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Using Lord of the Rings

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by King Raven Stark, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. King Raven Stark

    King Raven Stark Scribe

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    As a beginner in fantasy writing should I read J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I know that is something all fantasy writers use so I was just wondering if its a good idea
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I think you are well advised to read as much as you can of what is doing well in the genre. Not just Tolkien, then, but a lot of others. I'd start with what is doing well, then move into classics.
     
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  3. King Raven Stark

    King Raven Stark Scribe

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    Ok Thanks man
     
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    You absolutely need to read Tolkein, if only so you can better understand those elements when you see them used elsewhere.

    The problem comes for writers who only have read a handful of fantasy stories or games and struggle to break outside their small box.
     
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  5. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

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    You don't have to. Personally, I only got a few chapters in before putting the LOTR down. It was really outdated in my opinion, specifically his writing style. Watch the movies and you should be fine.
     
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  6. King Raven Stark

    King Raven Stark Scribe

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    Once again thanks guys. I have seen the movies but after doing a lot of research yesterday I found that the movies excluded the last battle between the hobbits and Sauron and books are always better than movies so I will read the book, don't want to but have to
     
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I think it is a good idea to read it. It's a good idea to know the cornerstones of the genre, even if you may not like them as much as new stuff. Just like a painter might study the masters even if she doesn't intend to use their style or their style is outdated. The problem with reading only what is currently popular is that those fads change. It's a good place to start, but ultimately you want a well-rounded view of things in my opinion. Tolkien, certainly. Maybe Dunsany if you want to take a step further back. Shelley's Frankenstein is also a good choice, though many view it as a horror story, which it really isn't by today's standards. For Fantasy that falls between Tolkien and now, I'd look at works by Leiber, Moorcock, Gene Wolfe, LeGuin, maybe some early McKillip or Tanith Lee, and so on.
     
  8. AlexanderKira

    AlexanderKira Minstrel

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    Just throwing this out. You should definately read Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss; Brandon Sanderson; Michael J Sullivan; of course A Song of Ice and Fire..really some of the popular fantasy out today and the. Best.
     
  9. I say you should certainly read it, I personally am used to reading that writing style, and absolutely love it. Some people get so bogged down in the style they don't realise what a clever story it is.

    It has of course over the years become used as the template for a lot of fantasy fiction, so one thing I would say is look at the world he has created, but look more at how he has created it. Don't feel obliged to include elves and dwarves in your stories, because while Tolkien used a lot of things that had previously been used in the ancient myths, he also came up with a lot of cool and original ways of reinventing them. So feel free to play around with what has gone before but don't let that cloud your artistic mind.

    After you've read the Rings and if you can comfortably read his work, I recommend the Silmarillion. I'm reading it at the moment, and to me as a world-builder its interesting because it goes right back to the creation of Middle Earth, the gods, and into the early days of the first age.
     
  10. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Recommended List of Oldies:

    'Lord of the Rings' - say what you will, Tolkien did yank entire races and concepts out of mythology and structure them into a more readable format. This is a big fantasy building block/

    'EarthSea' by LeGuin - this much shorter trilogy (with a new book recently added) is another cornerstone, particularly where magic is concerned. The ethos of the mages involved is interesting, though at odds with the way much of present day fantasy is oriented (wealth and personal power are way, way down on their priority list, but they do face other issues).

    Lovecrafts stories (great many short stories, a novel or three, and upwards of a score of successors). Lovecraft introduced the concept of utterly alien things, some powerful enough to be regarded as Gods, interfering with various degrees of incomprehensible malice in the world. His mostly academic type characters typically stopped or delayed these creatures at the expense of life or personal sanity.

    'Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser' by Lieber. Old line pulp action stories featuring a barbarian warrior and city thief who roam about battling horrid things, chasing exotic women, and looting everything they can - but who then have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

    'Dying Earth' stories by Vance. Introduced something very much like present day 'game magic' and a whole slew of magical devices, as well as archetype wizard and thief characters.

    'Magician' series (first four books) by Fiest. In a way, a sort of updated version of Tolkien, though still original enough.
     
