8 Romance Fantasy Writing Prompts to Help Spark Your Imagination

8 Romance Fantasy Writing Prompts to Help Spark Your Imagination

Today I'm bringing you 8 romance fantasy writing prompts to help spark your imagination. You can use these to get ideas, write a story, or try a quick sketch. All of these prompts are original, so feel free to use them on your own site or for your writing. If you do post on your site, attribution would be nice, but not required!

Without further ado, here are the 8 romance fantasy writing prompts to help you break through writers block or cultivate the idea for your next story or novel!

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World Building Tips for Fantasy Writers

World Building Tips for Fantasy Writers

Here's your quick-start guide to fantasy world-building, with questions to help you create a rich, believable fantasy world. You can use these questions as prompts to help you get writing, or you can use the questions as a template for each world-building writing session you enter into.

I've even included a bonus worksheet and checklist for you to use over and over as you make fantasy worlds come to life!

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15 Dark Fantasy Writing Prompts to Help Spark Your Imagination

15 Dark Fantasy Writing Prompts to Help Spark Your Imagination

A collection of dark fantasy writing prompts for the writer looking to practice, or who needs a little inspiration. Use these to craft your next story, or as a writing exercise. All prompts are my own - so you may use them as you like

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Interview with Author Erica Dakin - The Theft and Sorcery Trilogy

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Erica Dakin has been writing for as long as she can remember. “I've always had characters in my head, and thought up stories for them. It's not something I consciously started doing, it was just something to pass the time." Although writing just started out as something for her to do for fun, she soon realized that her hobby might actually be something people want to read when her friend ended up really liking her very first story, A Shire Romance. This was her first effort as a writer, and the story is still near and dear to her heart. She still has it available for free on her blog- you can read it here.

However, fantasy has always been her favorite genre. She would write stories for her characters in her play-by-mail role-playing game, and her current trilogy even started from a Dungeons and Dragon's campaign.

“I've never been a fan of heavy, gloomy literature - I prefer stories of magic and heroism, of dragons, elves and the triumph of good over evil. Some of the earliest things I read as a teenager, aside from The Lord of the Rings, were books like The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams, and The Deathgate Cycle by Weiss and Hickman.”

Considering all this, she believes that it would be impossible for her to write anything but fantasy.

Speaking of Fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons, half-elves are often the main characters. The reason for this comes from her DnD background as well, although she admits that part of is has is because she likes pretty people “Because romance is as important in my books as the fantasy part, I want my protagonists to be good-looking. I could have chosen for them to simply be elves, but that's where my tabletop role playing background kicks in: elves are too fragile. In Dungeons and Dragons I always played half-elves, because they were prettier than humans, but sturdier than elves.”

In addition to that, she is also a big fan of the graphic novel series Elfquest, and she says that her half-elves have been heavily influenced by the author Wendy Pini's artwork.

When it comes to writing, she doesn’t have a standard writing process. For her, the key is to go with the flow, and not try to force anything. - In general, she can spend anywhere from zero to several hours writing at a time. She typically writes in the afternoon or evening, and isn’t much of a morning writer.

However, it all depends on how much the story itself prompts her to get it down on to paper. Even at her full-time job, she sometimes secretly has a word document up on her computer and will stealthy write some of her book in-between assignments. “I'd print it out without saving (no evidence!) and then work it out when I got home.” and then once she’s home, she barely has time to do anything else like cooking or cleaning to devote every spare moment to writing.

Nowadays, she’s slowed down her writing, but her favorite part about being a writer is the writing process itself.

“It's immensely satisfying when you've had a scene or a plot in your head for a long time to finally see it written down, even if that version has ended up quite different from how you had it in your head. It's also really great when your characters start leading their own lives and start dictating their actions to you. You know your characters are alive and working when you try to write down a scene and have to stop halfway through because one of your protagonists is shouting in your head that they'd never do something like that.”

Unfortunately, her least favorite part is everything else that comes along with that, especially the amount of effort it takes to try and get your story out there and make it stand out from everything else that’s being published. “So far I've not been very successful at it. It's also hard to see negative reviews, even if I understand their value and (if they're constructively written) I can take advice away from them. In the end it's someone bashing your baby, and you can't stop yourself from shouting 'but you don't understand!' while you're reading a bad review.”

But despite all that, she has this advice to give to aspiring authors:

First, understand the value of second, third and maybe even fourth drafts.  “The first draft of your story should never be the one you put out to publish. Sit down and manually rewrite your first draft rather than tinkering with it, because often even if you end up writing the same scene, you'll find a better way of wording it.

“Secondly, get good beta-readers and a good editor. They will point out the plot holes you missed, the spelling errors you never saw, and they'll tell you the bits that worked and didn't work for them. You don't always have to listen to them, but always get those other opinions.”

