|I'm scared, Sarge.|
Want to write in the fantasy genre but not certain to start. Here’s a primer for all the great, bold and beautiful things that a fantasy epic should—nay, MUST—include. Feel free to take notes. There may or may not be a test on this later.
Black Hats v. White Hats—One race or group is designated the Bad Guys and they’re all bad, no matter what. They’re all Orcs and they’re naturally just mean and evil and vile and bad. Really bad. There’s not one redeeming character who turns to the others and says, “Hey, guys. Instead of wasting all this effort on war and burning and pillage and such, why don’t we set up a social-balanced plan of welfare, infrastructure and healthcare?”
Evil Big Bad is Evil—You can’t just have an antagonist or two (or more). It can’t be folk that are basically just doing what the hero is doing, but who have a difference of opinion—albeit extreme—about how it should done. No, no, no. That will never do. The Big Bad has to be evil. So evil that you would say it was eee-vil, such that he is the fruit of the Deee-vil. If you must, throw in one or two redeeming characteristics or moments, just to humanize your Demon Overlord of All Black Leather Wearing Baddies. But not too much. We don’t want the audience to start to think maybe this guy has a point!
Women as eye-candy—After all, they have cleavage and other naughty bits, but really nothing going on upstairs, right? Women have never, ever, never historically picked up a sword, a shield a bow, or led troops in battle (except they’ve done all these things and better than you). They can’t hit, they can’t run, and they can’t catch. All they can do is cry, and there’s no crying in fantasy (or baseball).
|Hmmm . . . needs more Elvish Elves of Elfiness.|
Elves—The more the better. This should be self-evident. You cannot have enough elves. If you think you have too many elves, you don’t. Add more. No, more than that.
Super-Duper Weapons/Band of Brothers—You’ve got a hero, you’ve got a rag-tag band of plucky adventurers, and, to make them all personable, individual and give them “depth” they need weapons. Not just standard issued swords, spears and shields, but personalized, exotic, and strange weapons. These might have been forged from the black iron of a fallen comet, or rescued from an underground dungeon. But they’re all unique, all rare, all awesome ALL THE TIME.
The McGuffin of Doom—Alright, so you’ve got your armies lined up, you’ve got the scantily clad women out of the way, you’ve got your hero and his assault team of bad-ass MoFos, but still the Big Bad is the Big Bad, and simply slitting his throat isn’t very satisfying. Instead, how about the Big Bad can only be defeated once the McGuffin of Doom is destroyed, removed, or put into place? Bam! That kind of excitement writes itself. It can be anything too. Or nothing. Call it the One Ring or the Arkenstone or the Goblet of Fire—whatever! The more exotic the better!
Exotic naming of things—Standard things are boring, and your world is not standard. It’s Another World and it’s Not Like This World so the things in it shouldn’t be named the same. This goes for anything. Time keeping of months, days, hours, minutes and/or seconds should all be thrown out the window. Get rid of them in preference to the Third centron of the Holy reelan of Rice Crispy. Don’t call a sword a sword, make it a nerflon! That’s not a wagon, it’s a phfiliga fish!
Exotic naming of people—Shakespeare tells us that a rose by any other name would smell
just as sweet, and what’s in
a name anyhow? Well, everything. That’s why Shakespeare never wrote a seminal
fantasy, and we are! The names of your
characters, all of them, should be wholly and utterly unpronounceable. No one wants to read a story about Bob the
Bold. That sounds like a 24-hour
plumber. Instead, get some extra letters
and whatnot and let’s have Bhaehb. Or
better, yet, let’s throw some apostrophes in there with no regard to what they
mean in grammar—B’haeh*b is a much, much better fantasy name. You simply won’t be taken seriously as a
fantasy writer if all, most or any of your character names can be worked out
with ease and consistency.
|Awesome sword of awesomeness is awesome!|
It’s not the end, IT’S THE END—Once you’ve got everything else in place in your world, characters and things named and sorted, your cast in place, the McGuffin of Doom nestled warmly, and the Big Bad pillaging virgins and burning villages, you need to destroy your world. At least it is on the edge of total and complete annihilation for generations to come with no two stones left one atop the other and the ground salted for a thousand years. If the scale isn’t epic, if vast continents aren’t in political, social and geologic upheaval, if hope isn’t dangling from the merest of threads, then you’ve really failed as a writer.
Obviously, this list isn’t all-inclusive, but these are certainly the base items that you need to take into consideration as you work through your epic story of epicness. Keep your swords sharp, your heroes witty, and your battles fierce but ultimately toothless with no heroes truly in danger except that one dude in the Red Shirt.