What makes a piece fantasy?

23 Aug

I’m writing a submission for a fantasy flash fiction contest. Before I knew the publisher specialized in fantasy, I had an idea for a historical piece in the American West dealing with a boy riding a horse and encountering a rattlesnake. My solution? Make him on a mission from a Duke and have him encounter a mythical creature instead of a snake.

But it feels wrong.

It doesn’t feel like fantasy. It feels like a piece set on the Great Plains with a dumb made-up creature. I don’t write fantasy and perhaps it’s wrong to think I can take my historical piece and ‘make it fantasy.’ Perhaps I need to come up with a fantastical idea. But with a 500-word limit, it’s hard to think that anything too out-of-the-ordinary can be explained.

Maybe I need an established or commonly accepted fantasy setting. I’m watching Game of Thrones now so dragons instantly come to mind. I’m not quite the dragon expert, though.

Any advice, dear Reader? What are some generally accepted fantasy elements that might spark a new idea for me? I have a month to write this piece but I start school in two weeks and would like to have it done by then.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!


8 Responses to “What makes a piece fantasy?”

  1. Claire | Art and Soul August 23, 2016 at 11:49 AM #

    Instead of changing your setting or the rattlesnake, could you have the boy talk to the snake/deal with it using magic/some sort of unexplained supernatural powers? The setting, characters etc. could be as realistic as you want, but just adding magic will put the story in the fantasy genre… I like your original idea! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam August 23, 2016 at 1:11 PM #

      Thank you! I hadn’t considered that. My boy is now a wizard haha.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Claire | Art and Soul August 23, 2016 at 1:20 PM #

        Or maybe he didn’t even know he had the powers? A bit like when HP accidentally lets that snake out of the zoo! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mochi August 23, 2016 at 1:40 PM #

    Fantasy doesn’t need to be Western European! Adding some magic to the American West could be fantastic – you don’t need to throw in dukes and “traditional” fantasy creatures. It really just needs to have some semblance of magic thrown in. Imagine the American West setting with shapeshifters or wizards who can summon more “mundane” animals. Not all fantasy needs to be epic fantasy and it certainly doesn’t need to be Western European!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam August 23, 2016 at 4:48 PM #

      Very true. My only issue is the word limit of 500! I thought it would be easier to use some common elements of fantasy (high fantasy) so little had to be explained. What kind of creatures would you recommend for the American West? All I could think of were lizards because I wanted something poisonous.


      • Ashley Tsang August 23, 2016 at 5:05 PM #

        I think snakes could still work! 500 words is definitely very short, I’m not good with small word limits like that. I would maybe look into the local folklore of the area (treading carefully on the first nations stuff though). Maybe even like, cryptids of the area, going into more modern paranormal kind of creatures that’re found in local legends. There’s a lot of potential with the American West for fantasy, honestly!


      • Sam August 23, 2016 at 6:53 PM #

        Thank you so much! I’m going to work on it tonight. I’ll see if the American Indians had any folklore I can tap into but if not, a snake will work great. Thanks again!


      • Ashley Tsang August 23, 2016 at 6:57 PM #

        You’re welcome! Good luck!!


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