Chances are a lot of epics did not intend to be epics and instead took on a life of their own as the author realised that he/she needed more time and more scenes in order to complete the story.
The concept of writing an epic novel is daunting but it needn’t be. Some people will start by planning their entire series but personally I prefer to create the story as I go along, thinking ahead a little at a time. The only danger in doing this is that you can end up going nowhere or taking a wrong turning and then you have to go back and start off again. Having said that, this can be part of the fun and the main thing to think of when approaching an epic is to enjoy the process.
Advantages of Writing Epics
1. More time, more space, more everything.
2. Your writing is restrictions, larger world view.
3. You can take a long time before your protagonist reaches their goal (if they do).
1. Can lose direction of the plot.
2. Can become confusing if too many characters to follow (unless you’re George R.R.Martin who manages to pull this off nicely).
3. Takes longer to complete.
Each type of novel has its good points and bad points but writing epics can be a wonderful experience. You really get to put your time and energy into creating a whole host of characters, settings and situations and it’s not always as hard as you think to go back and change direction. I once deleted about twenty pages of a novel at the point in which I thought the story had gone in a bad direction. I started off again from that point and the story turned into something more than I ever imagined it would be. It’s easy to give up when you hit an obstacle but you can work it out if you keep at it, so don’t let that fear stop you from trying.
Also don’t forget that epics don’t have to be what you think of as the traditional fantasy epic. They can follow a closer group of characters or wander into other genres. Don’t hinder yourself too much with the concept of what your epic should be. Epic really just means a long story, often concerned with heroism, but the definitions have become fairly loose and there’s disagreements over what constitutes as an epic.
Even if your first few novels don’t work out or you don’t feel ready to publish them, you have learnt something valuable in the process and writing an epic or novel is a good writing challenge, one you can always look back on. The point is:
Don’t let fear hold you back!
- Bestselling authors explain how to put the “epic” in epic fantasy [Comic-con] (io9.com)
- Epic Monsters from Big Ball of No Fun (bigballofnofun.blogspot.com)
- In which I finally discuss at length my thoughts about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (michaeledwardkelly.com)
- Epic Win! (thebusystreet.com)
- Damned & Crusade: An Epic Urban Fantasy Series in the Making (underwordsblog.com)