The imaginary worlds and characters of fantasy fiction continue to enthral
readers around the world with no shortage of new titles being released but
quantity has rarely been synonymous with quality and the truly great novels
are few and far between. Who hasn’t heard of A Game of Thrones by
George R. R. Martin, The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien or The Lion,
the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis? And then there are other luminaries
like Terry Pratchett, Robin Hobb and Brandon Sanderson but whilst you might
think of a few more names to add to a very distinguished list they are but the tip
of a very big iceberg with most Fantasy Fiction novels never selling more than a
paltry handful of copies whilst their authors sink into the quagmire of obscurity.
Now great writing and an eye-catching cover will only take a Fantasy Fiction
author so far. Social media and a wad of luck are certainly in the mix but to be
in with a chance of making the bestseller charts a novel needs to have something
that sets it apart from its peers. That gets its readers singing its praises and spreading
the word that it's an absolute must read! Trawl the web and you will find a vast
number of blog posts dedicated to writing Fantasy Fiction but what do readers
really want and expect from a great fantasy fiction read? We recently polled
over 1000 of our readers and four things rose to the top again and again. There’s
no need to gild the lily, these are the things that make the gems of Fantasy Fiction
so very special and here they are.
1. Originality! Harry Potter became a global phenomenon and suddenly there
are enough novels about boy wizards to pave a path to the moon. Derivative trope
ridden fantasy fiction is so cliché and readers soon toss it aside in their hunt for
2. World building! Great fantasy fiction is all about escapism. Readers want to
be drawn into a setting that immerses them in a different time and place. They
want to see the authors world, to have it materialize in their mind's eye and to
imagine what it would like to be there. Sub-par world building is a sure fire way
to get readers dissing a novel.
3. An authentic system of magic! Who doesn’t wish they could perform even the
tiniest feat of magic? Just a little something out of the ordinary. For the most part, readers
are enamoured with fantasy fiction because they want to believe that magic is possible
but they quickly see through and turn off to poorly conceptualised systems of magic.
Readers of fantasy fiction have an inherent need to believe!
4. Amazing characters! If in doubt look to the ensemble of brilliant characters in GOT. Fantasy fiction readers need to become fully invested in the characters they read about.
You might point out that it’s the same for other genres and you would be absolutely
right but here’s the thing. Great characters cannot be fully crafted from ‘how to’ books
on fiction. They take on a life of their own as an author writes. They are sculpted,
refined and somewhere along the way a little bit of literary magic takes place. Readers, especially fantasy fiction readers know great characters when they read about them
and poorly development lacklustre characters will be abandoned long before the last
page of a novel.
So there you have it. The overwhelming views of over a thousand Fantasy Fiction readers.
Just four things that when done right make fantasy fiction the ever-popular genre it is.
We‘ve reviewed the best and sadly some of the worst but a debut author you might want
to check out is Michael Ross. We recently reviewed his debut release in The Wand Chronicles series and we think you will like it.
Follow this link for an in depth review of Michael Ross's Elfistra the Sorceress: