Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fantasy and the Sense of Wonder, Plus the Cover Reveal for Timeless

Several years ago, I attended a writer’s workshop hosted by David Farland, a well-known author in the fantasy genre, and one of the topics he discussed was what readers looked for in different genres. Readers of thrillers, for example, wish to feel the rush of adrenaline, romance readers want to feel deep emotions, and readers of fantasy, the kind of stories I write, want to feel a sense of wonder.

It’s no wonder then, that fantasy (and science fiction) writers often create full blown worlds within their stories, with advanced magic systems, diverse religious societies, and sometimes entire alien ecosystems. They strive to give the reader a sense of wonder that will carry them all the way through the book. Which is why I spent this past week looking for ways to incorporate more wonder into the current chapter of my WIP.

One of the reasons I enjoyed the Harry Potter series so much was because Rowling never let you forget you were in her wizardring world. Not a page would go by without her adding some little detail to ground you in the setting. Contrast this with some fantasy stories where entire chapters go by without any sense that it’s occurring in another place and/or time.

My story is an urban fantasy, so I don’t have a ton of world-building available to me, but that’s okay. As long as I keep adding little details that remind the reader they’re in my world, that’s all I need.

It really is all in the details.


And speaking of details, I'm happy to be able to show off the cover for Crystal Collier's latest book, Timeless.   Just look at that gorgeous cover.  I'm definitely going to have to find out which cover designer she used.  And be sure to stop by her blog and enter the contest for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Congratulations, Crystal!

Time is the enemy.

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil, and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?


  1. That's a great reminder--to always ground your reader in your story world. Some authors don't even mean to do it, but do anyway, and maybe others don't always. Can't say I've noticed it not being done, but I've never thought about this concept before. I'll have to do that in future readings.

    1. I think most writers do it some, especially at the beginning of a scene. The trick is to make sure you keep re-grounding us as the scene progresses.

  2. Great cover, Crystal.
    I probably don't do enough for that sense of wonder. Of course, the constant presence of space ships lets the reader know it's not the here and now.

    1. The trick is to constantly drop little hints that the scene is taking place in or around spaceships. The thrumming of engines, the glare of starlight as a ship slowly rotates in space.

  3. Ken! Thank you so much for sharing my cover today. You deserve cheese. =)

    For me, a book is all about the ambiance. What is the overall mood? That mood needs to play into your setting, word choices, etc. And that's the power behind these concepts--creating wonder through the mood your words inspire. So call me somewhat romantic, but wonder really is a emotion.

  4. There is a poem I was required to memorize as an undergrad that starts: "Because to really ponder one needs wonder"... It took a while for me to understand that's actually true. (Poem is by Kenneth Patchen.)

  5. A favorite English teacher pointed something out to me about Tolkien that I always try to remember in my own writing. Tolkien would occasionally leave certain things unexplained. He gave you hints that there were more stories to be told in his world but were not included in his books. That can really create a sense that you're reading a something set in a much larger world.

  6. What a good point about Harry Potter. I loved the novels too, but had not thought about that aspect. Thank you for pointing it out.

    Congrats Crystal, saying it again, I love the cover, beautiful.

    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

  7. Congratulations to Crystal on the beautiful cover!

    Urban fantasy is a different animal. Readers want to see the strange in the familiar. They want to see A, B, and C with a Q thrown in between.

    When I started writing The Eighth Day as an urban fantasy, I didn't think I could pull it off (and said so repeatedly on my blog), but somehow, it ended up being one of the most fun things I've ever written.

  8. Yes, wonder is definitely one of those selling points for fantasy for me too. It's so much fun to immerse yourself in a world where you can fly or shoot fire or bend a car in half. Unfortunately, I don't usually notice the environment, only the abilities of the people. That slips into my own writing when people tell me they get no setting. Doh!

    Grats to Crystal!