Patterns arise in storytelling genres. That's not a secret, is it? Some call them formulas. (formulae?)
I prefer patterns.
Such as the three-act structure. Or the rising action structure. Or the boy-meets-loses-girl-learns-lessons-overcomes-and-reclaims-girl formula. Or the murder-plus-detective-plus-clues-plus-surprises-plus-revelation-of-murderer-at-the-end formula. Or simply the beginning-middle-end formula, which harkens back to that three-act thing. :)
In fantasy, we have the Hero's Journey. It's ancient, it's pervasive, it's universal, it's persistent... cause it works. We like stories that unfold this way, just as romance readers want the sparks-conflict-insights-HEA format and the mystery readers want the crime-clues-revelation format.
So, I offer an on-the-snark and not totally off-the-mark examination of how to write a fantasy novel. I won't say it's how to write a best-selling one, as the author does, because many stories based on this pattern still fail to capture agents, editors, or the public.
It's actually a nice blueprint of how to keep the heart of a pattern, if you eliminate the cliches and add your own voice's spice to it, as well as fresh elements and surprises.
And voice is always harder to nail than a pattern.
And story magic? Well, that's a slippery dame, ain't she?
NOW, JUST FOR FUN: What SF Character Are You?
I came out to be . . .
Er. I'm not exactly thrilled with being very short, very homely, very linguistically odd, and the color of old moss. I want to be Spock or Cordelia Vorkosigan or, hey, Picard or Chani or, if you force me to have lovely hair and eyes, Deanna Troi.
Grumble, yoda, grumble.