What makes a good fantasy novel in your opinion?
I'm a writer and am working on multiple fantasy stories so I am curious as to what makes them good in peoples opinions.
Great question! I would say that all novels, not just fantasy, find their strength in their characters. Plot and setting are also important (especially for a fantasy) but if you don't have likable characters, no one is going to care how much time you put into the geography. Give your characters depth; figure out why they're doing what they're doing and it will make their interactions that much more memorable and intriguing.
Other than characters, I would say that believability is important in a fantasy novel. It needs to make sense why everything is the way it is. Are there castle ruins in this scene because it made a cool backdrop for your characters, or is it there as a horrifying reminder of the war a few years earlier? Ask yourself; would this still be here if the characters never saw it? Once your world exists beyond the bounds of your story, then it will sound more alive and believable to your readers, even if they aren't seeing the full scope of it in your novel.
For me, the fantasy world has to have some familiar things in it that I can recognize. When I open a fantasy novel, and everything in that world is foreign, unrecognizable, names for things are odd and references to things don't make sense. Almost like being in the presence of people sharing a private joke--then reading becomes work 1) I have to learn new characters and their story and 2) I have to try and figure out their world and what they heck they are talking about.
I love fantasy worlds where the author is really gifted with descriptive passages and I can "see" what they are writing about with little effort.
I think fantasy novels are best when they have enough depth and realistic aspects to them that make it easy to just escape every time I open it up for a read. It's not too difficult for them to be cheesy when it's just shallow and there's no point or meaning behind it all. I also love the creativity when it comes to new parts of that world I never encountered in a book before.
Any story has to have a good plot and well developed characters. You also need a good turning point, a great ending and likeable protagonist. In fantasy you can make up anything you like but you need to remember to have a story and characters that people can relate to. That way the readers believe this world is possible and they can escape to it, otherwise they won't get into the story.
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