Writing the Fantasy Novel

Write for the increasingly popular genre of fantasy fiction and lay the groundwork for your very own fantasy novel. This course teaches you how to develop characters, build a compelling world, outline a narrative, apply a consistent theme, commit to the writing process, and publish your book.

6 Weeks / 24 Course Hrs
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Course code: wfn

Fantasy is an increasingly popular genre of fiction, and now is a great time to become a fantasy fiction writer! This course is perfect whether you have an idea for a book or even if you don't know where to start. With the tools you'll gain in this course, you'll be ready to tackle your first fantasy novel.

In this course, you will learn what separates fantasy fiction from other types of fiction. You will also discover how to create characters and populate your world with unique, compelling, and interesting creatures. You'll learn how to outline your book, come up with a theme, and commit to actually writing. You will learn how to revise and edit so that when you complete it, your book will essentially be a finished product. You will even learn a bit about publishing your book, including the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Finally, you'll get a number of tips about how to stay motivated and complete your novel - because, after all, writing is hard work!

What you will learn

  • Learn how to outline your book, come up with a theme, and commit to actually writing
  • Discover how to market and sell your book - including tips on how to market through social media
  • Examine the difference between revising and editing, and learn how to do both effectively
  • Learn techniques for incorporating a theme throughout your book in a seamless way

How you will benefit

  • Capitalize on the growing market for fantasy fiction by learning all the tips and tricks to writing and publishing your own novel
  • Gain confidence in your ability to create and establish characters that readers can't resist
  • Learn how to stay motivated and complete any project through reasonable goal setting

How the course is taught

  • Instructor-Moderated or Self-Guided online course
  • 6 Weeks or 3 Months access
  • 24 course hours

The first lesson will provide an introduction to fantasy fiction. You'll learn why this is such a great time in the market to be writing your fantasy novel—and it really is a booming market at the moment! The lesson will discuss how fantasy differs from other types of fiction and the genres and subgenres that make up fantasy fiction. You'll also start working on a project to get you thinking about the types of fantasy you most enjoy reading and what you might like to write about.

What exactly is fantasy world-building? This is the first of three lessons on world-building. The lesson will discuss what it's all about, including the different types of fantasy worlds and what sets one type of world apart from the next. You'll also decide on a world type that you want to work with for the next several lessons. The lesson will talk about how to go about researching before you begin world-building, and you'll receive some simple tips for making researching fun and productive. Finally, you'll explore some ways to organize your world-building research so that you'll have all of your ideas and information at your fingertips when you need them!

In this lesson, you'll continue your study of world-building. First, you'll learn the different ways characters can gain the ability to use magic. Sometimes, it's a talent that they're born with, but you can also manufacture opportunities for them to develop the skill. The lesson will discuss how you can use magic in the world of your novel, and the difference between white magic and black magic. Finally, you'll compare and contrast three systems of magic and explore how to create consequences for the system you choose.

This lesson concludes your exploration of world-building and will wrap things up by discussing societies in fantasy novels. You'll learn about planning for and creating the beings and governmental systems that make up the societies in your novel. The lesson will talk about traditional and nontraditional creatures, the common people, government, and the religions within the societies. You'll also be thinking about what the common people might do in your novel and how they'll interact with other creatures. The lesson will discuss historical systems of government that you can use in your world and define the roles of the aristocracy and common folk. Finally, the lesson will address the role of religion in your novel and teach you how to create a believable fantasy religion.

Do you know what they say about fictional characters? It's the characters that make the difference between a mediocre novel and one that comes alive in a reader's hands. Think about it—you can probably name your favorite fictional characters right now, can't you? For that matter, you can probably describe everything about these characters, from how they speak to how their mind works to what makes them cry. This lesson will discuss just how to create those characters. You'll look at main characters and supporting characters, what their roles are in a novel, and how to develop them in such a way that they jump off the page. You'll also learn how to create an antagonist that isn't evil just for the sake of being evil—but is a real character with wants, needs, and obstacles!

To outline or not to outline—that is the question! You may already have an idea about whether or not you're an outliner. Either way, this lesson will go into detail about the pros and cons of outlining. The lesson will discuss story versus plot, character-driven novels versus plot-driven novels, and outlining versus not outlining. It will also talk about the narrative arc and the protagonist's journey and how these things relate to the plot of a novel. If you're wondering how outlining might fit into your writing process, you're in the right place!

