How to Write a Book Like Lord of The Rings: 5 Tolkien-Style Tips To Follow

If you’re a fan of epic fantasy novels, then there’s a good chance you’ve read and loved J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. These books are widely considered to be some of the best examples of the genre, and they continue to inspire new writers to this day. So, what can you do to write a book like Lord of the Rings? Here are seven creative tips to follow.

How To Write A Book Like Lord Of The Rings: 5 Tolkien-Style Tips To Follow

1. Before You Begin Writing, Map It All Out

1. Before You Begin Writing, Map It All Out

Tolkien was first and foremost, a world-builder. He was a master at building out the history of his world before he created it. This attention to detail and love of world-building showed in his writing.

More specifically, he spent years developing and crafting the world of Middle-earth before he ever wrote a word of the actual story, something easily recognized by the richness of the finished product we all know and love.

How You Can Do This, Too:

If you want your world to be as believable and immersive as Middle-earth, start with a map. Fill it with all the details you can think of, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Not only does it create the depth Tolkien was able to achieve, but it can also serve as a guide for your story and keep your mind tuned into the finite creative elements.

2. Form A Fully-Realized World

2. Form A Fully-Realized World

Following on from the map, are the laws that govern your world. Tolkien did extensive research on ancient languages, cultures, and mythologies to inform his world and its inhabitants.

Paying attention not only to the physical aspects, like geography and history, but also the social ones, like language and religion, will bring a sense of authenticity to your world.

If you want your readers to get lost in your story, then you need to create a similarly rich and detailed world for them to explore. A world that lives on in your reader’s mind after they finish your book.

How You Can Do This, Too:

Start by brainstorming all of the different elements that make up your world, then fleshing out those details in your writing.

Focus on the components mentioned above, such as;

  • Culture
  • Geography
  • History
  • Religion
  • Language
  • Government and politics

Think about how these elements interact with each other, and how they affect your characters and their actions. Use this to inform your writing, making sure to weave in small details that bring your world to life for the reader.

3. Your Characters Will Make Or Break Your Story

3. Your Characters Will Make Or Break Your Story

Everybody is familiar with the creatively complex yet clearly defined characters of Lord of the Rings. The characters alone are something that sets it apart from many other fantasy novels

Aragorn, Frodo, Gandalf, and of course, Gollum are all memorable characters that drive the story forward and keep readers invested in their journeys.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is known for its interweaving storylines. Each character arc has its own distinct journey, while still fitting into the larger plotline.

How You Can Do This, Too:

Take your time developing your characters, giving them flaws and quirks that make them feel like real-life people. You want them to feel like Uncle Joseph or your old high school friend, but with an element of fantasy added in rather than a two-dimensional caricature.

Allow your characters to drive the story forward, letting their actions and decisions shape the plot instead of forcing them into predetermined events. Nothing should ever feel forced!

And, don’t be afraid to kill off some of your treasured characters if it serves the story.

If. It. Serves. The. Story.

It will make for a more realistic and impactful narrative, as well as raising the stakes for other characters and the reader.

4. Let Suspense Unfold Gradually

4. Let Suspense Unfold Gradually

Tolkien took his time telling his stories, and as a result, it’s much more engaging and enjoyable to read. Of course, there needs to be a balance between gradual progression and dragging things out too much.

But in terms of building suspense, giving the reader just enough information to keep them hooked without revealing too much too soon is key.

This allows for a slower build-up, leading to a bigger payoff at the end.

Think about how you can create believable, multi-layered conflict and tension in your story, and slowly reveal these conflicts to the reader as they progress through the book.

How You Can Do This, Too:

When planning out your story, resist the urge to hurry things along; let the story unfold at its own pace for maximum effect.

In particular, don’t try to cram too much into each scene or chapter. The is a novice move! And while you may indeed be a novice, you don’t want your writing to expose that.

Instead, focus on telling a tight, well-paced story that builds suspense gradually. 

Additionally, you can incorporate red herrings and twists that keep the reader guessing, but make sure they still fit logically within the story. It’s also important to have a clear conflict or goal for your characters, as this will drive the suspense and keep the reader engaged.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment and Be Willing to Rewrite

5. Don't Be Afraid To Experiment And Be Willing To Rewrite

If you’re feeling stuck creatively, don’t be afraid to experiment with your own writing; who knows what amazing things you might come up with?

No first draft is perfect, so don’t be afraid to go back and make changes as needed. In fact, Tolkien himself made significant changes to his original manuscript for Lord of the Rings before it was published (including adding an entirely new character!).

As you’re editing your own work, be willing to cut out anything that isn’t essential to advancing the story. You never know what exciting new elements you might discover along the way.

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