All posts tagged: fantasy novels

Thinking of writing your first book? This is my writing process.

Recently a friend of mine sent me an email.  She told me how much she used to enjoy writing, but over the years she had let her passion fall away.  She told me that the release of my novel rekindled her desire to write, but was unsure how to start.  She wondered if I could help.  I wasn’t sure if I could, as I have absolutely no idea whether my method of writing could be of any use to anyone other than myself.  But I figured it couldn’t hurt to try, so I sent her a breakdown of the process I use in constructing a novel.  There are no big secrets here, so if anyone else is interested in how I write, this is it.  I must make it clear that different writers, have different methods, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. This is just the process I use when writing. Please forgive the informal and personal tone of this post, remember, it was written in the form of a letter originally. …

Eight alternatives to swords

A great swordsman is a wonderful asset to any historical or fantasy novel, but it would be a pretty ordinary literary world, if the only weapon we ever came across in such literature was that versatile and elegant weapon.  Variety is a virtue in itself when it comes to writing, and just as the Roman’s discovered in their gladiatorial contests, sometimes matching opponents with contrasting weapons and skills often made for the best shows.  Take for example the unarmoured Retiarius armed with net and trident, matched against the heavily armoured Murmillo with sword and shield.  I have no tridents in this list, but I have a few options to arm your literary characters with. victorbrenntice.hubpages.com The Mace. In the Dark ages, only the richest of warriors could afford chain mail, and therefore it was relatively rare.  However as we approached the 11th Century this form of armour became more common and therefore protagonists often found that more damage was inflicted by heavier concussion weapons rather than penetrative or edged weapons such as swords.  The mace …

Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson, Released today!!

This is very exciting, Visions of Zarua has just been released today by Suzanne Rogerson, who is a reader of this site.  She has very kindly agreed to write a post on the background to the novel and the process she used in producing the book.  (Thomas Brooke) Log line Two wizards, 350 years apart. Together they must save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past. An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria. Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate. Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer. The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of …

Guest Post by Philip Martin, What’s in a Label?

This week, I have a guest post to showcase.  Philip Martin has written two books on fantasy writing: A guide to Fantasy and The purpose of Fantasy.  In the post he has kindly donated to be shown on this site, he discusses the merits or otherwise of genre labels.  It was first shown on his own site on fantasy literature.  It’s great to get the opinions of other writers and readers alike (we hear enough from me!) so if anyone wants to write a guest post, drop me a line via the contact me section of my site and I’ll see if I can make a spot.  Many thanks and over to Philip! Thomas M D Brooke Fantasy Books . . . What’s in a Label? BY PHILIP MARTIN How useful are genre labels? Book categories? Age-range banding of books for children or adults? Affixing “labels” to writers, living or dead, is an inept procedure . . . a childish amusement of small minds. . . . at best it overemphasizes what is common to a …

Why the Lord of the Rings is still such a great book!

Because the Lord of the Rings was brought to the forefront of everyone’s attention by the release of Peter Jackson’s magnificent set of films, it is easy to forget how great the books are.  For anyone interested in fantasy novels, The Lord of the Rings is still the most important book you can read, and here are a few reasons why. Picture from Reddit.com Depth.  Middle Earth is incredible.  Not just because Tolkien envisaged such a land of rivers, mountain ranges, great forests, and towering ancient cities, but because of the depth and detail he used.  Well researched languages, myths and legends that go back millennia – only a selection of which made it into the pages of the trilogy.  New types of animals, races, and magic all imbue Middle Earth with its own mysticism.  If you research the history of any of the lands great cities in Tolkien’s other writings you will find details on who founded the city, why it was built, and the great battles fought for it.  No other author has …

The Liveship Trilogy by Robin Hobb. A master author at the top of her game.

