On Writing a Fake Epic

A family of trikes takes a scenic prairie walk.  Image Source

Some of you might be aware of the fact that I have explored several story ideas over the course of my time as an undergraduate student.  Though my initial idea at its very genesis and the final product as seen in Augusta are drastically different in tone and story, each proposed plot and narrative had several common elements.

  1. Dinosaurs and the ancient Roman world interacting in some way
  2. Ties to historic figures and/or events
  3. Fantasized elements inspired by various mythologies adapted to create a new mythos for some Loganized portrayal of a mythological people

What started as a piece set in the earlier years of the reign of Emperor Hadrian* turned into a narrative focused upon the fifth century expansions of Attila the Hun and the geopolitical turbulence of Late Antiquity.  Ties to history gradually shifted away from the apparent disappearance of the Ninth Legion and a plot about vengeance for the destruction of Carthage into a story focused on a dejected quasi-empress seeking her redemption as Europe tears itself to shreds.

Some of the fantasized elements have remained quintessentially the same, particularly my justification for the appearance of dinosaurs and other such palaeontological taxa and the story’s weird connection to the Phaeacians of Homer’s Odyssey.  My final product has preserved those elements, adding to them pieces of later Norse legends concerning Dragons and svartálfar.  Also, instead of simply using Greek to reconstruct my kinda-Phaeacian culture, I have partially built a language inspired by Late Bronze Age vocabularies, particularly from Linear B, Cypriot, Hurrian, Hittite, and   Luwian.

Don’t worry.  I know I don’t have a life.

But it was only in the latter part of last year when I decided to present Augusta in the form of a fake epic “discovered” and translated by yours truly rather than as the typical novel I had long been writing it as.  I wish I could say I had some grand, long-thought-out justification for perhaps the geekiest of all my decisions made while writing, but the decision quite literally came in a spur-of-the-moment lighting of the mental bulb.  There were several justifications that my mind conjured up the moment the thought occurred to me:

  1. The nerd in me thought this would be a fun and unique way to approach writing a fantasy book.
  2. It allowed me another means fine-tuning the balance between world-building and storytelling.
  3. It allowed me to trim some of the fat off of certain scenes while still highlighting minute details or zooming in on particular instances.
  4. It allowed for more stylistic vagueness in how I described certain things, leaving more elements to the imagination of the reader.

The moment I had the idea to write Augusta as a pseudo-epic, each one of these justifications flashed through my mind one after another.  It took all but three minutes to persuade myself this was the way to go about my writing, and straightway I rolled with it.  Fortunately, I already had pretty much a full story written out, so there was little in the way of plot development that still needed work.  Changes were made and the story was arranged differently than before, of course, but this stylistic decision was one of the last major alterations I made to the overall structure of my wildly transformed book before I finally locked in on what I had.

Now Augusta is all but finished, fully edited and waiting solely for its cover design to be completed.  Hopefully this decision to present it as The Lost Epic of Rome’s Last Days will have done what I wanted it to.  More importantly, I hope that this book provides you with a dose of entertainment or impacts you in another, perhaps more provocative, way.

*Hadrian reigned 117-138.  The book initially spanned 119-122.


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