Lastly, she recommends that you take the time to really correct and polish your work if you decided to self-publish: “If you know your own spelling is mediocre, invest in a good proof-reader. Don't let your book be of a lesser standard than those from established publishers. Also, don't use words unless you know exactly what they mean. I once read a book where the author clearly really liked the word 'moue', and knew it had something to do with mouths, but never bothered checking exactly what it meant, so kept misusing it.

Of all her books, her third was the hardest to right. She suspects that this is because she had the least idea of what was going to happen in it, just the beginning, end, and a few events in the middle. She ended up making up most of it as she went along, which is what made it so difficult. Despite that, most people consider her third book to be the best.

One essential element she see reoccurring in her books is Dark-haired, dark-eyed men. “Can't live without them. You'll never see me have a male protagonist who's blond.”

As for the covers of her books, she says that she’ll be the first to admit that they don’t quite reflect the content. She was inspired by the Game of Thrones book covers, and was reading A Song of Ice and Fire when she was about to self-publish and admired the simple design of one main color and one main symbol. For her protagonists, she chose a dagger for her thief, a rose for her courtier and a set of flaming torches for her juggler.

An advantage of this to her was that she didn’t have to find an artist to draw the art for the cover because she has a very clear idea of what her characters look like, and wouldn’t have been happy with any artist’s rendition. The only disadvantage of this is that the book covers look more plain and don’t reflect that the story inside is just as much about romance as they are about fantasy.

All in all, her books are a success and are definitely worth a read! Here is her website where you can check out her books:

 https://theftandsorcery.wordpress.com/

How to Name Your Fantasy Characters Like the Best of Them

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We all know that characters are the life blood of any story, no matter what the genre. Here's a brief guide designed to help you find the best names for your fantasy novel's characters. Even if you have a concrete character design with a fully-fledged backstory, realistic strengths and weaknesses and you can write beautifully from their point of view, they are still going to fall short if they don’t have the right name. You know how important your characters are, and they need to be named accordingly.

Names can serve many purposes in your story. Your characters names can be used to set the theme, foreshadowing, or even irony. Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer for instance. In case you haven't seen it, it's a TV show about a teenage girl who slays vampires and deals with other forces of darkness and evil. Although “Buffy” seems like a silly name for such a dark theme, it really brings out the show’s ironic and joking element. Since it's actually a comedy show at heart, the name is very fitting. In popular teen novel Divergent, we are introduced to a character named Four. Although no initial explanation is given for this seemingly strange name, it’s later revealed that this is because this character only has 4 total fears in a society where bravery is praised and having only four fears is legendary.

Be sure to take your book’s setting and time period into consideration when naming your character. Be aware of when certain names where first used and gained popularity. If your novel is set in the 1700’s, a modern name like Tiffany of Jessica would be out of place. Do research into your setting and see what some believable names are for that era.

If your setting is purely fictional with no direct correlation to human civilization, you can get away with any kind of name that you want. After you’ve decided what kind of a society you want your fantasy setting to have, then you can begin to brainstorm some good names that might be given to its members. A good way to do this is to think about what is valued in this society. Is it religion? You can base many character names on the figures on your universe’s religion, just like many names in our society have biblical roots.

If your fantasy setting is based on water, like an ocean or river, then more aquatic themed names can work. If they have their own language, like an alien society, then their names can literally translate to things like “deep water” or “gentle current” or “skilled fisherman”. Depending on what sort of a feel you want your society, you can choose names that give off a certain feeling. Like if you wanted to have your society to give of an unsettling vibe, use more macabre names that variations of the words dusk, skull, shadow- even regular names that just sound creepy or are associated with that theme, like "Poe".

A less blunt way to do this is to look up synonyms for words like “shadow” or “black”, or even the translation of those words in other languages.

Once you’ve decided on a name, say it out loud. See how it sounds. Try different pronunciations. What are all the ways a reader could pronounce it in their mind? Consider a child seeing this name. would they have trouble with it?

Google search the name and see what comes up. If you’re writing a happy and uplifting story and your name search comes back with a serial killer, then maybe reconsider.

It’s important to have a name that fits your character. A hardened bounty hunter rouge would need a tough and sturdy name, or at least an alias to go by if they need to be taken seriously by your readers. An affectionate or childish name like “Timmy” may not be fitting. Of course there are exceptions like Davey Crockett or Billy the Kid, etc. Just keep your character's nature in mind, and how you want the audience to view him or her.

This isn’t to say that you can’t use an inaccurate name to describe a character. “Little John” from Robin for instance, was a larger character, making his name ironic, like mentioned above.

