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How soon to introduce fantasy elements?

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I have a YA fantasy novel about a girl searching for her birth parents after learning she was adopted. Her birth parents are mermaid. The story is about her dealing with her adoption, but in my rewrites I have cut a lot of the relationship with her parents from the start of the novel so we can get to the mermaid element sooner. Otherwise I felt that the fantasy comes out of nowhere too far into the book.

How soon do you need to introduce the fantasy element into a story? Immediately? First chapter? Or can it wait a little while?
#1 - May 12, 2018, 12:54 PM

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There has to be hint of it early on. Something in the atmosphere and word choice to let us know the book is on a fantasy shelf in the store for a reason. For your book, I think we'd need to know what she hopes to gain from the search, from finding her birth parents or her other reasons for looking up front. Starting a fantasy with the first chapter in the real world isn't unusual. But then the fantasy seeps in more and more as we go. I hope that makes sense.
#2 - May 12, 2018, 06:28 PM
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Yeah, I think at least some hint fairly early would be helpful. Even if your MC doesn't know that she's a mermaid yet, the reader will feel smart knowing it ahead of her.
 :goodluck
#3 - May 12, 2018, 06:42 PM
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I vote for early on, too. It'd even be fun if it's a fantasy element that could be mistaken for reality, but then the reader discovers the fantasy is real. I know that doesn't make much sense, so here's an example - a truly lame one, I admit, but an example nonetheless (grin): how many times have we talked to ourselves in the mirror? (I hope I'm not the only one who's done this.  :hiding) Your MC could talk to herself in the mirror, which the reader would dismiss as thinking out loud, but then it turns out that the MC really is talking to someone in the mirror - maybe not even herself.

Anyway, just a thought. I like being pulled into things like this, even with a little trick involved. Especially with a little trick involved.  :grin3
#4 - May 13, 2018, 10:05 AM

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Just had this thought. Read the first few pages of fantasy novels that start in the real world and see how the fantasy is introduced.
#5 - May 13, 2018, 05:44 PM
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