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3 Prompts for Writing a Fantasy Story

Updated on December 11, 2018
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EJ Allen is an author of fantasy novels and loves to read well crafted stories in many genres. Find him on Twitter or his website!

Prompts for Writing Fantasy

A writing prompt is basically a spark which we hope will light a fire. It's an idea, or a piece of an idea, and its job is to begin the process of imagination. There is no right or wrong way to use a writing prompt, and there's no rule that says you have to stick with any particular adherence to the prompt.

My favorite way to write a story is to purely discover as I go. In this way, prompts like these can be fantastic for getting the ball rolling. That is their intention, to simply move the writer passed the starting blocks and into the race.

Let's go ahead and get started with some ideas!

#1: The Trees are Alive!

A lot of fantasy contains a strong connection to nature, particularly in the magic systems. In this first prompt, nature is a living and breathing thing which is constantly on the move.

Imagine a world where nature changes rapidly and in unexpected ways. Seasons begin and end in a week, winter could happen at any moment, a forest of trees could uproot themselves and move a hundred miles south, the sun could refuse to shine for a month, and so on. Perhaps mountain ranges sink into the ground and become valleys, imagine the changes that would create in rivers and lakes!

In this world, the people are surviving against the whims of an ever changing environment and physical landscape. This prompt lends itself to great discussions and examinations of climate change and other current issues, with the great twist of fantasy and magic. It's also very unpredictable and dynamic.

What's Your Favorite Fantasy Story?

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#2: Dreams are Real

This idea has been tried in various forms before, but there are a thousand more ways to go with it that I haven't seen. The idea is that the mundane world of 'awake' is the part everyone tries to forget. It's when a person goes to 'sleep', and enters the world of dreams, that the real action happens.

In this world there is an actual location where dreams take place, a land to which everyone travels when they fall asleep. The twist is that each person is having their own dream, so the world is an awe inspiring buffet of odd and amazing people doing impossible and extraordinary things.

There is also the aspect of nightmares or people with sinister imaginations, which lends itself well to battles and struggles in the dream world.

Dreams are where our worlds are truly unleashed, where all the rules of reality cease to exist and things happen that can blow our minds. In this story, that is the routine. The dream world is the real world, as all of humanity gets to experience it together every night.

#3: Farm Boy Grows Up, Normal

There's a tried and true story line that's been around forever, where a farm boy or girl comes of age and discovers they are special. They have powers, they have important ancestors, they find a magical object, and so on. I'm not criticizing this plot, I actually love it and count it among my favorites. It speaks so beautifully to all of our desires to 'grow up' and become something amazing.

A great twist on this is when the main character grows up completely normally. She doesn't learn any magic, or find anything that changes her destiny. This is basically the author telling the story of a hero, through the eyes of a normal person.

Say the girl hitches a ride in the back of a wizard's wagon, and thus begins the adventure. She never learns magic, she simply is a great character with great depth, who happens to be NEAR a person with great power. She may not ever actually know him even, she is just outside his circle and we get to see the amazing story of a hero from the perspective of someone just like us.

This plot keeps the reader grounded in the body of a realistic and genuine person, so the novel would read believable and possible. The effects of being so close to such power and intrigue would be profound, and the possibilities of a story like this are endless.

Popular Stories With a Twist

One of the best ways to think of a story idea is to take something that's been done to death, and then put a twist on it. There is a reason why so many stories have similar plots, people like to read them. A person overcoming challenges and killing a dragon to save the village is not really about a dragon. It's about all of us and the power that's within us. Maybe our dragon is getting a great job, or overcoming cancer, or buying a nice house for our family. It's a deep connection that resonates with readers, and always has.

The point is, don't shy away from ideas which 'have been done before', everything has been done. However, there are always little changes we can make to these expected plots and paths that will make our stories more interesting and fresh. Create new animals, new species of people, new seasons, new realities. After all, most the fun of fantasy is that everything is possible and nothing is off limits.

Leave some more ideas in the comments, and happy writing!

© 2018 EJ Allen

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