I love J.R.R. Tolkien. He is an incredible writer and an extremely creative world-builder. It was his writing that inspired me to turn my creative energies to fantasy writing. That said... Do you find yourself defaulting back on Tolkien's pre-established tropes and race archetypes? I know I do. How do you keep your depictions of tried-and-true fantasy races/tropes original? Personally, I'm trying to go straight to the source: the original mythology. I don't want my dwarves to look like Peter Jackson's interpretation of Tolkien's dwarves; I want my dwarves to have customs and architecture that's reflective of the Germanic/Norse cultures from which the myths and legends originated.