Monday, June 20, 2016

Fantasy: To Infinity and Beyond

Last week I listed 7 elements that always worm themselves into my novels. The most prominent one was fantasy.

Pretty much anyone who even sort of knows me knows I’m a “fantasy writer”. I’ve been proudly wearing that label since I was 10 years old, after first seeing the Fellowship of the Ring movie and immediately pouring my life into writing one fantasy novel after the next. But what my little 10-year-old self didn’t know was that title of “fantasy writer” held so, so much to it.

Back in the day, “fantasy” to me meant Lord of the Rings. Or such things like it. Which is odd, because long before I even knew what LotR was, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland and all things fairytales were my true loves (okay, they still absolutely are). But, in my mind, Lord of the Rings was true fantasy.

Now, J.R.R. Tolkien isn’t called the father of fantasy for no reason. To me, he is the ULTIMATE fantasy writer and will forever be my hero. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are LIFE. There’s no doubt about it.

But the thing is, I used to limit myself. Over the years, I’ve discovered something wonderful and exciting.

Fantasy is infinite.

Fantasy means much, much, much more than medieval worlds and elves. Sometimes the thought can be overwhelming. But it’s overwhelming like the sky is overwhelming—it’s massive, larger than life, but so full of unending wonder we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Fantasy can be in any world, real or not real, any time, have anything. You want to write a Victorian England novel with man-eating fairies? Go for it! How about cowboys that ride dragons instead of horses? What if the lost city of Atlantis decided to stop being lost and merpeople took reign of the ocean? It just goes on and on and on. You can have stories with myths and legends and made up worlds and creatures and mixes of all the above.

It never, ever, ever ends. Your fantasy novels go as far as your imagination.

Some examples of very unique fantasy books include:

  • The Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire Series by Bryan Davis: Dragons turned human in modern day times with touches of Arthurian Legend and all manner of convoluted plots? YES PLEASE.
  • The DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul: These stories immerse you deeply in a fantastical world of dragons and wonderfully odd characters and absurd plots. What I love about this series is the worldbuilding. The world feels so alive, from the dozens of made-up creatures down to the food described. Mrs. Paul throws you right into her deliciously fun world.
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: Do I even need to explain this one? This is the epitome of delightfully bizarre fantasy.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan: Greek mythology in modern times with a completely humorous flavor. Fun stuff, guys, fun stuff!
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer: Another one set in modern times. This one with fairies and other fantasy creatures living secretly underground. But not just that, these are fantasy creatures who can use technology. Not my favorite book, but the concept is fantastic!
  • Basically anything by Diana Wynne Jones as far as I’m aware. Her specialty is utterly unique (and I mean unique) fantasy.
  • There’s also books that aren’t heavy fantasy, but may have some weird, fantasy-like touches. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart come to mind.

And that’s barely scratching the surface!

The point is, you can do whatever you like with fantasy. Time travel, world hopping, Greek myths, talking furniture, twists on fairytales, fire-breathing penguins. ANYTHING. IT NEVER ENDS, GUYS.

But don’t get me wrong here. I’m not telling you to go write some completely bizarro story if that’s not your thing, or to stop making Middle Earth-type worlds. PLEASE DON’T. Why do you think there’s so much of it? PEOPLE LIKE IT. Me included. High fantasy will forever be my first love. And you can still absolutely make unique tales in a high fantasy novel! I mean, Lord of the Rings was so big and complex and mind-boggling.

Just don’t be like me and get confused in thinking Lord of the Rings is the only type of fantasy there is. It was one of the first, and from it sprouted so very, very many glorious tales. And from those more evolved. Now fantasy is what you make it. Is that not a deliciously exciting thought?

And that’s why I love fantasy. It’s infinite.

