- Strong Setting: Especially in High or Epic Fantasy, a strong setting is what keeps the book going. You don't want to have vague locations for everything, it's best if you have exact spots set in mind. Oftentimes, you'll see a map in the start or end of a fantasy novel, which helps the reader with clearly visualizing this new world. Although this is not a must-have, it's very helpful to the reader.
Keep in mind that your readers are brand new to this world. If they're lost or confused, it might cause them to set the book down for a while to clear thier head... and then never come back. (That sounded way too dramatic, I'm sorry)
- Fleshed-Out Main Character: Also very important to your fantasy novel, and, well, any novel. A good fleshed-out main character has flaws and strengths and weaknesses and brilliance. They have a little bit of everything. In Fantasy, there are several "types", per se, of main characters that tend to be used.
There's "The Chosen One", such as in Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling. Harry was chosen specifically by a prophecy to be the one to overthrow Voldemort.
There's your "Average Joe", who accidentally stumbles onto the conflict, or who is quite normal and through thier own courses of action, become a stronger character. A bit like Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis.
There are many more Main Characters I have not listed here, but keep in mind, all of them had thier flaws. No Mary Sues allowed in this genre!
- A Clear Motivation: Yes, this counts for plot or conflict, I suppose. But mostly, this is your character's motivation. What does your character want to accomplish? What must your character do to come out of this novel alive? In The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Frodo had to destroy the ring. Keep in mind your character's motivation as you write.
- Magic, or Myths, or Magical Beasts (Oh My!): No, this one is not a must-have, but it's still rather fun to include. Of course, it's what makes the Fantasy Genre so unique. Only in this genre, and a few others such as Sci-Fi, do you get to create your own world, your own creatures, your own political system? I suppose this is going back to the setting portion of this when I say that you must make sure you have all of this fleshed out.
I hope I helped some of you writers out there with my Fantasy Pointers! These really help in all genres, I'd say for the most part. What aspect of writing a Fantasy Series do you find most difficult?