5 Things To Consider Before You Write An Epic Fantasy

5 Things To Consider Before You Write An Epic Fantasy


1. Keep it simple:

Think of one goal. It is hard enough keeping multiple storylines going, but if you give them the same goal you’ll make it easier for
yourself. Consider these titles and their goals:
Lord of the Rings: They all want The Ring
Game of Thrones: They all want the Iron Throne
Harry Potter: They have to defeat Voldemort When you consider the scope of these stories the goal seems almost too simple, but that is where the strength lies.

2. How do you know if you have too many storylines?

In an epic fantasy, you should plot each storyline as if it is the main storyline. It’ll be a litmus test to help you decide if that storyline is strong enough. If you get stuck with a storyline you might not have enough for that particular part of the story. You might find that some of the storylines are too repetitive or too similar. Work hard to make them unique.

3. World building is tricky…

This is truly make or break for fantasy. The world you create must be integral to the storyline. It must be complete. The setting must be part of the plot. The societal structure, the language, the mode of transportation, all of these must be inseparable. Could Harry Potter have taken place anywhere but at Hogwarts? Where else would Gandalf have been at home, but in Middle-earth?

4. The more, the merrier

Creating a lot of characters can be fun, but the more people you add the more work you make for yourself. Write full biographies for all the major characters. Make sure they all have a goal that is the same or in keeping with the main story goal. And make sure they aren’t all the same. Carbon copies are boring.

5. Be kind to your reader

Creating worlds and languages means you have to rename almost everything. Sometimes we get a little carried away and mess around with vowels and create odd sounding names, and that is awesome. But keep in mind you will have to type this weird concoction of letters several times and your reader will have to read and hopefully be able to pronounce the names. Tolkien and Martin make us work hard with odd, similar sounding names. Be gentle with us, because…

Readers and their reading habits have changed

When I think of my favourite fantasy titles I have to think back, way back. That’s right, they are old. Like I read-them-in-high-school old. If you look at the pages the text tends to be dense, with little dialogue and lots of description. Although this is a characteristic of this genre (and older books in general) I’d warn you to keep in mind that younger readers have different reading habits.

Today we want more white space. Shorter paragraphs, more dialogue and lots of action, aka, show, don’t tell. There are many reasons for this, but primarily we have less time to read, we are used to shorter, more condensed writing. Yes, blame the internet.

Writing an epic fantasy is awesome. Have fun and build a beautiful world. Happy writing.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course.

 by Mia Botha

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This article has 3 comments

  1. Amber

    This article was good up to the last two sentences of #5 and the last section “Readers and their reading habits have changed” I am an Epic Fantasy writer and I have polled readers and writers in this category in areas where there are large numbers of both. The readers range in age from YA to elderly and typically more in the elderly – the older generation who when young cut their teeth on epic fantasy. None prefer the added white space, the loss of descriptions, or the loss of creative words as you suggest. That’s what makes an Epic Fantasy – Epic. Younger readers hooked on the Internet perhaps could benefit from weaning off the internet and get hooked on old fashioned reading. Meanwhile, there is a healthy market for the same old fashioned Epic Fantasy and those of us who write them will continue to do so despite your recommendations.

  2. Sarah E

    When it comes to making a plot too complicated, I am a big offender, but getting better! This helps…number one in particular. Thank you!

  3. Sara

    Useful and concise advises.

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