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How to Write an Epic Fantasy Novel – A No Nonsense Guide to getting the job done

Here are some simple yet amazingly effective steps that will insure you start and finish your epic fantasy novel. You just need to understand what epic fantasy really is and why you want to write it.


The key to writing a real epic fantasy novel lies in the word “epic”. But this doesn’t just mean big in scale, scope, and size. An epic fantasy novel doesn’t have to be a thousand page doorstopper. It has to be epic in its ambitious reach for finding answers to the big questions in life. This is the true and hidden goal of epic fantasy. It is a vehicle for understanding what life is about. And even though the story may have dragons, and take place on an unbelievable world that doesn’t really exist it needs to be applicable to the human condition.

So this is the first thing you have to do when writing an epic fantasy novel. Decide what you want to say about life or what important topic you want to explore. Write this down and keep it in mind throughout your whole novel writing experience. And remember that you don’t have to come right out and explain your theme. It is usually better, and more rewarding for the reader, if you reveal the theme slowly and allow him or her to discover it.

Some common themes you may want to explore in epic fantasy include the examination of the nature of good and evil, the ultimate meaning of life, the quest to understand oneself, or the challenge of making the transition from childhood to adulthood.

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



Writing a book can be joyous, yet hard work, and you may need some motivation to get you through the whole task and here is all the motivation you will need. Write your theme down on a big piece of paper and pin it to the wall near your computer. Start it out like this: “My novel is all about: ”. Then put in your theme or themes. Here is an example: “My novel is all about how adversity is the most important thing in life. It is through adversity that we each become a better person. Gold comes out of the ground dirty and ugly. It is by going through the fire that it is purified and made beautiful. And I am going to put my main character through the fire!” Whenever writing becomes difficult for you this will be a source of inspiration because you have something to say and your novel is how you are going to say it. The world truly deserves to hear your perspective on the big questions in life.

When doing the actual writing of the prose of the novel I recommend you set yourself a very distinct goal. This is imperative and the goal I recommend you set is that you will write part of the story every single day until it is done. It is even ok if you just write one sentence or even if you write a whole passage that you know you are going to delete tomorrow. The important thing is that you write every day.

I don’t recommend you set goals that are pinned to dates or word counts. Dates can be tricky because a novel is a fluid thing. Your novel could end up being fifty thousand words or two hundred thousand words. This is because you are exploring a theme and more ideas and angles are going to come to you as progress. And I don’t recommend pinning a daily or weekly word count to your writing because writing is a creative process and you could end up with just a lot of filler. Simply set yourself the goal of sitting down and writing every day. This will keep the writing going, keep the story moving, and insure your improvement. At some point in the middle of the novel you are going to look back and realize that you are in a routine and everything is flowing quite smoothly.

I have two final bits of advice for you when it comes to writing your epic fantasy novel. First off I recommend you keep a spiral bound notebook for ancillary information and notes. This is where you keep ideas, plot lines, character names, places and all your ancillary information organized. As your novel, and the world it portrays grows, you will need to manage a lot of information and over the course of months or even a year or more of writing you are going to forget things. But a reader could potentially go through your novel in just a few hours. He or she is going to see logical flaws. Write down the details in a spiral bound notebook and refer to it often.

The last bit of advice I have for you is that you should never rely on the fantasy aspect of your world as an escape route. What I mean is that there is nothing worse than watching the main character of a novel getting out of a tricky spot by whipping out a super-duper magical spell that the reader never even knew about. Make sure there are rules in your world and make sure your characters follow them. You are drawing parallels to real life and in real life there are tangible rules to everything. So create rules in your world and follow them.

An epic fantasy novel is an exploration of the big questions in life. You have a very valuable point of view about these big questions and there is an audience out there that is very willing to listen. Write yourself a clear statement of what you want to say and then write toward that goal every day. Before long you will have a written work that you will be proud of and that will enrich other peoples lives by shedding light on the human condition.


I have lots more articles on writing fantasy here


Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story

Completely revised and rewritten to address the challenges and opportunities of the modern era, this handbook is a short, deceptively simple guide to the craft of writing. Le Guin lays out ten chapters that address the most fundamental components of narrative, from the sound of language to sentence construction to point of view. Each chapter combines illustrative examples from the global canon with Le Guin's own witty commentary and an exercise that the writer can do solo or in a group. She also offers a comprehensive guide to working in writing groups, both actual and online.  Masterly and concise, Steering the Craft deserves a place on every writer's shelf.