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Writing Epic Fantasy - Taking a Courageous Approach to the Genre

Epic fantasy is a genre about heroes taking on challenges of epic proportions and overcoming obstacles that are seemingly impossible to overcome yet the genre puts out (safe) multi-volume cookie cutter novels that follow a specific formula laid out by Tolkien and Campbell. Break this trend in your own writing.

 

One of the most commonly heard quotes in our world, especially in motivational circles and in Internet marketing is: “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” The advice for the writer is to read other peoples work, notice what is successful, and follow the formula that they have perfected. This way you can be “successful” without having to put in too much work. If this is what you want to do then I have laid the formula out for you right here. In eight easy steps you too can be a successful epic fantasy novelist.

The formula for success:

Create a bunch of interesting non human characters like orcs, dragons, elves or dwarves; of course your hero should be human or nearly human
Put them in a fantastical world filled with magic and secret places
Open up your novel with something exciting to get the reader hooked
Keep the action moving - insert a series of small obstacles that need to be overcome
foreshadow something really big that will happen (won't happen in this novel though -if it ever happens at all)
Come up with two big things that will happen and when they are resolved they cancel each other out so the plot hasn't advanced at all
Make a big lead up to the next novel (promise the moon)
Repeat steps 3-7 in the next novel


Before you follow this formula (Which is guaranteed to make you a wealthy and successful novelist in less than 30 days) why don’t you stop and think about why you want to write epic fantasy.

You are probably writing epic fantasy or thinking about writing it because of the appeal of creating a hero that you can admire. You want to write a story about an average person (or hobbit) that goes against the grain, ignores popular opinion, and yet somehow comes out triumphant in the end. So why are you not going to follow this path in your own writing?

Isn't this a bit of an irony? It's kind of like watching a bunch of Bruce Lee movies then writing a book on self-defense. It is all technically sound but in your own life do you actually do it?

In Epic Fantasy the basic tenet is about having courage -courage in the face of insurmountable odds or even probable death and the courage to continue on when the path is dark. It's what we admire about the genre. It's why we read the genre. The little guy (often little is literal as in a hobbit as in lord of the rings or a even a rabbit as in Watership Down) overcomes everything to do what is right. He fights internal conflict, battles evil creatures, and learns something about himself along the way. The great writers of the genre had this courage.

Tolkien was terribly criticized for his work when it was first published. But he believed in the world he was creating and he persevered. Stephen King had the courage to move freely across different genres even within the same book. Robert Howard had the courage to write what he wanted to write even though he never gained the financial reward that he deserved. Frank Herbert had the courage to tackle the big questions and the big themes in life. And do you think Harry Potter would have climbed to such heights if J.K. Rowling didn't truly believe in Harry?

So where are the muscle bound struggling writers of the epic fantasy world with the courage to push for what is right? Is the next writer to advance the genre out there somewhere? Maybe it's you?

Alchemy with Words: The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy vol 1 (The Complete Guide Series)

Some advice

Have courage! Don’t write something because you think it will sell. Don’t shoot for something popular. Don’t read the currently popular epic fantasy novels and follow the same formula. Remember: this one of the basic lessons of epic fantasy itself -not to follow popular opinion. You are writing an epic fantasy story and your main character is no doubt going to face challenges on an epic scale. Have the courage to do the same thing. Come up with something new.

It’s about the ideas

Epic fantasy isn’t really about the slaying of dragons and the rescuing of princesses. It’s about deeper meaning. It’s about finding meaning in life. It’s about taking a road never before taken and facing the unknown challenges that await. Follow this same path in your life and in your writing.

Forget about the grammar - for now

Too often a writer gets caught up in sentence structure, grammar and a host of other technical minutiae. You are going to break new ground. Let the story grow and let the ideas flow. Worry about the grammar later. For now you should just write. Get your ideas on paper. The world is waiting for your novel. Take a chance and go against the grain of popular belief. The world will thank you for it.

Need some help?

If you have written an Epic Fantasy novel that you think is courageous and none of the publishers will touch because it's too risky then send the manuscript to me. If I agree that it is something special -something worthy of a hero, I will get it published even if I have to pay for it myself. No thanks necessary and no financial reward considered. Just think of yourself as Bilbo and me as your Samwise Gamgee.

I have lots more articles on writing fantasy here

 

The Hero With A Thousand Faces By Joseph Campbell -- This is a remarkable book about the power of myth and how myths have a seeming root directly into our souls and our DNA and about the power of growth in a story and growth in life, and the stages we go though.