Fantasy: 101 [The Beginner’s Guide]

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Welcome to Fantasy, one of the most popular genres in the world. A genre that covers everything from dragons to eldritch horrors and whether it is through books, movies, or games, fantasy has become an integral part of popular culture. Fantasy is a genre that is known for its imaginative and creative elements, which can transport readers and viewers to new worlds and experiences.

Your Guide to the Basics of Fantasy

The world of fantasy is vast and diverse, and it can be challenging to know where to start. However, this article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to the basics of fantasy, including its history and the various elements that make up a good fantasy story. It will also delve into the different types of fantasy games available, including the popular fantasy sports games that have gained a massive following in recent years. This article is perfect for those who are new to fantasy and want to learn more about this fascinating genre.

Key Takeaways

Fantasy is a genre that has captivated readers and viewers for centuries. It takes us to worlds beyond our imagination, introduces us to creatures we’ve never seen before, and immerses us in stories that are both thrilling and captivating. In this section, we’ll look at the five key takeaways from this introduction to fantasy.

  1. Fantasy is a Genre of Imagination: Fantasy is a genre that is limited only by the imagination of the writer. It allows writers to create worlds, creatures, and characters that are not bound by the laws of our world. This means that fantasy stories can be as creative and imaginative as the writer wants them to be.
  2. Worldbuilding is Key: One of the most important aspects of fantasy is worldbuilding. Creating a believable and immersive world is essential to drawing readers in and making them care about the story and its characters. This means that writers need to pay close attention to the details of their world, including its geography, history, and culture.
  3. Characters are Everything: Characters are the heart of any story, and this is especially true in fantasy. Readers need to care about the characters in order to become invested in the story. This means that writers need to create characters that are relatable, interesting, and have clear motivations.
  4. Magic is a Tool: Magic is a common element in fantasy, but it should be used as a tool, not a crutch. Magic should be used to enhance the story and its characters, not to solve every problem or plot hole. This means that writers need to use magic sparingly and make sure that it has clear rules and limitations.
  5. Fantasy is a Genre for Everyone: Finally, fantasy is a genre that is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, male or female, or from any particular background. Fantasy stories can be enjoyed by anyone who loves a good story and has an imagination.

What is Fantasy?

Fantasy is a genre of literature that features magical and supernatural elements that do not exist in the real world. Although some writers juxtapose a real-world setting with fantastical elements, many create entirely imaginary universes with their own physical laws and logic and populations of imaginary races and creatures.

Defining Fantasy

In fantasy, the author imagines a world that is different from our own and creates characters that live within it. The author may use magic, mythical creatures, or other creative elements to make the story more interesting and engaging. Fantasy stories can take place in a variety of settings, from medieval castles to futuristic cities, and can be serious or humorous in tone.

One of the most popular fantasy authors of all time is Terry Pratchett. His Discworld series is set on a flat world that is carried through space on the back of four elephants, which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle. Pratchett’s books are known for their humor and satire, and he often uses fantasy elements to comment on real-world issues.

Another popular author in the genre is Neil Gaiman, who has written many books that blend fantasy with horror, mythology, and other genres. His novel “American Gods” features a cast of characters who are gods from various mythologies, all living in the modern world.

In summary, fantasy is a genre of creative literature that uses magical and supernatural elements to tell engaging stories. Whether set in a medieval castle or a futuristic city, fantasy stories can transport readers to imaginary worlds and introduce them to characters and creatures that they could never encounter in real life.

The History of Fantasy

Fantasy is a genre that has been around for centuries. It has its roots in mythology and folklore, where stories of gods and heroes were told to explain the mysteries of the world. Over time, this evolved into a literary genre that has captured the imaginations of readers around the world.

The Origins of Fantasy

The origins of fantasy can be traced back to ancient mythology and folklore. These stories were passed down orally from one generation to the next and were used to explain the mysteries of the world. As society evolved, these stories were written down and became the basis for many of the fantasy stories we know today.

