Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Got Your Dungeons and Dragons in My Manuscript!

I feel fairly confident that almost every speculative fiction reader and writer have, at some point, at least attempted to read Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy--and I know for a fact that many of them have thrown it away in disgust.

There is a reason they do this.

I promise.

Tolkien's main claim to fame isn't, as we've been led to believe, his writing prowess. It's his backgrounding work. The man created a new language just to give his world a sense of realism for Christ's sake! He was the first in a long run of epic fantasy authors to delve into the world--the difference is, we now know not to do what Tolkien did.

We don't need to know everything about every petrified mushroom. I really don't care if that rock on the ground is the keystone of the Arches of Gerbnazuleth that fell one thousand years ago in the eighteenth war of King Hiloriet when the Orcadian hordes took Princess Yumkollor captive (please, God, don't make me wrte that again!) unless that actually has something to do with the story you're telling NOW! We understand this and Tolkien did not.

A fellow author and I use this as a bit of the evidence that Tolkien was a basement, tabletop gamer geek.

He got to absorbed into the world and, while he set the bar of success for our genre, wanted us all to join him when we, as a majority, didn't really want to join him.

The other piece of evidence we use? He doesn't kill but a single one of the main protagonists over the course of three rather large books. Three. Large. Books! No one dies except Boromir (please, God, let me get that right or the whole LOTR fan community is going to hang me up by my toenails.) and Gandalf--and Gandalf comes back.

Do the research that Tolkien did if you like--the Silmarillian is fascinating to read, so it's good. Just don't share it with the reader unless they need to know.

Love your characters, but make sure they die when and if aproppriate!

Don't mix your D&D with your manuscript--it can lead to bad things.

Voss

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