Writing Tips from Famous Fantasy Authors
I love to read advice from established authors and I’ve read some great pointers by Stephen King – his tweets and quotes seem to be shared a lot 😉 – but I am also interested in writing tips from famous fantasy authors. Do you like to read and/or write fantasy?
What do authors such as Brandon Sanderson and J.R.R. Tolkien suggest?
He says that you need at least the following four things if you want to be a successful author:
- Characters with distinct viewpoints
- Use of concrete detail
Like many other writers and bloggers he also recommends reading a lot.
“Just sit down and start writing” is something else he mentions and which I always say too.
“Turn off your internal editor” is another good one. Although good editing is of the utmost importance, when you start writing you should only focus on getting the story out. If you’re going to listen to your inner editor while trying to tell your story, you will lose the thread. Leave the editing for later.
Another tip I completely agree with is the following: “Focus on concrete details.” Don’t just describe how everything looks but add smells, scents, feel, motion, etc. The smell of fresh onion soup wafting through the open window; the intricate system of dressing a woman in the Renaissance; those are just two examples that make the reader not only see but also hear, smell, sense, and taste.
“Don’t let yourself write a first chapter, throw it away, and write another one, throw it away, and write another one. Force yourself to finish. My next advice is to keep on writing, If you enjoy it, you should just do it; the more you write the better you get.”
J. R. R. Tolkien
I can’t blog about writing advice from famous fantasy authors without including J.R.R. Tolkien 🙂 He also has some excellent tips, of course.
Since I wrote several books that were based on dreams and I published two of them, I love this first piece of advice: “Dreams give us inspiration.”
“Real people make great characters.” Tolkien based his Middle Earth characters on real people he knew.
“Keep writing even through adversity” It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Do not give up on that book, even if it takes years.
“Let your interests drive your writing.” Tolkien was interested in languages and he transmitted that in his books by creating languages and even cultures around them in his books.
I had never thought about it but I think I also transmit my interests in my books. I haven’t created a fantasy language yet but it sounds like a fun task and perfect for the Merfolk that appear in my current manuscript The Fall of the Stone. It’s something to think about 😉
In a recent interview I was asked what my advice was for other writers and my response was: “Just write. There may be many other books in your genre but you’re the only one who can write your book.” I don’t remember the exact words, but the message is the same.
Only you can write your book. No one else can.
When the interview is published I’ll share the link in this article. Hopefully it will be out soon.
Which famous fantasy author do you like? Are you a Tolkien fan or do you prefer Harry Potter’s magical world of Hogwarts? Let me know in the comments below.
13 thoughts on “Writing Tips from Famous Fantasy Authors”
Advice from successful people in their fields of work is always vintage. This is because they’ve “been there, done that and know better!!”. I respect such individuals. The two you have chosen to highlight have really golden nuggets of wisdom that any aspiring author ought to follow.
Aside from liking Brandon Sanderson’s 4 things needed to be a successful author, I resonate with 2 pieces of advice – Turn off your internal editor and focus on concrete details. In any line of writing, I have found that not turning your internal editor off actually slows you down considerably as you constantly keep going back to effect corrections to thought ideas and typos. Concrete details, on the other hand are what bring life to the words.
I also resonate with the advice of turning off your internal editor when you’re writing. That internal editor will only be in the way and block you from letting your juices flow out. I’m glad you enjoyed my post!
Thank you for stopping by!
Words of advice from any successful author should be taken seriously. This is because they have “been there, done that, learned from my mistakes”! I love the two authors you have chosen to highlight.
I especially agree with Brandon Sanderson’s the 4 things you need to be a successful writer. 2 pieces of his advice resonate with me. These are turning off your internal editor and focusing on concrete details. Your internal editor is what makes you constantly go back while writing to make changes and for me anyway, typos. Such a time waster when this can be done once you have your written framework in place. Concrete details, on the other hand, are what bring life to the writing, making it less boring..,
Hi Christine, I like how you start by mentioning Stephen King. I started reading The Stand recently and the version I got is the revised version. At the start of the book, it says quite a lot about this thought process and he does throw a couple of quotes in there if I remember correctly.
