Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Research and Fan Fiction Within Tolkien

My goodness, people writing for B2MeM have been so productive! It's turning into a really fun month, and it's keeping me on my toes to stay up-to-date with my chosen Red path. Stories and artwork are being posted from friends both old and new. I hope those of you on Live Journal have an opportunity to join or watch the B2MeM community - there's some wonderful writing and artwork going on now in the JRR Tolkien realm of fanfiction.

I'm having so much fun writing again, but also reading and
looking at the various art pieces produced. B2MeM is a
wonderful thing! 

The quest for stories is keeping me on my research toes, and that's quite a lot of fun too. When writing in someone else's universe, all of a sudden you're placing a transparent overlay on top of already existing words. That gives a foundation for your story or art which can be very comforting. However, it also places a structure around the story/art that usually requires the use of some touchstones to ring true to others reading or enjoying the work. In the case of Tolkien, it's a LOT of written backdrop for a very small short story that still has to fit into the historical structure of the world that he built.

Ivan Billiban was an earth 20th century artist whose elvish
illustrations are stunning. Here is his Elves of Mirkwood piece. 

In other words, the majority of fan fiction isn't going to actually reinvent the world already created, it's going to choose small bits and pieces to embellish, expand, or explain. Can stories be carried out of Tolkien's universe and into new grounds? Of course. That's what the more historical documents featuring Tolkien characters will do. That's the 20th century elves (21st century now, of course) living and thriving in our current world. That's the Maglor through history stories that many of us have done. I'm guilty of that myself, and may end up with some AU stories within my 31 days of B2MeM.

Researching within a fictional world that already exists can be
intimidating. So much has already been written - millions of words,
thousands of authors, and you're trying to put your own stamp on
your own vision of beloved fiction. 

But when a prompt is clearly based in a specific "historical" reference, it almost always places an obligation on the author to play in that particular sandbox. Thus - research! My "spare" time has been spent with research lately - the timeline for events, the specific names of supplementary characters who may or may not appear in a tale, the general rediscovery of why I love the greater world of Tolkien so much.

A wall sized canvas can make you want to travel new pathways. That's
also what a broad history can do in fiction. The main path exists, but
what about all of those side paths and pastures to explore? 

Of course "Lord of the Rings" is a classic and a beloved set of books read by millions over the years. I've been reading them since 1968, so yes - I'm totally addicted. But when I first read "The Silmarillion", my vistas expanded far beyond that small little slice in time to a much broader history. That's what I love about Tolkien - that swath of history that extends eons and encompasses thousands of people. Oh yeah!

Happy Tuesday. If today's 50 mph-60 mph winds don't blow me off the face of the Minnesota earth, I'll be back tomorrow. Hopefully my current research will end up in another story being posted in B2MeM today too. At least that's the goal.

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