Fantasy in Literature

Fantasy literature began to take shape in the 19th century with the publication of works such as “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll. However, it was not until the 20th century that the genre really took off. The works of J.R.R. Tolkien, such as “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” helped to popularize the genre and set the standard for modern fantasy literature.

Other notable works in the genre include the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling, which has become one of the best-selling book series of all time. These books have also been adapted into successful movies, further cementing the popularity of the fantasy genre.

Fantasy Movies

Fantasy movies have been around since the early days of cinema. Some of the earliest examples include “The Wizard of Oz” and “King Kong.” However, it was not until the release of “Star Wars” in 1977 that the genre really took off. Since then, there have been countless fantasy movies released, including adaptations of popular books such as “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter.”

Fantasy TV-Series

Fantasy TV-series have also become increasingly popular in recent years. Shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “The Witcher” have captured the attention of audiences around the world. These shows often have large budgets and feature intricate world-building, making them a favorite among fans of the genre.

Fantasy Games

Fantasy games have been around since the early days of video games. Some of the earliest examples include “Dungeons & Dragons” and “The Legend of Zelda.” Today, fantasy games are more popular than ever, with franchises such as “The Elder Scrolls” and “World of Warcraft” having millions of players around the world.

In conclusion, fantasy is a genre that has a rich history and has captured the imaginations of people around the world for centuries. From ancient mythology to modern literature, movies, TV-series, and games, fantasy continues to evolve and captivate audiences with its tales of magic, heroes, and adventure.

Fantasy Sports: The Virtual Arena

Fantasy sports are a thrilling blend of strategy and real-world sports. As a team manager, you draft actual athletes onto your virtual team, with their real-life performances dictating your team’s success.

Popular variants include fantasy football, baseball, and basketball. Success hinges on a strategic draft and effective roster management throughout the season, requiring keen knowledge of player stats and trends.

Beyond competition, fantasy sports foster community, bringing together friends and colleagues in friendly rivalry. In essence, fantasy sports offer a unique, engaging way to immerse in your favorite sports.

Creating Fantasy Worlds

Creating a fantasy world is one of the most rewarding aspects of writing fantasy. It allows the author to let their imagination run wild and create a world that is entirely their own. Here are some key elements to consider when creating a fantasy world.


Worldbuilding is the process of creating a fictional world, complete with its own history, geography, and culture. This process can be both challenging and rewarding, as it requires the author to create a world that is both believable and engaging.

When creating a fantasy world, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Mission: What is the purpose of the world? What story are you trying to tell?
  • Stats: What are the physical laws of the world? What are the limits of magic?
  • Playoffs: What are the political and social systems of the world? Who holds power?
  • Roster Spots: What creatures and races inhabit the world? What is their history and culture?

Fantasy Creatures

Fantasy creatures are a staple of the genre. From dragons to unicorns, they add an element of magic and wonder to any story. When creating fantasy creatures, it’s important to consider their biology, behavior, and habitat.

Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series is a great example of how to create unique and interesting creatures. The kandra, for example, are shapeshifters who can take on the appearance of any creature they consume. The koloss, on the other hand, are large, brutish creatures created through magical means.

Magic Systems

Magic is another key element of fantasy. When creating a magic system, it’s important to establish clear rules and limitations. This helps to prevent the use of magic from becoming a deus ex machina that solves all problems.

In Mistborn, for example, magic is based on the ingestion of metals. Each metal grants the user a specific ability, such as enhanced strength or the ability to manipulate emotions.

Creating a fantasy world requires careful consideration of the world’s history, geography, and culture. Fantasy creatures and magic systems add an element of magic and wonder to any story. By following these guidelines, authors can create a world that is both believable and engaging.

Character Design

Creating a compelling fantasy character is a crucial aspect of any fantasy story. Effective character design should reflect the character’s personality, backstory, and the world they inhabit. In this section, we will explore the different elements that make up a successful character design.

Concept and Physical Design

The concept and physical design of a fantasy character should be visually captivating and memorable. It should reflect the character’s personality, backstory, and role in the story. A well-designed character should be easily recognizable and distinguishable from other characters in the story.

