Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Problems With Epic

I like to write grandiose stories that affect the big picture.  Whether it's a vampire story about the fate of civilization, or a political and military thriller about the schism in the United States, or a story about a guy trying to kill God Himself, my stories tend to be about the overall fate of the world.  They're throwbacks to the movies I've always enjoyed, where the hero has to overcome incredible odds or everyone is DOOMED DOOMED DOOMED!

There are a couple of problems with doing this, though.  The first, and most obvious, is that such stories rarely leave room for future novels in that universe.  When you have an epic, the-entire-fate-of-the-human-race story, it gets hard to top it in such a way that the audience wants to stick around.  After all, who's really interested in climbing Pike's Peak after you've scaled Mount Everest.  Don't get me wrong - I've found a few ways to keep them going, but the paths are limited.  It reminds me of comic books where the villains have to keep getting more and more sinister so that the heroes still have something to do, even after beating the bid-bad world ender.  Authors, of course, hope that the audience doesn't collectively yawn in response.

The second is that there are only so many ways for a world to be in jeopardy.  There are countless ways to tell a monster story or a princess rescue story, but how many ways can truly affect everything?  It's one thing to strive to overthrow a military despot, but it's quite another to confront God and change the fate of Creation.  One of my worries is that I'll eventually run out of ways to do this.

Sure, that's not a problem at the moment, and I could always devolve back into more narrow stories, but how would the audience react(see problem #1)?  Stephen King has found ways to slip back and forth(going from The Shining to Salem's Lot, and then back to 11/22/63 are examples), so maybe there's hope.  And I know that running out of epic stories to tell is a bit like saying there aren't enough $100 bills for my wallet, but it still presents challenge.  Let's just hope that challenge is...well...epic.

No comments:

Post a Comment