Author Elizabeth May shares her top tips...
1. Draw inspiration from real life cultures
Part of what makes fantasy worlds feel real is that they are grounded in some kind of reality. Fantasy cultures have languages and taboos and beliefs just like cultures in reality; these are aspects that bring fictional worlds to life in a reader's imagination.
2. Let the landscape frame the narrative
Landscapes are a vital aspect of culture and can help frame the context for your fantasy world. In my novel, The Falconer, I used the cityscape of Victorian-era Edinburgh as a metropolitan backdrop that contrasted to the wild fae of Scottish myth. Landscapes can set the tone of your story and can be just as important to creating a sense of fictional place as the characters in your story.
3. Remember the wider context
In creating a fantasy world, it's easy (and tempting!) to focus solely on the location your main character spends the most time. But it's important to consider that your fictional setting is only one aspect of a wider fictional world. While writing, consider what this wider fictional world is like and how it impacts your character's home culture. Keeping this in mind makes your world feel more multi-dimensional.
What's your advice for crafting a fantasy story? Share your secrets in the comments!