Today is the 63rd birthday of the granddaddy of all fantasy stories currently on the market.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Honestly, this is a pretty big deal to me - Tolkien being one of my literary heroes.
I first got introduced to Tolkien's work in middle school, when I had to read the Hobbit for school. His style of wording is definitely something that I could get lost in for hours. When I read Tolkien, I literally have to immerse myself in the story in order to fully enjoy it because it is super super rich in detail.
As a beginning fantasy writer myself, I've also taken a lot of lessons from Tolkien and his works.
The first was how to use my natural talent for metaphors to be the most effective in my stories.
You see, Tolkien was a very devoted Catholic, and a lot of his metaphors and partial allegories that ended up in the books were of Catholic origin. But he veiled them so well that unless you truly analyzed it on a deeper level, you wouldn't notice them as such. That's one of my favorite things about Tolkien as a writer. I've noticed that other Catholic writers - G.K. Chesterton and Flannery O'Connor especially - do the same thing. I'm always using metaphors in and out of my writing, Tolkien definitely helped me refine that.
(Note: For those who would love to explore the Catholic metaphors/allegories present in LOTR, check out these lectures by Joseph Pearce, as well as his other works on Tolkien. While the price may be a bit high, I can personally guarantee that these lectures are extremely high quality.)
The second was how to use mythology through a Catholic lens in my stories. Besides having Catholic metaphors, Tolkien was also a huge fan of Germanic and Norse culture, and used a lot of that in his works too!
The third was how to play with languages. Tolkien was a linguist - the man created languages for goodness sakes! Building languages is an often forgotten part of world-building - adding one often deepens the world and makes it much more realistic.
Indirectly, I also thank Tolkien for inspiring me to put much more effort into naming my characters. Instead of plain names, I'm now looking at names that mean something about or for the character, which I think deepen the story much more.
Speaking of characters....Tolkien has some of the best range of unique and distinct characters in a fantasy series.
My favorite characters in Middle Earth are Eowyn, Arwen, and Aragorn (though Faramir is definitely growing on me).
Eowyn is definitely my favorite, though. I LOVE the concept of a shield-maiden so much! (so much so that I'm putting them in Caoimhe). I don't think that femininity is equal to 100% girly - I love love love strong female characters that can stand if needed to. I love heroines such as Joan of Arc, who fought for a greater good instead of just proving that they could do it.
Which is why I was shocked when I saw my results from the "Which LOTR Character are You?" test from Zimbio.
I took it twice - there were some questions that I was half and half on.
The results of the first test. Honestly, I don't know how much of a wild free spirit I really am, but everything else is spot on. I keep my family and friends very close - it always kills me when I know that they need help and I can't give it to them. And stubborn? Darn-tooting I am! I've been forging my own career path because it's what I love to do - and it's not a career that is known for stability or for making lots of money. But I do it anyway.
The results of the second test. This one is super spot on for me. As my little sister knows, I have a very soft spot for romance. I'm still waiting for my prince to come and take me to his castle. But that being said, I'm not one for lazing away in a tower (my growing student debt wouldn't allow that anyway!).
What about you guys? What lessons have you taken from Tolkien, if any? What LOTR character are you most like?