 

Fantasy writers have a lot more freedom when it comes to naming characters than other fiction writers. While some fiction is grounded in reality and meant to take place in our human society, past present or future, fantasy doesn’t have to follow this rule at all. In a fantasy novel, all of the characters can be named after a color in a certain society, or a race of aliens can have their own unique and complex naming system of your choosing. Fantasy writers also don’t have to be restricted by time period either. Even if your story does take place when the pyramids were being built on earth, if you’re writing about a different reality than you make up your own rules for how things work in your novel. Just one of the many perks of writing fantasy. Anything is possible.

While it’s true that you can get away with so much more, you still have to keep in mind how much readers are willing to believe or go along with. Everyone has their limits for suspending their disbelief, so in general just try to keep it coherent enough for people to follow along.

But since you since you have this freedom, why not have fun with it? Some readers might even expect you to use outside-of-the-box names. All in all, just do what feels right for your book.

 

4 Tips for Fantasy Authors at Fantasy or Sci Fi Conventions

I overheard a fantasy convention veteran say to another vendor, "if you think you're here for the sales, you're doing conventions wrong." As a few hundred sci fi and fantasy fans milled about the various rooms of the SeaTac Hilton, I wondered to myself, what then, are conventions for?

It's clear that unless you're selling high cost items you're unlikely to make much of a profit. Selling books to cover the cost of the three-day weekend is nearly hopeless. There's the hotel room, the gas for the some-odd hour journey, and the cost of the booth itself, which typically runs around $150 for a smaller convention.

Being a vendor at a convention isn't a luxury position. You have to actively engage with the group of convention goers and make them interested in what you have to sell. And if you're not going to cover your costs, why bother?

I had an insight as to what the convention vet was getting at.

You're there to build your potential sales.

You're developing the one key element to selling books and building an audience of raving fans.

Your email list.

This is the golden ticket.

Because it's a lot easier to nab 100 emails than sell 100 books to a group of about 300 strangers.

And selling to your email list is the proven strategy best-selling indie authors to shift thousands of books into the hands of their fans.

Of course, you have to run a cost/benefit analysis on the convention.

A few hundred dollars for 100 emails isn't a great deal.

But if you attend a massive convention where you can grab hundreds of emails, the higher cost may be worth it.

Staying close to home cuts costs, and though the convention may be smaller, you're pitching to a local audience, and that can offer great value if you also plan events that you can invite people to.

To get the most people to our booth we held a raffle for a free book and gorgeous poster. Here's an image for ya of that poster:

 

Legend of Ella Bandita Free Dark Fantasy Poster. Offer a giveaway at a sci fi / fantasyconvention to maximize exposure and get email sign ups! If you're a fantasy author and you attend conventions, a freebie is key to building your email list so you can turn that list into dedicated, raving fans.

And heck, since I like ya, I'm offering a FREE high res pdf download for you! 

 

Then we coincided the giveaway with a storytelling. This way, we ensnared the listeners with the story, and when the rest of the attendees didn't win the raffle - they desperately wanted to buy the book!

Here are my key points for making a convention successful.

1 - Dress Up Your Booth

At our first convention, the booth wasn't all that decked out. But after seeing the amazing draperies and signs that most people had up around their booths, we got wise.

Create an inviting space for convention attendants to enter into. Entice them in whatever way works with your book. Nothing says stay away more than a blank table with your books on it.

Here's a shot of our booth after setting it up. None of us were in costume yet, but the booth sure looks pretty!

4 strategies to make selling books at fantasy conventions worth it. #1 - Dress up your booth. Make your booth look delicious to the passerby and you'll get lots of walk ups. Coupled with a raffle or incentive offer, you can turn your walkups into email signups!

2 - Raffle an Item to get Emails

Again, building your email list is the #1 way to make book sales. Offering something of value for free entices people to stop by your booth and sign up. Make sure that what you're giving away suits your book's theme and the convention. We knew fantasy lovers were into art - so we offered not only the book but a stunning poster of original art from Ella Bandita and the Wanderer.

Coupling the raffle with a storytelling performance allowed the attendees to preview the story while listening to an engaging performance. Who could resist?

3 - Engage with the Attendees

For us, that meant getting decked out in Renaissance garb and connecting with other vendors.

Vendors make great customers too!

The more you talk to your potential fans, the more interested and engaged they become. You need to make yourself accessible at the booth.

Don't hunker down into the rabbit-hole of your phone.

Stay active and engaged with whoever is walking by. Smile. Offer a compliment. Not everyone will stop and talk to you, but don't lose out on those who will by closing yourself off. It's okay to feel bored sometimes!

4 - If You're Not Having Fun, You're Doing it Wrong

It may be hard to keep spirits up at a convention when you're not making sales. Focusing in on chatting it up with other vendors and attendees is a great way to stave off boredom. And even if you're not making direct sales, each email you get is a little victory.