When designing a character, it is essential to consider their physical appearance, such as their body type, clothing, and accessories. The character’s design should fit within the world they inhabit, whether it’s a medieval kingdom or a futuristic dystopia. Designers should also consider the character’s race, gender, and age when creating their appearance.

Psychology and Backstory

A character’s psychology and backstory are critical to their development and should be considered when designing them. The character’s personality traits, motivations, and flaws should be reflected in their design. For example, a character who is shy and introverted may have a more subdued color palette and wear clothing that covers their body.

The character’s backstory should also inform their design. Their history, experiences, and relationships can influence their appearance and behavior. For example, a character who grew up in poverty may have worn and tattered clothing, while a character from a wealthy family may have more ornate and expensive attire.

Fantasy Names

A character’s name is an essential aspect of their identity and should reflect their personality and backstory. A well-chosen name can add depth and meaning to a character. When creating a fantasy name, designers should consider the character’s culture, language, and history.

Fantasy names can be created by combining different words or sounds to create a unique name. For example, a character who is associated with fire may have a name that incorporates the word “flame” or “ember.” Designers can also draw inspiration from real-world languages and cultures to create names that feel authentic and meaningful. If you want help picking a good name you can check out our fantasy name generators.

In conclusion, effective character design is a crucial aspect of any fantasy story. By considering the character’s concept and physical design, psychology and backstory, and fantasy name, designers can create compelling and memorable characters that resonate with readers.

Fantasy name generators

Find, Grow and Live Your Passion For Fantasy

Fantasy is a genre that can transport readers to a world of magic, wonder, and endless possibilities. Whether it’s through books, movies, or games, fantasy can be an escape from reality and a way to explore new ideas and perspectives. Here are some tips for finding, growing, and living your passion for fantasy:

Find Your Passion

If you’re new to the world of fantasy, start by exploring different sub-genres to find what interests you the most. Some popular sub-genres include:

  • High Fantasy: stories set in fictional worlds with their own unique rules and lore, such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth or George R.R. Martin’s Westeros.
  • Urban Fantasy: stories that blend fantasy elements with modern-day settings, such as Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files or Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.
  • Paranormal Romance: stories that combine fantasy and romance, often featuring supernatural creatures like vampires or werewolves, such as Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.

Once you’ve found a sub-genre that interests you, start exploring different authors and series within that sub-genre. You can also join online communities or book clubs to connect with other fantasy fans and discover new recommendations.

Grow Your Passion

As you become more immersed in the world of fantasy, consider exploring different mediums beyond books. Fantasy movies and TV shows can bring your favorite stories to life in new ways, while fantasy games can allow you to interact with the world and characters in a more immersive way.

You can also explore different types of fantasy beyond traditional Western fantasy. For example, Japanese manga and anime often have their own unique take on fantasy, such as Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli films.

Live Your Passion

Finally, consider finding ways to incorporate your passion for fantasy into your daily life. This could mean creating fan art or fan fiction, attending conventions or cosplay events, or even incorporating fantasy elements into your fashion or home decor.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy fantasy. The most important thing is to find what you love and let your imagination run wild.

Interests and Hobbies Related to Fantasy

Fantasy is a genre that has captured the imaginations of many people, leading to a variety of interests and hobbies related to it. Here are a few examples:

Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Tabletop roleplaying games, such as Dungeons & Dragons, are a popular hobby for many fantasy enthusiasts. These games involve creating a character and embarking on adventures in a fantasy world, guided by a game master. Players use dice rolls and their character’s abilities to overcome obstacles and defeat enemies. Tabletop roleplaying games provide an immersive experience that allows players to explore their creativity and engage with a shared narrative.


Cosplay is a hobby that involves creating and wearing costumes that represent characters from various media, including fantasy. Cosplayers often attend conventions and events where they can showcase their costumes and participate in activities with other fans. Cosplay provides a way for fans to express their love for a particular character or series and connect with like-minded individuals.


Live-action roleplaying, or LARPing, is a hobby that combines aspects of tabletop roleplaying games and cosplay. Participants create characters and act out their adventures in real life, often in a designated outdoor area. LARPing provides a unique immersive experience that allows players to physically interact with their environment and other players.

