As an intern, I spend the majority of my time reading through manuscripts. And, admittedly, a lot of them tend to blend together. That’s why I get so excited when I come across a fantasy romance manuscript. Getting lost in another world for 50 pages? Yes, please. But, as fun as fantasy can be, it has the tendency to go awry.
One thing that seems to pose a problem for fantasy writers is defining their setting. Some writers seem to assume that the reader already knows the ins and outs of the fantasy world they’ve created. Don’t assume that! Writers need to define the setting and situation to help the reader better understand what’s happening. You don’t want your reader to feel lost or confused after just a few pages. If it seems like the characters all know something the reader doesn’t, they’ll feel disconnected and they won’t want to keep reading.
Fantasy is supposed to be fun, so don’t make your reader work to understand it. There really aren’t limits to what you can do in a fantasy world, but there needs to be something to allow the reader to relate to the characters. There has to be some grounding in reality. If the reader can’t identify with any of the characters or situations, they won’t be interested in the story. Don’t isolate your reader!
Of course, I can’t broach the topic of fantasy romance without covering Twilight. I can hear your groans now, so I’ll be brief—avoid the Twilight effect. Many of the manuscripts I read tend to fall into this category, where wolf packs and vampire covens abound. Yes, Meyer’s series is a smashing success, but that doesn’t mean that every fantasy romance must include someone named Edward.
The most important thing when writing fantasy is to have fun with it! Reading fantasy is an escape from reality. Be creative and let your reader in. I’m looking forward to reading what you have for us!
--Beverly, GWU ‘11