I don't know if unsolicited advice threads are appropriate, I'm still a bit new to the forum, so if this thread is "preachy" let me know and I can take it down.

However, I feel I've noticed a pattern in the mistakes fantasy writers tend to make. They have no shortage of imagination. However, no matter how creative of a scenario, world or conflict they come up with, sometimes they just struggle to make sure that everything is "clear." When I say clear, I'm not talking about the world itself. I'm not referring to the advice that every fantasy story needs a "fish out of water" character so that other characters can explain the world to them, and thus the audience (in fact I don't actually find that advice useful, that often feels a little condescending to me). I'm more talking about making sure that the action has a tight enough focus, that the dialogue relays information efficiently, and that the conflicts escalate/progress in a logical manner. Whenever I read a published fantasy story, I'm struck with the clarity of everything happening, even if the story itself is just okay. Meanwhile, sometimes on forums I'll read people's excerpts of their passions projects, and often the characters are far more interesting, the urgency far more potent, and the worlds far more audacious than anything I've seen published, but things just get a little muddled. The stakes get confusing because a world's rules aren't defined, or a character has an emotional explosion too soon in a conversation, thus causing the reader to feel a distance from them because a human being is not constantly at a level 10 of emotion.

I'd like to introduce a theory, the "your dad" theory. My dad is in his 50s, has a propensity for calling things "nonsense," and reads almost exclusively nonfiction. While building a "do it yourself" dog cage he threw the pieces to the ground and proclaimed "this is a rubiks cube of nonsense!" He told me once he often feels like he's in the nightmare tunnel from the 1907s Willy Wonka film, with chaos and nonsense swirling around him. Now, if I wanted to pitch my series Fall's End, a fantasy tale about talking animals, my dad would not be the target audience in mind, so I wouldn't really care if my dad "liked" it or not. However, I do have him read excerpts of my fantasy writings from time to time to check for "clarity." So, for example, if there is a hostage negotiation scene I have him read over, he might say "why is the anarchist character who kidnapped the prince a talking jaguar? What is this nonsense?" I don't mind this feedback, because again, I'm not looking for him to "like it." My follow-up question would be to ask "could you follow what was happening?" And if he said yes, I'd be ready to preview for people more close to my actual target audience (people I do chapter swaps with on Tumblr, where strangeness is more the norm). The idea is that if someone like my dad can follow the stakes, the progression and the escalating conflict of a scene, even if it's set in a bizarre world he has an aversion to immersing himself in, then my actual target audience who is more accustomed to strangeness will easily be able to follow.

"Your dad" doesn't have to be literally your father. Maybe a majority of you have dads who read Mark Z. Danielewski and host DnD in their garages, I don't know. Maybe some of you are dads. I don't know your life. However, "your dad" can just be anyone who usually doesn't like things that could be considered "nonsense." Obviously, don't pester someone to read your work if you don't know them well or if they are busy, but if you have a "your dad" in your life, I think making sure they can follow the action is a good challenge to make sure what you are writing is clear. If "your dad" can follow the action, anyone can, and thus, making sure your target audience can follow along will be that much easier.

I'm not finger wagging here about fantasy writing not being clear, I am relaying an issue that I myself have. I think in part because of my over-active imagination and in part because of my Attention Deficit Disorder, I just want to put all my ideas out without slowing down to make sure readers can follow, and showing chapters to my dad has actually really helped ground my writing. If you find this theory helpful great, if not feel free to disregard.