There are many types of fantasy in the world of fiction, but one dichotomy I find to be especially interesting is between what I call Soft Fantasy and Hard Fantasy.
Soft fantasy is the stuff of legends, fairy tales, and sitcoms starring teenage witches or stay-at-home genies. The magic in these stories is malleable, and often anything can happen so long as it’s wished for. When most people think about magic, it’s this or stage magic they’re thinking of. If Disney is involved, it’s probably soft fantasy.
Hard fantasy, on the other hand, has rules. They don’t just have magic, they have magic systems, and ones that are well-fleshed out and explained so the reader can understand. While the rules of hard fantasy are often based on principles or themes that aren’t even close to logical – this is still fantasy, after all – they will be internally consistent. If a story is strutting around like sci-fi without explaining its central mechanics too clearly, it’s probably hard fantasy.
Between the two, I prefer hard fantasy. I love fantasy in general specifically because it doesn’t have to make sense, and because it can transport us to worlds that could never exist here on earth, but there’s no substitute for a world I can sink my teeth into and really understand. The central tenants don’t have to make sense so long as everything that springs from them do, because that’s when I can try to figure out all the little tricks and anticipate what will happen, a;; without worrying that a magical dues ex machina will ruin it all.
For a little while now I’ve been telling people I would start giving more peeks into what my upcoming novel is about, and that’s what this is. I can’t go into too much detail until it’s much closer to being finished, but I’ll try to occasionally give you a peek into the broader ideas or themes behind my story.
This is one. My book is in the fantasy genre, and more specifically it’s hard fantasy. That’s only part of the story though. The world I’ve created is a little more complex than that, with a fun little wrinkle that will…
Well, you’ll have to wait to hear more on that. I’ll go get back to work then, shall I?