Tag Archives: Hobbit

How to Grow Your Character Over the Long Haul

My two favorite story lines are the “journey of the group” and the “transformation of a character“.  Even better are the stories which do both.

Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring series is an excellent example.  Frodo must go from a simple, happy Hobbit to a seasoned, bone-weary, and world-wise traveler.  Of course he has three volumes to do it in, but grow he must, and grow he does.

There are stories where this is done in extreme, and the result is comedic.  While I love the John Ritter and James Belushi film, “Real Men“, but the transformation from Milk Toast to He-Man Special Agent is too fast and unbelievable.

Unless you are writing about a Superman-type character, your MC will need to grow throughout the book.  Only special proto-type characters can stay the same.  In such a case the supporting characters need to change.  Someone has to grow, has to change, during the story, or you find yourself slipping into Experimental Fiction

The change has to be subtle, by the way, in order to be believable.  Also, do yourself a favor, and don’t use the hackneyed old bit about guy meets girl and they hate each other only to fall in love.  Find a different way, OK?  I mean, really, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when boy meets girl and the sparks that fly are ugly?  Yeah.  That’s it.  They’re gonna be an item.

People might fall in lust right away, but love takes longer than that.  Let things perk.  Let them develop.

The trick is to know what the change will look like once it is complete.  Then, ask, will it occur half-way through the story?  Three quarters?  Will it take the whole book?  Will the character have to die, and in dying see the light?  If you know where the character is going, the chances are good that you can figure out how he or she will get there.

Your thoughts?


World Building: Day Four (Pt. 19)

Continued from Part 18

New to this Project? Start with Part ONE

The first three days of our journey into World Building have brought us pretty far.  We’ve looked at stars, and made suggestions about planetary orbits.  We’ve considered gravity and touched on atmosphere.  We’ve looked at our planet from space as well as up close.  We have seen the advent of land masses, seas, lakes and rivers.  Most recently we have toyed with the plants and animals that might feed our people–or feed on them.  But what we’ve missed are the people themselves.

In the case of most “made worlds” the writer actually starts with the people who will live there already in mind.  The writer has an idea of the races that will inhabit the planet, what they look like, how they got there–did they evolve on this new world?  Were they dropped off by aliens or Gods?  Are they colonists from far away?

If your people are already formed… if their Cosmology and Creation Stories are in place, waiting to be activated, you may want still want to continue along with me.  Consider this a kind of cultural checklist for your new inhabitants.

I wonder how many writers take the time and trouble to create a whole world for their characters?  Some most certainly do.  J. R. R. Tolkien took components from myths and stories that came before him, and he built on them to create his world of Hobbits and Ring-wraiths, Middle Earth and Arda.  Another wonderfully conceived world appears in “A Voyage to Arcturus“, by Scottish writer, David Lindsay–a lesser known book, but a fascinating read.

When we started this journey we questioned the need for world building, and I want to question it again.  If you have followed this narrative, and perhaps even begun the slow and complex process of forming a world of your own, you can see it will take time, dedication, imagination, and a full-on sense of purpose.

Suggestion, inference and hints,  may serve you for your worldly backdrop.  If your story is character-driven, one that could be transported to any place and time, you may not need to draw a world to set it against at all.

But if the world itself is a character… if the creatures, the land, the seas, or the storms play an important part in your tale… if the history of your people, their culture, their fears, their religions, superstitions, poetry and mythology are needed to frame your narrative…  Then, carry on, world builder!  Carry on.

Continued in Part 20