I like fantastic children’s books.  They’re my favorite type of kid books.  In fact, Fantasy and Science Fiction were my focuses when I did critical work in grad school.   I thought it might be fun if we spent some time discussing fantasy writing.

And I thought we’d start with the trickiest fantasy to write — first person high fantasy.
Before I go any farther, let me define a few of the jargony terms I’ll be using.  I tried to write this post without them, but it got too convoluted.
  • Primary World — Our world.  The realistic, normal everyday world we live in.  Planet Earth.
  • Secondary World — The fantastic world that is fundamentally different in some way from our own.  The difference could just be that it has a different history.  The world in a science fiction story that occurs on a different timeline from ours (ex. Hitler won WWII is a popular one) is a secondary world.  In a traditional fantasy like Lord of the Rings, Middle Earth is the secondary world.
  • High Fantasy — A fantasy that takes place entirely on a secondary world.  Also thought of as “Sword & Sorcery” fantasies, they almost always take place in a pre-industrial society.  Examples include Eragon, Goose Girl, and Sabriel.
  • Low Fantasy — A fantasy that takes place entirely on our world.  Supernatural or magical stuff infringes on our world.  Most ghost stories are low fantasy.  Some examples include the Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson, and Sister Grimm books.
  • Portal Fantasy — The main characters transition between a primary and secondary world by some means.  In The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, the Pensieve kids transition from England into Narnia.  The wardrobe is the portal between the two worlds.
And this is starting to become a little long.  Tomorrow:  first person high fantasy — why it’s hard and a good example
© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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