I never, ever run out of plot ideas. In fact, I have the opposite problem. My mind is overrun with too many plot bunnies! (But that’s a topic for another time.) It’s impossible for me to get bored writing fantasy because every book I write (nowadays that is, we won’t talk about when I was little) is so different from the last, even though they all can be classified as “fantasy”. I absolutely, completely, and totally LOVE creating plots centered around fantastical elements. Whether it be dragons (obviously) or time travel or wars against made-up races or fairytales or twists on legends. I can’t stop creating! It crowds my mind 24/7. And I love it.

This isn’t to say other genres aren’t infinite. That’s what I love about writing so much, it’s ALL infinite. There’s so much you can do with every single genre. But since I’ve been writing fantasy for the past 14 years, I have a lot more to say about it. XD

But sheesh, Christine, what are you even getting at here? It is this: You don’t have to limit yourself. If you love medieval worlds full of elves and dwarves, go write that thing. If you want to write about space unicorns ending the villainy of space pirates. DO IT. Your imagination is the limit.

Now that’s a pretty wide limitation.

Do you agree with me? Is fantasy infinite? What type of
fantasy story do you like best? AND I MUST KNOW.
What’s the most unique fantasy book you’ve ever read?

P.S. After writing this I totally and completely forgot there’s an epic fantasy thing going on in the blogsphere starting TODAY. What a perfect coincidence! I did not plan this. o.o
DJ Edwardson and Jenelle Schmidt are hosting The Silmarillion Awards—a “fantasy awards” type thing where YOU get to vote for your favorite fantasy characters and such in a bunch of different categories. It’ll be taking place for the next month so do check out their blogs for all the details and links. It’s gonna be awesome!


  1. I find it hilarious and perfect that you posted this today, given the topic of my post... XD FANTASY YAY!

    *dies at the beautiful picture you took* OH MY WORD. YOU ARE SO GOOD AT PHOTOGRAPHY. I DO NOT KNOW HOW YOU DO IT. *falls over* That picture is GORGEOUS. *stares at it all day*

    I rewatched The Fellowship of the Ring yesterday. ^_^

    Oh goodness, Lauri, all your descriptions of fantasy possibilities... they are unique and I never thought of a lot of them, like fire-breathing penguins or cowboys on dragons. XD

    "space unicorns ending the villainy of space pirates" DARN IT LAURI NOW I HAVE A PLOT BUNNY. *drowns in plot bunnies* XD

    Um... okay, those are all random thoughts brought about by this... But really, I ADORE this post and I loved reading it and it makes me happy. ^_^ You have such great post ideas! Fantasy is my favorite and you make SO SO SO many excellent points about it! *hugs post* Fantasy IS infinite, which is fantastic (no pun intended) and I too tend to limit myself and not spread beyond what's right there in front of me... I want to go chase the unique fantasy ideas into the sunset. ^_^

    My favorite type of fantasy story is probably high fantasy, or maybe fairytales, or... I DON'T KNOW I LOVE IT ALL! :) I don't think I'm the biggest fan of modern fantasy, but I can enjoy it, and I think I've noticed that I really like historical fantasy -- it's so unique and fascinating to see fantasy elements as a part of particular time periods.

    One thing I've noticed is that in most modern fantasy, the fantasy is a hidden, secret part, which nobody knows about -- I guess to make it more likely that it could be going on now. XD But I think I like when fantastical things are a natural part of the story, whatever story it is... (Probably a bad example, but that heist book I read, White Cat, is set in modern times, WITH AN ALTERNATE HISTORY, which makes the magicalness a natural part of the modern-day world, and it's so fascinating to see how that changes everything in "modern" times, like that everyone wears gloves because they transfer magic through touch so it's weird to see someone with bare hands and they could be dangerous... And stuff like that. :D I think it's fun when fantasy is naturally integrated into the world, whatever world it is.) ...Wow, that was random. o.o

    I'm not sure what the most unique fantasy book I've ever read would be, specifically, but probably something by Diana Wynne Jones. XD All her stuff is nuts and it's great. :D Actually, probably Archer's Goon -- it's modern, but has fantasy, a touch of sci-fi, some back-in-time and forward-in-time parts, AND just the nuttiest, most plot-twisty plot of ever, plus it's hilarious, so... Probably Archer's Goon... Unless Howl's Moving Castle is, because I mean, it flips so many things on its head and the heroine's and ol woman and the hero is, well, HOWL. XD ANYWAYS SOMETHING BY DIANA WYNNE JONES.

