The fantasy genre is one of the most popular genres. Many people read for the sake of escape and the best way to do this is through fantasy. It has factors that make it the best option for a great escape.
These factors in the fantasy genre are what makes it great. They are what sets it apart from other genres and what make people fascinated about the genre.
If you pick up a fantasy book, you expect a lot of things. Yes, there is the expectation of mystical beings. Your elves, trolls and the general tropes. But there are certain factors that every fantasy book must have to become great.
Fantasy Genre Factor 1: Magic Systems
Every fantasy book needs a magic system. Hard or soft magic system, it depends on the author. This is what sets fantasy apart from other genres. Magic systems in fantasy are one of the most important factors because they are part of the plot. They are sometimes written as a source of conflict to drive the plot or a source of character development. Either way, a magic system is needed in fantasy books.
A magic system is an integral part of the genre. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to make your system unique. Most times, it seems like every idea has been used in a book already. Authors have to find imaginative ways to create theirs. Some fantasy genre authors try magic systems that are similar to science. Others go with the common ones while adding their own spin to it. For example, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn magic system is the use of gravity in a ‘supernatural sense’.
Fantasy Genre Factor 2: World-building
World-building is another important factor in the fantasy genre. For readers to be drawn to fantasy literature, a different world is developed. Most fantasy stories take place in another world. But when this story takes place in our world, it is surrounded by another world unknown to humans. An example is the Wizarding World in the J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
To effectively build this world, authors delve into their imaginations. They create customs, traditions, realms, cultures and even languages. However, not every world has to be on J. R. R. Tolkien’s master middle-earth standard. As long as this important factor feels original and captivating, fantasy readers will read the book. V. E. Schwab’s world in A Darker Shade of Magic was based on a color system.
Fantasy Genre Factor 3: Conflict
Another important factor in the fantasy genre is conflict. Readers want a plot that keeps them intrigued. One way to do this is through conflict. Because fantasy books span out across multiple series, it is often impossible to make one conflict the focus of the story. Authors sometimes explore different types of conflicts: maximum conflict, Mid-level conflict, and conflict with self.
An example of fantasy genre conflict with self is the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. The main protagonist Rand al’Thor had a conflict with himself. I like to call it his inner demons. Rand fought with his mind more often than he fought with the main antagonist.
Mid-level conflict in fantasy books can be experienced between characters. Maximum conflict in the fantasy genre is the main conflict that drives the entire story. Mostly, the element of good versus evil. For example, the main conflict in the Harry Potter books was the fight against Lord Voldemort.
Fantasy Genre Factor 4: Hierarchy
In every fantasy genre, the world built needs a form of hierarchy. A power structure or a system of government. This factor is important because a world needs a form of power structure, and it can also be a means to raise the stakes for your characters. A power structure helps to create rules and obstacles for characters. This could be done by simply adding a monarchical government, a religious body or a high council. The exciting thing is that fantasy authors can play with politics this way.
In fantasy books, a world can have more than one kingdom or realm. This means the power structure in each kingdom can be different. This is also how a little bit of fun can be created. There are warring houses. Or religious bodies with rulers who are opposites of what they preach. You also have high councils that only exist to suppress the magic of their people. You can have all kinds of fun with a fantasy story as long as you know what you are doing.
I love everything about fantasy genre novels. I love the idea of it existing in a world different from reality. I love the introduction of fantastical creatures. I love all the other factors that make the genre great. What are the things you love about reading the fantasy genre?