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What is Epic/High Fantasy? Why combine the two words?
Most consider them interchangeable and web searches to define them come up with pages that use one or the other first but refer to both as the same thing.
Epic/High Fantasy is a subgenre often set in invented or parallel worlds where the heroes have an adventure of epic proportions. Is often linked to sword and sorcery, though not all sword and sorcery is epic/high fantasy. There are usually different species along with humans that have enough humanity to them that they will work as a character, though an all human cast is possible. High fantasy can be in reference to the type of story, setting or the characters while Epic means the story is... Epic.
Don't often see first person in epic fantasy, at least not as often as some of the other subgenres like Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. And it's possible to have more than 2 main characters, although they will all have different degrees of importance. While this may be offputting for some, it also allows for people to root for different characters and read about them for long enough sections of book to keep that interest (and not just the love triangle, which one will the MC pick type of rooting for a character).
Also, because the story lines are epic, books in this subgenre are often series. This is good and bad in a few different ways. Series are popular right now, maybe not epic fantasy but still, because people enjoy following the character they grow to love through more than one book. If the story is really epic then it would be one really long long book (even more so than they already are. Scary huh?). Series allows for reasonable page counts per book. But sometimes the series last a little too long. Even I'll admit 15 books in a single series is a bit much.
There can be problems with the genre. Too many books for a single series is one of them, which can lead to another problem. Formulaic writing. While having a template for novels can work for some veteran writers, it can be hard to keep an epic series going without falling into some type of pattern that some readers may not appreciate. Epic/high fantasy is a subgenre with a strong past making some believe that innovation is unnecessary because what works has already been determined. But there is still room for originality in new novels, which I hope occurs because when I'm not doing research reading in other subgenres I want to read new epic/high fantasy.
Instead of listing books to read for this genre (just look up epic or high fantasy in google, amazon or barnes and noble), I think it will be fun to post the "formula" that is used on a few different web sites to showcase how originality is needed even in epic/high fantasy. I got the so called formula from Will Kalif, posted on http://searchwarp.com/swa62707.htm.
"The formula for success:
Create a bunch of interesting non human characters like orcs, dragons, elves or dwarves of course your hero should be human or nearly human
Put them in a fantastical world filled with magic and secret places
Open up your novel with something exciting to get the reader hooked
Keep the action moving - insert a series of small obstacles that need to be overcome
foreshadow something really big that will happen (won't happen in this novel though -if it ever happens at all)
Come up with two big things that will happen and when they are resolved they cancel each other out so the plot hasn't advanced at all
Make a big lead up to the next novel (promise the moon)
Repeat steps 3-7 in the next novel
Before you follow this formula (Which is guaranteed to make you a wealthy and successful novelist in less than 30 days) why don’t you stop and think about why you want to write epic fantasy."
Notice how a couple of them are general writing rules (like start the novel with a hook and keep the action moving cause doing nothing for long books is boring)? If not, you have now.
Now I'll admit something. Someone may wonder, if Epic/High fantasy is my favorite to read why am I not writing in it? I'm a little intimidated. I have an idea for a series (not 10 or more books, I promise) and it was one of the first ideas I've had for a novel. Started out historical fiction, so yeah, it has evolved but the story hasn't changed in the last five years. While I have the idea, I'm just not sure if my skills are up to par with writing an epic/high fantasy, though it is my goal to one day write a novel with elves and mages in it. Plus, I have all those other pesky novels that I've chosen to write first (though in some way the mutant series can be viewed as epic in the grande scope of it all). So, I hope to write epic/high fantasy in the future.
What about you? Do you read epic/high fantasy?
Anyone write it?