Tolkien Already Did That

Fantasy is the oldest recorded genre. We, as fantasy writers, are part of a great brother/sisterhood that dates back to the first ever recorded story, Beowulf. Centuries of Fantasy writers stand behind us.

This means that everything’s been done already, mostly by Tolkien.

This is terrible! How are we ever to say anything original when we know there’s nothing original to say?

Actually, it’s really rather freeing. If we understand that everything has already been written about, then we can move past that. There’s nothing we can do about it, anyway.

Here’s what we can control.

Here’s how we get past the legacy of our genre, that is both a blessing and a curse.

Different Points of View

We don’t always need to hear the tale told from the point of view of the hero. Or the hero’s bestest buddy, either. What about the hero’s lover, parent, child, puppy, enemy. Why don’t we tell the story from the point of view of the villain?

Different Country

I learned this from Writing Excuses, and it has resonated with me. Most fantasy is written in a medieval European setting. We don’t talk a lot about anything outside of England and France. I based my countries, so far, on Italy, Russia, Japan and The Middle East in  general. I’d love to see more fantasy based on Ireland, Africa and India.

Your magic structure

This is what really grabs me in a fantasy story. What can your magic do?

While I like an all around magic, where just anything is in the realm of possible, I also think it’s a little lazy. But I’ll go nuts for something like Mistborn, where magic is controlled by different metals. Or Avatar, The Last Airbender, which uses martial arts to great effect.

But wait!

Just when we would say that it’s all been done, a new subgenre comes at us like a superhero. Steampunk! The dawn of the industrial revolution blended with magic! Honestly, I am just falling in love with this, and I think everyone else should be, too.

If all else fails you, your voice won’t

I am a firm believer in a writer’s voice. It can’t be copied, it can’t be taught, it can only be achieved by writing until it comes out. Your voice, your word choice, tone and what you focus on, is what makes your writing unlike any other writer’s work since the dawn of time.

Here’s the best news; you don’t have to learn anything. You just have to write honestly.



6 thoughts on “Tolkien Already Did That

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  1. It is good to know there are other writers who share similar viewpoints. One of the things I love so much about the fantasy genre is that even though so much has already been established, and it’s bloody brilliant, it is what you do with the material and how you present it that can make it unique and interesting. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

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