5 Reasons Fantasy is The Best. Why I Can Be Proud to Say I Write Fantasy

For the most part, I love being able to tell people that I am a writer. After all, it’s been my dream for over half my life. There is only one problem I have found with it. The conversation usually goes something like this:
New Friend: So, what do you like to do?
Me: Well, I’m a writer.
New Friend: Oh, that’s cool. What do you write?

This is the point I cringe and start to shrivel inside because I know as soon as I answer my credibility will go down several notches. For some reason, fantasy seems to be considered an inferior genre. Usually, I end up looking at my toes as I give the answer, and unless they are one of the few people who share my love of fantasy, I watch as the light of interest dims in their eyes. Often, in an attempt to be polite, they will ask what my story is about, and I’ll rattle off some lame explanation that makes it sound about as interesting as the bowl of oatmeal I ate for breakfast.
This is a tragedy. I should never have to be ashamed to say I write fantasy. Fantasy has numerous attributes that make it one of the most diverse, beautiful genres of all time. Here are five reasons I can be proud of writing fantasy.

Writing

1- It cultivates reading skills. What helps improve reading ability the most? Primarily it’s whether you read or not. Granted, there are a few differences in the strategies you use when reading fiction versus nonfiction, but in general, the most important thing is that you read. Fantasy will help with fluency and comprehension at least as well as any other genre. It can build vocabulary as well as any other genre. In fact, because it is taking the reader out of the world they live in every day, it may even have the potential of introducing an even more dynamic vocabulary than many of the other genres. Often a child (or even an adult) will read fantasy when they find little interest in reading other things. This doesn’t bother me. They are reading. Their reading skills will still improve. There is enough variety in the genre of fantasy they will always be able to push themselves to a higher reading level.It will cultivate their reading ability.

2- It promotes critical thinking. Just as with any narrative genre, the characters come across problems. In fantasy, these problems are often epic in proportion. They must come up with a way to solve these problems. If a reader is engaged in the story, they will be trying to think of ways to solve these problems as well. I often find myself wanting to make suggestions to the characters. Sometimes they come to the same conclusion as me, and sometimes they try something else. In the latter situation, I always have to wonder if it would have turned out differently had they done what I would have done. Also, it encourages the reader to ask, “what if…?” What if Frodo would have thrown the ring into the deepest part of the ocean instead? It would have changed the story. What stories would it have created later? What if Harry Potter would have been put into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor? What if there really was a wardrobe that could transport people to a magic land? What if there really was a little mouse who could talk and ride a motorcycle? What if…?

3- It encourages readers to see beyond themselves. This happens in several different ways. First, they break out of their own little world. They are often introduced to new places, people, cultures, rules, and possibilities. For example, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has a very unique feel, even though it is supposed to be intertwined with our own “Muggle” reality. There are new rules, there are different cultural norms and fresh ways of seeing ordinary things. Even in the softer fantasy, where the only thing different might be a talking animal, it forces you to view the world through a different lens. The animal will have a unique perspective. In Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Ralph has different obstacles and concerns than any of us would have. Who has to worry about being chased by a cat, or caught by a human? We are introduced to diversity and learn that people are people, even if they are different.

4- It can explore patterns and issues we are likely to come across in real life. Fantasy can, and often does, touch on real world issues. In Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling divides the Wizarding World into Mud Bloods and Pure Bloods, and while it matters very little or not at all to some, it is a huge factor in the eyes of others. This reflects the problem with racism we may come across in our normal world. The divisions between the different houses at Hogwarts might remind us of how divided the different political parties are right now. We also might find different snippets of wisdom that are relevant to the world around us, such as when Sirius Black tells Harry that the world isn’t divided into good wizards and Death Eaters, or when he says that you can tell what sort of a wizard a person is by how he treats his inferiors. They say you must learn history so you don’t repeat it, but if you look closely, a lot of fantasy reflects history. Some people will read fantasy when they would never in a million years pick up a history book willingly. Perhaps they might at least glean a little bit of historical wisdom from the history of other worlds.

5- Fantasy can include elements from pretty much any other genre. If you write horror, that’s what you write. If you write romance, you don’t really include a lot else. Mysteries are mysteries. Thrillers are thrillers. With fantasy, you can include anything. You can easily write a good mystery into your plot line. A good romance is completely acceptable and often encouraged when woven into a fantasy tale. It isn’t shocking to have elements of horror or a fair bit of thrilling occurrences pop up in a fantasy story. You can have a character who struggles with depression or ADHD in a fantasy. J.R.R. Tolkien has lots of poetry as songs in his books. You can even throw facts and educational tidbits in there if you are somewhat crafty about how you do it. This might be a bit easier in the science fiction realm, but it can work in fantasy too.

I’m not sure why fantasy has such a stigma about it. I believe it is a good and noble genre, yet it is far less likely to win the awards and earn the accolades of those literary experts. Despite this, I believe this genre has much to offer. It has added color to my life, given me refuge when I needed a break from my own reality, and taught me that there are possibilities beyond that which I see right at the moment. So perhaps the next time somebody asks what I write, I can tell them, I write epic adventures that encourage people to use reading to break through barriers and explore the world through a lens other than that which holds them to everyday monotony. In other words, I write fantasy.

2 Responses to “5 Reasons Fantasy is The Best. Why I Can Be Proud to Say I Write Fantasy

  • Katymarie,
    I am also a fantasy writer. When people ask “what do you write?” I say either children’s books or young adult fiction, depending on my current focus. But I’m never sorry to say fantasy as the conversation continues! I make it sound like they’re missing out if they haven’t delved into it.
    However, having said that… I am in the process of creating a website. Initially it was to present my own works, which it will do. However, I’ve begun to get very interested in encouraging other authors as well as my intended reading audience.
    I am currently puzzling out how to get set up to take comments to my blog page, engage opt-in and auto responder, and set up for members to my site in WordPress.
    I would like it if you would consider becoming my first member when I’m set up for it and sharing THIS article as a feature? I don’t know as of yet what I may promise you in exchange other than my viewers, but after this 5 Day Momentum challenge we just took, I’ll be gleaning at lot more attention now.
    Please visit my website listed in your form here and let me know your thoughts.
    Thank you for your insight as well as your time.
    Luthie

    • Hi. Luthie. I’m really glad you enjoyed this article. I understand the challenge of setting up a website and gaining momentum! I’ll contact you privately regarding your website! Good luck with all of it!

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