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The Fantasy Skeleton

Last week, we explored Fantasy subgenres. This week, we take a look at the building blocks that make up the story skeleton.

In Fantasy, the overall story problem pits good against paranormal evil.


The reader asks: Will the hero obtain or learn to use the power to defeat the evil that has disrupted his world?

This is often the realm of sword and sorcery based in the middle ages or an earth-like place where magic exists. The protagonist must obtain or discover the special power or talisman to solve the problem in time. Mythical creatures roam freely: fairies, gnomes, imps, dragons, elves, witches, wizards, vampires, werewolves, and unicorns. 

Like Science Fiction, these story worlds have specific rules which must be well-defined and consistent. 

These stories can be comic, dark, light, or verging on horror. They can be altered versions of our world or entirely new worlds. 

The protagonist is the hero of the tale, the chosen one, the one who vanquishes the paranormal threat.

The antagonist is the figure representing paranormal evil: the menacing dark Lord, the head vampire or werewolf, the wicked witch, the evil fairy queen, or the enraged dragon.


External Conflict scenes are where the protagonist wizard learns the evil witch’s plan, searches for the child of the prophecy, performs protection spells, and leads the charge to the witch’s castle to turn her into sand. The forces of good and evil attack and evade until the final collision decides the fate of the world. In these scenes, the hero confronts the wicked witch with knowledge of the prophecy. The wicked witch tries to turn him into a toad.

Antagonist Conflict scenes focus on the entity or person representing the evil power. If following the antagonist POV, these scenes serve to reveal his plans and his personal dilemma. 
Depending on the POV, these scenes involve the witch searching for the magic child. These scenes can follow the witch and her minions as they wreak havoc. We explore the reasons the antagonist is who he is and why he does what he does. 

Interpersonal Conflict scenes show how the hero and antagonist are helped and hindered by those around them. The hero is put in a trance by the fairies to keep him from finding the magic chalice. He meets someone willing to show him where the prophecy child is hidden. He is driven toward and away from his goal by the friends and foes. These scenes can also follow the friends as foes as they meddle with the antagonist and each other, depending on the POV.

Internal Conflict scenes show the wizard fearing his power is waning or his gifts are not enough. He might wrestle with his guilt over not saving another wizard from the wicked witch. The faerie queen wrestles with what is best for her versus what is best for her people. The time traveler wants to return home. This is the thing that is driving the hero on his quest.


Check out the new addition to the Story Building Blocks series: The Fantasy Build A Plot Workbook. Since world-building is a critical part of the Fantasy consider using the Build A World Workbook to bring your story world to life.

Next week, we will take a look at the Gothic story skeleton.

For more about how to craft plots using conflict check out, Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of conflict available in print and e-book and check out the free tools and information about the series on my website.


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