Thursday, June 5, 2014

Three Types of Epic Fantasy Plots

I struggled with finding the proper title for this post.  I'm not going to talk today about the hero's journey, or relationship plots, or time bomb plots, or anything like that.  This post is about plot in a "less mechanical" sense, so to speak.  While there are probably several epic fantasy plot types I'm overlooking in this post, today I shall be covering briefly: heist plots, political intrigue plots, and war plots.

Heist plots involve thieves, a common staple in fantasy.  Often the way the plot unfolds is that the reader learns more and more about the plan the characters have to pull off their big ransacking spree over time as the characters work toward putting that plan into place.  You can use points-on-a-map plotting, a romance plot, or a bunch of other types of plots in order to make the story more complex and really move it forward.  Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy is a great example of the heist plot.

Political intrigue plots involve social factors and politics to the extreme.  They are very reliant on the strength of the characters in order to intrigue readers as much as the characters are intrigued.  When done right, political intrigue plots can be enthralling.  The Sarene chapters in Sanderson's Elantris utilize the political intrigue plot type.

War plots involve...drum roll please...war!  This is one of the most open plot types in all of epic fantasy, so you'll probably need to use travelogue, monomyth, or time bomb plotting methods as well.  Sanderson's The Way of Kings features a war plot.

Again, these are three general types of epic fantasy plots.  They can (and probably should) run concurrent with some of the "more mechanical" plots, as mentioned throughout this post.  If I missed any major epic fantasy plot types, please leave a comment and I may dedicate next week's writing post to those.


  1. Of these three, I must admit I'm most intrigued by political intrigue plots. (sorry for the wordplay.) It's probably the most difficult to write of the three too. I'd have to hand that trophy to GRRM.

    1. I've yet to read Martin, but I'll keep that in mind when I do. It's nice to see you here again. It's been awhile.