Tolkien’s 5 Tips for Creating Complex Heroes

Writing advice straight from the pen of J.R.R. Tolkien himself.

Writing Is Hard Work

Image courtesy New Line Cinema

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…

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