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Blog Flights of Fantasy - A.F. Steadman's Top Tips for Writing Fantasy Stories

Flights of Fantasy - A.F. Steadman's Top Tips for Writing Fantasy Stories

By A.F. Steadman | Guest Blog

Flights of Fantasy - A.F. Steadman's Top Tips for Writing Fantasy Stories

Superstar author A.F. Steadman reveals her secrets for writing a fantasy story. How to start, what to include, how to develop your world and more...

Being the author of a fantasy series featuring ferocious unicorns, elemental magic and an island full of ancient secrets, I spend a lot of my time writing in a fantasy setting. And as the third book in my series, Skandar and the Chaos Trials soars out into the world, I would love to share my top tips for fantasy writing with you.  

Build strong foundations

When you’re thinking about building a fantasy world, I’ve found that it’s important to have a central idea, magic system or concept that you return to time and time again. You can choose anything you can imagine, but it should be strong enough to support your world. For me, with the Skandar series, I settled on elemental magic. The five elements – fire, water, air, earth and spirit – are where I return to whenever I’m building something new on the Island. Just like the foundations of a house, your central idea should hold up the rest of the world you are creating, as well as being a reference point that influences your imagination.  

Find a magical entry point 

Finding a way to introduce your new world to readers is one of the most important parts of fantasy writing. And there are many options to choose from! There are fantasy stories that use portals – doors to other worlds – or magical objects like keys or maps that allow characters access to a new world. Others use an exciting event to introduce the new world, and some stories start entirely in the fantasy world and use a character to draw the reader into the story. In the Skandar series, my entry point is via a character – Skandar Smith – who is desperate to become a unicorn rider and battle with elemental magic. That means readers discover the fantasy world of the Island alongside him, joining him on his journey. Think about the world you are building, and decide on the entry point that best fits the story you are writing.  

Ask questions 

One of the main tasks I set myself is to ask questions about the fantasy world I’m building. Asking yourself how, why, where, what, when and why questions is a way to create a fantasy story that feels believable. Remember that you must know much more than your reader about the world you are creating for it to feel real. And not all the answers to the questions you ask yourself will make it into your final story, but your in-depth knowledge will help to bring the world to life. You won’t always know the answer to the questions you’re asking yourself right away, but don’t worry—making up the answers is exactly what you should be doing! Just make sure you keep a note of them somewhere… 

Read widely  

Reading books always helps me to create my own stories, but just because you’re writing fantasy that doesn’t mean you should only be reading fantasy. Ideas can come from all kinds of places so read as much and as widely as you can. For the Skandar books, I’ve had ideas when reading poems, comics, plays, graphic novels, memoirs and everything in between. Read everything, and you’ll be surprised what finds its way onto the page. Have fun  Writing fantasy really is so much fun, and that’s important to keep in mind when you’re sitting down to create. Let your imagination run wild and think about the kind of magical adventures you’d love to read about. Be bold! Be creative! Be silly! After all, in Skandar there are flaming unicorn farts – and I had a LOT of fun writing those into the books!  

Skandar and the Chaos Trials by A.F. Steadman is out now, published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

You can find out more about A.F. Steadman and the Skandar series here.

Published: Wed 24th Apr 2024

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