Writing and Fanfiction

Many fantasy fans enjoy writing their own stories or creating fanfiction based on their favorite series. Writing provides a creative outlet that allows fans to explore their own ideas and expand on the worlds and characters they love. Fanfiction is a popular way for fans to share their work and connect with others who share their interests.

Overall, there are many interests and hobbies related to fantasy that fans can explore and enjoy. Whether it’s tabletop roleplaying games, cosplay, LARPing, or writing, these hobbies provide a way for fans to engage with their favorite series and connect with others who share their passion.

Fantasy Genre FAQ

Welcome to the Fantasy Genre FAQ. This comprehensive guide is designed to provide beginner-friendly answers to common questions about diving into the fantastical world of fantasy literature and related media. Whether you’re a newcomer seeking basic information, an intermediate reader looking for more advanced insight, or a veteran in need of troubleshooting advice and resources, this FAQ has got you covered. Let’s begin!

Getting Started

What is the fantasy genre?

The fantasy genre is a category of fiction that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot, theme, and/or setting. It often involves the use of imaginary worlds, mythical creatures, and magical abilities.

Where should I start reading?

For beginners, some popular starting points in the fantasy genre are J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”, C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia”, and J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter”. These series offer richly-developed worlds and characters, and they have also been adapted into other media, such as film and television.

What materials or equipment do I need?

Reading fantasy requires no special equipment beyond a book or e-book reader. Audiobooks are another option, requiring a device capable of playing them. For writing fantasy, a simple pen and paper can suffice, but a computer or tablet with a word processing program can make the process easier.

What are some beginner-friendly resources for understanding the genre?

Websites like Goodreads and Reddit’s r/fantasy can provide book recommendations and discussion. For writing, websites like TV Tropes can help understand common genre conventions. For a more academic approach, books like “The Tough Guide to Fantasyland” by Diana Wynne Jones or “Rhetorics of Fantasy” by Farah Mendlesohn offer critical analysis of the genre.

What costs are associated with getting into the fantasy genre?

The cost of getting into the fantasy genre can vary depending on your approach. Buying books can range from a few dollars for a used paperback or e-book to $20-30 for a new hardcover. Many libraries offer free access to a variety of fantasy books, both physical and digital. If you’re interested in writing, the cost can be virtually nothing, especially if you already have writing materials or a computer.

Any starting tips for a beginner?

When reading, don’t be afraid to start with more accessible, “lighter” fantasy before diving into complex series. Consider joining a book club or online discussion group to share thoughts and get recommendations. When writing, start small with short stories before tackling a full-length novel. Most importantly, enjoy the journey into these new worlds!

Intermediate / Advanced Questions

How can I expand my fantasy reading beyond the popular titles?

Branch out by exploring sub-genres of fantasy, like urban fantasy, grimdark, or high fantasy. Websites like Goodreads, Reddit, and fantasy-specific blogs often have lists and discussions about less-known titles. Additionally, consider looking into translated works from non-English speaking countries to broaden your perspective.

How can I understand and analyze fantasy literature more deeply?

Studying literature analysis and theory can help. Look for patterns, themes, and symbolism in the books you read. Intertextuality, or how different works of literature interact and reference each other, can also be a fascinating area to explore. Consider reading critical essays and academic work on specific books or the genre as a whole.

I want to start writing fantasy. Where do I begin?

Start by reading a lot of fantasy to understand the genre’s conventions and expectations. Practice writing short stories to develop your skills. Consider studying storytelling techniques, world-building, and character development. Writing groups, online or in-person, can provide valuable feedback and support.

Are there specific tools or materials that can help with fantasy writing?

Writing software like Scrivener can help with organizing your ideas, while tools like Grammarly can assist with polishing your language. Books on writing, like “On Writing” by Stephen King or “Steering the Craft” by Ursula K. Le Guin, can provide valuable advice. World-building tools like World Anvil can help in creating rich, believable settings.

How can I take my interest in fantasy to a professional level?

