June 05, 2020, 11:12:47 PM

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Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone? Since the discussion has slid to presentations of fantasy races, here's an observation: when authors present a diverse group (humans + elves + dwarves, etc.), they can either spend time exploring the differences between the groups, or the differences between individuals, but not both. This is not so much my idea or belief, but rather a phenomenon that smarter writers seemed to know or learned.

Somewhere I read that Tolkien considered having Glorfindel join the party, but decided against it because he felt that he would be indistinguishable from Legolas within the constraints of the story, and this was unfair, because Glorfindel was a high elf of Noldorin descent, who had seen the Light of Aman with his own eyes, and making him identical to a lowly wood elf was unpalatable. I take this to mean that he felt that unless he burdened the story to highlight those differences, they would disappear to some extent (maybe total?).

I think this is the result of the pressures of the narrative to progress the plot, show nuances of the protagonist, convey setting and mood, and all the other things the narrative flow has to support. These pressures leave insufficient bandwidth to support highlighting nuances between members of each group, if the author is also highlighting differences between the groups as a whole. So either it's "dwarves are this way, elves are that way", or its "This dwarf is X, that dwarf is Y."

And yes, there are plenty of moments in LOTR and other works that do both, but the overall trend is to have many more of one than another, with very unequal emphasis.

I think this is crucial because many times in fantasy fiction, there is a temptation to put in X and spend time on it (in this case, the nuances of individuals in a distinct group) at the expense of the story. Sometimes it's other things, like the fictitious languages or the 18,000 year backstory, or whatever. I think Tolkien was wise to avoid this practice, knowing that readers read the story for the story's sake, and anything that takes away from that undermines the work.

Interestingly, one of fan fiction's chief merits (imho) is that it is permissible to explore these nuances as the central premise, i.e., make X the whole point.

My point is that it seems we have a choice - to invest narrative space to highlight differences between races, which worked very well for Tolkien (Gimli vs. Legolas, Elves vs. Men, etc.), or to explore the differences between individuals ... but not both at the same time, and/or not to the same depth, even when the narrative is as vast as LOTR.

In Tolkien's case, there are clear differences between some individuals (Galadriel vs. Celeborn), but they are not explored to much depth, with the exception of Men (Aragorn vs. Boromir, Faramir vs. Boromir, Gandalf & Théoden vs. Denethor, Grima vs. Eomer & Hama). (Yeah, I know Gandalf isn't a man, but within the narrative, he's looked at as an old man).

Food for thought.

August 10, 2016, 05:11:06 AM
Re: Copyrighting names before publishing? I have had a character named "Talian" in my head since ... 2001? Anyway, he's mine. He comes from my version of King Kong's Skull Island - everything there is big, poisonous, ravenous, and otherwise badass. He is hugely important to my story on many levels, perhaps because he was in place while the story flowed in around him, like the tide rising around a cement piling.

THEN along came a LOTR-based game that has a character named ... Talian. I was bereft for a few cups of coffee. Then it occurred to me - no one owns the name Robert, so certainly no one owns the name Talian. 

I think if I had changed the name I would have lost his brooding mix of sincerity and brutal honesty. He's actually in a scene looking for a critique now, just sayin.

My point is - stand your mental ground and cross the bridge if you come to it. If the day comes when you get that formal letter from a team of crime-fighting lawyers gunning for you, remember: people lose limbs and eyes every day. Someone gets horribly, tragically bad news literally every moment. Changing a name once your composition is complete is not going to be the end of the world, or of you :)

August 11, 2016, 05:10:48 PM
Re: Copyrighting names before publishing? TBM, I think that Tebakutis's point was that names are easily crafted - Lucas' more than anyone's!  Darth + (negative sounding word with linguistic cues), and NOT WORTH STEALING, not that they were not important to a work.

And the odds of a truly great, distinct name that can be plucked from Story A and inserted into Story B without losing its power are almost nil. LOTR names do not fit in Star Wars any more than the reverse. There are some exceptions of course, but Frodo isn't a great name, any more than Bilbo or Drogo, despite their potential in a SW setting (Boba, Jabba, Gweedo, Jar-Jar). The perceived power of the name comes from the story, not from the name itself.

August 11, 2016, 06:20:20 PM
Re: Depression, Struggles and Light at the End of Every Tunnel  I feel your pain, literally. I can't write without sitting, but my I sit too much. I can't lie down, walk, or stand without pain in my knees.
You might try changing the hardness/softness of your chair & mattress, changing that shifts weight distribution around. Some time in water might help, if a Jacuzzi or pool is feasible. Hammocks can be good, they distribute weight differently, too.

August 11, 2016, 06:41:19 PM
Re: Depression, Struggles and Light at the End of Every Tunnel
I also feel weird when people diminish their own problems/illnesses and struggles and say "nothing compared to what you're going through": please don't, your problems are just as important and complicated, because they're part of *your life*.

I admire your stoicism and non-self-centeredness, but there's an oft-overlooked feature of adversity that is really very important. It is right and proper to think to oneself "I lost my temper when I shouldn't have. Person X with critical problem Y behaves better than that on his worst days. Surely I can do better." On our good days we have these thoughts ourselves. On our bad days, someone else points these things out for us.

As corny as this might sound, we all have exemplars, people who showed superior character, whether it's stoicism, poise, restraint, patience - any of the hard things. Being elevated to one of those people by your friends and acquaintances is natural and a good thing, worthy of the quiet, legitimate pride that only grows in the hearts of heroes, whether their battlefields are loud and far away, or quiet and right upstairs.

My two cents.

August 12, 2016, 10:07:08 PM
Re: Hi from Lincolnshire UK Welcome Pete,

I'm a lowly former colonial living in the fine state of Georgia. But I think many of the others are British. Look forward to hearing from you and seeing your work develop.

I'm an aspiring novelist myself, about 75% through my first draft of my first book.

So what's your premise and do you have an intended sub-genre, etc.?

August 13, 2016, 09:36:46 AM
Re: The Originality Thread! (For Authors and Tears) Careful Tebakutis, you are dangerously close to demonstrating personal growth and deepening character. Pretty sure that can get you banned.
August 15, 2016, 04:51:50 AM
Re: Depression, Struggles and Light at the End of Every Tunnel Ahh, not a race but a marathon. You're going to have AMAZING character and virtue after all this adversity!
August 15, 2016, 04:54:00 AM
Re: The Originality Thread! (For Authors and Tears) That kind of attitude toward killing reminds me of Max Von Sydow's character in Three Days of the Condor - quite dispassionate, with the pride of a craftsman. Coincidentally, that film is the chief inspiration of book II in my series.
August 17, 2016, 02:57:29 AM
Re: WHEN do you write? I have several sessions a day, depending on the day, but I literally write morning, noon, and night. I sleep from 1 or 2 in to about 8:30 in the morning. I am on a Tony Robbins kick, and will be building a daily ritual to help me prepare myself for my day. I lack discipline and focus, and could get a lot more for my time.
August 17, 2016, 07:26:53 AM