Remember, you can take breaks! Just post up a little sign saying "back in 5" and take a stroll to check out other booths and events at the convention.

Bring a friend along to help you. It does wonders having another body in the booth to keep you alert and happy. Plus, they can rave about your book so you don't have to.

If you're not having fun at a fantasy / sci fi convention, you're doing it wrong. Bring friends to make the work more fun! From my 4 tips to a successful convention. Free Flying Press - Dark Sexy Fantasy novels of Montgomery Mahaffey

 

How to Revamp a Fairy Tale

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We all love them: the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, the new re-tellings of fabulous fairy tales by contemporary authors such as Aimee Bender or Kevin Brockmeier. Fairy and folk tales have a lot of allure. They touch on universal topics, they're strange, they captivate, transport, and feel real all at once. Fables are the inspiration for Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. They're easy to contemporize because they have such universal themes. This post is going to give you a few quick, easy applications for transforming your favorite story into a new, contemporary piece. Want to be inspired?

Download your free story of Scheherazade - my retelling.

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How to Make an Old Story New

There are, of course, many ways to re-tell a story. You do it all the time when you're telling your friend what happened on the latest episode of New Girl, or when you're describing the jerk at work whose sour attitude always spoils your day (I hope you've more experience with the former, not the latter!). So that's your story telling backbone. Now, take a fairy tale you know a little something about -- it doesn't have to be well -- and try some of these exercises on it to see how you like the story you've created.

I'll start with my favorite:

  • Write the story from the point of view of the "evil stepmother/brother/witch/sorcerer" and make the reader sympathetic to them. OR, and this is maybe even better, make the sympathetic character the evil one (ie, Cinderella's really a nasty, scheming gold-digger).
  • Replicate the story exactly, but change the setting to a contemporary landscape. For example, Francesca Lia Block updated Cupid and Psyche by turning them into a couple who met on an online dating site. (It's a GREAT story! Read it!)
  • Combine two fables. See where the original stories intersect and create your own based on that comingling. (like the little Mermaid meets Leda's swan)

« Léda et le cygne », huile sur bois (H. 64,5 cm ; l. 80,5 cm) réalisée avant 1600 par Pierre Paul Rubens (1577-1640) - Œuvre faisant partie de la collection Stephen Mazoh en dépôt au musée des beaux-arts de Houston (États-Unis). Photographie réalisée lors de l'exposition temporaire l'Europe de Rubens - Musée du Louvre (Lens).

  • Ms Litterati recommends this, and it sounds like loads of fun: take away the magic. "A fairytale without magic sounds completely ludicrous at first but it’s a way to put a fresh twist on your story. Think about the movie A Cinderella Story: it follows the storyline of Cinderella without having an actual fairy godmother to wave her wand and help transform Sam, the “Cinderella” character."
  • Copy the plot of a fairy tale, then put in characters from another book. Everyone handles situations differently. Just imagine if Hermione were in Harry Potter's place...

What are you ideas on how to revamp a fairy tale? Link to your story in the comments if you want to share one!

Ours is a highly individualized culture, with a great faith in the work of art as a unique one-off, and the artist as an original, a godlike and inspired creator of unique one-offs. But fairy tales are not like that, nor are their makers. Who first invented meatballs? In what country? Is there a definitive recipe for potato soup? Think in terms of the domestic arts. "This is how I make potato soup." --Angela Carter

Remember to sign up on our mailing list for actionable advice about self-publishing and fantasy writing. Plus, I'll send you a copy of Scheherazade for free!

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Get your FREE copy of Challenge today & Sunday only!

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We're giving away a copy of Montgomery Mahaffey's steamiest novelette Challenge today and Sunday only on Amazon. Download now and read later! Free Flying Press Book "Challenge" by Montgomery Mahalley

The Wanderer should have known better. Growing up with the Bard's fireside stories about the predatory seductress Ella Bandita has done nothing to prepare him for meeting her. When he crosses paths with a mysterious vagabond girl in the woods, his loneliness pulls him toward her. But the strange woman spurns his friendship. It should be easy enough to leave her behind. But the Wanderer can't pull himself away, captive to his stubborn will and the haunting dreams that linger when he wakes up every morning. Drawn in by the legendary allure of Ella Bandita, the Wanderer is caught up in a game of cat and mouse fraught with desire that is only fueled by his neighbor's disdain. Soon, the words of his grandfather's warning becomes a fading echo in his ear...always remember, follow your heart. Will the Wanderer resist in time to hear those words, or will he lose the one thing that matters to him most?

http://www.amazon.com/Challenge-Ella-Bandita-Wanderer-Book-ebook/dp/B00Y9HOGBE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437855367&sr=8-1&keywords=challenge+montgomery+mahaffey