1 Originality! Harry Potter became a global phenomenon and suddenly there are enough novels about boy wizards to pave a path to the moon. Derivative trope ridden fantasy fiction is so cliché and readers soon toss it aside in their hunt for something special.
2 World building! Great fantasy fiction is all about escapism. Readers want to be drawn into a setting that immerses them in a different time and place. They want to see the authors world, to have it materialize in their mind’s eye and to imagine what it would like to be there. Sub-par world building is a sure fire way to get readers dissing a novel.
3 An authentic system of magic! Who doesn’t wish they could perform even the tiniest feat of magic? Just a little something out of the ordinary. For the most part, readers are enamoured with fantasy fiction because they want to believe that magic is possible but they quickly see through and turn off to poorly conceptualised systems of magic. Readers of fantasy fiction have an inherent need to believe!
4 Amazing characters! If in doubt look to the ensemble of brilliant characters in GOT. Fantasy fiction readers need to become fully invested in the characters they read about. You might point out that it’s the same for other genres and you would be absolutely right but here’s the thing. Great characters cannot be fully crafted from ‘how to’ books on fiction. They take on a life of their own as an author writes. They are sculpted, refined and somewhere along the way a little bit of literary magic takes place. Readers, especially fantasy fiction readers know great characters when they read about them and poorly development lacklustre characters will be abandoned long before the last page of a novel.
So there you have it. The overwhelming views of over a thousand Fantasy Fiction readers. Just four things that when done right make fantasy fiction the ever-popular genre it is.