Becoming a professional in the field of fantasy can take many forms, from writing or illustrating books, working in the film or gaming industry, or pursuing an academic career studying the genre. Each path will have different requirements and steps. For writing, for example, you might start by submitting short stories to magazines, then move on to finding an agent and publishing a novel.

Are there courses or certifications for fantasy literature or writing?

While there aren’t typically certifications for reading or writing fantasy, many universities offer courses in genre fiction, and there are workshops and online courses available. For writing, consider programs like the Clarion Workshop, the Odyssey Writing Workshop, or online classes on websites like MasterClass or Coursera. For academic study, look for university programs that offer courses in fantasy literature.

Troubleshooting and Resources

I’m having trouble getting into a book/series. What should I do?

It’s okay to not connect with every book or series. If you’re struggling, you can try reading a summary or review to spark interest, or discuss it with others who’ve read it. Sometimes it helps to come back to a difficult book after gaining more experience with the genre. Remember, it’s fine to abandon a book if you’re not enjoying it.

I’m experiencing writer’s block. How can I overcome it?

Writer’s block is a common issue. Try setting small, achievable writing goals. Consider taking a break, reading a book, or seeking inspiration from other sources like art or nature. Some writers find it helpful to write through the block without worrying about the quality of the work, knowing they can revise it later.

I feel like my writing is derivative. How can I make it more original?

Every writer is influenced by their favorite books. To make your work more original, try combining elements from different genres, or borrow from non-fictional sources, like history or science. Most importantly, infuse your work with your personal experiences and perspectives.

How can I get feedback on my writing?

Consider joining a writing group or workshop, either in person or online. Websites like Critique Circle or Scribophile allow you to exchange critiques with other writers. Alternatively, you could hire a professional editor or mentor, although this can be costly.

Are there any online forums or communities for fantasy enthusiasts?

Absolutely. Websites like Reddit have numerous communities dedicated to the fantasy genre, such as r/fantasy or specific communities for particular authors or series. Goodreads also has groups where readers discuss fantasy books. For writers, websites like the Absolute Write Water Cooler or the SFFWorld Forum can be useful resources.

What are some recommended books or tutorials for writing fantasy?

For writing advice specific to the genre, consider “Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction” by Orson Scott Card, or “The Writer’s Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe” by George Ochoa and Jeffrey Osier. Online, Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on writing science fiction and fantasy, available on YouTube, are a valuable free resource.

Are there community groups or conventions I could join or attend?

Yes, there are many conventions and festivals for fantasy, such as Worldcon, Dragon Con, or the World Fantasy Convention. These events offer panels, workshops, and opportunities to meet authors and fellow fans. Many cities also have local book clubs or writing groups that welcome fantasy enthusiasts.

The Fantasy Quiz

Ready to test your skills and knowledge? Take our quiz to challenge yourself and see which tier you belong to!


Fantasy Tier List

  • S Tier (Expert): Scores 90-100% correct answers consistently, answers quickly, and can handle high difficulty questions.
  • A Tier (Advanced): Scores 75-89% correct answers consistently, takes a bit more time to answer, and handles medium to high difficulty questions.
  • B Tier (Intermediate): Scores 60-74% correct answers consistently, answers at an average pace, and handles medium difficulty questions.
  • C Tier (Novice): Scores 40-59% correct answers, takes longer to answer questions, and is most successful with low to medium difficulty questions.
  • D Tier (Beginner): Scores less than 40% correct answers, takes a long time to answer, and struggles with anything beyond low difficulty questions.

Remember, participating in quizzes is a journey, and the result is only a reflection of your current knowledge and skills. Keep learning and practicing to improve your abilities!

I Love Fantasy

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Show off your passion for fantasy with our easy-to-use tools and share your creations with the world. Let your love for fantasy shine and create your own unique masterpiece today!

The Fantasy Challenge

Do you think you know everything about Fantasy? Test your knowledge and dive deeper into your passion with our fun and engaging 'Fantasy Quiz'! It’s not just about what you know—it’s about learning more and challenging yourself.

Take the Fantasy Quiz Now!

Not only can you affirm your expertise, but you might also discover something new about Fantasy.