    Goodness, I always end up rambling on your posts because they make me think about things... :P


    1. I KNOW. It was a total accident but just PERFECT.

      Oh my! THANK YOU. I don't even know what to say. It's really nothing special, I'm still very much learning. But you just made my day! ^____^

      You did? Another coincidence. That's awesome!

      Bwahaha! I think I was in a weird mood while writing this. Most of what I said is just nonsense...though I'm rather fond of the dragon-riding cowboy idea.

      I gave you a plot bunny? *CACKLES* I mean, ahem. Sowwy! But you obviously needed more plot ideas. *smile, smile*

      D'awwww! This makes me feel like I did my job well hearing you say all that, because you're my fantasy-loving buddy and I was thinking of you a lot while writing this. I feel accomplished that I pleased my Celti. ^_^

      High fantasy and fairytales are my favorites tooooo! Although I feel like my favorite changes every day. That, or I just love it ALL. Historical fantasy is really cool! I've read a sad amount of it though. I need to find more! I'm with you, throwing in fantasy within an old time period is just too fun.

      I'VE THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE. I really enjoy modern fantasy where all the fantasy things are hidden (I mean, Sign of the Shy're was that), but I also want to see fantasy be the NORM in our life. I want to see people cooking things with fire magic and griffins be a common form of transportation, etc., etc. That'd be so cool! (And drat, now I'm giving myself plot bunnies!) White Cat sounds amazing. o.o Alternate history is something I am utterly FASCINATED by and NEED more of!

      I would suspect a DWJ would be the most unique one! XD She writes the craziest stuff. Hehe. I've GOT to get my hands on Archer's Goon. *flails*

      I LOVE YOUR COMMENTS. And I'm honored my posts make you think. THANK YO SO MUCH! <3

  2. What a fantastic post! Yes, the possibilities with fantasy are endless. :)

    But... I don't get inspired easily. Thus I don't have a whole horde of plot bunnies like many writers seem to have. Sometimes that's frustrating and I JUST WANT TO KIDNAP ALLLL THE PLOT BUNNIES but ahh, well. xD I guess it's partly because I don't especially love writing about dragons and bizarre whimsy and stuff like that. :P I like sticking to realistic fantasy. But I like reading about non-realistic fantasy! xD

    1. Thank you! The endlessness of fantasy is just too fun, isn't it?

      Hey, sometimes that can be a blessing! Because you can focus more on ONE idea instead of being pulled right and left by a million different ones. Sometimes I wish I didn't have so many ideas. >.>

      Realistic fantasy is good, too! Like I said, I'm not telling everyone to go write bizarre stories. We need stories in EVERY genre. I love how varied literature can be!

  3. FANTASYYYYYY. *flails and falls in a pile of fairy dust* Ahhh, I just love this genre! It's my absolute favorite! ^_^

    Ha, okay, so I've always thought of fantasy as fitting in a certain "box." You know, the typical dragons, chosen one trope, and epic quest type thing. So I guess that's another reason I haven't written a fantasy book yet. I felt like I was too "restricted" because "fantasy just has a lot of guidelines." Um...NO WAY. Like you said, fantasy is LIMITLESS! There are infinite ways we can craft a fantasy novel, and it took me FOREVER to figure that out. We don't have to stick to any rules when creating a fantastical tale; we just write what we want to write. (I mean, as long as it's clean and wholesome, obviously.) For the longest time, I thought I would either ruin fantasy or create a dry, boring book because there are so many regulations. BUT NO, MARY, JUST WRITE ONE ALREADY. BECAUSE FANTASY IS AWESOME AND THERE ARE SOOOO MANY THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH IT. (Excuse me while I give myself a pep talk. XD) THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.

