Preliminary Tips For Writing Urban Fantasy
Hello writers! I’m finally winding down my semester, which has been the most chaotic yet. I apologize profusely for not putting out as much content in the last six months. There has been a whirlwind of things happening. The most recent one is the subject of this post.
When Amazon announced their upcoming Kindle Vella platform, I was super excited. I am writing something entirely new from the platform. The piece is actually an idea that I worked on in middle school and am now revamping and upgrading to a young adult urban fantasy serial. Urban fantasy is a genre that I have always enjoyed reading, but I have never tried to write it before.
Then again, I had never tried writing epic fantasy before I wrote my first book.
So I have done some research into what it takes to write urban fantasy, and I want to share that advice with all of you.
Tip #1: Setting Matters
On every site that I read through, writers pinned setting the most important aspect of urban fantasy stories. In fantasy, the setting always acts as another character in the story. It should be well thought out and well developed. I spent eight months working on the worldbuilding for Chasing Fae due to its complexity. Urban fantasies are set primarily in cities, though some take place in an outer suburb or something similar. These cities can exist in the modern world, but they could also be set in an alternate world or universe. Authors often draw from real-life urban environments to construct the most realistic setting. Some even play around with the era, taking a city from the past and bringing magic into it.
One of the most important elements of developing your settings is where the magic and urban world meet. Writing Tips Oasis conveys it best: “There are two different ways that you can portray the city: as it is, or as it would be because of the magic”. Magic can either be hidden in plain sight or portrayed out in the open. It has to be perfectly blended with the modern world. Technology like airplanes, the internet, and cell phones are often utilized by characters from the mortal and the magical world. At the same time, the magical institutions should have their own set of rules and technology that work together with or alongside the mortal one. I’m still learning about what that looks like!
Tip #2: Choose your lead protagonists wisely.
Whether or not you are choosing one protagonist or multiple protagonists, it’s important to find those characters that you can showcase “unique, but accessible” points of view. Whether they are mortal, vampire, or dragon shapeshifter, your characters need to feel believable to your reader. The magical aspect should not define your character. Instead, they should be given a full personality. They should have desires, strengths, weaknesses, and that one thing that keeps them going during the day.
I am planning on writing my Kindle Vella story from four perspectives. Serials specifically lend themselves well to multiple perspectives. One will be a mortal woman, one is a male dragon shapeshifter, one is a naiad with siren blood, and the last is an elemental fire mage. There are quite a few more magical races that I am including, but I don’t feel the need to have each of them have a main voice. Hopefully, I’ll be able to showcase many of them through secondary characters.
Tip #3: Pacing Is Important.
Though there is a variety of advice out there about what kinds of urban fantasy plots are the best, the pacing notes seem to all be the same. Readers of urban fantasy expect their stories to have a healthy dose of action. Of course, there need to be quieter moments to allow readers to breathe, but this genre tends to be fast-paced. Subplots are also important to help bring layers to the story. Romance is often a chosen subplot, but it’s important to make sure that you don’t let it take over the story. That may transfer your story into paranormal romance! Writers’ Digest adds that urban fantasy is sexy; a good sex scene or subtle eroticism teased throughout the book keeps the reader’s heart pounding.
I’m looking forward to tackling this story idea. Any one else who enjoys reading or writing urban fantasy? Any advice you want to share with the rest of us?