Hello, dear reader. In my last post, I wrote a fantasy blurb by breaking down the individual components of best-selling blurbs in the genre, then used those pieces to create my own. The result was very well received. I posted my blurb to a group that specialized in blurb feedback, and other than a few minor edits, most said it was well-written. One person even said they write blurbs for a living, and mine was very good.
That gave me the confidence to take that analytical approach to the next level.
You see, I want to break into epic fantasy. I’ve written two series now, both of which are part epic fantasy, part YA fantasy. But I think my heart is more with the epic side of things than the YA side of things. There are tropes involved in many YA books that do not come naturally to me. For example, I like having romance in my books, but only as a small side plot. Romance is never a huge part of what I write. The reason I started with YA is because I could get away with shorter books, and it was a good way to start my work as an author, but I’m ready to move on to bigger things.
Additionally, I’m currently the creative director of an Arthurian Shared Universe, and while my first series in that universe is YA, future series that I write will be epic fantasy. Therefore, I need to learn a bit more about writing good epic fantasy for a more adult audience. But I don’t just want to dive in and assume I know what I’m doing, even though epic fantasy is a large portion of what I read.
Studying the Market
It’s no secret that I support writing to market, and so in order to really learn how to become the best epic fantasy writer out there, I feel the need to really study the market. And not just any books on the market. I want to study the best. These are books that don’t just make the bestseller list, they have to STAY on the bestseller list for a while, or come from authors who are largely considered the best at their genre, authors like Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss. I’m also looking for a blend of traditionally published and indie published books. Furthermore, I’m also looking for a blend of books that I’ve read, and new books that I can experience for the first time. And because I’m writing to modern audiences the books should have been released within the last 10-15 years or so.
I’ve been watching Amazon’s bestsellers for a while, and there are several that almost never seem to leave the list. There are many books that I could study, but for now, here are the few that I plan to start with:
- Free the Darkness, by Kel Kade
- Storm Glass, by Jeff Wheeler
- Fatemarked, by David Estes
- Dawn of Wonder, by Jonathan Renshaw
- Mistborn: The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson
- The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
The Analysis Process
So what am I going to do with these books? Well, it’s going to be a long process. I want you to imagine that each scene in these books is a single room in a large mansion. I want to outline the blueprint of each book, with every one of its “rooms” to see how these books are the same and how they are different. My theory is that as I do this, I will begin to see trends between each book, and at the end I will be able to create a near-universal template for an epic fantasy novel.
With each book, I’m going to be listing each scene, and marking down the following for each.
- What is the core structure of the scene (i.e. man meets woman, protagonist fights antagonist, etc.)
- What does this scene do at its core level to further plot, character, and/or setting?
- How does this scene make me feel?
This will be very similar to the way I broke down each sentence of the blurbs that I analyzed. But this time I will be doing it scene by scene. It will be a lot of work, but when I’m finished, here is what I expect to have as a result:
- A scene-by-scene template for a really awesome epic fantasy book. This wouldn’t be copying other epic fantasies, but would be boiling them down to their core essences and producing an outline that could be used for countless epic fantasy books.
- Enough material to write a book about writing epic fantasy.
- An actual book written with this template (likely part of my Arthurian shared universe).
- A deeper appreciation for the awesome books out there.
I hope you will follow along with me as I start this process of thorough analysis and study of some of the best books in my favorite genre. If all works out, I hope do apply this same process to other genres in the future.
Additionally, I will be documenting my process here, step by step, beginning with the scenes from Free the Darkness, by Kel Kade. Check back for more!