Fade Away From Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien will forever be known as one of the best writers to ever live. So naturally people branch off his ideas and create their own fiction some times a little too similar to his. Learn how to avoid just being another fantasy writer.
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Often I find myself writing a story that I really like and find myself saying to myseLf, "OMG, you're a complete genious!" This last, of course, for about a week and by that time I am bored with that subject and leave it alone for a while. Later, when I come back to it, (if i ever do) I find myself thinking "Wow, this sounds just like (insert overly popular fiction story)" Then I also think how did it end up that way? When I started writing it was infact an original story... But what changes in the plot, the characters, the mood that makes it just like another fantasy/fiction story? I often find myself asking this question... Is it because I've read those stories so many times? Is it because I enjoy them so much? Tell me what you think and how you found it easiest to avoid this problem.
12/11/2006 #1
Elder Nymph
I agree that it is rough coming up with new ideas that aren't lifted from favorite fantasy stories; I frequently run into the same problem. I'm not entirely sure I've avoided it completely in my writing (which is why I love reviews), but I find it helpful to develop an idea over a long period of time in which I abstain from my favorite fantasy books. Then I leave the idea for a while and come back to it and evaluate. Is it original? Are any of these characters traceable to another book (ie, would anyone else reading it say, 'Oh, she read such and such"?). Also, outside help works well if you have people who have read the same books. Another thing is consider every major plot twist or new character; try to figure out just where the idea came from, and if you think you might have pulled it from another source can you change it enough so that it becomes your own?
12/16/2006 #2
I actually think I have a good book for you to look at. It's by Orson Scott Card and it's called "How to write Science Fiction and Fantasy" He talks about originality and other things of that nature. It's a pretty good read too if you like Card and want to get an insight on how he writes what he does. Hope this helps.
12/23/2006 #3
Hiptobbi Square
That's the thing about writing fantasy literature, though -- almost all of the good ideas have been taken. Sometimes the best you can hope to do is stand on the shoulders of giants and add your own flavour to make it *seem* fresh and original, all the while crediting Tolkien or Rowling as your quote-unquote "inspiration". I myself am trying very hard to break free of the fantasy mould with my story, but (as I'm sure everyone here can attest to) it's all too easy to fall back into the comforting arms of cliche' when you want to thrill or intrigue your audience. Good topic, this.
1/1/2007 #4
Elder Nymph
You bring up an interesting point in the last sentence- the chliche's still work in capturing attention. Sure we might roll out eyes, but we still read them, don't we? So what is our incentive to get away from them? My vote, satisfaction.
1/5/2007 #5
Yeah... I suppose your right, but it's kind of discouraging to think that something you have written is so similar to another piece you have read.
1/7/2007 #6
Elder Nymph
Granted- which brings us back to the topic. Another way to work away from the really common backgrounds is to start reading books on mythology from different cultures. Many characters are drawn from mythological figures and archetypes (Merlin...Gandalf...Dumbledore, etc), so one possibility is to look at the lesser known deities or figures. Also, if you can trace them back beyond the popular and commonly known mythology to their true roots and beginnings it might give you new ideas or the ability to put a fresh twist on something you've written. I frequently find myself taking elements from different mythological traditions and working them all into my stories for a fresh (hopefully :)) hodge-podge.
1/9/2007 #7
That's a great idea. Another suggestion would be to take a look at other cultures themselves, as a lot of things are conveyed differently. A lot of fantasy work has a very western feel, not just in the way worlds look but also how characters function.
2/20/2007 #8
Tris Kirk
I do agree that you should try to avoid rewriting someone else's work. But then again, what fantasy writer is not influenced by tolkien?
6/28/2007 #9
Elder Nymph
Well, not really Tolkien alone, but most fantasy stories end up mimicking a very familiar mythilogical cycle (I think it's called the Hero Cycle). Jung would tell you it's a result of the collective conscious that the same figures (the old man Merlin, the hidden King Arthur, the purely good underdog) come up over and over again. In Western culture we tend to look to only the western mythology, which is why we don't really see variations in the archetypal figures-no one looks beyond into Eastern, tribal, island, etc mythology. So essentially it is so incredibly difficult to get away from it because we are all so influenced by mythology, whether we realize it or not.
6/30/2007 #10
this used to be a name
I know nobody's said anything here for a while... but I thought I would anyway. A while ago, I heard a director of a film talking about how once you have this amazing idea and it's all thought through, and you start to create it, you always have the temptation to change things and add new things and new characters. I thought it applied very well to writing. Once everything's happened in your head already, you start to get bored with the original concept and, particularly in fantasy writing, you tend to start to draw on other things that aren't necessarily your own. Stick to your guns!
11/4/2007 #11
I was suprised to see that someone posted something here.... but yayay! Good point. I'm writing a story at the moment and find myself being distracted easily with new plot points or characters.... I just have to remember that my original idea is usually something I came up with myself not something I found or heard of elsewhere. Thanks for the post Phoenix!!!
11/4/2007 #12
Somebody posted that Tolkein took all of the good ideas for stories and that there arn't any good ones anymore. What that person dosn't realise is that there are endless possiblilities for the next great fantasy work. What people copy Tolkien, they spend a lot of time talking about the imagionary world that their characters exist in. They also focus too much on the magical powers of each fantasyrace. Tolkien never even said the words "Middle-Earth" in The Hobbit, yet he shapped it through subtly shapping the suroundings and people that the hobbits meet. Also, many characters in LOTR don't even have any magic powers. Gandalf can be myasterious and shoot fireballs, and that's about it. Tolkien never even fully explained who Tom Bombadil was exactly, yet Tom's a lovable character. Tolkien never focussed on the supernatural abilities of a character, but focused on its personality and how they interact with others. Only when you have a 3d and limited character will readers feel sad that he was drug into a chasm by a demon from Hell.In my stories, my main fantasy reatures are genies. The genies don't go granting wishes every 2 minutes, but they have very diffinite personalities. Don't tell your readers right away what your characvter's limits are right way either, let the smart reader figure it out themself. Another thing is that Tolkien-wannabees do is that they exclude humans from their story. And that's ok, but Tolkien has humans as very important characters. They even gain control in the fourth age, saying something about the responcibility we have. Good fantasies relatew back to reality somehow. Another thing Tolkien does that Wolkeins do is that he doesn't give away the whole story ruight away. He slowly tells you whats going on. Frodo didn't know right away that the ring was evil. A good portion of the book kept you in suspence in what was going on. It isn't until the Council of Elrod that we learn fully about its history. Don't give away that big plot twist or a country's hidden past right way. You'll overwelm your reader. LOTR is a pretty big book, and Tolkien does a good job unfolding it. I hope this helps you writers out there. If it did, feel free to PM me. -Camalot777
1/4/2008 #13
Memento Morte
I definitely agree with Camalot's post from above. There ARE still many things you could do with fantasy... Instead of using basic ideas, you could innovate upon them and mix together elements of something you read that you liked into something different with your own style attached. A method I like to use is to take historical events that I feel should be addressed (i.e. WW1) and turned them into a fantasy type of story with a similar situation. Even though originality is encouraged, there's nothing wrong with researching about real life things and twisting them into a fantasy like character, situation, setting, etc. (I hope that made sense...)
1/8/2008 #14

I love you people (being serious). You all make me feel so stupid (not in a bad way). I think I started this topic out of frustration caused by reading Eragon (yuk) then comparing it to Star Wars. Try it some time. Very painful if you are a Star Wars fan.

5/5/2008 #15
Legend of the Wind

I loved the books (3d one coming out soon!), but the movie was not worht the 5 dollars to go see it. Very painful.

9/12/2008 #16
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