Rebellion

            Imagine a scenario where the citizens are upset with the ruling power. They’ve been tortured, imprisoned, forced to work in unsafe conditions and have little to eat. There is no hope for improvement as long as the current leaders are in power.

            Attempts to negotiate have repeatedly failed. Rumor has it that an assassination is in the works, so armed military patrols the streets. It’s a dire situation.

            Many stories have been written using this scenario as a base for sowing discord. Given a chance to write the story, how would yours differ?

            Your task is to develop a scene in which rebellion is looming. Is it coming within the ranks of the aristocracy or from the peasants? Is it in a single city or throughout the empire? Who is leading the rebellion?  Disenfranchised royals? Defecting soldiers?

            What is the desired result and who would step up and be in charge assuming the rebellion is successful? What changes would be enacted, and would those be acceptable to all?

            How many would die and what weapons would be used? Does magic come into play?

            There are many things to consider to make this story stand out.

            Have fun with this one.

Tell Me a Story

Storytelling requires imagination to create worlds and people that add interest, depth and tension. Gauging the audience is one way to determine which elements to emphasize. Young children love a bit of tension but want happy endings. Teens love violent and potentially deadly encounters and don’t mind if a minor character dies along the way.

Recall a time when you were asked to tell a story. What popped into your mind? A fairy princess and a dragon? A fierce warrior and an evil wizard? Did the story begin with a placid description of the scene and major characters? At what point did the quest begin and who was the hero on the quest?

Your task is to write a story that you might one day share with someone. Begin by defining the audience by age and preference for type of story. Then design the setting and establish the primary characters.

Next is the call to action, the point when someone, perhaps a queen, sends the hero out to conquer or retrieve something that endangers the kingdom or whose disappearance alters the fate of the world as it is. Along the way challenges arise. What are they? How does the hero overcome each? Is the hero hurt? If so, how does this impact her ability to continue the pursuit?

Is the hero successful? Not all heroes are, but when they fail, sometimes they are still honored and respected simply for the act of trying. What is the prize and does the hero earn it?

Have fun with this one.

Magical Beings

Think about a fantasy story that intrigued you. The images that come to mind will encompass the elements of the world itself (the setting), the characters and their quests (heroes and antagonists) and the magical beings that either help or hinder the success of the quest.

While not all fantasy includes faeries and other such creatures, many do, especially those for younger readers. Belief in alternate realities inspires many children to explore different types of stories.

If you intend to write fantasy, one factor that you need to consider is how to populate your world. Will there only be humans in conflict with other humans as they attempt to find or steal some type of object (such as the Holy Grail)? Or will orcs, wargs, ogres, wizards, trolls and other magical beings participate in the telling? If so, how will they enrich the story?

Your task is to write a story in which at least one type of being plays a major role. First do some research to discover the known options. If none of them appeal to you, create your own by beginning with its physical appearance and then by bestowing a combination of uses and powers.

How will the presence of this being influence the story? Will it be friend or foe to your protagonist? In what ways will it affect the telling? It can either move the action forward or slow it down by presenting obstacles for your character.

Have fun with this one.

Magic in Your World

Most fantasy stories include magic in some form. As a writer of fantasy, you must consider various aspects of magic, such as who wields it, to what degree, and to what purpose. Also weigh at what cost to the user, especially if the user experiences weakness and needs time to recover in order to be back at full power.

In order to be believable, magic must be consistent. For example, if the wielder can quell fire, why doesn’t he when the cabin in which he is sheltering is set on fire by an enemy? If magic is unpredictable, that might be fodder for an unusual story, but will readers buy into it?

A good way to keep track of the ways in which magic plays into the drama is by keeping notes and checking them frequently. Record the person, power, cost and use. As characters’’ powers change, remember to return to your chart and list them as well.

Another factor is public attitude toward magic in your world. Is it revered or feared? Is it a common trait or rare? Is it honed through learning and practice or wild and uncontrollable?

Your task is to create a list that documents who has magic, what type and how it is used. Once this is complete, write a story in which magic influences the outcome, either positively or negatively.

Don’t overdo it. A little magic can be more powerful than a devastating wizards’ dual.

Have fun with this one.

Forms of Government

Every society has at least one leader. How that leader came to power is determined through the type of government that exists. For example, in a matriarchy women are most powerful within the government and within families. A geriatric society holds elders in high esteem. Many fantasy stories feature cruel dictators who torture and imprison enemies in order to maintain tight control.

One way to decide what type of government your world will have is by doing research into various forms that have existed throughout history. Model yours after the one that you feel most comfortable writing about.

Remember that there can also be shadow groups that are trying to influence or seize power. You can have secret societies, militias, strong religious leaders and guilds or unions that control decisions made.

Your task is, once you’ve chosen the form of government, to write a scene in which conflict arises because of a challenge to the throne or seat of power. The purpose of the scene is to propel the story forward, to provide tension through obstacles that your main character has to overcome.

Have fun with this one.

Creatures in Your World

While monsters and fantastical creatures aren’t a necessary ingredient in science fiction and fantasy, but they add a great deal of fun to the story. Such beings could be described as anything that hasn’t been seen before, that has the potential to be frightening due to unknown powers, or known beings that are presented in unusual ways.

Everyone knows what a shark is, but the enormous, vicious one in the movie Jaws was terrifying because of its proportions, perseverance, and power.  The rest of the world contained the usual flora and fauna.

Your world can contain a little of both living side-by-side. Or everything is completely new yet fulfills roles that known animals do, such as be used for pulling, lifting, riding, and as food sources.

Your task is to create a list of four different monsters that will people your world. Give them names, characteristics and physical descriptions. It would be important to also know what powers each has and whether or not they are subservient to humans.

Write a story in which one monster plays a key role. It can be the protagonist who is intent to conquer the world or the antagonist to a hero who intends to save the world.

Have fun with this one.

Leap of Faith

How much can a reader tolerate in terms of stretching what is logical? This is something that all writers must consider, but often the extreme boundaries of that leap of faith are determined by the genre.

For example, in fantasy we expect unimaginable things to happen. We yearn for magic, magical beings, unusual occurrences, strange environments. If these elements are missing, then the story might lack tension.

Contemporary fiction, and even historical fiction, needs to be grounded in reality of readers will not believe the story.

What happens when reality is so extreme that it seems impossible? Readers must take a leap of faith.

Your task is to write a story that pushes the bounds of reality, but that remains believable.

Have fun with this one.