Bringing Your Fantasy World To Life: The Importance Of Fantasy Book Editing

fantasy book editing

Editing a fantasy book can be a thrilling and rewarding experience for both the editor and the author. It allows the editor to delve into a rich and imaginative world full of magic, mythical creatures, and ancient legends and to help shape and refine the story as it develops.

At the same time, it presents a unique set of challenges, as the editor must navigate the complex and often intricate details of the fantasy genre and work closely with the author to bring their vision to life. Whether you're an experienced editor or new to the field, here are some tips for successfully editing a fantasy book.

Familiarize Yourself with the Genre

Familiarizing yourself with the genre is an essential step in successfully editing a fantasy book. This means understanding the conventions, tropes, and expectations of fantasy literature and the various genres' sub-genres.

Some of the key elements of the fantasy genre include:

  • Magic: Fantasy stories often feature magical elements, such as spells, enchanted objects, and mythical creatures. It's important to understand how magic works within the context of the story and to ensure that it is used consistently and believably.
  • World-building: Fantasy stories often take place in fully realized and detailed worlds, complete with their own histories, cultures, and rules. As the editor, it's important to ensure that the world-building is consistent and believable, and to help the author craft a rich and immersive world for their story.
  • Mythical creatures: Fantasy stories often feature a wide variety of mythical creatures, such as dragons, elves, and unicorns. It's important to understand the characteristics and behaviors of these creatures and to ensure that they are depicted accurately and consistently within the story.
  • Epic themes and quests: Many fantasy stories revolve around epic themes, such as good vs. evil, and often involve grand quests or battles. As the editor, it's important to help the author craft a compelling and engaging story that explores these themes in a meaningful way.

By familiarizing yourself with these and other elements of the fantasy genre, you'll be better equipped to edit a fantasy book in a way that stays true to the conventions of the genre while also bringing fresh ideas and approaches to the table.

Understand the Tropes

Having a good understanding of the conventions and tropes of fantasy literature is essential for effectively editing a fantasy book. These conventions and tropes are the expectations that readers have for the genre, and include things like the use of magic, the presence of mythical creatures, and the setting of the story (such as a medieval-like world or a modern urban environment).

By understanding these conventions and tropes, you'll be able to help the author craft a story that fits within the expectations of the genre, while also adding their own unique twist. For example, if the story includes the use of magic, you can help the author ensure that the magic system is consistent and believable, and that it fits within the rules and conventions of the genre.

In addition to understanding the conventions and tropes of fantasy literature, it's also important to be aware of the various sub-genres within the genre, such as epic fantasy, urban fantasy, and sword and sorcery. Each sub-genre has its own set of conventions and expectations, and it's important to understand these in order to effectively edit a fantasy book.

Overall, by having a good understanding of the conventions and tropes of fantasy literature, you'll be better equipped to help the author craft a compelling and engaging story that fits within the expectations of the genre while also bringing fresh and original ideas to the table.

Here are some common tropes that are often found in fantasy literature:

  • The hero's journey: This trope involves the hero setting out on an epic quest to save the day, often facing challenges and overcoming obstacles along the way.
  • Good vs. evil: This trope involves a battle between good and evil, with the hero representing good and the villain representing evil.
  • Magical powers: This trope involves characters possessing magical powers or abilities, such as the ability to cast spells or use magic objects.
  • Mythical creatures: This trope involves the inclusion of mythical creatures such as dragons, unicorns, and centaurs.
  • The chosen one: This trope involves the hero being "chosen" by fate or prophecy to save the day.
  • Love conquers all: This trope involves the power of love being able to conquer all obstacles and challenges.
  • The power of friendship: This trope involves the importance of friendship and the power of strong bonds to overcome challenges.
  • The mentor: This trope involves the hero being guided and trained by a wise mentor figure.
  • The dark lord: This trope involves the villain being an evil, powerful figure who threatens the hero and the world.
  • The happily ever after: This trope involves the hero and their allies triumphantly defeating the villain and living happily ever after.

Pay Attention to World-Building

World-building is an essential element of fantasy literature, and it's important to pay close attention to it when editing a fantasy book. World-building refers to the creation and development of the imaginary world in which the story takes place, and includes things like the history, geography, cultures, and rules of the world.

