Monday, February 28

The Hobbit & Writing a Fantasy Novel

Who doesn't love a good fantasy novel?  This genre can take historical concepts and reimagine them,  incorporating modern aspects and creating a new world!  But have you ever considered writing your own fantasy novel...?

World Building

The first thing you need to do is create a world.  Your reader should be transported to the world you build every time they open your book. To do this, you'll need vivid descriptions to make the experience as realistic as possible.  Visit Building a World with The Phantom Tollbooth to investigate the art of world-building.

Character Development

Design your characters with both intrinsic and extrinsic traits - meaning an inside and outside description.  As an author you must have a very vivid picture of what you are creating for the reader.  To do this, you might sketch out a picture of each character, then label where they are loyal to, what special abilities they have, and any personality features.

Part of the fun of a fantasy world is seeing mythical creatures come to life.  Try incorporating mythical creatures, such as elves, fairies, ogres, and vampires, or create your own.

Give your main characters a goal, which will help create the conflict and resolution in your story. Also give them strengths and flaws that relate to their motivation to give them depth.

When designing characters, you also need to consider how they will change throughout the story. Character development is an excellent way to keep readers guessing.  Maybe a seemingly loyal friend shows his true colors as he switches sides, or an unstable character loses their grip on reality. By focusing on where each character begins, with a good description, you can guide their paths as you develop your novel.

Main Characters

  • Most fantasy stories have a hero, the character with a pure heart who wins the readers devotion.  This character doesn't usually realize they are special until the climax, when they must use their strength to fight the antagonist and solve the conflict.  
  • Try to choose an otherwise ordinary character as your hero. Readers will more easily relate to a character who seems like a mostly normal person.  But also try to foreshadow that the hero is important.  One way to do this is by telling the story from the hero's perspective.
  • Another common character is the mentor, or guide, who helps the hero along through the story.  The mentor knows that the hero is special, but does not reveal it.  The mentor can also be used to explain important concepts to your readers, as he teaches the hero.
  • Every hero needs a villain, the yin to their yang.  Villains don't have to be all bad though; a complex villain will have redeeming qualities.  Audiences will be more moved by your villain's plight if they feel they understand him or her. For example, a tragic back story can help explain why he has turned to evil.

Writing the Story

Fantasy stories usually include a lot of twists and turns, so outlining the general direction of the story can be helpful. Create a timeline on paper, putting in main events and then fleshing in lesser events.  This may take several pages of paper...just tape the ends together.

Remember to introduce the central problem early on in your story, as this hooks the reader into the story even more.  It also helps to propel your hero into the conflict, and eventually allows them to overcome it.  In many fantasy stories, the character leaving home or setting off on a journey is the turning point.

Every event in the story should have a purpose - to help develop your hero character.  Use these events to test your hero's skills, talents, strengths, and weaknesses.  An 'event' can simply be defined as an interaction with someone along the journey.

The climax is the crux of your story; it is where the hero and villain battle.  During the resolution, after the climax, try to tie up any loose ends in the story and sub-plots.  Show how your characters have grown from these experiences.  

You don't have to have a happy ending; you don't even have to have a sad ending, but you do have to have some resolution.  You can also end with a partial victory, with evil left to be defeated, if you want to write a sequel.

Our spine read for this unit study is The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)

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Snag the full unit in the Literary Elements Novel Study Bundle!!

Five unit studies covering literary styles and elements. Each unit addresses a new topic and includes introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • After this text, you will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

  • Literary Elements with Dragonwatch (product sample)
  • Creating a World with the Phantom Tollbooth
  • Writing Dystopia with the Giver
  • Writing Fantasy with the Hobbit
  • Writing Surrealism with Tuck Everlasting

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