Last week I had a heavy topic on my mind. This week I want to do something lighter. I want to talk about something that brings me joy-my writing and why I choose to write fantasy.
Two months ago, I talked about writing being my calling, which I do feel strongly that it is, but today I want to talk about the other reasons I write and specifically in the fantasy genre.
Reason #1: I have an overactive imagination
Of course, most fiction writers I know do, especially those of us who write in the fantasy genre. It has been said that the best way to prompt a writer is with two little words: What if? As a fantasy writer, I tend to look a situation or a event or sentence and I ask “What if this included a gryphon? Or what if Werewolves weren’t the only shapeshifters around and things are more complicated than they appear in most stories/movies? What if they were Centaurs?”
Reason #2: I love to read fantasy…
Therefore, I want to read the sort of fantasy I enjoy best and when I ran out of published stories that I enjoyed, I wrote my own. 😉 Writing what you love is even more important than writing what you know. If you love what you write, you won’t mind contributing the hours to research, planning, rewrites (oh so many drafts), and everything else that goes on behind the scenes to create a book because you want to present the best version you can instead of simply wanting it be over. Although, when editing and revision comes around, you will still have days (or weeks or longer O.o) when you are utterly sick of your book. But when you write what you love, you want to come back to it and put a few more polishing touches on it. It’s not just a chore or a job. It’s something you care about and it is a part of you that you dare to share with other people.
Reason #3: I love the way fantasy can look at hard situations without being too close to home
Everyone knows that fiction allows both the author and the reader to look at situations, hard situations that go along with our messy world, through a different perspective. But fiction that is set in a recognizable era or place can often run the gambit of stepping on too many toes or being considered as slander and libel. Fantasy adds additional buffers, taking away the accusatory finger (real or imagined) or permitting changes to the established history. These buffers allow authors to prompt their readers to consider real life parallels, to achieve the goal of making readers think, without making them feel preached at or attacked. For example, in my series The Therian Way, the issue of prejudice, racism, and interracial marriage is handled through the more exotic lens of Therians and Elves. It’s not particularly prominent in Tiger’s Paw but it gains more focus later on due to some of the series subplots. Other fantasy novels written by Christians deal with religious persecution. Others tackle the harder topics, the dark side of human life, even if the characters aren’t Human. Fantasy is not bound by history or the established record, even in historical and urban fantasy because fantasy writers look at “What if.”
Reason #4: Fantasy is capable of making the fantastic human
Some people might see this reason as an oxymoron but it’s not really. The heart of a good story isn’t just the plot or the world-building. The real heart of a good story are the characters and the readers’ ability to connect with them. Fantasy, no matter what form the characters are given, still rests on basic human emotions and feelings. Readers want to care about the characters, especially if they are heroes. Fantasy is not about making characters and races so fantastic, so inhuman that there is nothing for the reader to relate to, it is about making a world, a situation, a race that is relatable to some degree-love of family, love of God, fighting for freedom, making sacrifices for someone you love, taking a stand for what is right even when the odds are against you-so that the fantasy is not only a new experience that shows a different world or views our world through a different lens but it binds the reader to at least one character, makes them care about the character and the story.
Reason #5: Fantasy is what flows best from my pen
It’s as simple as that. When starting out as a writer, I experimented with the different genres: historical, contemporary and historical romance, mystery. But the stories never got far until I started my first fantasy novel. That was the one I finished and that was the one that confirmed fantasy was the genre I worked best in. No matter which subgenre of fantasy, urban, medieval, romance, epic, my stories take flight and I enjoy the task of writing them most. I have learned that it is not enough to do what is popular or the ‘it’ genre of the month or year. You have to truly love what you do and the genre you write in.