If you don’t have a good story for your fantasy novel, who’s going to want to read it? It’s therefore critical that you devise a great story that keeps people guessing, gives them something to identify with emotionally, and makes them want to read more books by you.
I made detailed outlines for each book in my Jongurian Trilogy, and that helped me get the three books published. My goal with this post is to give you examples from the first book in that series so that you have a roadmap to follow.
There are many ways you can come about getting that great story, but all of them will start with simple ideas. Perhaps these will come to you over a long period of time, or maybe you sit down and plan them all out in one sitting. Some people find that outlining the whole story works well, while others prefer to let all of the details come out in the writing. Still others use a combination of the two.
Defining Your Story Ideas
What works well for me is that I’ll have something to come back to when I get stuck. That’s the main reason why I write an outline. I also find it works well at giving me an ending to my story, or at least a general ending point. Lots of fantasy novels get started, but not as many get finished. I think this happens a lot because people don’t know how to end their story.
That’s why I think a basic story idea or outline is great, and I encourage you to give it a try, either for some of your small and detailed scenes or for your whole fantasy work.
Below is what I did to define the story ideas of my fantasy novel:
Political Conference in Adjuria
- In Adjuria emissaries from 12 of the 14 provinces are meeting in Culdovia to negotiate a unified governing structure between them to better facilitate trade and ease tensions.
- This effort is being led by emissaries from Culdovia and Duldovia, which historically had been the seat of power of a united West.
- High-ranking nobles from other provinces have been invited to Culdovia for series of meetings to discuss a common governing structure
- Nearly all provinces have sent officials, except for Montino and Ithmia.
- The Regidians see this conference as a way to put their province at the head of all the others, while the other provinces are more interested in a representational system.
A Ship from Adjuria
- A trading ship sets out from Portinia in the west to a treaty port in the Jongurian province of Pudong.
- This treaty port was established at the conclusion of the last war between Jonguria and Adjuria as a link between the two regions.
- The port is actually on the tiny island of Nanbo, which Jonguria views as a safe distance from the mainland for the barbarians of Adjuria to step foot on Eastern soil.
- Besides overland through the land bridge, this is the only area that trade is allowed between the two continents.
- There are many different people from different provinces on the ship.
- On the ship is a young man, a youth, from the principality of Tillatia. He is traveling with his uncle on an exhibition to secure a trade agreement with Jonguria to sell the principalities excess grain.
- The boy has never before left his province, let alone the continent.
- Also on the ship are envoys from Culdovia and Duldovia, the two chief negotiating provinces for Adjuria, on a mission to secure more dialogue with Jonguria.
- A group of soldiers from Allidia and Mercentia are traveling with the hopes of gaining permission to view the famous military training schools of Pu’lao.
- A noble from Shefflin travels to work out more trading agreements for their valuable resources.
- After an uneventful voyage, the ship docks in the treaty port on the island of Nanbo.
- Going against previous acts of protocol, all of the people from Adjuria are ushered into a government office upon landing.
- They are told that no more trade deals will be discussed at this time, and no entry will be allowed for any of them to the mainland.
- They are given the rest of the day to unload their current cargoes of trade goods and re-provision their ship for the voyage back.
- The group argues against this, but a large showing of military force is called forth, and it is apparent that for some reason negotiations between the two continents have once again deteriorated.
- The ship sails that night heading back home.
- During the night while most are asleep, the ship comes under attack.
- It is very hard to tell what happens, but most of the crew is killed. Many of the group is able to board a small boat and flee to safety while they watch the ship fall into enemy hands.
- It is apparent to the more experienced that they will not make it home in this small boat, and that a trip back to Nanbo is also unlikely. They decide to head for the mainland.
- Meanwhile, in Jongurian province of Laojing, there is unease in the imperial court.
- The previous emperor died a short time ago while making a tour of the southern province of Pudong
- The death was sudden, and many think that rebel groups had a hand in his demise, possibly through poison.
- The Current Emperor is a small child, incapable of ruling. He is the son of the fallen emperor.
- The emperor’s widow takes over as regent until the boy comes of age. She is not the boy’s mother, she having died in childbirth. Instead she was the favorite concubine of the previous emperor, who took her as his wife shortly before his death.
- There is concern over the widow’s motives. Some think she wants to keep power for herself, or give it to her own son from a previous marriage, a teenage boy.
- Many also think she had a hand in her husband’s death, possibly through dealings with some rebel groups.
- The imperial court has many functionaries, the foremost among them being royal eunuchs. These men see to the day-to-day functions of government, but yearn for greater power for themselves.
- One among them, the chief eunuch would like to pull the strings of the new emperor and those of the widow as well.