The word fantasy usually brings to mind tales of a magical world where dragons, heroes and incredible lands are filled with dangers at every turn. The reality is fantasy writing is so much more than that.
A fantasy world is a world where anything can happen. Magic is real and works. Heroes do save the damsels in distress. Even mythical creatures can be found roaming around. This is only the tip of the fantasy iceberg.
There are many subgenres the fantasy writer can use to create their story, and take their work down a whole new path - a path to a whole new world. Here are some of the more popular subgenres.
Heroic Fantasy - The hero is strong and skilled in fighting. The damsel is beautiful and in distress. The villain is powerful and can only be defeated by the hero, all others will fail. Mystical creatures abound and magic is part of everyday life. Often this subgenre has a medieval quality to it.
Epic Fantasy - In this subgenre the hero is an average person thrown into an extraordinary situation. He or she must complete their task or their world will be in danger of being changed forever or even destroyed. While they are often aided by people who can defend them, they usually end up being on their own to finish their quest. This tale has many characters, both for and against the hero, and a large dangerous world.
High Fantasy - This is the kind of fantasy the casual reader expects to read. This story will have lords and ladies, kingdoms and castles, and dragons and knights. A true medieval story.
Magic Realism - Magic is a way of life in this subgenre. Wizards and sorcerers are as common as blacksmiths. Magic is used, but always at some cost. This can be used on its own, or as a part of another subgenre to add an extra dimension to the character's plight.
Dark Fantasy - This subgenre is harsher and more nightmarish than regular fantasy. Demons and evil mystical creatures run rampant. The hero must face numerous creatures sent by the villain to destroy him.
Sword and Sorcery - High adventure tales with a middle ages feel highlight this subgenre. The buff swordsman hero must defeat the evil villain to save mankind and the woman he loves.
Modern Fantasy - These are tales of might and magic set in modern times. The hero can be a present day fighter, or a warrior from the past brought here to battle an evil.
Comedic Fantasy - These can be parodies of serious fantasy stories, or fantasy stories told in a humorous way.
Any of these subgenres can be combined to make a very unique and fun fantasy story. It only depends on what you, the writer, want to do with your story idea.
Writing fantasy means knowing your genre well and following the rules without getting trapped by them. As a fantasy writer you want to spark not only your reader's imagination, but your own as well.