6 November, 2010
The Tolkien Comparison

This is also from the department of nobody cares but me. Don't expect this to be a trend. Just what I need. Turn this journal into nothing more than a list of things I'm feeling cranky about. I should take comfort in the fact that at least I'm ranting about something rather than just letting the website lay fallow. At least the audiobook is posting on a semi-regular basis again.

I think I wrote about this somewhere, but I can't remember where. I don't think I've written about it on my own little website. This is a problem inherent to having a presence on miscellaneous social networking sites. And, not much of a presence at that. Oh, well.

The thing that gets me about epic fantasy novels and especially epic fantasy series is that they always seem to get compared to Tolkien. This comparison usually takes the form of how the latest and greatest epic fantasy is so much better than Tolkien. Of course, the epics most likely to get this favorable comparison are the long ones. Multi-volume sprawling epics that just go on and on forever.

Now, remember that I am biased here. I'm not a kitchen sink author, and I'm not really a fan of kitchen sink books. Get on with it. Get to the point. Edit the damn thing. We don't actually need every single solitary little detail. Murdering one's little darlings applies to more than just a specific turn of phrase in one sentence. It applies just as well to whole sections, chapters, and in some especially egregious cases to entire books.

There is one little detail about epic fantasy and comparisons to Tolkien that nobody ever seems to remember or want to point out. The Lord of the Rings is only 1,216 pages long. That's right. It is short. I don't care about extraneous books with extra background. I don't care if Tolkien was frustrated by the length and really wanted to do something longer. The Lord of the Rings is 1,216 pages. It kicks ass and is the standard by which all other epic fantasy novels are judged.

You want to be compared to Tolkien? You have to be able to tell your sprawling epic masterpiece in twelve-hundred pages or less. Now, that takes talent. Dedication. Iron will.

copyright © 2010 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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