Although I like reading fantasy / adventure I am finding it too complex for me to write. I also like watching murder mysteries and I have read a few too. I find this type of genre a lot of fun.

The problem with me is that I give up too easily. Like for instance I started planning a fantasy story for a few months now, but it's getting more complicated and I feel now like switching genres.

Do any of you feel the same way as I do? How do you overcome it?

  • "Fantasy" is a very wide genre, so wide that I tend not to count it as a genre at all. All the Discworld books, for example are generally "fantasy" but each one covers far more specific genres ranging from murder mysteries and police procedurals to stories about technology to Christmas tales to time-travel to stories about cinema etc etc. I tend to think of "fantasy" as more of a setting than a genre
    – GordonM
    Jun 2, 2017 at 9:12
  • @GordonM Using discworld as an example is unfair. Pratchett is probably one of the best "It's so weird that is awesome" writers, if not the best. Using him as a baseline for fantasy is setting the bar way, way up in the sky...
    – T. Sar
    Jun 2, 2017 at 12:47
  • @TSar I was not using him as a baseline, but more to make a point that "Fantasy" is so broad a term that there's room for more or less any genre within it. And I wouldn't describe Terry's work as "Weird". "Gut-bustingly funny", occasionally "snide" or "deeply insightful" maybe, but not "weird". Besides, there's nothing wrong with aspiring to greatness ;)
    – GordonM
    Jun 2, 2017 at 16:14
  • Can you describe what it is about fantasy you find more complex than other genres?
    – Standback
    Jun 3, 2017 at 21:51

3 Answers 3


You don't specify what length of story you are trying to write, but a novel, at full length, is a highly complex piece of work regardless of genre. If you were learning to be a programmer, you probably would not choose to write an enterprise content management system as your first project. You would find it far to complicated, not simply because of its size, but because of all the different elements of software and system design that would be involved in making it all work.

Most writers begin by writing short stories, simply because they are a simpler form that you can get your head around as a beginner.

Now, the short story is an artform in itself, and you may not manage to reach the heights of the great short story writers. But a great short story is something simple done extraordinarily well, and it is the simplicity you want as a beginner.

Short stories may not be the thing you really want to write, and there is certainly very little market for them these days, but the same is true of most of the programs you would write in your early days of learning to code.

Writing short stories will help you learn basic story structures and, perhaps just as importantly, it will teach you to finish things, and show you that you can indeed finish things.

Start with a project of manageable size and complexity. That way you will get to learn the basics and become comfortable with them so that it will be easier to tackle a larger project later on.

  • I am trying to write a novel :( but you are right. Maybe I should stick to short stories instead. Actually a friend of mine said to stick at short stories. Thanks for the advice.
    – Zp73
    May 27, 2017 at 14:43
  • @Zp73 Pursuant to Mark's reply: When I recommend reading (such as "The Wendigo") the works are often novelettes. Many famous works are also novelettes. The reason is simple: If you have something to say, and if your setting is real-world, then it doesn't take that long to say it, even with florid language. In the realm of fantasy that's still true, if the setting is a minor departure from the real world.
    – user23046
    May 28, 2017 at 21:13

When you say "fantasy," I assume you mean "world-building" as well. That involves many elements, all of which are fantastic. It can become very complicated.

On the other hand, murder mysteries do not involve world-building. Characters are in a realistic location, where they say and do realistic things. The older you (the writer) get, the easier it is to write this genre, since you have a large stock of experience that you can use.

I suggest that you do some reading by authors Algernon Blackwood and H.P. Lovecraft. Blackwood's work can be found online, as it is past copyright. Both of them are likely to be in any well-stocked public library.

I recommend these authors because they (often, not always) write fantasy, but it is largely set in the author's own place and time. This remains understandable to us today. There is not much world to build.

Blackwood prefers to have a very small fantastic element, in stories that otherwise would be literal truth. Lovecraft preferred to have a larger element of fantasy, sitting beside the ordinary world.

My point: To get from nearly-factual murder mysteries, to largely-unfactual fantasy, start small: Read fantasy with a small or confined fantastic element. Begin here: "The Wendigo" by Algernon Blackwood.

  • Yes I do mean world building and everything else that goes with the fantasy genre. :) even though my kids are giving me pointers. sigh Maybe I am starting big? Thanks. I will certainly look at The Wendigo.
    – Zp73
    May 27, 2017 at 14:27

In the modern era fantasy writing is perhaps a genre on its own. (I'm not a fan). It is more in line with traditional writing from previous centuries.

Examine the following:

As we took off from Charles De Gaulle the Eiffel Tower shrank to a mere child's toy. The next time I opened my eyes the skies were clear. From the cabin window I witnessed Everest in all its glory. As we approached Sydney, the sun glistened off the Opera House roof.

In the modern era, media has shown us images of all that is known. In writing I've no need to describe anything - the task is to ask you to recall your brain's stored images. This engages the reader and is akin to visual empathy. The method is fast and engaging.

Fantasy requires the writer to describe images that are new to the reader, often resulting in TLDR.

It's a psychological effect. If I write a story about a high-school romance the reader will instantly connect. If the reader hasn't experienced the same - they have witnessed the scenario and will recall the experience. The reader will build and manufacture all ancillary scenes and characters themselves.

With fantasy you're building a world which you asking the reader to buy into.

Not an easy task.

  • It sure isn't an easy task. :) I am going to stick with writing short stories and not a novel.
    – Zp73
    May 27, 2017 at 16:42

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