JJ Barnes – Writing Advice

Free writing advice – writers supporting writers

By - JJBarnes

Taking your characters from the mundane to the magical – advice for writing fantasy

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I’ll be writing about the video Taking your characters from the mundane to the magical. Writing hack – how to write a fantasy book from the Writing Advice series I’m doing on YouTube with Jonathan McKinney.

Taking your characters from the mundane to the magical, a technique used in most fantasy stories, when you take your character from their normal life in their ordinary world that they’re familiar with, and into a magical world that’s new.

The CS Lewis book “The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe” is a perfect example of this story structure being used, as the wardrobe is a literal door that the characters pass through to transition between states. At the start of the story, Susan, Lucy, Peter and Edward are living in the big old house in the English countryside, when they discover the magical wardrobe. When they enter the wardrobe, they transition from that mundane world, and into the magical world of Narnia.

The journey from the mundane to the magical can be represented in many different ways. In Alice In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll used a rabbit hole. In Harry Potter, JK Rowling used the train to Hogwarts.

It’s important to remember that the mundane world you start in is mundane to the character, not the audience. For instance, in Star Wars, Luke Skywalker starts on his home planet of Tatooine, which seems fantastical to the audience because it’s an alien planet, but it’s his version of Earth. He then journeys into the magical when he goes into space and learns to use The Force.

You then follow you character on their journey through the magical world and discover the rules of that world with them, be it The Force, or magic, or the strange creatures etc.

The mundane to the magical is a really beautiful device to use because doorways are a metaphor for transition, which is why The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe is such a perfect example because of the literal use of a door. The barrier is there, it prevents you reaching the magical world, then when you open the door you cross that threshold. And opening the door can come in many forms, such as Neo taking the red pill in The Matrix which opens his metaphorical door.

It’s a good idea to give the character you take from the mundane to the magical a yearning for more. It makes it a stronger story and gives the audience something to emotionally connect to because they’re getting something they want by discovering this world beyond what they know.

You can find more writing advice on our YouTube channel where we’ll be releasing a piece of writing advice every day to help you become a better and more confident writer. If you have any writing questions, comment below and we will try to do a video for every question we get!

Click the picture to find details about all the books written by JJ Barnes and where to buy them.

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