1. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Epicness

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by seta, Sep 24, 2009.

    Here's something I've been wondering:

    In thinking about the more popular stories in history, such as "The Hobbit" and "Star Wars" (and others) there is a certain "epicness" to these stories.

    They are quintessential stories of Good vs. Evil where evil is usually personified by an unlikely villain.

    Granted, in some classics, such as "Things Fall Apart" there is no personified villain. The "epicness" I'm talking about is the unlikely hero and the ultimate villain - the journey or quest against all odds - and the tense final battle.

    Judging from most movies that are released today - I'd say that epicness is a big deal.

    Do novels with "epic" qualities sell better?
     
  2. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    The epicness tag is only granted after the fact. Its a title that comes only with hindsight.

    In my opinion, authors have enough to worry about without trying to infuse epicness into their work.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I agree with Dcoin.

    However, you CAN give an epic feel into your story as long as you make it sensible and it fits in nice and smoothly.
     
  4. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Epic is a buzzword, made popular after "huge" and "awesome" became deflated through over-use.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Yeah.

    But even that's becoming deflated.

    "Epicness!"
     
  6. Pallas
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    Pallas Contributing Member Contributor

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    I quite enjoy the original classic epics, and these stories themselves were written or rather spoken to rouse the imagination with a story of common heritage or origin, so if you can flesh out a world and characters as profound and stirring as the classic authors were passionate about, the epic quality is intuitively infused rather than having it actively be a goal, which might spoil an otherwise potentially good journey.
     
  7. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I was talking about "epic" as a genre. Like "sci-fi" or "drama". Not buzz-words or titles.

    Things Fall Apart, Atlas Shrugged and The Great Gatsby could never be considered epics.

    Of course, within fantasy/scifi you can have a "normal" story or you can have an epic. Do epics sell better?
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't see how "epic" can be considered a genre.

    Anyways, I took a look at the best-selling books of all time. A Tale of Two Cities is on that list, and I wouldn't consider that an epic. The Alchemist and The Catcher in the Rye are also on that list. So, I would say that novels need not have "epic qualities" in order to sell millions of copies.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as an adjective applied to novels, 'epic' usually denotes length, time frame and scope, as well as the nature of the conflict and the presence of a recognized 'hero'...

    thus, homer's 'iliad' and king's 'the stand' qualify, while 'gatsby' doesn't... and yes, rand's 'atlas shrugged' can also be considered 'epic' since it fits all those parameters...
     
  10. Sophronia
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    Sophronia Member

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    When I think of 'epic', I think of Lord of the Rings, and not just because of its story and length. The use of poetry, song, grammar, and syntax really caught my attention, and I have tried in some of my work by creating an artful flow of words, if that makes any sense :p

    Along with that, I think of themes that the story expresses: friendship, good vs. evil, etc. To me, 'epicness' isn't just about making a book huge, long, etc. It's the material found in the story, characters, and world that makes it epic.
     
  11. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    I don't think it necessarily sells better, just because it's not exactly needed for a great story. I'm reader the Middleman and Other Stories. I don't know if many are familiar with it, but it's great writing, but not 'Epic' as described here.
     
  12. SayWhatNow?
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    SayWhatNow? Senior Member

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    It's okay

    So long as it's not an epic....

    FAIL

    I'm sorry, I just couldn't help it.

    Seriously though, if you give a world depth and reality and scale, like Eragon, Lord Of The Rings, or Harry Potter, establish solidly and with much detail that the world you have created is as large, if not larger, than our own, than it will be an epic

    WIN

    :cool:
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    At amazon.com, Epic is a category under sci-fi fantasy. I'm not sure if they sell better, though.
     
  14. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, only the Queen of the Amazons knows the answer.

    We must gather what little supplies we have and venture forth into the lands unknown, and hopefully, after much slaying of dragons and spiteful glaring into the eyes of Death, with chins raised through power of friendship and character growth, we may stand to face the Queen of the Amazons, who--through her grace and wisdom--shall show us the light of truth.

    It will be...epic.
     
  15. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    From Wikipedia:

    1) "Heroic character"
    2) Personal villain
    3) Exceptional events (thus excluding something like The Great Gatsby)

    The Iliad would be classified as an epic.

    My point is that people seem like these archetypal stories where you've got one hero facing all odds to do something 'epic'.

    Do those types of stories sell better? They always seem to do better in Hollywood.
     
  16. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    They can be found among the best and among the worst stories ever written, just like non-epics can. I'd say that epicness in itself is no shortcut to success. A great and original story is.
     
  17. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    A great and original story is.

    The last time I asked "what makes a story great?" the thread got jacked by bible proponents and closed. So I guess I'm stuck in a loop of circular logic.
     
  18. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    lol,
    looks like it!
     
  19. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Seems to me that "a story of epic proportions" is most often said to be epic, for the obvious reason. So, basically a long story, broad in scope and probably involving some major global events.

