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I write fantasy. Someday I might try writing science fiction, too. But the one genre I know I’ll never try writing is epic fantasy. I enjoy reading it, but as a writer, keeping track of multiple storylines just isn’t my idea of fun. Not to mention the fact that epic fantasies tend to run on the long side, and being the glacially slow writer that I am, my kids would probably be ready for retirement before I’d finish even one of them.
But the biggest reason comes down to pacing. I’m very much a “just give me the facts, ma’am” kind of writer, unwilling to spend any more time than necessary describing what happens in a scene. I have to force myself to go back through my chapters (usually at the suggestion of my critique partners) and add descriptions or other details that I should have added the first time around.
But epic fantasies typically move along at a much slower pace, with plenty of time devoted toward descriptions, or world-building details, or allowing the characters to take their own sweet time making what I often consider no-brainer decisions. In fact, I’ll admit to skimming over some of the slower sections, waiting for the story to pick up again.
Why do I bring this up now? Turns out I’ve recently begun reading Michael Wallace’s Red Sword epic fantasy series. My first introduction to Michael’s books were through his Starship Blackbeard space opera series. Those stories were fun, fast, and full of action, with just enough detail to keep me grounded in his worlds. Just the way I like it. But when he switched to writing his epic fantasy, the pacing slowed so dramatically, I almost didn’t believe it was the same author.
Now I’m not complaining. His books are well written, but up until now, I always assumed epic fantasies were slow paced because the writers who wrote epic fantasies naturally wrote slow paced stories. Now I realize the slow pacing is a deliberate choice, made because fans of that genre have come to expect it.
And that’s the biggest reason I’ll never write epic fantasy. I’d never be able to write with that kind of pacing, at least not without putting my readers to sleep.
How about you? Do any of you read epic fantasy? What's your opinion on their pacing?