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EPIC Fantasy writing style

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Godzilax99, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. Godzilax99

    Godzilax99 Scribe

    Good day, mates

    I had been trying to write my story and is now in the world building phase and a bit of history of the world. I love epic fantasy as I feel that it could really bring out the world and the story in its entirety. Had read Lords of the Rings, and done George R.R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, 4th book. Haven't buy the 5th. I'm currently reading the series of Malazan Empire. Loving it to the fullest, although I'm in the first book, Garden of the moon..

    I hope that I could write an Epic Fantasy style book. One with series, and talks about vast lands and powerful kingdoms. Heroes and villains grow and matured, personalities changed through the ages and new alliances forged while old alliance broken and betrayed..

    My english standard isn't as good as many, but I'm learning through reading. Some of my friends tell me to do something smaller, simpler.. But from the book, Garden of the Moon, I saw what the author wrote and was greatly encouraged.. No compromise.

    I want to ask, what is considered a epic fantasy?

    What are the must-have factors?

    What kind of style of writing is considered epic?
  2. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    If you're currently reading what you believe to be epic fantasies, Godzilax99, then you probably have a good idea of the answers to your question about what is considered and some of the must-have factors.

    As far as style, each writer will have their own unique style of story telling, although there are convensions such as POV and such that will influence it.

    Generally an epic needs a hero or heroes, and there must be something big at stake. Normally epic fantasies have a wide-ranging scope with a complex world backing the story. Usually they're longer in word count than other fantasy subgenres, although they are often a mix of other genres (quest story, sword and sorcery, high fantasy, etc.).

    Hope that helps. Good luck as you move forward with the preparing and writing of your epic! I believe they're just as fun to write as they are to read, maybe moreso :)
    Godzilax99 likes this.
  3. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

    Anything over 1000 pages.

    Kidding aside, it's just a story that's epic in scope. There's usually multiple heroes and, perhaps, villains as well, all with complex relationships, motivations and histories. A large scale conflict normally dominates the background, although this can range from a civil war (like ASOIAF), a war between feuding nations (First Law) or even a war between gods (parts of Malazan). Of course, you're not restricted in this sense and most epic fantasies end up having a combination of it all. Finally, there's typically something larger than this conflict, something that threatens the world. For ASOIAF, there's the White Walkers. For the Malazan series, there's the Crippled God.

    I think I answered this above.

    There isn't a specific style, in my opinion. Erikson writes differently to Martin who writes differently to Tolkien, to Jordan, to etc, etc. Just write in your own style and you'll be fine.
    Godzilax99 likes this.
  4. squishybug87

    squishybug87 Minstrel

    Sounds like you already have a pretty strong grasp of the basic elements of epic fantasy. You just have to personalize it now. Don't start with something smaller unless that's something *you* believe you should do. Don't worry about your English; you can get help with that along the way.

    To me, epic fantasy is a story that has a wide scope. To use photography as an example, a regular picture just focuses on a small segment of a landscape (a regular story) whereas the panoramic view shows you how that smaller picture fits into its surroundings, how they interact with each other (epic fantasy). You're not just dealing with a simple, two dimensional story, but one that has far reaching consequences, and those are illustrated throughout. Does that make sense? Pretty much, you're dealing with several stories in one. They are all interconnected. if you break them apart, with a little tweaking, they could stand on their own, but they work better within one big story.

    Don't necessarily take my word as gospel; that's just my two cents. As for style of writing, that's completely up to you. Epics tend to be a bit more descriptive than regular stories. The most important thing to remember is there are very few solid rules. The Song of Ice and Fire series broke several genre rules and it's now the example many authors follow. Make it your own and have fun with it. Don't box yourself in.
    Godzilax99 likes this.
  5. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    I too would love to write epic fantasy someday, and in fact it would probably be my ultimate goal, but I lack confidence in my attention span and self-discipline. I imagine an epic fantasy would require an obsessive commitment to a project for a very long period of time, something ill-suited to an easily distracted and impatient character like me. I mean, there are certain subjects and themes I obsess over, but I'm always struggling to figure out how to properly arrange them all into a story. I'm bubbling with ideas on how to write about the same subject matter, basically.
  6. Godzilax99

    Godzilax99 Scribe

    Thank you all for the time and encouragement.. Really appreciated it.

    So from what I gathered from you guys is that:

    1) Needs a hero, heroiness, or a bunch of them.

    2) Needs a villains or a bunch of them.

    3) Something that is going to seriously affected them and the world they are in.

    Regarding heroes and villians, all these is subjective to individual interests and needs right?

    Taking reference from LOTR, Malazan series and Song of Fire and Ice, they all are pretty different in their characters... LOTR seems to portray the heroes to be somewhat good natured, only that they are tempted by the One Ring. Aragon seems like the shining knight, against the dark Lord Sauron. It's somehow like high fantasy.

