Guest Post: Penny Ehrenkranz on Creating a Fantasy World

This week I have Penny Ehrenkranz, a fellow MuseItUp author as well as an editor with the publisher. We have another similarity, we’ve both published with Sam’s Dot Publishing. She shares a blurb about her collection of short fantasy and science fiction stories available with them later in the post. But first, I asked Penny to write something about fantasy literature for me (I like to be vague with my guest requests–I think it stimulates their creativity). She wrote an excellent essay about how to create a fantasy world. This is a must read for all aspiring fantasy writers, and I’m proud to say I followed all her rules in my forthcoming book, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. (Hey, it’s my blog. I can shamelessly plug my book if I want.)


By: Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz

Creating a fantasy world means building a world based upon reality, making sure your reader knows the rules of your world, and having your characters remain true to those rules throughout your story.

How do you go about creating a reality that readers will accept? Defining your locale can be a good place to start. It may be helpful for you to make a physical map of your world.  Include street names, inns, the palace, business establishments — anything that will involve your protagonist or your antagonist. If you want your action to take place in a rural location, lay out farms, travelers’ way stations, out-lying estates.  Include anything that will bring your story to life for your reader.

Magic is often the key in fantasy.  When you decide to bring it into your story, you must first decide how much and who has it.   After you decide who has the magic, you need to decide where it originates.  There are several common sources: the gods, nature, sacred places, plants and animals, artifacts, and innate talent.

You’ll want to structure your society around who has magic and who doesn’t.  If magic users aren’t in charge, they may be servants of those with economical power.  Is the magic in your story a gift treasured and respected by the general populace, or is it an evil feared?  The attitude of the people in your world toward magic will help you in structuring your society.

No matter which source of magic you choose, there are a number of variables to consider.  Be sure to write down who does what to whom and how it is done.  Then, the next time magic appears in your story, follow the same rules.  If you don’t, your reader will become confused.

Take the time to learn more about different weapons and what damage they can do.  Remember, there are long knives and short knives, broad swords and dueling swords, daggers and hunting knives.  Each type and style was designed for a specific purpose.

What your characters wear is just as important as their weapons.  Traditional fantasy characters always wear clothing typical of the Middle Ages.  Obtain a reference book on the Middle Ages for accurate descriptions of clothing types and styles for the period you have chosen for your tale.

Your world won’t be real to your readers until it’s real to you.


A Past and A Future, a collection of sixteen fantasy and soft science fiction short stories, available from Sam’s Dot Publishing and Smashwords

Stories included in A Past and A Future are:

1. Flight of the Roc

What would you do if your master told you to collect a roc’s egg?  What would happen if the egg you collected hatched?

2. Blurred Vengeance

Temur’s father is murdered.  Will his journey to avenge his father’s death bring him what he wants, or will it destroy him?

3. Who Will Heal the Healer

Marzan teaches Niane to control the winds, but what about the winds of fate?  Will Niane be able to save her mentor when the underworld claims him?

4. Ashley of Ashland

Ashley, a young magician covets his brother’s fiance, but what are her feelings?  Can Ashley’s magic be enough to save him and his true love?

5. The Watcher

Zerelda is a watcher in a world of women.  When a prince comes to impregnate her ruler, will they find a forbidden love instead?

6. Enchantress

Merlin knows his fate, but he struggles to stand against it.  Will his powers be stronger than his apprentice’s, or will he find himself a victim of love?


She is from this world.  He is from another.  A dragon draws them together.  Will she look beyond his pointed ears and see the man of her dreams?

8. Heshe

Lyda runs, hiding her identity from her abusive stepfather.  Her rescuer has a secret of his own.  Will they both find happiness or will their pursuers stop them before they find their paradise?

9. The Baby Makers

How far would you go to have a baby if you can’t conceive on your own?  Would you accept a clone?  Would you fight for that’s child’s rights in a world unprepared for it?

10. 3-D Pictures

Avery’s boss thought he was crazy, but was he?  When he stared into the 3-D picture, he saw a land others couldn’t.  Will he enter the picture, or accept the doctor’s diagnosis?

11. Screen Saver

Clancy is used to strange people.  His boss represents them.  But when the bullets start flying, will the screen saver save him?

12. Isolation

The world has died, except for small pockets of isolated communities.   But what if you are tired of the isolation?  What if you wanted to find somewhere to be free?  Would you take the chance?

13. Love in a Different Hue

Chiri’s father is a scientist who invents artificial life.   What should she do when the robot her father created looks better to her than her husband?

14. Down So Low The Ground Looks Like Up

Sylvan is sensitive to others feelings.  It drives her crazy, so she drinks to dull the pain.  Will Dev, the police officer who finds her, rescue her from her demons?

15. Rebels With a Cause

Shahleena is bored with her existence.  Will volunteering to help juvenile offenders help her or help them?

16. Clockworks

John lives in Structured.  His ancestors came from Upheaval.  On a whim, he decides to visit.  What will happen to him when he cannot leave fast enough?

Author Photo resizedBIO:

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 100 articles, 75 stories, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children’s publications, and non‑fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications.  She edits for MuseItUp Publishing.  Visit her web site at http:// Her writing blog is located at

She has three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing: Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror. She has recently released Boo’s Bad Day with 4RV Publishing and has three other children’s books under contract with them: Ghost for Rent, Ghost for Lunch, and Many Colored Coats.  Her short story collection, A Past and A Future, is available through Sam’s Dot Publishing and Smashwords.