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Good evening, afternoon, or whatever time it happens to be there, ladies and gents! I happen to be Andy, who happens to be a freelance web designer, musician, writer, and whatnot.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Examination of Epic, Part II

Part I

So, now I really ought to be getting back to that quite-promised post about the topic known as "epic"...well, at least, the second part of the post. The funny thing is, after such a long time delay, a lot of new topics have come to mind about epicness and the like. So, this is basically going to be the "tying up lost ends" post, with perhaps an example at the very end. With that said, let's go!

A Time for Heroics...
Last time around, I promised I'd address the question of timing. Well, here it is. Timing, in terms of the "epic" factor, is an incredibly important criterion to keep in line. If you go epic all the time, well...you risk not being nearly as epic as you want to. If you don't go epic at the right times, you lose a good bit of oomph. By the way, "oomph" is a highly technical term used frequently in the fields of mythological study.

First off, I'd like all of you readers (roughly three, by my subscriber count, plus any incidentals) to check out the following lovely little picture. It's the classic "tension graph" that's been used to teach the idea of dramatic tension in any story. This is the rough pattern that people have identified tends to work well for any story, and also for story arcs within the main plot. I'll talk briefly about the elements you can see in this design, which my English professor refers to, affectionately, as the upside-down checkmark. It marks the rise and fall of dramatic tension, and points out some important things.

Ebb and Flow
The path begins with the setting and characters, moves on to introduce a problem, a conflict, which develops into a crisis through the rising action, all coming to a head at the climax, the dramatic height of the story. In case you haven't guessed it, most epicness falls at the climax of a story arc. TV Shows push this even farther towards the end by eliminating the resolution at the end, having it happen at the beginning of the next season, so that they can have the climax be the season finale. This points to a far more important point, though.

The climax happens as a result and culmination of everything that's been building up to it. Pretty much everything in the story has been crafted to work into the climax, whether that be by plot significance, or simply by making the characters want to succeed against their enemies even more. Going into a climax, you should be bringing along all of the baggage from the very beginning of the story arc. Then, when the time is right, everything goes down. All of the investment, the hopes, the fears, the worries, the power...it all comes down to this. And things go epic.

Denoument
That's pretty much all I have to say for the moment. Don't forget, story arcs can intersect with the main arc at many points. So sure, maybe the main plot isn't at the climax yet, but maybe your character's personal story arc of tracking down a personal villain is about to climax. In which case it is probably time to unleash some epic. Don't forget: time it right, and have a reason for it. With that said, then, I'm running out of time at the moment, but I did want to get a post out in time. So, until next time...

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