Genre tips

#AtoZChallenge: Genres–High Fantasy

The A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post 26 articles on a themed topic. It’s supposed to be every day except Sundays during the month of April but I did this last year, found it way too busy for the likes of me, and decided to post mine ‘about’ once a month. Yes, it’ll take me a couple of years. Sigh.

My topic, like the last two times I did the conventional approach, will be writing genres.

This genre:

High Fantasy

Definition

 fantasy fiction set entirely in secondary or parallel worlds, contrasted with books set in the ‘real’ world that simply have magical objects, creatures, characters or events

Tipsa to z

  1. Include a strong sense of peace in the setting.
  2. Make characters complex and not cliche.
  3. Focus on a lone protagonist who makes his/her way through a secondary world on a Hero’s Journey.
  4. Have your protagonist pulled into battle with the antagonist.
  5. Include an all-knowing mystical mentor or teacher, a wizard or a warrior if you’d like.
  6. Start the hero as a childlike figure who matures rapidly.
  7. Tell the story from the viewpoint of one main hero.
  8. Often make the hero an orphan or unusual sibling with an extraordinary talent for magic or fighting.

Popular Books

  1. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
  2. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin
  3. Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen Donaldson
  4. Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
  5. The Hobbit by J. R. Tolkien
  6. Lord of the Rings by J. R. Tolkien
  7. The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
  8. Xanth by Piers Anthony
  9. Wheel of Time  by Robert Jordan
  10. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  11. Dragonlance by Tracy Hickman

If you write this genre, I’d love your thoughts on tips and favorite books.

Click for complete list of these 26 genres

Click for a complete list of all genres I’ve written about

More H Genres


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2021. 

47 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: Genres–High Fantasy

  1. Sounds like Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. My fave book by Christopher Vogler studied Campbell and also consulted on Star Wars at one point and worked for Disney is the author of The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure of Writer’s 3rd edition. What is cool about this book you can also apply it to life and personal growth but it is a book about writing structure. Same could be said of Campbell too
    I guess. https://www.amazon.com/Writers-Journey-Mythic-Structure-3rd/dp/193290736X

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’d never considered the single protagonist aspect of High Fantasy, though your examples do suggest that. A Wizard of Earthsea was my first fantasy read, and set my love for the genre.
    Pidgeon holing the sub-genres is sometimes a challenge – mine definitely fall into Epic Fantasy – but as far as I understood it, one of the main defining traits of High Fantasy is the extensive use of magic, particularly spells, which may either be learned or as a result of inborn talent. Low fantasy, on the other hand, has little formal magic, although there may be background or underlying magic which does not figure significantly in the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There was a point–from my late teen’s to my 30’s–when High Fantasy was my go to genre. Not surprising that I’ve read 10 of the books on your list (I didn’t read The Sword of Truth). Even today, I can get swept away in the genre. I’ve written at least a half a dozen high fantasy novels (which will never see the light of day) including 2.5 books of a trilogy. They’re all trunk novels from my early writing days.

    Some of my favorite fantasy novels include Michael Moorcock’s Elric series and C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy. I also loved the early Shannara books, and of course, LOTR. Reading your post brings back fond memories. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jacqui – I’m certainly learning genres … but I need to read more of those books – to understand better … as you mention above – lots of work in writing them. I think I’ve hit the decision that I need to speed read everything … and at least I’ll read – can always re-read things later on … so better put some of these on my library list: to check them out … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

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