How not to write fantasy
1. On no account use your own experiences directly. However interesting you personally find your scientific records of 121 days hatching a dragon's egg, or the secret memoirs of your affair with a dashing student wizard in 1974, the public are likely to be less forgiving. Always mix truth with a little fiction. If in doubt, try inserting the words vinyl flooring, tailbacks expected and celebrity master chef at regular intervals.
2. Never embark without knowing where you are going. You may think it fun to leave your hero balancing in the boughs of an iron willow in the Hall of Fifteen Lamps for three months, but he will most likely look on the situation less favourably and be ill-inclined to return for the sequel (if indeed he can still walk by then).
3. Magic plots have a tendency to work only once. Please dispose of them safely at the end of each story. Never ever leave your high-speed magic carpet chase lying around on the compost heap. It will not integrate well with half-grown potato plants, and may frighten the wildlife. (The last thing anyone wants to see at 2am is a high-speed, carpet-propelled urban fox).
4. Do not introduce pointless characters. They only get in the way and may cause the heroine to trip up during her crucial last-scene sword fight. If you cannot get rid of them at all, they often come in handy as wine waiters or municipal refuse collectors.
5. It is a fallacy that writing as many half-baked plots as possible, grating them up with a cheese grater, mixing in some parsley sauce and microwaving for 30 minutes is the instant path to an international bestseller.
6. However tempted you feel, the following will not help your performance:-
* Growing a 3-foot beard
* Musing endlessly on the cursed history of your bread knife
* Sleeping in a glass coffin.
6. Do not stand in the middle of the road, waiting for the first thing that strikes you. It will doubtless be a 637 bus. The number of fantasy plots incorporating a 637 bus are sadly limited.
7. It is an unwritten rule that "wondering how you did it last time" instantly saps you of all inspiration from now until the end of time. Try some of the following phrases instead:-
* I wonder where the yellow went?
* I wondered lonely as a cloud
* I wonder what's for tea?
9. Never use the title Fearless, no matter how well it works for other people. Fear everything. Fear contact lenses. Fear baked beans. Fear blank pieces of paper. Fearlessness is a form of stupidity: the first step to utter insanity and your future as the Oracle of Perpetual Bafflingness.
10. Do not create numbered lists. Inspiration will doubtless run out long before number ten.
Happy New Year!