As the editor, it's your job to ensure that the world-building is consistent and believable. This may involve fact-checking details and ensuring that the rules of the world are clearly defined and followed. It's also important to help the author create a rich and immersive world that draws the reader in and makes them feel like they are truly a part of the story.

Some things to consider when editing world-building in a fantasy book include:

  • The history of the world: Does the world have a rich and detailed history that is relevant to the story? Is the history consistent and believable?
  • The geography of the world: Is the geography of the world well-defined and believable? Do the locations and landscapes fit within the context of the story?
  • The cultures of the world: Are the cultures of the world fully developed and believable? Do they have their own customs, traditions, and ways of life that are unique to their culture?
  • The rules of the world: Are the rules of the world clearly defined and followed? Does the use of magic, for example, have clear and consistent rules?

By paying close attention to world-building, you'll be able to help the author create a fully realized and believable world for their story, which will help draw the reader in and make the story more immersive.

Consider the Pacing

Pacing refers to the speed at which a story progresses, and it's an important factor to consider when editing a fantasy book. A story that moves too slowly can lose the reader's interest, while one that moves too quickly can be confusing and overwhelming.

As the editor, it's your job to help the author find the right balance between action and exposition, and to ensure that the story moves at a reasonable pace. This may involve cutting scenes that are unnecessary or move the story too slowly, or adding in additional scenes to add excitement or clarify plot points.

Some things to consider when editing the pacing of a fantasy book include:

  • The length of the story: Fantasy books can be long and complex, with multiple plot threads and characters. It's important to ensure that the story doesn't become bogged down or overwhelming for the reader.
  • The balance between action and exposition: It's important to find a balance between action and exposition in order to keep the reader engaged. Too much exposition can slow the story down, while too much action can make it feel frenetic and confusing.
  • The use of cliffhangers: Cliffhangers can be a useful tool to keep the reader engaged and invested in the story. However, they should be used sparingly and effectively in order to avoid feeling manipulative or contrived.

By considering the pacing of the story, you'll be able to help the author create a smooth and engaging reading experience for the reader.

Keep an eye on Character Development

Strong, well-developed characters are an essential element of any good fantasy book, and it's important to keep an eye on character development as you edit. Character development refers to the process of creating and shaping the characters in a story, and includes things like their motivations, goals, personality, and arc.

As the editor, it's your job to help the author create compelling, believable characters and to ensure that they grow and evolve throughout the story. This may involve suggesting changes to the characters' personalities or backstories, or helping the author better define their goals and motivations.

Some things to consider when editing character development in a fantasy book include:

  • The main characters: The main characters should be fully developed and multi-dimensional, with their own goals, motivations, and flaws. It's important to ensure that they are well-rounded and believable.
  • The supporting characters: While the main characters are the focus of the story, the supporting characters should also be fully developed and believable. They should have their own roles and purposes within the story and should be integral to the plot.
  • The character arc: A character arc refers to the journey that a character takes throughout the story, and includes their growth and development. It's important to ensure that the character arc is consistent and believable, and that it ties in with the overall themes and message of the story.

By keeping an eye on character development, you'll be able to help the author create a cast of fully realized and engaging characters that drive the story forward.

Stay True to the Genre

While it's important to be open to new ideas and approaches, it's also important to stay true to the conventions and expectations of the fantasy genre when editing a fantasy book. This means avoiding cliches and ensuring that the story fits within the established tropes and conventions of the genre.

Some things to consider when staying true to the genre include:

  • The use of magic: Magic is a common element in fantasy stories, and it's important to ensure that it is used consistently and believably within the context of the story.
  • The depiction of mythical creatures: Fantasy stories often feature a wide variety of mythical creatures, such as dragons, elves, and unicorns. It's important to understand the characteristics and behaviors of these creatures and to ensure that they are depicted accurately and consistently within the story.
  • The setting and tone: Fantasy stories often take place in medieval-like worlds or in other fantastical settings. It's important to ensure that the setting and tone of the story fit within the conventions of the genre.
  • The themes and messages: Fantasy stories often explore epic themes, such as good vs. evil, and it's important to ensure that these themes are explored in a meaningful and believable way.

