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Exactly How Epic?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by mjmonarch, Oct 5, 2012.

  1. mjmonarch

    mjmonarch Dreamer

    Book one was no problem. Flew through it 350 pages in 3 months at night and weekends. Set up for book two great, except the story is getting complicated.

    Ancient magic, so people have it...good and bad, some in between. Two characters bleed back and forth from bad to good. One is good. One is bad. One is bad, but could be good (think darth vader) some are good but could be bad (insert personal grab for power here) one is pure chaos (just kills for the sake of killing, no attachments to anything or anyone)

    3 different wars. 68 sub-characters of which only 8 are dead.

    1 main character dead (good guy)

    Multiple planes of existence. upper lower etc.

    8 different but somewhat linear stories traversing to crossing singular points

    I guess I ask, at what point does complication detract from a good read? And does epic necessarily involve saving the entire world, or just some of it?
  2. FireBird

    FireBird Troubadour

    Ever read the Malazan series by Steven Erikson? I think thats as epic as epic gets. Seeing how much stuff that guy shoved in his books, I'm willing to believe you can pull it off if you write it well.

    Are all of these complications neccessary to the story? If they are, keep them in. Do you really need all those sub characters to keep track of or could you combine or get rid of some of them? The biggest problem is finding the right pace at which to give info to the reader. Too much at once will make me not read your book. I've found that many writers put in complications for the sake of complications to make their story seem complicated. Complication detracts from a good read when it doesn't pertain to the plot.

    Who ever said epic fantasy has to be about saving anything? Personally I would define epic fantasy as having a large cast of characters doing something with far-reaching consequences.

    It would help if we could actually see your writing. When you have enough posts I would post something short (2000 words or less give or take) in the showcase if you are comfortable with that.
  3. Sheriff Woody

    Sheriff Woody Troubadour

    In my view, I don't think overall "epicness" is defined by quantity of stuff. I think it's less about going wider and more about going deeper.

    The point at which too many complications become a detriment to the story is when you lose focus and are unable to reign in all the various plot strands and themes into one unified idea. If the story needs to be about something, at all times. I feel that as long as you can maintain this focus, you can do as much of whatever as you like. Just try not to overwhelm the reader.
  4. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

    As Firebird said, if you read the Malazan series you'll never worry about being 'too epic' again. 68 sub-characters? That's nothing. Erikson names half a damn army in the 7th or 8th book.
  5. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    Agreed in one sense, anything works if it works. "Too many characters" is more about whether this author could have made it work with what this story was trying to do, rather than whether there's an absolute number for over-epicness.

    At the same time, that means there's a difference between epic scale and sheer intensity. The more a story makes the most use of only so large a scale, the more it's not being epic so much as just good.

    (Funny how easily these two bleed into each other. "Awesome" technically means impressive rather than good... and "great" used to be the same way...)
  6. Sheriff Woody

    Sheriff Woody Troubadour

    I would agree with that. It's hard to be epic on a small scale, for sure. But scale alone is not what makes something epic. Or maybe it does. I don't know. I guess it depends on each person's own definition of the term.
  7. gowph3ar

    gowph3ar Troubadour

    WHeel of Time is the most epic fantasy ever written, unless you write 13 books encompassing over 600 characters you're good.
  8. I have a related question: how long is too long for a first book? I've recently finished a first draft of a fantasy novel. I've never written any fiction before so I don't have a good sense of how long it would be as a published book. In MSWord it's currently just over 180,000 words.
  9. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    Been there, done that. And the book has been ignored ever since.

    Here are the standards our group usually likes:


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