Character Driven Fantasy

Hello friends and welcome to another self-reflective and, may I say, stylish edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

This last weekend I finally conceded defeat to the book I had been attempting to read for the last five or six weeks, a big name book by a big name author that I just… couldn’t get into. Though the writing was good and the premise interesting, I ultimately put it down because I never connected with either of the POV characters.

I then picked up a different book and immediately tore through it in less than two days (looking forward to getting a review out of it on Tuesday). 

Perhaps something sort of weird about me is whenever I finish a book, I like to and look at some of the reviews other readers gave it, particularly reviews that hold the opposite opinion I did. If I loved the book, I seek out one stars. If I hated it, I look for the glowing ones. I don’t know why I’m drawn to this activity, but maybe it’s just because I want to understand how people read and enjoy their stories. 

Today, after I finished my latest binge, I did what I always do. I googled the title, and clicked around, looking for the most scathing reviews I could find. As with all novels, I found plenty and though some had good points I had not considered, I noticed a trend with a lot of the unfavorable comments. They didn’t like how much of the narrative spent inside the main characters head. 

While I’ll get into the details during my review next week, it is true that this particular story was balanced more toward the characters than the world building and the vitriol that engendered made me sad a little. Because that’s how I write. 

I have long expounded on my own weak worldbuilding and how I am much more of a character driven writer than a setting based one, but this book and those reviews kind of drove home for me how difficult it might be to take that approach in the fantasy genre. Certainly, many fantasy readers enjoy fantasy because the setting engages them, the characters moving through that setting are secondary to that pleasure, which is why there is such a broad market for sci-fi/fantasy IPs (think Forgotten Realms, Warhammer, Star Wars, Dune, etc.). And while I would never say there’s no market for character driven fantasies, I do wonder if it’s a smaller niche than I previously thought. 

Is it possible to be excellent at both? And be succinct? I wonder. I guess I have a new higher ideal to aspire to.

But first, I gotta fix my worldbuilding problem. Anyone got tips on how to change their entire writing style? 


As I mentioned in my Monday Motivations post this week, I’m (hopefully) heading into some brighter days with my mental health. Which, in turn, I hope, means that I will be getting back into the swing of writing weekly blogs. Please look forward to it. 

Until then, my friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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3 thoughts on “Character Driven Fantasy

  1. Haha I do that after reading books too! I look for both reviews that mirror my thoughts and the opposite end. It’s interesting to see what people caught that I didn’t as well.

    Anyway, if you find a solution for worldbuilding, I’m all ears, as that’s one of my weak points too.

    Like

    1. Kerry Share

      I think one of my biggest issues with actively worldbuilding is I always just get so excited by my ideas that I want to start drafting right way rather than waste time on the nitty gritty details of the setting. So for now I’m just tryna tell myself that since I can’t draft for the moment anyway (thanks to other commitments), there’s no harm in doing the “boring” work when I have time. But man, is it tough.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Your Mileage May Vary: Queen of the Tearling – Just Another Struggling Writer

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