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Tackling Common Pitfalls in Fantasy Novel Writing


stone doorway to stone path going up to a mountain, common pitfalls in fantasy novel writing

Writing a fantasy novel is an exciting endeavor that allows you to unleash your creativity and transport readers to magical worlds. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Below, we will explore some common pitfalls in fantasy novel writing and provide tips on how to overcome them. By avoiding these pitfalls and honing your craft, you can create a compelling and captivating fantasy novel that will leave readers spellbound.


Lack of Originality

One of the biggest challenges in fantasy writing is creating a unique and original story. With countless fantasy novels already in existence, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. To overcome this pitfall, consider the following:


Research the Genre

Familiarize yourself with existing fantasy novels to understand what has already been done. This will help you identify gaps in the market and find ways to bring fresh ideas to your story.


Develop Unique Characters

Create well-rounded and memorable characters that go beyond clichés. Give them distinct personalities, motivations, and flaws that will make them relatable and interesting to readers.


Incorporate Unique Elements

Infuse your story with unique elements, such as original magic systems, mythical creatures, or unconventional settings. This will add depth and intrigue to your world.


man standing on mountain reading a map with mountains in the background

Poor World-Building

World-building is a crucial aspect of fantasy writing, as it sets the stage for your story. However, it's easy to fall into the trap of overwhelming readers with excessive details or failing to provide enough context. Here's how to avoid this pitfall:


Balance Description and Action

Strike a balance between vivid descriptions of your world and engaging action. Avoid lengthy info-dumps and instead reveal details organically through character interactions and plot progression.


Focus on Key Elements

Identify the key aspects of your world that are essential to the story and develop them in depth. This will give readers a sense of immersion without overwhelming them with unnecessary details.


Show, Don't Tell

Instead of telling readers about your world, show it through the eyes of your characters. Use sensory details and vivid imagery to bring your world to life.


Weak Plot Structure

A strong and well-structured plot is essential for keeping readers engaged. Without a clear direction, your story may lose momentum and fail to captivate readers. Here are some tips to overcome this pitfall:


Outline Your Story

Before you start writing, consider creating a detailed outline that maps out the major plot points, character arcs, and key events. This will help you maintain a clear direction and ensure a cohesive narrative.


Create Tension and Conflict

Introduce conflicts and obstacles that your characters must overcome. This will create tension and keep readers invested in the outcome of the story.


Maintain a Balanced Pace

Balance moments of action and excitement with slower-paced scenes that allow for character development and reflection. This will create a dynamic reading experience.


fire magic, avoid common pitfalls of fantasy novel writing

Inconsistent Magic Systems

Magic is a common element in fantasy novels, but it can be challenging to create a consistent and believable magic system. Inconsistencies or contradictions in your magic system can confuse readers and undermine the credibility of your story. Here's how to tackle this pitfall:


Establish Rules and Limitations

Define clear rules and limitations for your magic system to ensure consistency. Consider the source of magic, its effects, and any consequences or costs associated with its use.


Avoid Deus Ex Machina

Be mindful of using magic as a convenient solution to resolve conflicts. Instead, let your characters face challenges and find creative ways to overcome them using their skills and resources.


Foreshadow and Set Expectations

Introduce elements of your magic system early in the story and foreshadow their significance. This will help readers understand the rules and limitations from the beginning.


Lack of Character Development

Engaging and well-developed characters are the heart of any story. In fantasy novels, it's important to create characters that feel authentic and relatable, even in extraordinary circumstances. Here's how to avoid this pitfall:


Give Characters Depth

Develop multi-dimensional characters with their own goals, fears, and motivations. Explore their past experiences and how they shape their actions and decisions.


Show Character Growth

Allow your characters to evolve and grow throughout the story. Give them challenges and conflicts that force them to confront their flaws and overcome obstacles.


Create Strong Relationships

Develop meaningful relationships between your characters that drive the plot and reveal their strengths and vulnerabilities.


Lack of Conflict and Stakes

Conflict is the driving force behind any story, and fantasy novels are no exception. Without compelling conflicts and high stakes, your story may lack tension and fail to engage readers. Here's how to overcome this pitfall:


Establish Clear Goals

Give your characters clear goals and motivations that drive the plot forward. These goals should be challenging and have significant consequences if not achieved.


Introduce Internal and External Conflict

Create both internal and external conflicts for your characters. Internal conflicts can be emotional or moral dilemmas, while external conflicts can involve battles, quests, or challenges.


Raise the Stakes

Increase the stakes as the story progresses to keep readers invested. Make the consequences of failure more severe and raise the personal stakes for your characters.


person holding a coffee mug and an open book

Poor Dialogue and Pacing

Dialogue is a powerful tool for revealing character traits, advancing the plot, and creating engaging interactions. Poorly written dialogue can feel stilted or unrealistic, while pacing issues can make your story feel slow or rushed. Here's how to tackle this pitfall:


Write Natural Dialogue

Craft dialogue that sounds authentic and reflects the unique voices of your characters. Use subtext, body language, and verbal cues to add depth and nuance to your conversations.


Vary Dialogue Tags

Avoid repetitive or excessive dialogue tags. Instead, use action beats and descriptive language to attribute dialogue and create a more immersive reading experience.


Balance Dialogue and Narrative

Strike a balance between dialogue and narrative to maintain a steady pace. Use dialogue to reveal character traits and advance the plot, while narrative provides context and description.


Lack of Research

While fantasy novels are works of imagination, they often draw inspiration from real-world history, mythology, and culture. Failing to conduct proper research can result in inconsistencies or inaccuracies that can undermine the credibility of your story. Here's how to avoid this pitfall:


Research Real World Influences

Study historical periods, mythologies, and cultures that inspire your fantasy world. This will help you create a more immersive and believable setting.


Maintain Consistency

Ensure that the rules and details of your world remain consistent throughout the story. Avoid contradicting established facts or introducing elements that don't align with the world you've created.


Draw from Multiple Sources

Don't rely on a single source for inspiration. Explore a variety of historical periods, mythologies, and cultures to create a rich and diverse fantasy world.


Lack of Editing Support

Editing and revision are essential steps in the writing process, but they can be difficult to do alone. Lack of editing support can make it difficult to catch errors and inconsistencies in your work. To avoid this pitfall, consider hiring an editing service like One Small Step Writing Services. Our experienced editors can provide feedback on your work and help you revise and edit your story thoroughly, so your readers will be engaged and focus on your amazing story, and not be distracted by issues in your writing.


Avoid the Common Pitfalls in Fantasy Novel Writing

Fantasy writing can be a challenging but rewarding genre. By avoiding these common pitfalls and taking the time to develop your story thoroughly, you can craft a compelling fantasy novel that keeps readers engaged from beginning to end. Remember to take advantage of editing support and marketing opportunities to ensure that your story reaches a wide audience.



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