Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Why I'll Never Write Epic Fantasy

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

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?



  1. I do read epic fantasy and write it too. Some are slower than others, but I've found some faster reads, like Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. When I write it, I always have to go back and add more descriptions and such, but I try not to let the pace slow down too much. I hope. Heh.

    1. I found Mistborn to be a slow read at times. Lots of lots of discussion between characters, lots of time for character reflection, many events that could have been compressed in the telling. Again, I'm not complaining, but there's no way I'd be able to write anything like that without the story being a lot shorter and more concise.

  2. I'm an epic fantasy reader and writer, but I appreciate the shorter books as well. That's one reason why I write the Cera Chronicles as well, knowing some people want it fast and snippy.

  3. I've read some epic fantasy, but like you, I prefer a faster pace. (I skimmed probably a quarter of Lord of the Rings.) I also write faster with little detail - and also have to go back and add some description.

  4. I used to read epic fantasy, but not so much now. It feels like so much of a time investment since many series go on for quite a while. I get bored too quickly for that. I did enjoy Greg Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series though.

    One of the writers in my weekly critique group is doing an epic fantasy and it's actually really well done. Not too slow, just very wordy. Which for that genre is somewhat more forgivable than in others.

  5. I like reading epic fantasy and I like writing fantasy, but epic fantasy writing tends to frustrate me. Not sure I would write but I will not say never. I'm a slow writer too.

  6. I don't read epic fantasy. I play it. I guess it's one of those things I'd rather role play.

  7. Just throwing this out there, but maybe there's an untapped audience out there for faster paced epic fantasy. I don't really know the genre that well, so I can't say for sure. I just think sometimes when everyone is doing things the same way, that creates an opportunity for someone to come along and do it differently.

  8. I love epic fantasy. I also write it but with no where near the success as I've had writing other stuff. The longer the book and series, the better.

  9. I've actually have forced myself to slow down and add details--character tags, more description and more inner thoughts. At first it was 'everyone will hate this', but when I went through the work again, I found depth it never had before.

    Anna from elements of emaginette