Quote picture thingy! Okay, that’s not what this post is about, but I’m including one anyway. As some of you know, I currently have an Epic Fantasy book in the works, and let me tell you, it is a bear. I’m not an organized person, and I don’t do much planning before I write. Usually I think of things as I go along, then have to go and change all of the stuff I wrote in the beginning to make everything match up. This method does not work well for Epic Fantasy. I’ve learned A LOT about what not to do, so I’m going to share my list to save all of you other writers out there a load of agony and frustration.
1) Timeline. This is something I learned quite recently: make a gosh darn timeline. I am currently going back over a 75K book because I made a timeline error and now I have to change everything to match it. Basically, if I had made a timeline of general historic events in my made-up world, I would have saved myself roughly eight hours of work. MAKE A TIMELINE.
2) Character Sheets. This is something I actually did…but I just didn’t do it good enough. I took big ol’ pieces of paper and made a sheet for each character with things like appearance, background, motive, and heck, I even gave them astrological signs with a list of personality traits. You know what? It wasn’t good enough. The thing to do is make these character sheets, then add to them constantly. Have them near you whenever you’re writing so that each time you add an interesting fact to your book, you can write it down.
3) Make a Map. Most Epic Fantasy books include at least a little bit of travel. Mine includes A LOT of travel. Make a map as you go along. You may think that a city could be 30 miles (or whatever distance measurement your world uses) or so East from that enchanted forest, but I’ve got news for you. It can’t. Now you’ve put a city in the middle of a lake. You drowned 400 people. Good job.
4) Religion. I’m not saying make up an entire religion, but you’d be surprised how much religion comes into day to day speech. Go to Hell. Thank Heavens. May the horned one take you. In the name of all that is holy….You’ll find that religion comes into things a lot, especially if your character is really scared, or really pissed off. Even if they’re not religious at all, they still might want to tell someone to go to Hell, or Hades, or some other torturous underworld. I found myself struggling to have people curse at each other in a consistent manner.
5) Speaking of Curse Words… I highly suggest making up some slang, or if you’ve got more of a medieval fantasy going on, look up common slang and curses from that time period. Having a list of terms that people can use when someone is being: silly, mean, cranky, drunk, ditzy, arrogant, and so on will save you a lot of google interruptions as you try to make up terms as you write them.
And that’s it. That’s absolutely everything you need to know to write Epic Fantasy….or not. I’m sure I’ll add 20 more things to this list before the book is done. These are just the mistakes I made so far. Learn from my mistakes and the bald patch on my head where this book made me pull out all of my hair.