Fantasy fiction can accomplish many things, from transporting readers to a magical world and introducing them to heroic characters to captivating them with intricate plot points. One of the decisions that fantasy writers must make before starting their stories is whether it will be high fantasy or low fantasy—two very different subgenres of speculative fiction. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the nuances between high and low fantasy so you can decide which one works best for your story!
The world of fantasy literature is vast and encompasses a multitude of subgenres. However two of the most prominent and distinct subgenres are high fantasy and low fantasy. High fantasy is characterized by grand, epic storytelling set in intricate, fully-realized secondary worlds with complex magic systems and in-depth lore. Think J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth or George R. R. Martin’s Westeros. In contrast, low fantasy takes place in a world or setting that is familiar and often features a protagonist(s) from that world who encounters mythical or magical elements that challenge their understanding of reality. Examples of low fantasy include Harry Potter’s world or the adventures of Percy Jackson. Understanding the differences between high and low fantasy is key to fully appreciating the vast and imaginative realm of fantasy literature.
Enter the world of high fantasy, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a universe where magic reigns supreme and every corner holds the promise of adventure and escapism. Journey through enchanted forests, witness epic battles between good and evil, and become the hero you’ve always dreamed of being. High fantasy takes you on a wild ride through your imagination, where dragons soar across the skies, wizards cast spells, and elves and dwarves are real. In this genre, nothing is ordinary, and every page brings a new level of excitement.
Low fantasy is a genre of storytelling that delves into the darker side of reality. Unlike its counterpart high fantasy, where the setting is often magical and the heroes larger than life, low fantasy is much closer to home. The characters in these stories are flawed and relatable, their struggles and triumphs mirroring our own. This is what makes low fantasy so engaging—it’s not just about escapism; it’s about looking at our own flaws and fears and embracing them. It’s about facing the darkness and finding the light within. So if you’re in the mood for a story that’s both intense and thought provoking, then low fantasy is the genre for you.
Choosing a fantasy genre for your next read can be overwhelming with so many options available. To make the decision easier, consider the characters, plot structure, and themes. Memorable characters can make or break a fantasy novel, so think about what traits you want to see in the heroes and villains. A strong plot structure will keep you engaged and ensure the story stays on track. Lastly, the theme sets the tone for the entire book, making it crucial to select a genre that fits your personal preferences. By carefully considering these factors, you can find a fantasy genre that will transport you to other worlds and leave you wanting more.
With endless possibilities for magical creatures, mystical worlds, and complex characters, it’s no wonder so many writers are drawn to fantasy. However, it can be challenging to determine which type is best for your story. One creative exercise you can try is to think about your favorite childhood fantasy stories and analyze their themes. Did you love stories with epic battles and swords like The Lord of the Rings? Were you captivated by magical realism like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Or did you prefer darker tales with supernatural creatures like Dracula? By examining the elements that drew you to these stories, you can gain insight into the type of fantasy that resonates with you and your writing style.
Writing in both high and low fantasy genres can be daunting even for seasoned writers. One tip for writing high fantasy is to create a well-developed, intricate magic system that is consistent throughout your story. This system can impact your characters’ abilities and ultimately shape the outcome of your plot. On the other hand, writing low fantasy requires a deep understanding of the historical or cultural context from which you are drawing inspiration. By grounding your story in reality, you can create a more believable world that still allows for elements of magic or the supernatural to exist. Whether you are writing high or low fantasy, it’s crucial to strike a balance between creative imagination and logical consistency. When done well, your writing can transport your readers to entirely new worlds that are both captivating and believable.
Both high fantasy and low fantasy can make for enjoyable reading experiences, depending on what you’re looking for in a story. With their multitude of plot structure and character possibilities, there is something to be enjoyed by all readers when it comes to these two genres. Whether you want a classic story of noble heroes defeating darkness while they save the world or an exciting reimagining of reality with a cause , the possibilities are endless.
Looking for guidance on writing your own work of high or low fantasy? Let our certified editors at Elite Authors help you perfect your craft and turn your imagination into reality. Reach out today, and let us show you how to bring the magic and whimsy of these genres alive on the page.