>>Sort of a weird question, but the more I write and read fantasy, the more I realize I don't really want to write what I've read of the genre, at least not for now.
I started writing the Quaraun series because I love Fantasy stuff - Elves, Wizards, that sort of thing, but I absolutely hate war fiction, battles, politics, etc. I WANTED to read about Elves and wizards, not bloody wars and greedy kings. I couldn't find what I wanted to read. But at the same time I loved reading Slice of Life Literary Fiction. I don't know why, but I found it fascinating to read a novel that did nothing but follow this guy around for the day. It was hour by hour details of his life. Him pouring his cereal, then looking for the milk, then pouring the milk... I mean it was REALLY mundane... and I was reading it and thinking "How would his life be different if he was an Elf wizard?" and so, then I set out the answer that question, by writing the very dull, mundane, everyday habits of an Elf wizard. And 40 years and 130 novels later, I'm still writing it.
>>It's all so damn epic. Big quests, lots of locations, larger than life characters, big battles, etc. Is there anything that comes to mind that is still set in a fantasy world, but is more focused on smaller, less epic events?
That's actually something that showed up in that past few years.
It's caused by people trying to write a movie instead of writing a book.
They mix up "Epic Fantasy" the MOVIE genre, with "Epic Length Fantasy" the BOOK genre. Notice the additional word, there, because that's important.
When people watch movies then try to write books, the books come off with this weird un-book-like epic feeling to them that really stands out to, you know, people like us who read books.
The authors themselves are clueless to how off-putting this is to readers, because they, never having read books, don't realize the vast amount of difference from a book setting to a movie setting.
In the book industry Epic Fantasy means: "a novel that is 300,000 or more words long".
"Epic" is only used to describe setting in MOVIES.
In the publishing industry, 'epic' refers to word count and has nothing to do with genre. Thus you can have Epic Fantasy, Epic Horror, Epic Sci-Fi, etc. Any genre can be epic, because any genre can have a book length of 300,000 words. You can generally tell authors who watch Fantasy movies but don't read Fantasy books, but how they use the word "epic".
Epic means something completely different in the movie industry then it does in the publishing industry. If you are planning to write Fantasy and get it published, as authors, we need to make sure to learn to use the correct definitions of words. Most publishers will reject your manuscript unread, if you describe it's genre as "Epic Fantasy" then say it's any word count under 300k and try to explain how "epic" your setting is. They are not going to take a writer seriously as a professional in the business if the writer can't be bothered to use the correct definitions of words.
I sometimes think young authors these days forget the publishing industry is a career focused on WORDS and that many of them, too focused on tv, movies and texting, don't know the correct definition of words. Of course, that then will make it difficult for them to get published as not knowing the correct definitions of words, is a red flag that you don't know enough about words to be trusted to write them. You'll just get rejected, and be left wondering what was wrong with your book.
If you are looking for less epic feeling books, I would suggest you look into older books from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s era, back when Fantasy wasn't based off movies, seeing how Fantasy movies did not yet exist.
>>Some examples might be:
One book that comes to mind is The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, which was more just about a goblin struggling to adjust to taking the throne.
I guess it would be more fantasy drama maybe. I'm not really sure how to describe what it is I'm looking for exactly.
I write Literary Fantasy. Very Slice of Life, nothing ever happens Soap Opera style Drama.
The series now spans 130+ novels and has yet to have a quest, a battle, a fight scene, or anything even remotely what you'd expect to find in Fantasy.
MOSt of the series is set in a tavern (always a different one) with the main character (rumours to be the world's most powerful wizard, though you never see him do anything even remotely magic based, as he's bored with magic and hasn't used it in years by the time of the story) getting drunk or high or both, while his best friend (another wizard) is after all the prostitutes, and his lover (a psychopathic unicorn) is eating the other people in the tavern. They sometimes have a vampire Leprechaun travelling with them, who spends his days washing his coat in the blood of his victims.
It makes fun of quests, by having people constantly trying to hire him to go on a quest for them, and him accepting the quest, then not doing it, because he only accepted the quest to get them to stop bugging him.
Basically it's a gang of lewd, crude, murderous thugs that half the planet wants dead and the rest of the planet wants to hire, but everyone is too scared of them to really do anything. With every tavern scene being them sitting around arguing about their sex lives, in a very Days of Our Lives Soap Opera fashion, of being all dramatic and emotional, but never actually doing anything.
The parts of the series NOT set in a tavern, are them walking long deserted roads through forests, on their way to the next tavern, and these scene read like a non-fiction travel blog.
I get the strangest feedback from readers too. :P
Fans of Fantasy will read my books then, email me with : "So when does the action start, I'm five volumes into the series and nothing has happened yet...."
Yep, and nothing ever does happen. The series was based of actual D&D game sessions, only it's not the game sessions but rather instead is the "what happens between the game sessions" when everyone is just hanging out at the tavern and not doing anything.
Most die-hard Fantasy readers find it to be a rather boring series, actually.
Then I've got the fans of Literary who read it and email me with: "You can't do this! It's blasphemy! Slice of Life is about angsty teens, you can't have Slice of Life be about an Elf wizard and his unicorn!"
Not a lot of readers for Literary Fantasy out there.
It's got about 7,000 fans who love it and read it obsessively, and then everybody else who reads it is always: "What the hell is this? What am I reading? Nothing ever happens. Why does nothing ever happen? When is something gonna happen. Where the action? I thought this was Fantasy? What the hell type of Fantasy is this? Why would somebody write this?"
I think most people who say they want non-traditional Fantasy, actually do want traditional Fantasy, because they'll always say "I want non-traditional Fantasy" then they say: "But that's not Fantasy!" uhmm... yeah. I know. LOL!
Story and Plot wise it's probably the farthest thing from Fantasy as you could get. There's nothing about the story or plotline that follows any traditional Fantasy anything. If the genre was going to be based off the plot, it's definitely daytime Soap Opera lover's triangle drama. It's pretty much only classified as Fantasy because the main character is an Elf wizard, with a Unicorn lover and not for any other reason.