I’ve been reading and listening to a lot about putting awesome, original ideas into fantasy. And I started wondering how much is necessary? Is a story really fantasy, if it is small scale with ordinary human antagonists and a fairly familiar world? Or does it need something more?
After considering the question a bit I came up with a guiding principle. My goal is to bring glory to God and too show his love. Whatever helps me to best do that is the right amount. It will be different for every story. And that is what I need to figure out.
Pretty much all the fantasy I’ve read has something unusual. The Ilyon Chronicles has different races and dragons, The Rizkaland Legends has coloured water and a myriad of other amazing things, Eyes of E’veria has telepathy and illusions for story telling among other things, Blood of Kings also has telepathy, others have got fairly standard fantasy worlds, but they are obviously recognized as fantasy.
I can think of a few exceptions, Annabeth’s War and Brothers and Betrayal feel like historicals, but the locations are made up. They don’t get awesome from the setting, though the stories are still great.
Another series The Forest at Edge is set on some kind of alternate earth. It’s a different world but mostly works like ours. It doesn’t feel like fantasy, but it certainly isn’t sci-fi or historical. It does have a few odd elements and certainly has a fresh unique feel, but the it’s awesome comes more from social satire and great characters. (I don’t completely recommend them because of a little bit of strange theology, but with discernment they’re worth reading. Also I would consider them adult for some elements.)
Now, onto my own work. I’m afraid that for my current world I am leaning into the boring a bit too much. I’m not sure that I’ve quite got the sparkling sense of wonder. Or maybe it’s just that description is lacking in my first draft. I’ve had cool ideas but they just don’t quite connect with the story. They just seem to be there for the sake of being cool and don’t appear in any essential moments. That is a problem.
I think I need to cut them out entirely or find a way to integrate them entirely. Perhaps the tiny dragons can be trained, or something attracts them at the climax. Fighting tiny dragons as well as brigands would be so much cooler. I’ll see if I can develop them more and find a way to fit them in there. Cool element must affect the plot.
Now as for other settings, I’m wondering if jungle, tree-houses and swings is enough to make my world feel amazing. I can’t figure this out on my own. What do you, my readers, think? Do those things in the setting along with a few odd animals and customs make an interesting fantasy world? Or do I need something a little magical? Something that couldn’t exist in our world?