  11. King Raven Stark

    King Raven Stark Scribe

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    Thank you thank you You see I've been using George R.R. Martin for awhile because he is the reason I chose to do this genre I wasn't born into it like an average teenager I'm only 22, so you see i'm a late student. I do wanna read Sanderson's A Way of Kings I think it is and there are others I'm looking into right now I have a list. Martin what I like about him is he uses a simple world like its divided into north, west, south etc, each has a ruling great house, basically i like everything from him
     
  12. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    A word of caution: George Martin is one of the few remaining actual 'giants' in the genre, plus he had a long track record as a script writer for television. Even so, he had to put a lot of thought - literally years worth - into developing his world and its peoples before starting writing. (one of the big questions he fessed up to debating for a long while in the prep stages was whether his world had 'no magic' or 'just a little magic'). Even with all that, even with him *knowing* where the story is supposed to go and what the major elements are, he has more than once worked himself into major plot problems he spent quite a while working out solutions too (initially, for example, there was supposed to be a five year gap between books three and four - but other plot action didn't allow for that. Later, there was what he called the 'Mereneese Knot', which he solved by introducing additional POV's)

    Additionally, most of the actual giants in fantasy - including pretty much all of the people I named earlier - were well read in a variety of literature. Tolkien was a professor, and if memory serves LeGuin had a fair reputation in Anthropology.
     
  13. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    Definitely read it, but you shouldn't just tackle Tolkien. I'd say that Lewis had an even bigger influence on my own writing than Tolkien.
     
  14. The Dark One

    The Dark One Maester

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    You must read Tolkien. It is too huge a fantasy watershed to ignore.

    When I saw the name of this thread, I wondered if others were doing what I have done - ie, regularly reference Tolkien. In one (non-fantasy) book I have a character who occasionally makes humorous Tolkien analogies. Another (speculative fiction) book - just published - is to some extent a parody of the sacred quest in which Tolkien comes in for a playful kicking.

    Learn the genre, then subvert it.
     
  15. gavintonks

    gavintonks Maester

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    I do not think you read Tolkien to use his methodology, but it is advisable to know why people have sold so many books. the same goes for Rawlings unless you wish to be satisfied with selling only a few hundred copies.
    There are many other authors who you should read as an understanding to your genre, but you also need to know if you are creating a copy cat author or a unique voice. There are many authors who make a good living with similar stores.
    Knowledge is a powerful thing and the more you learn, the closer you can get to be succesful
     
  16. zizban

    zizban Troubadour

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    Minor the correction: The movie omitted the final battle between Saruman and the Hobbits, not Sauron.
     
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  17. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    I think you should read various styles of fantasy writing. Tolken is one style.
    I think reading authors that write in your style will help more then just reading the "classics."
    Reading Tolken will broaden your outlook, but I don't think there is any one writer or book that should be read as a rule.

    I loved Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser.

    I am not an author that likes epic or world changing books. I think epics are good, but they become to predictable. They triumph and the world is saved until the next megalord comes along to try and destroy it, or they fail and the world is forever changed or destroyed. And the megalord is always pitted against some commoner swan hidden as an ugly duckling.

    Epics are one part of Fantasy. Heros sitting around waiting for a leader to attempt world domination have to do something.
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    One thing that has been hinted at above, and that bears mentioning again, is that you should also be well-read outside of your genre. If you're only reading within one genre, you are severely limiting your development as a writer, imo.
     
  19. ScipioSmith

    ScipioSmith Sage

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    IMHO, in order to write well in a genre you need to familiar with and respectful of the genre- otherwise you end up spewing cliches while all the while labouring under delusions of your own originality (a failing I myself drank deep of in my youth). You should read Tolkien because, not only is he one of the biggest beasts in the fantastic forest but he's also not a bad storyteller.
     
  20. It is essential to read him, that's why I wanted to write fantasy because of him. I do agree that the first part in Fellowship of the Ring is a bit of a drag. I suggest getting the audiobooks of the trilogy or do the next best thing and listen to the excellent BBC radio version of LOTR and they have Frodo being voiced by Ian Holm who played Bilbo in the Jackson film version. I REALLY recommend you get into Tolkien to know who he conducted fantasy. George Lucas even said that LOTR was a big influence when writing Star Wars.

    And to show you how important LOTR is, read this article:
    Star Wars Origins - The Lord of the Rings
     
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