Thursday, January 29, 2015

Epic Writing

How big are our novels supposed to be?  Has anyone ever written what might be called an Epic?

I ask because I'm currently in the process of writing my largest novel ever.  Once complete, I expect it to be around 240,000 words.  Yes, that sounds like a lot, but it's easily digestible when broken into bite sized chunks.

What I'm writing is the prequel to Homecoming.  That novel detailed humanity returning to Earth after millennia away to reclaim our world, while this new novel details why we left in the first place.  More specifically, it details the account of David Morton, the man credited in Homecoming with saving the human race.

The book is essentially three stories - the initial alien invasion, the escape from Earth by those surviving, and our establishment of a new world.  So why then don't I just write each act as a separate book?  After all, each one will be about 80,000 words on its own, so why not release each on its own?

That's certainly doable, but I'd rather the reader get the entire story at once.  If readers decide to only read an act at a time and come back to the rest later, that's their business.  However, I would personally find it maddening to read an interesting story and have to wait to find out its continuance, or to purchase those pieces separately.  By getting it all at once, you can enjoy it for one price...and that price won't be any greater than my other releases.

I like stories that try to tell epic tales that span entire lifetimes.  I think it can be satisfying to see how a set of events affects history, and this book will do that for the fictional history laid out.  All three acts will cover about 75 years, and the reader should know exactly what led into Homecoming once he or she is done.

Aren't we always holding up epics as...well...epic?  From Lord of the Rings to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to The Stand, don't we see these works as tales that stay with us like old companions?  No, I'm not saying I'm the equal of Stephen King, CS Lewis, or JRR Tolkien, but aren't their works the ones we say we all want?  Why not try and extend yourself into an area previously unexplored, and stay there until you've produced something you've always wanted?

I think readers will stick with you so long as you're telling them a good story, but despite repeated claims about audience attention span, I think good stories can go beyond a thin paperback.  If nothing else, it'll be fun to write.

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