Why Fantasy Nanoveling is More Awesome Than Bananas

Thanks to sister NaNoveler Kaitlin Nichols for joining us today to talk about NaNo and fantasy writing…

 Why Fantasy Nanoveling is More Awesome Than Bananas

Kaitlin is a High Fantasy author.  With her husband, Michael, she is publishing The Athele Series, set to launch in winter of 2012.  Their blog, www.theatheleseries.wordpress.com, talks about writing, the fantasy genre, and publishing. 

Nanowrimo is an exciting time of year.  It mish-meshes all the great holidays we normally get off and gives them a nice jolt of caffeine to make it last the whole month long.  If you’re in the US of A, you even get a whole four days off in a row to dive into your book and splash around.  For some of us, the prospect of four whole days to go play in novel land is somewhat baffling – after all, it’s completely possible to live in the same world in which your novel takes place.

Personally, though, I think that’s a terrible bore, and I have never actually done it for Nanowrimo.  I’m a fantasy writer.  Now, I don’t go urban fantasy, as my host does (not that Urban fantasy isn’t awesome!)  I tend towards hugely elaborate worlds and multi-worlds.  I have strayed onto ‘Earth’ for a chapter or two, but I don’t stay very long. 

But I’m not here to start a genre war.  Sort of.  I’m just here to outline the top five reasons that for your 2011 Nanowrimo novel, you should give fantasy a go!

#5.  Everyone is doing it!

Also Known As: 

“Mom, she’s jumping off that bridge, why can’t I?”
“Because her super power is flight, and yours is x-ray vision, dear.”

Take a gander at the Nanowrimo forums (www.nanowrimo.com/en/forums)  It’s got all the genres lined up in a row.  Now, look at the thread and reply numbers.  Holy shamoley! 

Now, these were only the two surrounding forums, but the second runner up at the time of this post was Science Fiction (which is sort of the nerdy half-brother of Fantasy, or maybe the cute computer geek with a crush on fantasy.  Fantasy doesn’t know about the crush though, or tries to pretend it isn’t there, but occasionally takes Science fiction to the prom…) at 108 threads and 2300 some replies.  The point is, either fantasy folks are extremely talkative (truth.) or there are a lot of us.  All that nanoing power must happen for a reason – so put on your robe and wizard cap and get fantasizing!  (If you understood that joke, I apologize.)

#4.  There can be more than one race!

Also Known As:

“Mom, the Halfling guy is looking at me funny!”
                “That’s not a Halfling guy dear, that’s a dwarf girl.”

People are funny, and speaking as someone who spent a year in a completely different culture, culture shock can also be pretty much hilarious.  And there is no bigger culture shock than your poor character stuck in a fantasy world figuring out for the first time that dwarven women grow beards too, or that elven men are perfectly happy to wear the same robes as women (and can occasionally sing higher notes) or that walking on the right side of a Halfling nobleman is considered the greatest insult available to a person of vertical superiority. 

Sure, you could also swing it the other way, and have such accidental cultural differences cause a fight, a duel, or even all out war, but the point is that these options are available to you.  Not to mention, you get to touch on racial tolerance without ever once talking about, well, racial tolerance, and you get the extra word count describing your take on each race in detail.  For instance, are your elves Tolkein-esque?  Closer to the Lorwyn cycle of Magic the Gathering?  Or are the Keelber mini men?  It’s up to you!

#3. Animals can talk.

Also Known As:

“Mom, I’m running out of plot!”
                “Don’t worry dear.  Just use the symbolism of the tiger to write yourself a dream sequence.”

Ever heard of Aesop’s fables?  More often than not, they use Animals to symbolize a certain trait in humanity and reflect the lesson the animals learn back onto our lives.  Useful trick, yes?  But this is more than about talking animals.  While symbolism is reasonably easy to pull off in a book that takes place in the mundane world, its way easier and has way more options when you start including the Arcane.  Sure, you can use ‘the moon burned red’ as a metaphor for something terrible happening in your literary fiction novel, but in fantasy the moon can literally burn red.  You won’t be using a metaphor, and your characters can have a bit of a freak out and start trying to right the wrong.  Fantasy is the ultimate show-don’t-tell.  And done well, it’s awesome.

#2. Magic means more explosions!

Also Known As:

“Mom, I’m running out of plot!”
                “Don’t worry dear.  Just explode something.”

To be honest, I haven’t used this in a while, but it really is my favorite method of getting a plot moving again.  Suddenly, explosions!  Nothing quite like a good bomb going off to put the fire back in your writing (haha.)  But in mundane worlds, you’ve only got a few options for your fire to put out.  A bomb, a fire, a malfunction… these are great things if you’re in the right genre for them (spy fiction!)

But if you’ve gone fantasy, your options open up like the planetarium on a cloudless night.  Suddenly, explosions!  Oh crap!  What caused it!?  Enemy mage?  Goblins?  Gremlins?  Dwarven mining gone awry?  New, undisciplined mage?  Apocalypse?  Cthulu!?

All one can do is hope that it wasn’t Cthulu.  That would probably put an abrupt end to the novel…

Last, but not least…

#1. Anything goes.

Also Known As:

“Mom!  I’ve run out of plot!”
                “Dear.  You can’t run out of plot.  You’re a fantasy writer.”

Fantasy has the vast advantage that if you can think of it, you’re allowed to write it because Fantasy is a bit of a flirt.  Want some mystery up in your Nanovel?  No problem, Fantasy is good friends with Mystery, they totally tried dating but Mystery really just likes fantasy’s mystique, and they’ll never be serious.  Want some space ships?  Like I said before, Science Fiction is Fantasy’s secret crush, and vice versa.  They’ll totally go out and pretend it never happened the next day.  Need some heavy-duty romance? 

Oh honey.  It’s Fantasy. 

The point is that you can do anything.  Not only that, it’s Nanowrimo – you’re encouraged to do anything. 

So get out there, sign up at www.nanowrimo.org, and get your fantasy noveling going on!

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