Some tips worth remembering (and having reiterated)!
Originally posted on Writing Is Hard Work:
Tolkien’s letters are rich with information about J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing process. I wrote a post last week about Aragorn being Tolkien’s example of an epic hero, and someone posted: “But Frodo Baggins is the hero of the LOTR trilogy, right?” I would argue that he is not, but only one of three or four characters who together make a great hero for the epic story. Today I will focus on Frodo.
To begin this post, I thought I would pull a quote from a letter Tolkien wrote to his son Christopher on January 30th, 1945. In it, he discusses something quite interesting: “There are two quite different emotions: one that moves me supremely and I find small difficulty evoking: the heart-racking sense of the vanished past (best expressed by Gandalf’s words about the Palantir); and the other a more ‘ordinary’ emotion, triumph, pathos, tragedy of the characters. That I am learning to do, as I get to know my people, but it is not really so near my heart, and is forced on me by the fundamental literary dilemma. A story must be told or there’ll be no story, yet it is the untold stories that are most moving” (p. 110). Throughout the epic, Tolkien is expressing this “literary dilemma” which is the idea that many of the motivations for characters are hidden in stories that will never be told. Tolkien’s characters, particularly Frodo, have hidden purposes that do not reveal themselves right away. The character of Frodo is indeed a mystery in that he is motivated by the smallest things, and in the end is a failure, according to Tolkien’s own words. The following are some truths about Frodo, tips from Tolkien about creating complex heroes from the master’s own pen: