Fantastic question

“Why does so much fantasy fiction borrow so heavily from Tolkien? Why can’t they come up with something entirely, completely, world-changingly original?”


1. It’s familiar

Orri was a greeblek…

“Wait, a what? What the fuck is that?”

[Long descriptive paragraph about what greebleks are.]

“Oh, okay.”

Orri lived in the land of the Iops…

“What? Hang on, who are they?”

[Long descriptive paragraph about who the Iops were.]

“Right, right, I understand now. Man, this is boring, when does the plot start?”

2. Middle Earth is a laid out like a playground, and lots of people want a go at the equipment.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to roam the forests with the Rangers? Or ride the windswept plains with those horse guys? What exactly is the deal with the elves and stuff? I wish I could visit New Zealand.”

3. It is really bloody difficult to come up with something that’s completely original and also entertaining. Go on, try.

Greebleks are short, wide, and hirsute…

“Wait, isn’t that just a Tolkieneque dwarf?”

Um no, they… uh, live in the trees…

“So you’ve just swapped them for elves. And also, that doesn’t make any sense.”

So anyway…

It’s not that I think writers shouldn’t expand their horizons, it just annoys me when people insist on asking why hardly anyone does. You KNOW why. What you probably mean to say is that you’re bored with it all, which you have every right to be! How do you fix it? I don’t know if you can. Your best bet is to search long and hard for someone out there who does it the way you like it, and then make an ostentatious display of giving them or the company they work for money. Then people will say, “Hey, she did that different thing and then she got MONEY. Maybe if we do that different thing, we’ll get MONEY! Quick, hire people who do the different thing — we’ll give them a little money, but maybe we’ll eventually get back EVEN MORE MONEY!”


Fantastic question

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