Four Steps Students Must Take to Join Epic

by Jocelyn Alma

Epic poetry is a grand literary form, often encompassing vast narratives, legendary heroes, and cosmic battles. For students, joining the epic tradition can be a rewarding endeavor, offering a platform to explore creativity, history, and the human condition. This article will guide students through the process of becoming part of the epic tradition, from understanding its roots to crafting their own narratives.

See Also: The Vast World of Epics: A Journey Through History and Cultures

Understanding the Epic Tradition

Epic Poetry: A Historical Overview

Epic poetry has a rich and varied history. It began with ancient oral traditions, where bards and storytellers recited long tales of gods and heroes. Notable examples include “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” by Homer, and “The Aeneid” by Virgil. These works set the foundation for what an epic should be: grand in scope, serious in tone, and centered around a heroic figure.

Characteristics of Epic Poetry

To join the epic tradition, students must understand its key characteristics:

Heroic Protagonists: Epics typically feature a larger-than-life hero who embodies the values of their culture.

Vast Settings: The action takes place on a grand scale, often spanning nations, worlds, or even universes.

Supernatural Elements: Gods, monsters, and other supernatural entities often play crucial roles.

Formal Style: The language is elevated and often employs literary devices like similes, metaphors, and epithets.

Narrative Structure: Epics follow a clear narrative arc, with a defined beginning, middle, and end, often incorporating a journey or quest.

Inspiration from Classical Epics

Students should read and analyze classical epics. Understanding the structure, themes, and styles of these works provides a solid foundation for creating original epics. Some recommended readings include Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey”, Virgil’s “The Aeneid”, Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”, John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and Modern Interpretations of Epic Poetry

While classical epics are invaluable, modern interpretations can also inspire students. Contemporary works, such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire,” adapt epic conventions to modern storytelling. These examples show that epic poetry can evolve and remain relevant.

Crafting Your Own Epic

Choosing Your Hero

Every epic needs a central hero. This character should be compelling and embody qualities such as bravery, wisdom, and determination. Consider:

Background: What is their origin? What motivates them?

Strengths and Flaws: What makes them heroic? What challenges must they overcome?

Journey: What is their quest? What are their goals?

Creating the Setting

The setting of an epic is as important as its hero. It should be vast and detailed, providing a rich backdrop for the hero’s journey. Think about:

Geography: Mountains, rivers, oceans, and cities. Each location should contribute to the story.

Cultures: The beliefs, customs, and societies that inhabit the world.

History: Events that shaped the world and influence the current narrative.

Developing the Plot

An epic plot is complex and multifaceted. It typically includes:

The Call to Adventure: The hero receives a challenge or mission.

Trials and Tribulations: The hero faces obstacles and enemies.

The Climax: A decisive battle or event that determines the outcome.

The Return: The hero comes back transformed, often bringing change to their world.

Incorporating Supernatural Elements

Supernatural elements add depth and excitement to an epic. Consider including:

Deities and Spirits: Gods and otherworldly beings who guide or hinder the hero.

Mythical Creatures: Dragons, giants, and other fantastical beings that populate the world.

Magic and Prophecies: Enchantments and foretold events that shape the narrative.

Writing Style and Techniques

Epic poetry demands a formal and elevated style. Use literary devices to enhance your writing:

Epithets: Descriptive phrases that characterize people or things (e.g., “swift-footed Achilles”).

Similes and Metaphors: Comparisons that enrich the imagery.

Repetition: Reinforces key themes and elements.

Invocation of the Muse: A traditional way to begin an epic, calling upon inspiration.

Joining the Epic Community

Writing Groups and Workshops

Joining a writing group or workshop can provide valuable feedback and support. Look for local or online groups that focus on poetry or fantasy writing. Collaboration and critique are essential for improving your work.

Publishing Your Epic

Once your epic is complete, consider publishing it. There are several avenues:

Literary Magazines and Journals: Many accept poetry submissions, including epic narratives.

Self-Publishing: Platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing allow you to publish your work independently.

Traditional Publishing: Submit your manuscript to publishers that specialize in poetry or fantasy.

Participating in Competitions

Competitions can offer recognition and motivation. Look for poetry contests or writing challenges that welcome epic poetry. Winning or placing can boost your confidence and exposure.

Connecting with Other Poets

Building a network of fellow poets can provide inspiration and opportunities. Attend poetry readings, join online forums, and engage with social media communities focused on poetry and epic literature.

Tips for Success

Read Widely and Deeply

Immerse yourself in both classical and contemporary epics. Analyze their structure, themes, and styles. This will help you understand the conventions and how to innovate within them.

Practice Regularly

Writing an epic is a marathon, not a sprint. Set aside regular time for writing and revision. Consistency is key to developing your skills and completing your project.

Seek Feedback

Share your work with trusted friends, mentors, or writing groups. Constructive criticism is invaluable for improvement. Be open to suggestions and willing to make changes.

Stay Persistent

Writing an epic can be challenging and time-consuming. Stay motivated by setting small goals and celebrating your progress. Remember, every great epic was written one line at a time.


Joining the epic tradition is a journey in itself, filled with creativity, exploration, and discovery. By understanding the characteristics of epic poetry, crafting your own narrative, and engaging with the broader literary community, students can create works that resonate with readers and contribute to this timeless genre. Embrace the challenge, and let your imagination soar—your epic awaits!

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