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Why Write Fantasy?

I think there is a reason why every writer chooses their specific genre. Some people find comfort in romance because it gives them that warm, fuzzy feeling they want in their life. Others turn to thrillers and action/adventure because it's that excitement they need. Some people love the futuristic, out of the box thinking promoted by sci-fi. There's always a reason behind why writers choose their genre, and I know why fantasy is the genre of choice for me. I started the Open University Creative Writing Course last week, as a way of brushing up on my skills. I've come across some pretty interesting stuff, but nothing stood out to me so much as the following statement: "Wearing a mask at a carnival can help you live out your true passions that otherwise, due to social pressures, you keep in check." Somehow, even though that statement was in the middle of a section on developing characters, I found that it got me thinking about why I write fantasy. After all, with all of the life experiences I have had, I should be fairly easily able to write books set in the "real world" instead of fictional universes, right? In essence, fantasy is the mask that I wear to help me live out my true passions. I'm a father to four awesome kids, and I've got a nice house, a steady job, and plenty of things that make life wonderful. However, it's the same life day in and day out, and that gets to be a bit stale after a while. My escape from the social pressures keeping me in check isn't to go partying, take hard drugs, overdo it on alcohol, or do crazy things. My way just happens to be writing, and my writing allows me to go crazy--but in a safe, productive way. In a previous post, Do We Read Out of Schadenfreude, I talked about how everyone is a bit sadistic inside. There's a lot inside each of us, things that we'll never allow others to see simply because it's not socially acceptable. However, those things actually make for a great story. Weird thoughts strike you at the most random times, and being able to write those things into a story actually helps you to get out those things that live deep within you. Fantasy offers a limitless method of creation. If you wrote a real-life story, you couldn't do half as much as you could when creating your own fantasy world. If you can think of it, you can write it down. It's why every author has their own unique system of magic, their own worlds, and their own way things are done. Fantasy is boundless, and only the imagination of the writer limits where it can go. Take those hidden thoughts and put them down on a piece of paper, using the limitless framework of fantasy to guide you, and you have the perfect "mask at a costume party".