marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

philosophizing on the epic form

Which, in certain respects, a story I'm working on is not.  I blame C. S. Lewis, with his observations on the form in A Preface to Paradise Lost -- that its modern meaning derives from Virgil, not Homer, because Virgil was the one who made it a matter of world-shaking events.

Which is where epic fantasy picks it up.  Lord of The Rings certainly deals with world-shaking events; win or lose, nothing was going to be the same after the war.

So I noodle with the notion of a story set in a fortress that is holding off evils from beyond, and it starts long after the fortress was founded, and all the legal preogatives set up -- only one character from that era even gets mentioned -- and nothing from the entire story even hints that it will ever end.

Except, of course, by failure.  So in another sense it is dealing with world-shaking events.  Every serious challenge, if failed, will bring ruin and disaster.  It's like a ladder, or a bridge -- if one rung, or one part of the span, is missing or untrustworthy, the whole thing is a failure.  (Scribbles down the metaphor for use in the story.  The bridge, probably; they do have ladders, but the bridge is more what they would be thinking.)

To be sure, the story does not revolve about these events, but about a character who ends up at the fortress and what happens thereafter.  The important ones for the story are those that affect her.  Because even extremely high stakes are not a story if they don't produce change, and she's what's changing in this story.
Tags: always evil, character arc, genre, metaphor

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