I approach fantasy differently than I do my other books.
Often I'm just trying to capture a mood, or an image. I don't really want to know where it's going. I want to be surprised each time I sit down to write. I want to find the fantastical, the unexpected.
This gets me in trouble, sometimes. Fantasy really does need a fully thought-out world, and I build my worlds through writing. So I write myself into corners sometimes.
I'm going through my scan of Star Axe, my first published book, hoping to put it out again in December. I'm trying not to be judgmental, but...well, I don't have any doubt I'm a better writer now.
But what I can see is that I really made the effort. The book could have used a good edit--and it never got one, even from the publisher.
I notice that I spend a fair amount of time on description...and that it isn't as off-putting as I might have thought.
I think reaching for fantastic images calls forth a more poetic language, which is what makes fantasy so alluring. While I admire the world-building medieval empires of popular fantasy, my newer stories seem more in the mold of fables, where I'm not really trying to explain everything, but hoping the mood and images carry the story.
Like I said, not much fantasy like that these days. People want extensive worlds, like Martin and Jordan and so on. I appreciate more the Jack Vance type stories--though he certainly did the requisite world-building, it's more the beauty of the language, the tone, the images he evokes which attracts me.
Obviously, Tolkien does the world-building--no one better!--but it is the mood and tone I remember most. A kind of nostalgia for a world that never existed.