If I would look through my bookshelf right now, one can’t help but notice the abundance of pinks, purples and greens on them, with titles that are, more often than not, very girly.
Yes, this is the part where I admit: I am a fluffy reader.
I don’t know how it started, but I fell in love with chick literature as I was discovering books beyond my Sweet Valley and Animorphs collection. I was enamored with empowered women who get into various scrapes and situations and emerge triumphant in the end. It came to a point that whenever I go to the bookstore, I always look for these brightly colored books, and ignore everything else.
Because of this love for “fluffy” literature, I end up writing more fluff than the usual. My three works in progress for NaNoWriMo (2006, 2008 and 2009) are all of the chick lit genre, and my fellow writers know about my love for all things fluff. I even have chick lit writing manuals at home, to help me write.
However, sometime in 2009, I suddenly felt tired of writing my story. I read through some of the synopsis of my other friends who were writing fantasy and felt a certain kind of envy for those with stories that are, quite literally, out of this world.
But that was the thing: I don’t read fantasy novels as much as other people do. The Lord of the Rings? Just watched the movie, no interest in reading the books. The Chronicles of Narnia? I have the books but haven’t started reading it. I read Harry Potter, but it was easy reading despite its fantasy genre. Give me other fantasy stories and I’ll just give you a blank look. Sorry, I don’t read it.
So in 2010, I decided to change my writing habits and venture into a new genre, to spice up my writing life. I decided (and declared, so I’m accountable to it) that I will be writing a fantasy novel for NaNoWriMo 2010.
Now here comes the big but: I don’t know how to write one.
Sure, it’s pretty much imagination and anyone can write a fantasy story…but I don’t know how fantasy novels usually go. If I try to write my story now, I’d probably end up writing it like how I write my chick lit ones. So how to prepare?
Read fantasy novels.
So as a part of my 2010 reading goals, I decided to read at least 20 fantasy novels for the year. 20 should be a good number, nothing too overwhelming, and I’ll be able to get a few ideas on how these stories are written so I could write mine. I can read more, of course, but I don’t want to burden myself…plus I still need my fluffy book fix. ;)
I already finished two fantasy novels (review to follow soon!), and I’ve got…about three more in my list. I look forward to adding more to my to be read pile, and discover new worlds in pages that I have yet to crack.
Care to recommend a fantasy novel my way? :)
Welcome to the realm of the impossible Tina :)
Here are some suggestions. I’ll go with books that are readily available in stores (last time I checked at least) and limit myself to novels (except for my plug at the end) since you’re partly reading to prepare to write a fantasy novel.
Let’s start with some YA–not that these are “lesser” books in any way, but if your last brush with fantasy was Harry Potter, it might be less of a shock to segue into fantasy through these books.
(1) The Belgariad series – this is one of the clearest examples of the use of formula in fantasy. When I first read these as a child I thought they were brilliant–not so much now, but if you want a traditional fantasy story, this works, and I still have a soft spot for the characters.
(2) Artemis Fowl series
(3) His Dark Materials series
(4) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Now for the non-YA novels:
(5) Storm Front by Jim Butcher – urban fantasy and the first book of the excellent Dresden Files series.
(6) Stardust by Neil Gaiman – fantasy with a fairy tale tenor
(7) Neverwhere – Gaiman’s first novel and an excellent bit of urban fantasy.
(8) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – a very funny, very imaginative read from two masters of prose.
(9) The Lies of Locke Lamorra by Scott Lynch – think Ocean’s Eleven in a medieval fantasy
(10) Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon – not technically a fantasy but the spirit of adventure and a sense of camaraderie are elements of many great fantasy novels, and you’ll find both here in spades.
And now for the plug–there’s an online anthology of fantasy stories by Filipino writers (myself included) here: http://farthestshore.kom.ph/ That might be helpful as well :)
PAOLO: Thanks for all these suggestions! I’m leaning towards YA too, for some reason, maybe it’s because it’s easier to get fantasy novels from that section of the bookstore. I’ll be sure to pick up some of the titles you listed, including your plug. :D
lightning thief. the whole series :D five books.
GWEN: I’ve been looking for that set for a while now, but I can’t find Book 1! I have to read it before the movie shows here. :)
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I would echo the Percy Jackson series too as a YA fantasy recommendation BUT more than any other series, I urge/pledge/beg you to read the Bartimaeus trilogy. It’s easily the best YA series I’ve read in a while and this is my favorite book genre so you can take my word for it. I’d even dare to say it trumps Harry Potter in some respects.
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@paolo – i was surprised to see the belgariad mentioned; it’s been a while since i completed the series. i had a very intense reading relationship with this series. i even annotated my copies with travel time (days spent traveling) of the group as they moved from one country to another. my imagination then was at its most vivid. i wished aunt pol was my aunt. and i was extremely jealous when she had a kid of her own in the end.
@tina, i listed some suggestions at chachic’s blog. on fantasy, i love the old authors: tanith lee (unicorn trilogy), kevin anderson (gamearth trilogy), and jennifer gaskell (atlan saga).
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