I’ve been doing some thinking, pondering, and observing lately… about fantasy books, writing style, and Tolkien. Anybody that is into the fantasy genre knows well the name J.R.R. Tolkien, he is, more or less, the father of the fantasy genre, the man who paved the way for the thousands upon thousands of stories that followed his road (to any serious scholars reading this, I know he didn’t invent fantasy so please don’t skewer me; I’m just making a point). But I’ve noticed something interesting as of late, and that is: How many people would have accepted the Lord of the Rings today?
‘Really?’ you say. ‘Are you even asking this?’ you scold. And I say, yes!
Many people go on about how Tolkien was a master craftsman in the writing world, how he wove the tale and made it soar with his words, and yet those same people will fall to complaining when they come across a book in which description is a key factor. Too wordy! they cry. Where is the action? they demand. They seem to forget that the main thing Tolkien set out to do (and did) was not to tell a story for the sole purpose of making it chock-a-block full of action, death, and romance, (even though it did have these things) but to tell the story he invented the way he invented it. He was concerned with presenting the tale in its true form in the style and way that he enjoyed.
Classics we call the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings now, and yet I’ve heard the same people that do so swear that the very same elements that make up the tales of Middle-earth bog down a novel. How is this? I think that, in today’s time of instant everything, many of us have forgotten that books are not movies. It may seem inconceivable to some of us when a book doesn’t just thrust us into action sequence upon action sequence, broken up only by the main character’s petty self-doubts or failing romance. Must a book be chock-a-block full of description or such in order to be a full book? Of course not! And never did I say so. But it is worth it to me to remember that there are books and then there are movies. Movies give us a visual experience, leaping from one thing to another while attempting to provoke our emotions with the sights they provide. With books, we have to provide the visuals for ourselves, and that is where legible and thought-evoking description becomes indispensable.
Tolkien was a master at this, as well as a master tale-weaver. But it is important to remember that his works (classics we call them today I believe) remained true to themselves, action-less, romance-less, and boring though I’ve heard them called.
Well, that’s all for now. I’m off to read the Two Towers.