The Liveship traders of Bingtown operate to the south of Six Duchies – the land we visited with Hobb for her Farseer novels.  However, don’t expect the same characters to pop-up or a continuation of the raids from the Red Ships.  This is a very different story, and although the lands and novels are intrinsically linked, you need no knowledge of the Farseer novels before you embark on this series.   We meet a new cast of well-crafted characters and a set of books that possibly represent Hobb’s most accomplished work. The story revolves around the Bingtown traders, a group of families who prosper on the Cursed Shore – a land where life is made difficult by the acidic waters of the Rain Wild River that runs from far inland into the sea near their town.  The secret of their prosperity is their Liveships.  They are crafted from Wizardwood that comes from a secret source far up the Rain Wild River and give their ships a great advantage over their competitors, not least because only ships …

Process of building a character #books #writingtips

If you want to write a novel, you will need well rounded and believable characters to pull your readers along with the story.  For readers to care what happens at the end of a book, you will need to forge a connection between them and your characters. Different authors will have a variety of different approaches to constructing characters for their novels.  Some will take a more ad-hoc approach, and develop them along the way.  But for myself, if I am going to create realistic characters, it is important to map out their characteristics at the planning stage of a novel – after all, you wouldn’t start writing a book without knowing what your plot is going to be, so why should the characters be any different?  They are just as vital to your novel so it is worthwhile spending some time on character development before you start writing.   These are the stages I go through when putting my characters together – you can play around with the order, nothing here is set in stone. picture from …

10 Great features of a castle #writing #fantasy #history

You can’t beat a castle to form a dramatic setting for a novel.  If you are writing a story from the past, you can steep it with the historical detail so beloved of the genre.  Equally, if you are writing a fantasy novel, you can let your imagination run free as you create a great stronghold.  One of my favourite aspects of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is the number of incredibly expansive and spectacular castles, all uniquely different, that form the seats of power for all the great families. If you want some pointers where to start, here are 10 to get you going. picture from lookandlearn.com Battlements and Machicolations.  A few crossbowmen along the battlements go a long way to deter any but the most determined attacker, but if necessary, you can have machicolations – stone boxes that project from the wall and had holes in the floor – ready to pour boiling oil, rocks, or any other nastiness down on the poor unfortunates below. picture from travelblog.org Arrow slits.  Such a simple …

What I love about writing… #writing

picture from en.wikipedia.org What do I love about writing most? Well, it’s the same things that made me such an avid reader in the first place.  Books have the ability to transport us to new worlds, or periods of time that are otherwise completely locked away from us.  The immersion can be so deep from a novel that we can imagine every step that any given character makes, and it is bringing those same characters to life that is the greatest joy for me as a writer. A book needs to be well written and full of descriptive passages, as they play an essential part in setting a scene and giving the writer’s world depth.  But it is the characters within that world, their hopes, wishes, loves, and desires that will make the story come to life.  When constructing a character for a novel, you want to be able to really get under their skin, understand all their passions and frustrations, their strengths but equally their weaknesses.  Only then can you understand how they will …

Julian May, The Many Coloured Land….more fantasy than Sci-fi #greatreads #books

Okay!! I know what you’re thinking! How can you call this a fantasy novel? This is surely Sci-fi, after-all it starts in 22nd century Earth?  Not only that, the plot includes two exiled warring alien races.  Surely Sci-fi right?  Well no, not really, and that’s because the Saga of the Exiles series, which starts with The Many Coloured Land, actually reads far more like a fantasy novel than anything else.  That’s because the advanced technology of the 22nd century has given Earth’s inhabitants the ability to create a time portal back to Earth’s Pliocene Era (basically six million years ago, long after the dinosaurs but before the arrival of man).  The time portal is a one way trip, so only the 22nd century’s discontents, disenfranchised, and the odd criminal are willing to make the journey, seeking a technology-free wilderness on the other side. What they find instead is the exiled warring alien race, users of powerful mind powers, who have also cast aside the advanced technology that took them to our world. The wilderness of the …