Fantasy

Description of the Genre

Fantasy is a genre that uses magic and other supernatural forms as the key part of plot, theme, and/or setting. Many works within the genre take place on fictional levels or planets where magic is accepted, or common. However, be aware of the effectiveness of the juxtaposition of the fantastic against an utterly normal backdrop. Fantasy is generally distinguished from science fiction and horror because it steers clear of scientific and macabre themes, respectively; though there is a great deal of overlap between the three.

The fantasy genre allows the author to create their own ‘world’, to delve into areas unknown. Although there are conventions and characteristics, the scope is as great as the author’s imagination.

http://www.writing-world.com/sf/index.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_Writing

Fantasy Sub-Genres

Arthurian Fantasy
Encompasses stories about King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table or Merlin
Comic Fantasy
Tales designed specifically as spoofs of other serious fantasies, or containing humorous elements to a light-hearted tale
Dark Fantasy
Encompasses the nastier, grimmer side to the usual fun of the fantasy genre. Dark fantasy includes the nightmarish, darker side of magic, creatures, evil and demons
Epic Fantasy
Generally tales of a young nobody, thrown unexpectedly into a massive "Good vs. Evil" struggle, where he must learn to uncover his own latent heroism to save the day. Often also includes a "grail-finding" quest - regardless of whether the 'grail' is an icon, a person, a magical talisman or any other form of symbolic token. Usually involves a very large cast of characters and spans a vast area of a fantastical world. J.R.R. Tolkien is undoubtedly the father of this sub-genre, with his sweeping Lord of the Rings trilogy
Fairy Tales and Mythology
Fairy tales are not just for kids! The original versions of many fairy tales and myths were often violent stories set in mystical lands, sometimes with strange creatures and sometimes even stranger heroes
Heroic Fantasy
Fantastical worlds with an almost 'middle-ages' feel, peopled with wizards and sorcerers, communing with dragons and riding pet unicorns to tame a battalion of wild orcs and goblins. Heroes are generally muscle-bound sword-wielding types, determined to rescue a true damsel in distress. Magic is an accepted part of life, although the workings of such are usually left unexplained within this sub-genre.
High Fantasy
High Fantasy is the type of fantasy that most people expect when they regard 'fantasy' as a genre. Includes lords and ladies, medieval styles and settings, kingdoms and castles, and dragons and knights. High fantasy, while generally rooted in classical mythology and medieval European legends, focuses its themes on Good versus Evil.
Magic Realism
Stories where magic is an accepted part of the system and of the culture. There must always be consequences to the use of magic, or involve some form of 'prop' to get the magic working, like an amulet, potion, talisman or incantation.
Modern Fantasy
Tales of magic and wonder set in modern times
Sword and Sorcery
Good old-fashioned 'Sword & Sorcery'. Rollicking tales of high adventure in almost medieval settings; designed to follow the exploits of the 'hero' as he battles to overcome all the bad guys by use of his trusty sword and some really huge muscles.

Text 1: The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers (extract from Chapter 2) by J.R.R. Tolkien

Exercises
a) Questions
Read The Lord of the Rings extract below and complete the following questions in your Reading Journal. Alternatively, you could make your responses more interesting by trying one of these online tools:
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Use text, images and audio!

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Present your responses as an online poster.

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Create a dynamic presentation with Prezi!

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Present your responses in an online mindmap.

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Create a presentation with sticky notes, images and more!



  1. The author shows the reader two very different views of Aragorn. What are they both and what causes him to change?
  2. Who is the common enemy for the protagonists? Provide an explanation and direct evidence from the extract to support your answer.
  3. What effect, and mood, does the author create by the short, direct exchanges between the protagonists in this extract?

b) Discussion
Respond to the following discussion.
Subject Author Replies Views Last Message
Tolkien's vivid description. claire_murray claire_murray 2 217 May 21, 2012 by MaxBregar MaxBregar


c) Genre Features
Open the Word document below and use Track Changes to complete this activity by using the Highlighting and Comment tool.


How many of these features appear in the story?
  • The fantasy world
  • Myths, legends and fairytales
  • Magic
  • Archetypes
  • Landscape with meaning
  • Maps
  • Journeys
  • Suspension of disbelief and internal logic

d) Creative Writing
Length: 200 – 300 words
Choose ONE of the activities below:

The extract from Lord of The Rings sees the Fellowship divided and in need of positive news. There is great tension between the Fellowship and the Riders of Rohan. Write an alternative ending to this scene where either:
  1. Éomer, threatened by the Fellowship, orders his men to take them prisoner.
  2. Éomer offers his support to the Fellowship and they continue their travels together.
  3. The Fellowship, unable to decide on a definitive course of action, go their separate ways.

Try to capture the descriptive nature of Tolkien’s writing.


Text 2: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (extract from chapter 1 'Lucy looks into a wardrobe') by C.S. Lewis

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Exercises
a) Questions
Read the following extract from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and complete the questions below in your Reading Journal. Alternatively, you could make your responses more interesting by trying one of the online tools listed above.

  1. What techniques does the author employ to successfully transport the reader from one world to another?
  2. How are we able to determine a sense of the Faun's character through the author's choice of -
  • Language
  • Descriptive vocabularly

3. In the final paragraph the author introduces a narrator. What is the intended impact of the author presenting this specific narrative voice?

4. How does the author create suspense in this extract?

b) Genre Features
Open the Word document below and use Track Changes to complete this activity by using the Highlighting and Comment tool.


How many of these features appear in the story?
  • The fantasy world
  • Myths, legends and fairytales
  • Magic
  • Archetypes
  • Landscape with meaning
  • Maps
  • Journeys
  • Suspension of disbelief and internal logic



c) Creative Writing
Length: 200 – 300 words
In the extract Lucy discovers Narnia through the wardrobe and in doing so meets the loveable fawn Mr Tumnus. The discovery is both dramatic and exciting. However, what would be the reaction if Mr Tumnus had stumbled into Lucy’s world? Rewrite this scene from Mr Tumnus’ perspective. How would his journey unfold?

Recommended Fantasy Fiction

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The Colour of Magic (Discworld Series) by Terry Pratchett

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Dragonlinks (Jelindel Chronicles) by Paul Collins

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The Gift (Pellinor trilogy) by Alison Croggon

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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglass Adams

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Blaze of Glory (Laws of Magic) by Michael Pryor

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Alanna the first Adventure by Tamora Pierce

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Aurian (Artefacts of Power) by Maggie Fury

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The Book of Lies by James Moloney

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The Wind Singer (Wind on Fire) by William Nicholson

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Sabriel (Old Kingdom) by Garth Nix

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Temeraire by Naomi Novak

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Northern Lights (His Dark Materials)// by Philip Pullman