A to Z 2017, Blogging 2017

T for Tolkien #AtoZChallenge

Note from the Indian Hagrid:

For a change, today, the post is written by a fellow bookworm and a friend of mine.

The talented Kishor Lakshminarayanan writes @ Blind Man’s Bluff

Over to Kishor

T

Author Name: J R R Tolkein

What can be said about the man who wrote the “one book to rule them all”? J.R.R. Tolkien, a man with a name befitting the characters in his books has inspired generation after generation with his work in the fantasy genre. Rightfully called the “father” of modern fantasy literature, Tolkien had firm roots in the past as his branches spread to the future. How you ask? Let me explain.

My first tryst with Tolkien’s work was “The Hobbit”, which a cousin gifted me on my 13th birthday. I think it was when the movies on LOTR were still being released and I got the prequel book. I later read LOTR as well and this was a time I was so much into fantasy with the whole Harry Potter mania sweeping across the globe. Though it was strongly apparent how Rowling’s work in Harry Potter was inspired from Tolkien’s works in LOTR. We all know how the whole Horcruxes was strangely familiar to the one ring and not to mention the burden of carrying one with you and the effects it has and so on, but I digress. When I said Tolkien has roots in the past, I meant the general story structure of his novels. The similarity between Harry and Tolkien’s works are there even in the Philosopher’s Stone. Tolkien’s work followed an 8-point story arc structure. A staple in most fantasy novels that came even before The Hobbit, such as Cinderella and a lot the Grimm Brothers’ works, the 8-points are as follows,

Stasis

Trigger

Quest

Surprises

Critical Choice

Climax

Reversal

Resolution

Stasis is the everyday life of our protagonist. Let’s take The Hobbit as an example. Bilbo is an ordinary hobbit leading a normal life in the shire. Trigger is an event that usually makes our protagonist go on the quest. Here we have Gandalf arriving with the band of dwarves that soon leads them to go on a quest. The quest is peppered with surprises in the form of events and new characters. This is essential there to keep the audience entertained as the story moves forward, until we reach the critical choice. Bilbo decides to keep the Arkenstone from Thorin. This leads to the climax, the battle of five armies. The reversal is the consequence of the critical choice and climax. Bilbo tries to use the Arkenstone as a bargaining chip and has a fall out with Thorin and at the end of the battle they reconcile. Resolution is the end of the current story where the protagonist reaches a new stasis, Bilbo returns to the shire a wealthy hobbit with a life-time of memories but also in possession of the ring. The new stasis will lead to the same cycle being repeated again in LOTR.

Now that I’ve broken the structure down, I’m sure it is easy to see the similarity between The Hobbit and The Philosopher’s Stone and even the other books in the same series and countless other classics. But it is not the structure alone that makes a story great, it is the world the writer creates and the characters that are flawed, interesting, and palpable.

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