You won't necessarily know the theme of your novel before you begin writing, and figuring out what the theme is can sometimes be a bit of a process. This lesson will discuss the most common themes in fantasy fiction, and you'll look at examples of novels that use these themes. The lesson will also talk about the advantages and disadvantages of knowing your theme before you start writing your novel, and you'll learn techniques for incorporating your theme throughout your book in a seamless way.

This lesson will focus on the narrative voice. It will discuss the narrative mode and some techniques of writing, including decisions you'll make about crafting your story, which point of view you'll use, and the grammatical tense you'll work with. It will also talk about the difference between scene and exposition and how to incorporate exposition in the least jarring way. Writing dialogue is often a stumbling block for fiction writers, so you'll take a look at a few tips for making dialogue sound realistic and using it to show characterization, build tension, and advance your plot.

If you've ever heard writers talk about their writing process, you know it isn't as simple as sitting down in a chair eight hours a day and typing robotically on a keyboard. The writing process is complicated and ever-changing. When, where, and how much you write depends on a lot of factors, so you'll always be exploring what's reasonable for you to accomplish. This lesson will discuss some of the strange places where famous writers work (or have worked) and will also talk about some tools and rituals that might help you work successfully. Finally, you'll learn about setting goals and creating personal rewards to encourage you to reach your goals!

This lesson will talk about the postwriting process—in other words, what you do once you finish writing the first draft of your novel. You'll examine the difference between revising and editing and learn how to do both effectively. How do you know what to revise and how to revise it in a way that benefits your story? This lesson will cover that and also discuss how you can edit your novel. You'll learn the editing steps and some tips for streamlining the process!

There's a lot of debate about whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is better, and in this lesson you'll learn that both have their strengths and weaknesses. The lesson will identify and talk about those strengths and weaknesses in depth to help you decide which route is right for you. You'll look at the process of finding an agent and traditional publisher for your novel, including how to write a query letter. The lesson will also discuss how to go about self-publishing—who you can hire to help with the final pieces and how to market your book.

The final lesson will talk about the importance of marketing and motivation. You'll take an in-depth look at using social media and the Internet to market yourself and your novel, and the lesson will also discuss in-person marketing and networking opportunities you can take advantage of to advance your career. Since staying motivated is probably the greatest challenge to writers, there will be an entire chapter devoted to this. It will provide you with lots of tips and resources for finding support and the inner strength you need to keep going.

Laura K. Anderson

Laura K. Anderson picked up her first science fiction book when she was in first grade and she's been in love with speculative fiction ever since. She particularly enjoys writing fantasy fiction and is the editorial director for Sojourn: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction. Laura has a Master of Arts degree in literature and creative writing and is currently working on a Master of Arts in special education.

Instructor Interaction: The instructor looks forward to interacting with learners in the online moderated discussion area to share their expertise and answer any questions you may have on the course content.


There are no prerequisites to take this course.


Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC, Mac, or Chromebook.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Mac: macOS 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.


  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.

Instructor-Moderated: A new session of each course begins each month. Please refer to the session start dates for scheduling.​

Self-Guided: Your course begins immediately after you enroll.​

Instructor-Moderated: Once a course session starts, two lessons will be released each week for the 6 week duration of your course. You will have access to all previously released lessons until the course ends. You will interact with the instructor through the online discussion area. There are no live sessions or online meetings with the instructor.

Self-Guided: You have 3 months of access to the course. After enrolling, you can learn and complete the course at your own pace, within the allotted access period. You will have the opportunity to interact with other students in the online discussion area.

Instructor-Moderated: The interactive discussion area for each lesson automatically closes two weeks after each lesson is released, so you're encouraged to complete each lesson within two weeks of its release. However, you will have access to all lessons from the time they are released until the course ends.​

Self-Guided: There is no time limit to complete each lesson, other than completing all lessons within the allotted access period. Discussion areas for each lesson are open for the entire duration of the course.

Instructor-Moderated: Students enrolled in a six-week online class benefit from a one-time, 10-day extension for each course. No further extensions can be provided beyond these 10 days.​

Self-Guided: Because this course is self-guided, no extensions will be granted after the start of your enrollment.