By staying true to the conventions and expectations of the fantasy genre, you'll be able to help the author craft a compelling and engaging story that resonates with readers of the genre.

Read Like a Writer

As an author, reading a diverse range of books is essential for a number of reasons. Here are just a few:

  • Reading helps improve your writing skills: The more you read, the more you expose yourself to different writing styles, techniques, and approaches. By reading widely, you'll be able to learn from other authors and develop your own skills and style.
  • Reading helps you understand your audience: By reading books in your genre, you'll be able to get a sense of what readers are looking for and what they expect from a story. This can help you craft a story that resonates with your audience and meets their expectations.
  • Reading helps you stay up to date on trends and conventions: The publishing industry is constantly evolving, and it's important to stay up to date on the latest trends and conventions in your genre. Reading widely will help you understand what's popular and what's not, and how you can incorporate these elements into your own writing.
  • Reading helps you find inspiration: Reading other books can help spark new ideas and provide inspiration for your own writing. By exposing yourself to different ideas and approaches, you'll be able to find new ways to tackle your own projects.

Overall, reading widely is essential for any author looking to improve their skills, understand their audience, stay up to date on industry trends, and find inspiration for their own writing. So, an author needs to read lots of books.

Below is a list of some classic fantasy books you should have read.

  1. "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien: This classic fantasy epic follows the journey of Frodo Baggins as he sets out to destroy the One Ring and defeat the Dark Lord Sauron. Set in the fantastical world of Middle-earth, the book is known for its immersive world-building, complex characters, and epic themes of good vs. evil.
  2. "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis: This beloved series follows the adventures of the Pevensie siblings as they travel to the magical land of Narnia, where they encounter talking animals, mythical creatures, and an evil White Witch. The books are known for their engaging storytelling, memorable characters, and Christian themes.
  3. "The Wheel of Time" by Robert Jordan: This epic fantasy series follows the journey of Rand al'Thor as he learns that he is the Dragon Reborn, a figure prophesized to save the world from the Dark One. The series is known for its expansive world-building, complex characters, and intricate plot.
  4. "The Harry Potter series" by J.K. Rowling: This bestselling series follows the adventures of Harry Potter as he discovers that he is a wizard and attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The books are known for their engaging storytelling, memorable characters, and creative use of magic.
  5. "The Dark Tower series" by Stephen King: This epic fantasy series follows the journey of Roland Deschain as he searches for the Dark Tower, a mythical structure that holds the key to the universe. The series is known for its mix of fantasy, horror, and western elements, and its complex and interconnected storylines.
  6. "The Sword of Shannara" by Terry Brooks: This classic fantasy novel follows the journey of Shea Ohmsford as he sets out to find the magical Sword of Shannara and defeat the Warlock Lord. The book is known for its immersive world-building and engaging storytelling.
  7. "The Elric of Melniboné series" by Michael Moorcock: This series follows the journey of Elric, an albino sorcerer and the last emperor of Melniboné, as he confronts the forces of chaos and tries to restore balance to the world. The books are known for their complex and anti-heroic portrayed of Elric, and their blend of fantasy, science fiction, and horror.
  8. "The Belgariad series" by David Eddings: This epic fantasy series follows the journey of Garion as he sets out to reclaim the stolen Orb of Aldur and defeat the evil God Torak. The series is known for its immersive world-building, memorable characters, and themes of destiny and redemption.
  9. "The Kushiel's Legacy series" by Jacqueline Carey: This series follows the journey of Phèdre nó Delaunay, a courtesan trained in the art of pleasure and pain, as she becomes embroiled in a dangerous political intrigue. The books are known for their immersive world-building, complex characters, and themes of love, loyalty, and self-discovery.
  10. "The Malazan Book of the Fallen series" by Steven Erikson: This epic fantasy series follows the intertwined stories of a diverse cast of characters as they struggle for power and survival in a complex and dangerous world. The series is known for its immersive world-building, complex plot, and the depth and complexity of its characters.

