Why did I coin the term Deep Fantasy? Because, after telling people I write fantasy, I found myself saying things like: 'but not like Game of Thrones. I don't do epic battles, gory violence, complex political intrigue, or graphic sex' and 'not like Harry Potter with boy wizards, boarding schools, and magic systems' and 'not set in a city with werewolves and shape-shifters' and 'not Celtic with Druids and standing stones' and 'not like Lord of the Rings with elves and dwarves.' I don't consciously draw on existing fairy stories either, or Greek Myths, or any other obvious mythic system (although I might in the future) and I don't do dystopia. I like hope in my stories.
Having made people glassy-eyed with what I don't write, I decided it would be more use to tell them what I do write and having discarded terms like 'traditional fantasy', 'pastoral fantasy' and 'spiritual fantasy' as not getting to the heart of the issue, I came up with Deep Fantasy.
Deep Fantasy recognises that fantasy has the potential to work on two levels: the surface level where the story should be gripping, emotionally moving, and enjoyable; and the deeper level, where the story's symbols, metaphors and imagery have psychological power.
I set my stories in Secondary Worlds but the settings can be more than backdrops to the action. In Heart Hunter, Fleet's ice-locked lands are a metaphor for her own congealed emotional state, and her quest to find the magic talisman to unlock the frozen streams and return food to her people, is a quest for adulthood. I discuss the Deep Fantasy aspects of my books on my website if you'd like to explore the idea further.
While you mightn't have heard of Deep Fantasy, you probably have heard of Planners and Pantsers (or Panthers, as Isobelle Carmody prefers). The idea is that writers either plan out their novel in detail before they write, or jump in and see what happens (thus writing 'by the seat of their pants'). Apart from Heart Hunter (which started as a Ph.D and had to demonstrate Joseph Campbell's 17 part Hero Quest), I've always been a pantser. For me, a big part of the joy of writing is having wonderful discoveries emerge as the story reveals itself and, in the past, I couldn't imagine anything worse than knowing the story's outcome beforehand.
In reality, writers are rarely purely one thing or another, but it seems from my pantser viewpoint, that planners write more quickly. They don't need to continuously reflect on what's emerged in order to work out what comes next. Writing quickly is an advantage to all writers, but particularly to Indie authors, where releasing books regularly is important.
Pantsering a stand alone is definitely easier than pantsering a series, as I discovered in Angel Caste. This series is complex on the deep fantasy level, and I found the final book (Angel Blessed) very demanding to write. It's something I'm keeping in mind with my new series (SOO). I don't think I'll ever be a planner, but I'll certainly need to consider each character's journey in more detail before they undertake it.
Cheers until next time.