How to Write an Epic

Friday, September 10

At one point or another, we've all wanted to write something epic. One that encompasses the struggle between light and darkness, tells of a hero who saves the world, and makes people read them over and over again.
Luckily, there's a template for that. All epics (Lord of the Rings, The Odyssey, Les Miserables) share key elements.

The Hero
Most heroes fall into the same archetype. He/She;
  • Performs feats (Frodo gets the ring to Mordor.)
  • Is essentially noble (Frodo's unselfish.)
  • Leaves behind temptations (He leaves behind the Shire and the enticings of the ring.)
  • Is committed to heroic role (He volunteers to take the ring to Mordor.)
  • Has a difficult goal; They suffer dangers and agonies (Frodo must destroy the ring in the center of the villain's territory. He is slowly being poisoned by the ring.)
  • Acts alone/with very few people (Frodo tries to do it himself but is joined by Sam. These two hobbits are a small force in comparison to the other seven members of the fellowship.)
  • Has something in common with ordinary people (Frodo is a simple hobbit with no training.)
  • Functions as a role model (What we learn from Frodo; grit your teeth and do it.)
  • Reassures the audience of potential ("Even the smallest person can change the course of the future".)
The Hero's Journey
  • They are of obscure origin, free to move, or are detached from petty concerns (No mortgage, bills, or family)
  • They are called upon to make a journey (The calling doesn't have to be subtle. The villain holding them at gunpoint is calling enough.)
  • They realize that they are not invincible (The hero must stand to lose something.)
  • They have a goal (Epic or not, a goal should be present in the story.)
  • Their way is uncertain and unclear.
  • They meet guides (servants, friends, or oracles provide them with information or assistance.)
  • They are tempted.
  • They leave their familar world.
  • They descend into darkness.
Descent into Darkness
This is the ultimate test. This is the point when Frodo gives in to the ring, Oddyseus journeys to the underworld, and Jean Valjean must decide whether to let Marius die.
It can be either literal or figurative. In a literal sense, the character must journey somewhere hellish. Figuratively, they become evil or have inward turmoil. (Kudos to Frodo for doing both.)
Their suffering renews the vigor of society and cleanses them of their own sins.

After Descent
They change as a result. They discover something better than their original goal. In other words, they grow up.
But the hero must not escape unscathed. They sufffer a wound, such as Frodo's bitten-off finger or Jean Valjean's loss of Cosette.

13 comment(s):

Akshay Arun Friday, November 28, 2014  

Amazing post!
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Fernweh-Kind Saturday, December 27, 2014  

I am so glad I found this blog!
- A passionate Writer

t74droid Thursday, January 01, 2015  

Thats very interesting, try to get it to another level! Get help from the experts from essay site

uk dissertation Friday, December 16, 2016  

A writer must be very well knowledgeable when it comes in writing an epic. Just like writing an essay it needs, passion and inspiration to come up with a beautiful outcome.Epic is always a good example of a story for a reading material to believe by readers.

Neil Jakson Tuesday, March 28, 2017  

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Steven Frayne Thursday, August 10, 2017  

Thanks a lot for sharing it, that’s truly has added a lot to our knowledge about this topic. Have a more successful day.
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BK Sunday, August 20, 2017  

Very helpful. Interesting, I note in most cases only fantasy tends to be associated with 'epic' work (at least when you do a Google search on the topic). Nothing wrong with that, I'm just not much of a fantasy reader. Glad you mentioned Les Miserables. I have never read it, but I shall.

Jo B Creative Wednesday, November 01, 2017  


I'm Jo and I’ve been writing a humongous novel - its in five parts - forever, on and off, particularly during young parenthood and depression, to help keep me sane.

Alias Jeannie Delaney is the life story of a devastating cowgirl who’s the fastest gun in the west and also bisexual. Since my complete recovery from thirty years of depression I've decided it’s time to get it out there, and my husband, a brilliant critic, is helping me work through it. I'm blogging on its progress in my creative mental health blog, Creating My Odyssey, which is chronicling the rebuild of my creativity.

Thank you so much for reading.

Facebook Jo Bennett
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mayazoe Friday, April 13, 2018  

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