So I think his books have influenced my writing definitely. I really should take some time to finish through the Stand. I was going to try and sell with some of my other Stephen King paperbacks but your advice about reading other peoples work to help influence you I couldn’t agree more.
I also notice you mention that when you write you should just keep going until you’ve actually finished the whole story. No looking back – I know what you mean here. I started writing a book some years ago but never really finished it. Maybe I should but I think my biggest stumbling block was I started editing everything before I’d finished the story. I think this is a very important tip.
You mention about really describing everything that is going on in the background of the story. I think Chester Himes The Harlem Cycle Vol.3 was the first book that made me think about this.
I guess this is one of the benefits of reading many books as you begin to see what the writer is thinking whilst they are telling the story.
Will definitely try to take something away here I think.
Thanks for sharing;
It is through reading that we learn, isn’t it? Books by Chester Himes, Stephen King, Tolkien, Anne Rice, and several more have all taught us something about either world building, descriptions, etc. Sometimes through reading other books we do not only learn more about what we should or could do but also what we shouldn’t do 😉
Thanks for your comment!
Thanks for sharing writing tips from Brandon Sanderson and J. R. R. Tolkien. I love to be persistent in your writing journey, and it’s actually for anything we like to accomplish in this life. I prefer JK Rowling since the story of Harry Porter accompanied me while I grew up, so I resonated so much with the world of Hogwarts.
The Hogwarts castle, the snowy owl, and the Quidditch are the things that keep me falling into the magic world as soon as I read or watch them in movies. Reading is fantastic, which opens the door to the world of imagination.
I used to love to get lost in the world of Harry Potter. Such excellent world building! It’s a beautiful series, a very memorable one.
Thanks for your comment!
I like reading fantasy as well, and my favourite authors in the genre are Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive) & Mark Lawrence (The Broken Empire series). I don’t know if you’re familiar with the latter.
I like the advises that says writers should “Focus on concrete details” and “Let your interests drive your writing.”
These are great piece of advice because it means that you’ll be passionate about your work and that will come through in your writing. When people read the work, they’ll be able to enjoy and relate with all their senses, even if they are not particularly familiar with what you’re writing about. And for those who are, it even makes reading much more enjoyable.
I imagine It will also make the editing and revision process a lot easier because you’ll already be familiar with the story.
Thanks for curating these tips, and it’s great to know you’ve written books of yours as well! Well done Christie!
I’ve heard of Mark Lawrence but I haven’t read his books yet. There are so many great fantasy authors out there 🙂
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I love this post!
I started writing a book a couple of years back and stopped abruptly to focus on other things that were actually making me a bit of money. I am regretting that I stopped after reading this post. A big reason I stopped was that some family members were, albeit nicely, saying I was probably wasting my time. They were not trying to be mean, they just thought writing a book was better suited for someone who has actually established a career for themselves and is financially secure. I think I will pull that manuscript out from the back of my closet and dust it off after reading this, however. Screw the critics!
I love the advice about turning off your inner editor because I am a stream-of-conscious writer, and being able to forget about editing during my writing time has helped tremendously. It really is all about the content. Things can always be edited later on.
Thanks for some great tips from some of the greats. I will be checking back for more posts!
Yes, wipe the dust of that old manuscript and get it written! Don’t listen to others’ opinions about it. If you want to write that book, then you should write it.
I’m glad you liked this post and found it useful. I hope to see you again here soon 🙂
Thanks for your comment!
Great article on author tips for writing books. Stephen King and Tolkien are very popular, I have seen the Lord of the Rings movie several times. Every good book has its own message that leaves its own personal mark and we can learn a lot. I agree that persistence is very important if we want to write something, don’t look for excuses, just sit down and write 🙂 I’m sure this article will be useful to many to find a solution and of course useful advice. 🙂 I wish you good health.
Thank you, Zvezdan!