Understand the Sub-Genres

It is essential that authors have a firm grasp of the genre and sub-genres in which they are writing.

A book genre is a category of literature that is defined by its style, content, and form. Genres help readers understand what to expect from a book, and allow authors to explore specific themes and styles within a particular category.

A subgenre is a subcategory within a larger genre that shares some characteristics with the parent genre, but also has its own unique elements and conventions. Subgenres allow for even more specific exploration of themes and styles within a particular genre.

For example, the fantasy genre is a broad category that encompasses a wide range of stories with elements of magic, myth, and the supernatural. Within the fantasy genre, there are many subgenres, such as epic fantasy, high fantasy, low fantasy, and urban fantasy, each with its own specific characteristics and conventions.

Epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that typically features large-scale stories set in immersive, fantastical worlds, with complex plots and a large cast of characters. Examples of epic fantasy include "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Wheel of Time." High fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that is characterized by its use of magical elements and mythical creatures, and often features stories set in a medieval-like world. Examples of high fantasy include "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "The Sword of Shannara."

By understanding the characteristics and conventions of different genres and subgenres, readers can better understand what to expect from a book and authors can more effectively explore specific themes and styles within their writing.

Here are some common subgenres of fantasy literature:

  • Epic fantasy: This subgenre typically features large-scale stories set in immersive, fantastical worlds, with complex plots and a large cast of characters. Examples include The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time.
  • High fantasy: This subgenre is characterized by its use of magical elements and mythical creatures, and often features stories set in a medieval-like world. Examples include The Chronicles of Narnia and The Sword of Shannara.
  • Low fantasy: This subgenre is characterized by its more realistic portrayal of magic and mythical creatures, and often features stories set in a contemporary or modern-day setting. Examples include Harry Potter and The Earthsea series.
  • Dark fantasy: This subgenre is characterized by its darker themes and atmosphere, and often features stories that explore themes of evil, despair, and the supernatural. Examples include The Dark Tower series and The Elric of Melniboné series.
  • Sword and sorcery: This subgenre is characterized by its focus on action and adventure, and often features stories about heroes battling against dark forces and monsters. Examples include Conan the Barbarian and The Belgariad series.
  • Romantic fantasy: This subgenre is characterized by its focus on romance and relationships, and often features stories set in fantastical worlds. Examples include "The Kushiel's Legacy" series and "The Fever" series.
  • Paranormal fantasy: This subgenre combines elements of fantasy and horror, and often features stories about supernatural beings such as vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. Examples include "Twilight" and "The Vampire Chronicles."
  • Fairy tale fantasy: This subgenre is characterized by its use of traditional fairy tale elements, such as magic and mythical creatures, in a modern or re-imagined setting. Examples include "The Sisters Grimm" series and "The Once and Future Witch."
  • Mythic fantasy: This subgenre is characterized by its use of traditional myths, legends, and folklore from a particular culture or region, often reinterpreted in a modern or fantastical setting. Examples include "American Gods" and "Percy Jackson and the Olympians."
  • Steampunk fantasy: This subgenre combines elements of fantasy and science fiction, and is set in a world where steam-powered technology is prevalent. Examples include "The Leviathan" series and "The Glamourist Histories."
  • Gaslamp fantasy: This subgenre is characterized by its use of Victorian or Edwardian settings and technology, and often features stories with elements of horror, mystery, and the supernatural. Examples include "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" and "The Infernal Devices."
  • Modern fantasy: This subgenre is characterized by its use of fantasy elements in a contemporary or modern-day setting, and often deals with themes of magic, myth, and the supernatural in the real world. Examples include "The Magicians" and "The Chronicles of Nick."
  • Portal fantasy: This subgenre features stories where characters travel to a fantastical world through a portal or gateway, and often involves themes of adventure and self-discovery. Examples include "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and "The Chronicles of Amber."

Types of Editing

When it comes to editing a book, there are a few different types of editing to consider:

It's important to note that different editors may specialize in different types of editing, and it may be necessary to work with multiple editors to get the best results. For example, a developmental editor may help you shape the overall direction of your book, while a copy editor may focus on ensuring that your book is free of grammar and punctuation errors.

