How to start writing urban fantasy


Urban fantasy is a type of speculative fiction set in “real worlds” with fantasy elements. You might prefer storyline and characters that flirt with the paranormal. Perhaps you're more interested in Science Fiction or magic realism. Whichever genre you prefer, urban fantasy writers have it covered. If you'd like to try your hand and at writing in this genre, simply follow these step by step instructions to get started with your first urban fantasy novel or short story.

1. Location

Choose a location that you relate to and know really well. Write down aspects of the setting that stand out in your mind. Bullet points are fine. Remember that this is fantasy, your location can be anywhere in the known or unknown universe that you want.

2. Time Choose a time zone that suits your story. You might like to delve into history and visit the past, stick with the present or jet off into the future?

3. Characters Choose your characters and start writing up some descriptions. Note that you don’t have to limit yourself to the human race, but do get to know them as well as you can

4. Outlining

Start writing your outline. What is going to happen? Who is involved? Why? What is the general end-point?

5. Research Highlight areas in your outline that you will need to research. This might include historical or futuristic technical info, or a good working knowledge of other worlds and other beings. Read widely and be open to new ideas and twists that may present themselves to you

6. Notetaking

Make detailed notes. Know everything you can but remember that it doesn’t all go in the story. Most of it will be background info for you to draw on as you progress.

7. Organisation

Be organised with your note taking as you may be able to use your research for side projects like articles and short stories. There are plenty of computer-based record management programs or apps you can try. Use whichever works best for you. I use MS Onenote and Excel, plus indexed folders and exercise books

8. Revisit your outline

Go back to your outline and update it with the new ideas, plot points and twists that will have come to you as you research.

9. First draft Start writing your first draft. Just get the story in your head out of your head and don’t worry too much about the finer details. That’s what the second, third, fourth (etc) drafts are for.

10. First edit

Once your first draft is done, print it if you can, or read through on your screen and make notes or highlight any bits that don’t make sense. Go ahead and fix any typos that you notice but don’t stress too much about these as you’ll be going through it all with a fine tooth comb later (probably several times).

11. Second draft After your first edit you may notice a need to rearrange scenes, paragraphs or chapters. Make sure your characters and settings are consistent throughout (a red headed banshee at the start should still be red headed at the end unless hair colour changes are part of the story). Add scenes or descriptions you think are missing from the story or cut anything that is repetitive or superfluous

12. Second edit. Third draft and so on

Repeat points 10 and 11 as many times as you think necessary until you come to the point that the story has reached its conclusion, and you’re happy with it.

13. Celebrate

You've put in some hard work to get to point 13. Take time to celebrate your achievement.

Once you've reached point 13. it's time to look for a publisher, but that in itself is a whole separate journey.

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I'm a speculative fiction author

based in Sydney, Australia

with a penchant for hidden history,

myths, and mystery.

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Cover of novel titled Keeper of the Way by Patricia Lelie

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