    My favorite fantasy books are prooobably the epic, glorious ones. (Lord of the Rings and The Dark Sea Annals by Wayne Thomas Batson especially.) But I also love love love bizarre/whimsical/wild tales full of things like flaming cats and walking rosebushes. (Both are found in Lady Moon, in case you were wondering.) BASICALLY ANYTHING FANTASY IS RIGHT UP MY ALLEY.

    Thank you so much for this lovely post, Lauri! You have inspired me to write my VERY FIRST fantasy novel. YAY YOU! *hands you gingerbread* AND I'm reworking my WIP to be a fantasy novel of sorts. It still involves pirates, but this time they will be in an alternate history/fantasy setting. I'M SUPER EXCITED TO GET STARTED. Also nervous. BUT MOSTLY EXCITED.



      GIRL. You just said precisely what I was trying to say in this entire post. And here you put it so concisely while I blabbered on. That was exactly me, seeing fantasy as a box. Like you said, chosen one, big quest, regular creatures such as dragons, fairies, etc., etc. It took me a looong time to get that out of my mind and realize the endless possibilities. Writing has become SO much more fun once I finally realized I can do whatever I want. But I'm just repeating what you said. Basically YES. YOU PUT IT PERFECTLY. And another yes on you writing a fantasy book. YOU NEED TOOOOO! WE NEED AN EPIC MARY FANTASY STORY.

      Those are probably my favorite, too! That and fairytale-type things. But, really, I think I just love it all! XD (And I seriously NEED to read Lady Moon. Why have I not gotten my hands on that yet???)

      Oh my goodness. THAT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. LET ME JUST FLAIL FOR A FEW MILLION YEARS. You write that thing, Mary! *waves pompoms*
      You're changing your pirate story to be an alternate history fantasy story? AN ALTERNATE HISTORY FANTASY STORY WITH PIRATES? *collapses* BEST. IDEA. EVER. YOU ARE GOING TO WRITE THE COOLEST STORIES.

      ACK. Thank you!!! You are the sweetest! <3

    2. *sneaks in* WRITE IT, MARY!! WRITE IT WRITE IT!! YOU CAN DO IT!! *shakes pompoms along with Christine* Seriously, you must write it. Must *nods*. I would so read it *nodnod*.

  4. I love fantasy!! My favorites are far too numerous to go into now... Lord of the Rings, Death Gate Cycle, Earthsea, Tales of Goldstone Wood, DWJ books (particularly anything dealing with Chrestomanci), The Queen's Thief, Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Chronicles of Prydain, Chronicles of Narnia... I could go on and on and on...


    I love fantasy.

    I like it in all forms. I like it like it in a house, I like it like it with a mouse, I definitely like it in a tree, my favorite genre is fantasy!

    Ok... see what you got me doing?

    Yes, fantasy is infinite.

    The most unique fantasy I think I've ever read was Lord of Snow and Shadows (and the rest of the trilogy...) by Sarah Ash. Just very... very different. I liked it a lot. I need to reread it.

    Thanks for the shout-out! Yay for fantasy! And celebrating LOTR's upcoming birthday!

    1. You and me both! I just never, ever get tired of it.
      You named some of the BEST. LotR and Narnia, obviously. I also ADORE the Goldstone books and Enchanted Forest Chronicles. And DWJ's Howl's Moving Castle is basically my favorite book ever. I haven't read the Chrestomanci series yet but I'm dying to! And I've only read the first Prydain book, but I really liked it and seriously need to read the rest.

      BWAHAHAHA. Jenelle! XD You're the best!

      Huh, I've never heard of that trilogy. I shall have to look into it! I love me some unique stories.

      You're most welcome! I published this post this morning, then went to see what new posts people had put up, only to find the Silmarillion Awards started! I thought that was the craziest coincidence given the subject of this post. So of course I had to add that P.S. there. I'm so excited about the awards! :D

    2. It's a little dark (dragons with a sort of... vampiric twist?) and a bit more of a political thriller... but I really liked the way she handled it and it was very different from the quest-based or coming-of-age fantasy I normally gravitate towards. I read another of her books that I think was supposed to be set in the same world and didn't like it. But that first trilogy was good.

