Writing the Fantasy Novel (Online) | Cleveland State University Professional Development Center in Cleveland


Writing the Fantasy Novel (Online)

Course Description

Fantasy is an increasingly popular genre of fiction, and now is a great time to become a fantasy fiction writer! This course is perfect whether you have an idea for a book or even if you don't know where to start.

First off, you'll learn what separates fantasy fiction from other types of fiction.  You'll also try out an in-depth world-building exercise, which will help you create a system of magic as well as the different species that will live the world you're developing.  We'll also talk about creating characters, and you'll learn how to populate your world with unique, compelling, and interesting people.

We'll spend some time talking about the nuts and bolts of writing a fantasy novel, too.  You'll learn how to outline your book (if you even decide to outline!), come up with a theme, and then sit down and actually write.  We'll look at examples from other authors to show that writing is as individual as each person, and that there is no right way to write your book.

We'll talk about how to revise and edit so that when you complete it, your book will be essentially a finished product.  You'll also learn a little bit about publishing your book, including the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, and you'll decide which type will work better for you.  Finally, I'll share some tips about how to stay motivated and actually complete your novel—because, after all, writing is hard work! But with the tools you'll gain in this course, you'll be ready to tackle your first fantasy novel.

Course Content

What Is Fantasy Fiction?

Our first lesson will provide an introduction to fantasy fiction. You'll learn why this is such a great time in the market to be writing your fantasy novel—and it really is a booming market at the moment! And we'll discuss how fantasy differs from other types of fiction and the genres and subgenres that make up fantasy fiction. You'll also start working on a project to get you thinking about the types of fantasy you most enjoy reading and what you might like to write about.

World-Building, Part One: Exploring the World

What exactly is fantasy world-building? This is the first of three lessons on world-building. We'll discuss what it's all about, including the different types of fantasy worlds and what sets one type of world apart from the next. You'll also decide on a world type that you want to work with for the next several lessons. We'll talk about how to go about researching before you begin world-building, and I'll give you some simple tips for making researching fun and productive. Finally, we'll explore some ways to organize your world-building research so you'll have all of your ideas and information at your fingertips when you need it!

World-Building, Part Two: Magic

Today we'll continue our study of world-building. First, you'll learn the different ways characters can gain the ability to use magic. Sometimes it's a talent they're born with, but we can also manufacture opportunities for them to develop the skill. We'll discuss how you can use magic in the world of your novel, and the difference between white magic and black magic. And finally, we'll compare and contrast three systems of magic, and we'll explore how to create consequences for the system you choose.

World-Building, Part Three: Societies

This lesson concludes our exploration of world-building, and we'll be wrapping up by discussing societies in fantasy novels. You'll learn about planning for and creating the beings and governmental systems that make up the societies in your novel. We'll talk about traditional and nontraditional creatures, the common people, government, and the religions within the societies. You'll also be thinking about what the common people might do in your novel and how they interact with other creatures. We'll discuss historical systems of government that you can use in your world, and we'll define the roles of the aristocracy and common folk. Finally, we'll address the role of religion in your novel and how to create a believable fantasy religion.

Creating Characters

Do you know what they say about fictional characters? It's the characters that make the difference between a mediocre novel and one that comes alive in a reader's hands. Think about it—you can probably name your favorite fictional characters right now, can't you? And you can describe everything about these characters, from how they speak to how their mind works to what makes them cry. Today we're going to discuss just how to create these characters. We'll look at main characters and supporting characters, what their roles are in a novel, and how to develop them in such a way that they jump off the page. You'll also learn how to create an antagonist that isn't evil just for the sake of being evil—but is a real character with wants, needs, and obstacles!

Plotting Your Novel

To outline or not to outline—that is the question! You may already have an idea about whether or not you're an outliner. Either way, in today's lesson, we'll go into detail about the pros and cons of outlining. We'll discuss story versus plot, character-driven novels versus plot-driven novels, and outlining versus not outlining. We'll also discuss the narrative arc and how this works in a novel, and we'll discuss the protagonist's journey and how this relates to the plot of a novel. If you're wondering how outlining might fit into your writing process, you're in the right place!


You won't necessarily know the theme of your novel before you begin writing. And figuring out what the theme is can sometimes be a bit of a process. Today we'll discuss the most common themes in fantasy fiction, and we'll look at examples of novels that use these themes. We'll also talk about advantages and disadvantages of knowing your theme before you start writing your novel, and you'll learn techniques for incorporating your theme throughout your book in a seamless way.

The Narrative Voice

This lesson will focus on the narrative voice. We'll discuss the narrative mode and some techniques of writing, including decisions you'll make about crafting your story, which point of view you'll use, and the grammatical tense you'll work with. And we'll also talk about the difference between scene and exposition and how to incorporate exposition in the least jarring way. Writing dialogue is often a stumbling block for fiction writers, so we'll take a look at a few tips for making dialogue sound realistic and using it to show characterization, build tension, and advance your plot.

The Writing Process

If you've ever heard writers talk about their writing process, you know it isn't as simple as sitting down in a chair eight hours a day and typing robotically on a keyboard. The writing process is complicated and ever-changing. When, where, and how much you write depends on a lot of factors, so you'll always be exploring what's reasonable for you to accomplish. In today's lesson, we'll discuss some of the strange places where famous writers work (or have worked), and we'll also talk about some tools and rituals that might help you work successfully. Finally, you'll learn about setting goals and creating personal rewards to encourage you to reach your goals!

The Postwriting Process

Today we'll be talking about the postwriting process—in other words, what you do once you finish writing the first draft of your novel. We'll examine the difference between revising and editing, and you'll learn how to do both effectively. How do you know what to revise and how to revise it in a way that benefits your story? That's what we'll cover in this lesson, and we'll also discuss how you can edit your novel. You'll learn the editing steps and some tips for streamlining the process!

Publishing Your Novel

There's a lot of debate about whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is better, and today you'll learn that both have their strengths and weaknesses. We'll identify and talk about those strengths and weaknesses in depth in this lesson to help you decide which route is right for you. We'll look at the process of finding an agent and traditional publisher for your novel, including how to write a query letter. And we'll discuss how to go about self-publishing—who you can hire to help with the final pieces and how to market your book.

Marketing and Motivating

In our final lesson, we'll be talking about the importance of marketing and motivation. We'll take an in-depth look at using social media and the Internet to market yourself and your novel, and we'll also discuss in-person marketing and networking opportunities you can take advantage of to advance your career. Since staying motivated is probably the greatest challenge to writers, we'll devote an entire chapter to this—and I'll give you lots of tips and resources for finding support and the inner strength you need to keep going.



CEUs: 2.4

Fee: $125