It's also worth noting that the order in which you tackle different types of editing can make a big difference in the quality of your book. Many authors and editors recommend starting with developmental editing to get the overall structure and direction of the book in place, before moving on to line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. This allows you to focus on the bigger picture issues first, before honing in on the details.

Ultimately, the right approach to editing will depend on the needs of your specific book and your own personal preferences. By understanding the different types of editing and how they can benefit your book, you'll be able to make informed decisions about the editing process and produce the best results.

Resources

Books:

  • "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and Dave King: This book is a classic guide to self-editing for fiction writers, with tips and strategies for improving your writing, from plot and character development to pacing and dialogue.
  • "The Fantasy Editor" by Edmund Schubert: This book is a comprehensive guide to editing fantasy literature, with tips and insights for working with authors, developing story ideas, and shaping the final product.
  • "The Fantasy Writer's Handbook" by Philip Athans: This book is a resource for fantasy writers, with tips and techniques for crafting compelling stories, building believable worlds, and creating memorable characters.

Websites:

  • Fantasy Faction: This website and forum is a hub for fantasy writers and readers, with articles and resources on the fantasy genre, as well as discussion forums and writing prompts.
  • The Fantasy Writers Guild: This community and resource is designed specifically for fantasy writers, with forums, writing prompts, and tips for improving your writing.
  • The Fantasy Writers' Workshop: This website and forum is a resource for fantasy writers, with articles and resources on the fantasy genre, as well as writing prompts and tips for improving your writing.
  • Fantasy Literature: This website is dedicated to fantasy literature, with reviews, articles, and resources on the fantasy genre, as well as a forum for discussion and advice.

These books and websites offer a wealth of information and resources for anyone interested in editing a fantasy book, and can help you hone your skills and become a better editor. Whether you're looking for tips on self-editing, guidance on working with authors, or ideas for developing your own fantasy stories, these resources are a great place to start.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions that will provide you more information.

What does it mean to familiarize yourself with the genre?

To familiarize yourself with the genre means to become well-versed in the conventions, tropes, and expectations of fantasy literature. This can involve reading a wide range of fantasy books, participating in online forums or writing groups for fantasy writers, and learning about the history and evolution of the genre. By becoming familiar with the genre, you'll be better equipped to understand what readers expect from a fantasy book and how to craft a story that fits within the conventions of the genre.

How do I pay attention to world-building when editing a fantasy book?

World-building is an important aspect of fantasy literature, as it involves creating a believable and immersive fantasy world for the story to take place in. When editing a fantasy book, pay attention to the details of the world-building, such as the geography, history, culture, and laws of the world. Make sure that these details are consistent and make sense within the context of the story. Consider also whether the world-building adds depth and richness to the story, or whether it feels unnecessary or distracting.

How do I consider pacing when editing a fantasy book?

Pacing refers to the speed at which a story unfolds and the balance of action, dialogue, and exposition. When editing a fantasy book, pay attention to the pacing of the story to make sure it flows smoothly and keeps the reader engaged. Consider whether the story moves too slowly or too quickly and whether the balance of action and dialogue feels natural. Consider whether there are any unnecessary scenes or plot points that could be cut to improve the pacing of the story.

Summary

This article provides a comprehensive guide for fantasy book editors looking to improve their craft and produce the best possible work. It begins by discussing the importance of familiarizing yourself with the genre, paying attention to world-building, considering the pacing, and keeping an eye on character development. These tips can help ensure that your edited book is immersive, engaging, and true to the conventions of the fantasy genre.

In addition to these general tips, the article also includes a list of recommended resources, including classic fantasy books and websites, to help fantasy book editors further develop their skills and knowledge. These resources can provide valuable insights and inspiration, and can help editors stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in the fantasy genre.

The article also covers the different types of editing, including developmental, line, copy, and proofreading, and the importance of understanding which types of editing are most appropriate for a specific book. By understanding the different types of editing and how they can benefit your book, you'll be able to make informed decisions about the editing process and produce the best possible work.

Overall, this article offers valuable insights and advice for fantasy book editors looking to produce top-notch work and captivate their readers.