      What a fun coincidence! Love it!

    3. I usually don't mind dark at all. I looked it up and it does sound like an intriguing book!

  5. Absolutely true! Fantasy is magical and I love its infinitness. You can basically do anything with it. As long as it isn't absolutely crazy idea. And I like how you wrote that fantasy is Lord of the Rings because many people think just that and it's sooo much more. And I fell in love with fantasy because anything can happen. My favourite though is fantasy with kings and queens and it doesn't have to be just medieval times. I just love princesses because I've always wanted to be one as a child. :D

    1. It's so very magical!

      YES. I love LotR, obviously, but a lot of people (me included) forget that's not the only kind of fantasy out there.

      I'm with you! I have so very, very many kings, queen, princes, and princesses in my novels. It's kinda crazy. XD But I just never get tired of it! I'm so glad I'm not alone.

  6. Fantasy is amazing, and you have very good taste in books. I love all the authors you mentioned.

    1. It so is! I could happily indulge in fantasy forever.
      Thank you! We seem to have the same taste in books, and I love it!

  7. I nominated you for the Rising Authors Tag!

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

  8. I wish I had the problem of too many plots!! I tend to struggle with plotting, and find the process of writing SO much easier than the idea stage. but no matter what I write, I always crave writing about dragons. This post has really validated me, lol!
    I love that fantasy IS truly versatile and infinite. I love the 'typical' Tolkien-esque fantasy - and I also love fantasy that kind of defies the genre. For example Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo which is AMAZING!

    Also can I just say I LOVE your blog and all the pink and it's lovely <3 I lurk more than I comment, I should stop that!

    1. Well see? That's my problem. I have alllll these plot ideas but very rarely write them down or actually sit down and PLOT. I tend to just want to write, and end up having horrifyingly messy first drafts because I didn't take the time to plot and organize all my many ideas. I seriously need to get organized. XD

      I'm glad this post validated you! You write those dragons. You can NEVER have too many dragons!

      Me too, me too! I just love it ALL. So many possibilities.
      I've heard of the amazingness of Six of Crows and seriously need to get my hands on that thing!

      WELL LET ME JUST FLAIL. You're so nice! I'm glad someone likes all the pink. Hehe. Although...I'm soon probably going to get rid of all the pink. I'm scared I'm running away a lot of people with it, as much as I love it.

  9. I am drowning in all the fantasy goodness. Bahaha, I love all the crazy ideas you wove into your post! Dragon-riding cowboys especially got my attention.

    The only downside to reading this glorious post? I want to go write a BAJILLION FANTASY NOVELS THAT ARE NOT MY CURRENT WIP. XD (Maybe it's because my WIP is not cooperating and brand new sparkly ideas are looking attractive at this moment?)

    I used to box fantasy in as well, but somehow--I'm not even sure how or when--I gradually came to see the boundless opportunities the genre allows. And that's one of the most exciting things about writing ever, for me anyway. ^_^ It's funny, Journeys of the Chosen started out very much inside that box, but since then it's stretched outside of it somewhat. (A good portion of it IS still admittedly in the box, but I like to think I've decorated the inside of that box and made it fun/less predictable. Maybe. XD)

    But you're getting me so excited to write all the things! All the ideas that stretch my horizons and play with things I've never tried before! THANK YOU FOR THE INSPIRATION, DEAR! There are seriously so. many. options. It truly is as big as our imaginations can go. (I may even be getting a post idea that bounces off of this... o.o)

    1. Thank you! I don't even know what goes through my mind. *snorts* I do rather like the dragon-riding cowboys myself though, to be honest. XD

      Bwahahaha! SOWWY. >:D (I kind of gave myself a ton of inspiration too, when I NEED to be editing, so I shouldn't be laughing. *cough*) I'm sorry your WIP isn't cooperating though. I hope it'll start behaving itself!

