Guest Post

Writing Fantasy that Rings True

Guest post by Hannah Shoop

So you’re writing a story with dragons and elves. Maybe you’ve even invented a race or two. You’ve figured out the rules of magic and developed a detailed world, complete with maps and sketches of your characters.

But how do you convince your readers to stick around? How you do grab their interest and make them hang on for dear life until they’ve read the last page of your novel?

Well, the first step is by making your writing believable.

Realistic fiction and fiction that is believable are not the same thing. Neither are fantasy and believability an oxymoron. While orcs and hobbits are products of Tolkien’s imagination, when we enter Middle Earth, we believed them. No one had every heard of Aslan, but when C.S. Lewis sent him roaring through our imaginations, we stood in awe with Lucy and maybe even shook with fright with Trumpkin. Though these characters share little resemblance to anything we know in our world, somehow their substance connects with something deep inside of us. These fantasy stories—with all their fantastical elements—ring true.

Writing Fantasy that Rings True

So how does a fantasy author do it? Here are a few tips.

  1. Give your characters real emotions. Though we may never have met a three-foot being with hairy feet that lived in a hole in the ground, we can relate to the desire to be safe and comfortable. We can understand the feeling of stepping outside one’s comfort zone and the fear that comes with it. Whether you’re writing about a human or a creature of your own invention, make sure your character experiences basic human emotions. Even stories that are told from a non-human’s perspective like Black Beauty and Saphira’s portions of Eragon still rumble with human emotions—loyalty, fear, confusion, and contentment. For readers to connect with your characters, your character must feel these things.
  2. Ground your stories on truth. Your characters may not be quoting scripture, but you can still frame your story inside a biblical worldview. Take the parables of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20) for example. It includes believable reactions from men who thought they were being short changed, and it also shows the grace of the master. Or, think about Bible stories that move you; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s audacious courage in the face of an arrogant ruler, Jesus’ surprising mercy to the woman caught in adultery, Judas’s painful betrayal with a kiss. Then, think about larger themes found in scripture: good triumphing over evil, sacrificial love, forgiveness that baffles the brain. Your readers will be moved by these things because that is how God made the human heart.
  3. Get help. If you want your stories to outlast you, they must be bigger than your imagination. Timeless truth must be woven in them, for truth is reality. Know the scripture, for that is what will endure to the end (Matthew 24:35). Ask the Holy Spirit to help you apply it to your writing because he is the one who guides us into truth (John 16:13). Then show your work to trusted readers, and ask them if your writing rings true.

Fantasy’s merit are not restricted to the fact that it help us escape reality, but that it helps us understand reality.

So write on, and may your writing ring true because it is steeped in Truth.

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About the Author: Hannah Shoop is a lover of fantasy and other good stories, and she is currently working on a fantasy trilogy. On her blog, hannahshoop.wordpress.com, she posts her poems and writes about her faith. When she is not writing, she loves to read, play the piano, have good conversations over a cup of tea, and take walks. She sees her life as a great adventure through the world with her Savior and cannot wait to see what He has planned next for her.

Guest Post, Writing Tips

Guest Post at Kingdom Pen

While I was not able to write a post this weekend, since I was in Chicago on a school trip, one of my articles was recently published on Kingdom Pen, and I thought I would share it with my readers here as well.

Kingdom Pen is a wonderful place for Christian teenagers to find a supportive writing community. As their website says, “Kingdom Pen exists to encourage teens to write well, write purposefully, and to always write for Christ.” Not only does this website offer great articles on writing and publish stories and poems written by teenagers, but they also have an amazing forum with a supportive community. I’d highly recommend that you check out their website if you have not already 🙂

Article: Why It’s Okay to Have Clichés in Your Fantasy Novel

I have posted about cliches frequently on this blog and even one of my most popular posts is on this subject. But since one of my professors remarked that Christianity can be summed up as “kill the dragon; get the girl” and I posted some of Tolkien’s thoughts on faeries stories, I have been thinking more and more about how truth relates to fiction, especially as truth relates to cliches. I know a lot of you are fantasy writers and are working hard to twist cliches, so you might be interested in this article.

I hope your Monday is going well, and I promise we will have a normal, writing post next week 🙂

God bless,

Gabrielle

Devotionals, Guest Post

Devotional: What Scares You?

A couple week ago, I submitted an article for an awesome website, The Rebelution, and it was just posted Friday! If you’d like to check it out, you can at this link: What David, Gideon, and Joan of Arc Taught me about being Scared.

What Scares You?

 

Occasionally, on this blog, I have mentioned Alex and Brett Haris’ Do Hard Things and their awesome website “The Rebelution“. Their book and blog is all about challenging teenagers to actually do something with their teenage years and act as adults. I would highly recommend their book!

I know that this isn’t my typically Monday post, but I did not want to wait until Thursday to share this with you guys (I am pretty excited about being published on the Rebelution’s website!) So Thursday, I hope to publish a writing tip, but I may not get around to it. (School and all; I know you guys understand.) But I will try to post.

God bless, and I hope you have a great week!

Gabrielle