Things Every Writer Learns from Lord of the Rings

Most writers, especially fantasy writers, take inspiration from Tolkien’s high fantasy series Lord of the Rings. From making up beautiful languages like Elvish to mapping out whole new worlds, here are ten things all writers (esp. fantasy!) can take from good ole’ Tolkien.

  1. World-building. Say what you want, but Tolkien created a whole new world, complete with maps and cultural traditions. Elves. Orcs. Dragons. Ents. Borrowing from folklore and creating folk of his own, Tolkien is the granddaddy of world creation.
  2. Adding languages into fantasy. Tolkien’s Elvish, Dwarvish, and other languages injected a breath of new life into the linguistic traditions of fantasy. It really added another layer of credibility to these worlds, adding language barriers to make it feel more realistic. Like another universe similar yet different to our own.
  3. Tolkien idealized the agricultural pastoral life of the hobbits and nature, the elves and their citadels in the trees. Sauron and his orc-cutting legions showed the ugly world of industrialization and what heartlessness brings to those who don’t respect nature.
  4. Parallel histories. Tolkien wove the LOTR series so that it presented an alternate history of our world, making it so that elves and dragons roamed the Earth until the Age of Men began. It draws a unique perspective combining our world with a world of magic, a world of dreams.
  5. Revitalizing the classic romantic quest. Reminiscent of Arthurian Legend, young Frodo takes up his quest as the chosen one with his magical item to save the world. And that’s damn cool.
  6. Good and evil. A lot of Tolkien’s characters are easily identifiable as good and evil. The trend nowadays seems to focus more on characters who are both flawed and perfect. This, again, harkens to a time of romanticism in literature, a war between wholly good or wholly evil forces.
  7. Magical items. The One Ring. Elven brooches. Anduril. The list goes on. Heroes need magical items!
  8. Main heroes have to suffer in order to gain redemption. Frodo suffers, but he gets through it with the help of Samwise Gamgee. We want to empathize with out hero, see them in peril and cheer them on.
  9. Beauteous settings. Rivendell, home of the elves. Celestial creatures not of our world.
  10. Heroes from small villages going on epic journeys to save the world? Yes, please! It shows us anything is possible, even with the most unlikely of heroes… or hobbits.


  1. Lydia on March 27, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I couldn’t agree with this list more. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is fabulous for so many different reasons. I think it should be read even by people who don’t write or usually read fantasy. There are some beautiful passages in those books.

    • Sophia Whitte on March 27, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      I completely agree, Lydia. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

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