    Malazan is rather dark in its setting. The environment and expression of characters seems to be grim and seasoned by long term war.

    Song of fire and ice is more of a political showdown with different Houses, striving for their selfish nature.

    So, does epic fantasy usually have a darker setting to it, since usually the story have more destructive force coming to rid them off the world?

    Jabrosky: Yeah, it does take a lot of effort. I am doing my world right now, and I'm thinking of how to begin my world! haha. Because as some had said, usually you have a powerful entity that threaten the world. I'm looking at a god that is going to devour the world.. so how does it come to this world and etc.. still planning, though I have a good idea. just putting into words..
  7. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

    In current fantasy I'd say that epic fantasy tends to have a dark tone to it, yeah. But you could argue that almost every sub-genre of fantasy is becoming darker.
  8. MaccosBridgman

    MaccosBridgman Dreamer

    I would say an epic fantasy, is something that is purely epic, it makes you fall in love and hate characters and then they are taken away from the reader and making them fell anger, joy or sadness at that death, and mostly taking people far away from reality :p

    What must have factos are I would say are battles, love, feuds, and intense detail down to the last serving wench :L

    And many writing styles are considered epic, but its more the authors themselves i would say than the style that people call the epic and at the end of the day its the story itself which is epic, its the story that makes that person laugh and cry and want to scream at the pages :p

    And i totally agree with you I also would love to write an epic fantasy, i'm currently in the stages of creating my world for the story currently having a basic plot and characters. xD :p
  9. Tom

    Tom Istar

    I am writing epic fantasy as well. I read LOTR at 11 and have been hooked on epic fantasy ever since. For me, the standards of epic fantasy are:
    1) A world that needs saving (it's called epic for a reason!)
    2) Many diverse cultures and races and a group of characters to represent them
    3) Tons of setting description (nothing draws me into a story like nature)
    4) Dynamic characters who grow and change throughout the story
    5) Minimal magic, as opposed to sword & sorcery, or at least less flashy elemental magic
    6) Dark overtones that hint at something bad just over the horizon...
    7) Inspiring moments of bravery, sacrifice, wisdom, and humanity
    8) At least a bit of well-written humor to lift the shadows

    I'm picky, so your list might be different. Write your epic as if you were writing something you would LOVE to read, and have fun along the way!
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2013
  10. SineNomine

    SineNomine Minstrel

    One small note of warning that I feel compelled to throw out: Epic fantasy can be "dangerous" to write. Many of the defining traits of the genre tread the line VERY closely to some of the big mistakes that new writers tend to fall prey to. Even if you know what pitfalls you want to avoid, you cannot really give them a wide berth and still have it feel like epic fantasy, you have to skirt around the edges and desperately hope you don't lose your balance.

    For some basic examples, epic novels need a LOT of pre-writing world building so that all your moving parts in the world fit together seamlessly, but world builder's disease is always something you have to watch out for. Epic fantasy stories are almost exclusively long stories to keep the scope epic in feel, but learning what needs to be said and what doesn't is a HUGE lesson you have to go through. You need a slower pace and extra exposition, but pacing issues and infodumps are stumbling blocks. The learning curve for epic fantasy is a constant concern, one you may be ill-prepared to deal with at first. Cliche is a shortcut through ALL those problems, but I don't think anything needs to be said about how over cliche-ridden the genre already is. The list goes on.

    All that being said, you should obviously write what you love and, gosh darn it, if you are in love with epic fantasy (and who isn't?) then don't let anyone tell you not to write it. Just know that it is a very hard road and for every ASoIaF, LotR, and MBotF there are countless unpublished but much beloved by their authors trainwrecks.
    wordwalker likes this.
  11. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    Nailed it, Nomine.

    There's very little in the epic scale that helps a new writer refine the basics. It may offer a lot of space to practice them, but it's all too easy to get obssessed with what the decaying kingdom is going to collapse into fifteen chapters later rather than sustaining the conflict that's going on right now. And yet there's all the extra brainwork needed to coordinate that many pieces, and the sweat of getting that much into words before you can say the magic word "END." And the cliche traps, always the cliches.

    It takes a lot to write a decent story. It also takes a lot to write an epic one. But learning to do one, while you're still learning the other too...
  12. Godzilax99

    Godzilax99 Scribe

    I totally agreed with Workwalker and sinenomine. Currently I am creating the world and man, it is tough. I destroyed one world which I created for a month(yes, a month of work isn't very long), realizing that the world is rather similar to many of my experiences with epic fantasies that are in the market right now. Probably due to the influences, since I like those authors writing styles and worlds.

    Tough work.. I'm still trying to make a world. Got the terrains in so far, and some basic concept of the background plots and etc.. Even that gets confusing at times..

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