's getting new books soon here. Ugh.

What you need to remember is that YA is written for teenagers and teenagers are still at the stage that you can influence them with your writing. If they keep reading about guys who are dicks actually being love interests, then they're gonna start to think that sort of treatment is okay. And it isn't. Don't choose a romantic partner as you think you can change them because you'll just wind up hurt.

My main ship might not get along at first but it's because they don't really know each other The moment she gets to know the guy, he's a total sweetie. He's the type of person who'll help anyone who needs it and that's the type of guy I tend to like with the heroine in books. Shame it rarely happens.

The second main ship of my book is maybe not the best couple. They'll have their issues due to one character's problems but there's still a message of support and comfort there. I know at one point they're going to separate and that the others will believe that one of them is bad but they still trust each other and believe each other. I want to see romance with trust, with cute moments and just with generally nice guys. It's so easy to do and since it's a fantasy novel the drama doesn't have to be anything to do with cheating or exes.

So this post has already turned out to be a lot longer than I originally thought it would be so I'm going to leave it here. What do you think about what I want in YA fantasy novels? If you have anything you want to add then please leave a comment below!


  1. Great post! I sooo agree, abusive and controlling bad boys are the worst! Worst of all for me are male fantasy authors who automatically write super misogynistic fantasy societies (because is there any other kind of society hurr Durr durr) and then seem to forget that women exist or have agency, except for maybe one token women. I've read way too many of these sorts of books. So much ew! 😂😂

    1. Yeah, worlds like that are the reason why I don't really read books written by male authors. It means if I do enjoy one by a guy then you know it's really good then!