Why Is It So Hard to Write Good Fantasy? by Lee Duigon

I’m always looking for more fantasy fiction to read, to inspire my own work and, hopefully, to teach me how to do it better.

I’ve read hundreds of mystery novels of all kinds, and can count on my fingers the ones that have been truly awful. It’s not hard at all to find a good mystery. But with fantasy it’s the other way around.

Why should that be? There are authors who have made prodigious amounts of money writing fantasy that is at best half-baked. And there are lesser fantasy writers who produce stuff that’s hardly fit for the bottom of a bird cage.

Good fantasy fiction, obviously, will have things in common with quality fiction in any genre: an interesting plot; well-drawn characters who have some depth to them; situations that engage the reader’s emotions; a smooth flow of the language. But in fantasy–and in science fiction, too, by the way–books that lack those features are, well, plentiful…

Continue Reading: Why Is It So Hard to Write Good Fantasy?



5 thoughts on “Why Is It So Hard to Write Good Fantasy? by Lee Duigon

  1. Adam says:

    I think part of the problem lies in the fact that fantasy has to tell a strong narrative, and simultaneously explore and build a fictional world that is often very different from our own. I think, among other things, it’s very easy to slip out of balance and put disproportionate amounts of effort into one, to the detriment of the other. I’ve certainly known a fair number of fantasy stories that become so in love with their setting, that they forget to actually advance the plot and engage the characters, or their setting is so lackluster that I wonder why they didn’t just write it as a historical or contemporary piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • weavingword says:

      You’re probably right about that! Fantasy and Sci-Fy writers have to play God in a way that other writers generally don’t, and as fallen human beings, we’re not so good at that. 🙂 Building a well-written story is difficult enough without having to create an entirely new world for it to play out in as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Adam says:

        Agreed. And I think there’s the added challenge of balancing the different aspects. I think become so enamored of their setting that they put it first in a very “cart before the horse” style, which can take the form of world-builder’s disease, or result in a story that cares more about taking audiences on a tour of the setting than on engaging the characters and plot. Of course there setting focused stories that work; Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Lord of the Rings, but I think those work because the author intentionally and consciously set out to write a setting focused story, and built the rest accordingly. I think many fantasy authors think they are writing a story about a character’s transformation, or an epic adventure to resolve a conflict, but subconsciously they focus on the setting.
        Good topic. Thank you for posting.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. leeduigon says:

    That’s so cool that you got more likes for this article, reblogged, than I got for its original appearance.
    And while I’m here, let me recommend your books, starting with “Journey to Aviad.” I’ve read these, folks, and they’re really good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • weavingword says:

      That’s great to hear! Your article has actually sparked a discussion in one of my private facebook groups, too, which has been interesting. Thanks for the share-worthy article. 🙂 Hopefully it keeps getting noticed. I appreciate your recommendation for my books–coming from you, it really means a lot.


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