YA Fantasy

Create a carefully crafted fantasy world.  This one of the most competitive genres, so you will want to be at the top of your game. #RMFW2017 @RMFWriters @crystalpubs2014


  1.  Setting:  Build your world

Your reader needs to know where he is and what time period he is in.  Yes, leave some to the reader’s imagination, but your world should be structured in a way which allows the reader to enter and to participate.

Worlds also come with rules.  What defines good and evil?  If there is evil, what is the purpose of it? If you can fly, what are the rules?

What does the world look like?  Smell like?  Taste like?  Make your world so real, the reader can feel at home and accept the characters’ actions and words because they are “natural” in this world.

2.  Characters

Your characters’ ages dictate your audience.  Remember:  kids read UP.  So a 14-year-old would prefer an 18 year-old-protagonist rather than a 12-year-old.

Ages vary from 12 – 18 or 15 – 20.  YA is also very popular with adult audiences.

Approach #1:  Is your protagonist a stranger in a strange land?

Harry Potter is the best example of this.  He is raised with Muggles.  He knows nothing about the magic world.  Therefore, the reader and Harry begin their adventures on the same note:  they know very little about this world of magic.  As Harry learns, so does the reader.  The reader also bonds with certain characters in this world and quickly recognizes the battle between good and evil.

Approach #2:  Is your protagonist a stranger in his homeland?

In this scenario, your protagonist is aware of his world.  He knows where he is going, how to get there, and what problems he may encounter.  Adding your reader to this mix can get complicated.  Some good strategies are explaining facets of the world through dialogue, action, and some narrative.  DO NOT write a prologue that serves as an information dump.  None of that knowledge is appropriate at the beginning.  Only when the reader connects with a character does that information become important.  AND what do you do if the reader doesn’t read prologues?  Now he is really lost.

If Rowling had started the Harry Potter series with a prologue, you would know you were in a world of magic.  It would be a given.  So then what’s the excitement about wands and spells and magic potions?  A prologue would have ruined the story and the reader’s identity with Harry.

3.  Last rule:  you can create ONE unbelievable trait or scene.  The reader will accept that.   Exceed that rule and your novel ceases to have credibility–no readers.  You must be believable, logical, and have a sense of purpose.

See Carol Berg’s “Fantasy Fundamentals” from RMFW.org



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