Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien

I went to Borders again last weekend, and I found a book on J.R.R. Tolkien's world building. As though that wasn't enough, my family and I also watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy during the Labor Day weekend. All this Lord of the Rings inundation firmly implanted this knowledge inside me: Tolkien is a storytelling master!

J.R.R. Tolkien is my idea of the greatest storyteller. Not only did he create the most glorious and epic tale of heroic deeds and ultimate sacrifice, he was also nit-picky regarding the details of his world. Did you know that there's a chapter in The Two Towers where Samwise Gamgee is cooking his "conies", and Tolkien had to take a break from writing because he had to make sure the moon that was appearing in that chapter was the same as the moon that was appearing in a different chapter but on the same timeline? You've got to admire that kind of dedication.

I love his language, too. I love the way he wrote the Elvish languages of Quenya and Sindarin, and used Old English for his Rohirrim. Even the Nùmenòreans had a language all their own. Don't you just adore that kind of passion, that drives you to really make your world rooted in people's imagination?

I know there are some people that think his kind of language, his style, his dedication to description and culture is over-the-top. Some people get bored with that in-depth grounding. But me, I share a little bit of that passion. You have an actual world, not just a cardboard cutout.

His kind of writing is something I aspire to.

However, along with that kind of inspiring writing, I also want to write like Diana Wynne Jones. You will never meet two very different fantasy writers. He's so epic, and she's so... funny!!

Last, I wanted to let you know that Ruth Schiffman is hosting a giveaway over at her blog, Out on a Limb. Come on down and participate! There are some lovely books being given away. You will have fun joining in on the giveaway. I promise!

God bless.


  1. Oh, my. Using Tolkien as one's model for world-building is like using J.S. Bach as one's model for composing. The "model" is more of an unattainable ideal. Still, it's always worth studying greatness to try to figure out what makes it great.

    And three cheers for Diana Wynne Jones! What an imagination that woman had!

  2. Cat - I love your post for two reasons. 1) you've picked great writers to aspire to. But 2) you picked more than one writer!

    Often, when I am editing new writer's works, they tell me they want to write "just like so-and-so." They get so worked up in copying a style that they don't find their own...and the story suffers.

    You're on the right path! Find all the writers you love, take in the details you appreciate about what makes their writing great, then mix and match it into your own writing (but don't copy them entirely).

    You're on track to be a wonderful fantasy writer, with a bit of humor laced in. I'm sure of it!

  3. Anne, I'm trying to aspire far, so that my writing gets better. :) He IS amazing, isn't he? And Diana Wynne Jones? *Sigh* She was an unsung marvel. She didn't get enough credit when she was alive.

    Miranda, you humble me every time you post. Thank you so much!


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