First, I’d like to apologize for being late with this post. S was supposed to be up on Saturday, but life’s been a bit rocky for me lately. I’ll try to get the rest of the posts up on time. Too close to the end to give up now. Now, on to the actual post:
The scope of a story is what makes it epic. It’s larger than life — in stakes, in distance, in time. (Or in the number of characters or books, but that’s not necessary.) As a friend of mine said on my “G is for good vs. evil” post (over on my LJ, which my blog cross-posts to), there are epic stories that are not fantasy (or SF), such as North and South by John Jakes.
Stakes are a good choice for increasing the size of a story. Is the kingdom going to plunge into darkness? How about all of the Northern Kingdoms? Can the Dark Lord be overthrown? Will magic be brought back to the world? Can magic be banished? Patrick Rothfuss, when talking about Kvothe, said that stakes don’t have to be life and death — there are worse things you can do to a character than kill him. (This was in a Writing Excuses podcast, recorded at Worldcon in Reno last year.)
For the Song of Ice and Fire series, George R. R. Martin has used both stakes and scope to keep people’s attention. He showed early on that no one’s safe — death, destruction, disgrace, and more can be meted out to anyone. Scope is there, too, as the series takes place over quite a geographical distance and with multiple characters — including ones that the reader doesn’t like at first but learns to sympathize with when they become point-of-view characters. Good vs. evil? Nothing so simplistic, but definitely epic.
What sort of stakes do you like best when you’re reading? How do you increase the scope of the stories you write? Or do you prefer more intimate looks into a few people’s lives?
This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is epic fantasy, and blog posts will cover authors, books, tropes, themes, or anything else I can think of to fill the alphabet. Check out some of the other bloggers participating or follow my blog by e-mail if you like what you’ve read.