    It's popular in fantasy. . and usually quite successful, most likely due to the fact that no publisher would push a series through to the tenth installment if it didn't sell.

    A better question might be, "how many 'epic' stories ever see the light of day?"
     
  20. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you're wasting your time if you're looking for a formula to writing a masterpiece. If it were that easy, the world would be swamped by masterpieces.

    In some cases it's luck, in other cases it's a strike of genious, and in most cases it's the result of half a lifetime of trying, but failing to hit the mark.

    It's been said many times that there's no sure way to success, and that goes for storywriting too. You'll have to find your own path, writing about things that inspire you--perhaps they'll eventually inspire you to greatness.
     
  21. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Epic is not a buzzword nor is it a genre, at least not in any kind of literary sense.

    There was, once upon a time long ago, a form of literature known as "epic poetry".

    The epic of Gilgamesh was one of these.

    The Odyssey was one of these.

    The Song of Roland or the Mahabarata or the Ramayana---are these:p


    That form of storytelling was not meant for readers per se, because for much of human history the avaerge man/woman was illiterate. Homer was not meant to be read, Homer was meant to be heard by speaking orrators or enjoyed by dramatic actors.

    The art form became idealized and perfected over the ages, but probably before the end of the mediterranean bronze age what we would call the epic tale (with heros and monsters and so on) was already defunct.


    The epic story, however, influences modern generations just as they did then. Many modern tales contain elements borrowed or shaped by or informed or enhanced or socially inherited from aspects of tales much older than us. Some stories that sound very familiar to us are from and found among "alien" cultures (it should come as no surprise that ancient Hebrews, mesopotamians, and Greeks all had tales of a great flood, all have heroes with "epic" strength - Samson, Gilgamesh had a solid bronze axe that weighed as much as a man, Herakles, etc). Even the tale of a forbidden fruit is found in cultures as different as ancient middle eastern and sub-saharan africa. Sub-saharan africa also has a version of a fire theft story, much like the Greek Prometheus.

    I already have my reason for why these myths are so prevalent among all human cultures, but that doesnt matter now. What is important is that why we like the epic tales is because they connect us to the past. I forget who it was that said Fairy Tales are true not because they tell us that monsters are real, but because they tell us how to defeat them. We hold certain truths to be self-evident, that the earth is flat and its corners are full of monsters. We all adore the mythic hero because he kills the monsters and makes us safe. Simple as that. Stories like Star Wars are probably so popular because they are analogous to any other myth preceding it. They have heros battling evil, they communicate with us, to a part of us small and childlike and that is still afraid of the dark.
     
  22. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I think everyone here is talking about two different things.

    What do you all take "epicness" to mean? What did you think I meant when I said "epic qualities"?
     
  23. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^I thought I explained myself fairly well:confused:
     
  24. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Yes you explained yourself very well - and I think you completely misunderstood my meaning. Your answer didn't seem to address my question in the slightest. Sorry.
     
  25. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    not necessarily, some writing that aspires to be epic appears very contrived, trite, and juvenile. Again, if all youre interested in is selling books it may not be the best approach. I find it interesting that people still try to write epic tales in an age past the era of heros and monsters. People still want epic stories. Epic is a kind of idealized art form with grand scales, pure virtued characters with absolute moralities, and villains with absolute evils. It is an artform from an old time and is largely obsolete, but it still persists to day in modern form (Dances with wolves is an epic tale with a heroic MC, evil Pawnee Indians and evil white man antagonists, and the noble "savage" redmen-all standard epic story stuff). The makers may or not make these stories 'epic" intentionally or consciously, it is a largely subconscious process. The Stone film "Alexander" is an epic tale by every standard. It takes place over at least one lifetime from Greece to India, with grand scale monuments in forgotten but familiar sounding cities like Babylon, and noble men all fighting to the death in pitched battles with thousands of men. Part of the "epicness" there lends itself to the tastes of the filmakers, the subject matter (even in the modern age people still glamorize war and violence, perhaps unfortunately), and the fact that many of the accounts of Alexander from Plutarch to Arrian to Theodore Dodge all idolize him and make him into something more than what he was, a hero. Even the MC narrating the story, Ptolemy I Soter as the Pharoah of Egypt recants how his legend grew and asks "did such a man as Alexander exist, of course not" meaning that they made a god out of a man. "all men, all men reach...and fall"

    if you are trying to cut and paste an epic tale for the wrong reasons it may be a recipe for disaster, if for the right reasons it may be a recipe for success (IMO opinion why the first Star Wars trilogy was much better than the newer one-Lucas' greed overwhelmed the altruism and purity of the story-blatant capitalism).

    People dont just want myths, they need them, they tell us not only that the monsters are real, but how to defeat them.

    I hope Ive managed to answer your question now, Im fairly certain Ive gone well out of my way to illustrate my opinions to you and if not Im sure you have your own...
     

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