      That was kind of me, my realization of what fantasy could be became a gradual thing. The more fiction I read and the more studying on the writing craft I did, the more I realized how infinite it is. And I'm the same! It's SO exciting when you think of all the endless possibilities!
      Decorated the box. Bwahaha! I love it! XD But from what I've heard, your series sounds like it has SO MUCH unique stuff and is so well thought out and in depth. If it is in a box, it's a REALLY big, epic box!

      YOU ARE SO WELCOME. And that'd be awesoooome if you wrote a post inspired by this one! I'd be honored. :D

  10. I totally agree. I love the infinite possibilities of fantasy. ^ ^ It can take many shapes. I'm doing a steampunk fantasy series and that's very fun. ^ ^

    1. Isn't it just the best? Having something endless spread out before you is so exciting.

      STEAMPUNK FANTASY, YES YES YES. We need more of those! I'm soooo happy you're working on one! :D

  11. 'Tis an epic post, this! I had such fun reading it! AND YOUR BOOK PHOTOGRAPHY. THIS IS AN ART I NEED TO LEARN.

    DWJ. Oh, her fantasy is VERY unique. AND I LOVETH IT SO MUCH (*cough* even if I've only read one *cough*) *hugs HMC*

    And THAT would be why I typically write fantasy (and sci-fi and dystopian and the like); NO RULES!

    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU SWEET THING! I still have a looot to learn with book photography, but you encourage me so! <3

      So unique. o.o I've only read four of her novels (3 of which all being HMC related), but I know ALL her stuff is totally bizarre. BUT YES. GIMME ALL THE DWJ STORIES. (But mostly Howl. *cough*)

      YESH. No boundaries. Completely limitless. I just LOVE it! :D

  12. Great post! Totally agree. Just about all of my favorite stories are fantasy in one way or another. Not sure about the most unique one I've ever read (possibly Percy Jackson), but I do have an idea floating around in my head for an epic fantasy that takes place in space. Not like Star Wars, though. It would still be sword-and-sorcery, dragons, knights, all that kind of thing. Just in space. You go from planet to planet with magic, not spaceships. And the physical laws of our own universe don't really apply, so you could hypothetically fly your dragon from one planet to another if you have enough endurance. Maybe it sounds weird, but like you said, fantasy is infinite! I just have no idea what the story itself would be. The concept intrigues me, though.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. ^_^

      I'm so very much the same way! (Which I guess is obvious...) I pretty much only ever read fantasy-type stories. I can't seem to stop!

      The Percy Jackson books are VERY unique. So hilariously ridiculous. XD

      MATTIFORD. YOUR STORY IDEA. :O YOU MUST WRITE THIS THING. I loooooove how it's like high fantasy but IN SPACE. And traveling from planet to planet via magic or dragon? And and and...THIS IS EPIC. Keep working on this idea. It NEEDS to be written. It doesn't sound weird at all, it sounds AWESOME!!!

    2. Sorry for the late reply, lol. But I'm so glad you like the idea! It's really just a bunch of images in my brain right now, but thanks to you, I have even more of a desire to work on it! The working title right now is Evalore. Not sure what that even refers to, but I thought it sounded cool. XD

    3. I LOVE the idea! And I'm sure it'll eventually take shape. I have a lot of story ideas like that, that are hardly anything but like one image or a character or something. But they tend to always form into SOMETHING after time.

      EVALORE. That does sound cool! :O It kind of encompasses the epic scope of this story somehow. It's perfect!

  13. In the past two years, I have become more intrigued with fantasy novels. I went away from the genre for years but I have fallen in love with it all over again. I guess my only problem is that I am extraordinarily picky when it comes to the books I like :) it is a blessing and a curse.

    1. I'm happy to hear you've fallen in love with it again! It's such a broad genre, I feel like there's something there for everyone.

      No judgments from me on being picky! I feel like I'm the most picky person on the planet, so I totally get you. Only recently have my tastes been slooowly broadening, but I still turn my nose up at plenty of books. ;)


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