I'm always surprised when someone who loves fantasy tells me they haven't read The Lord of the Rings. I mean, this book is fantasy. And it's awesome! Why have so many people not read it?
I'll give you three reasons: world-building infodumps, plot-stopping songs, and unintelligible languages.
Listen, I know these are what make LotR what it is. I KNOW. But you have to understand that for a first-time reader -- someone who is totally unfamiliar with Middle Earth -- these parts are boring.
Tolkien loved his world -- and rightfully so; it's amazing. But the truth is that if Tolkien tried to pitch it today as his debut novel, he'd be told to cut the word count in half, split the story into smaller parts (oh wait), and for Pete's sake use a 'k' instead of a hard 'c' in your fantasy names!
Many of us who write fantasy fell in love with it because of books like Tolkien's. We created our own worlds, with new races and cultures and politics and histories and languages. We wrote a story in that world.
But you know what happened? Our story became more about the world than the story. And it was boring.
Now we're full grown authors. We know about character and conflict. We're good with pacing and tension. But every once in a while, we start our story off with an infodump prologue, or we toss a 70-line poem into our story "to flesh out the world."
People don't want to read about your world. They want interesting characters to root for. They want a compelling plot. Give them these things and only then will they listen to whatever you've got to say about the history of the Sidhe (or why it's pronounced 'she').
Readers that love your characters will love your world, not the other way around.
What about you? Did you get into fantasy because of Tolkien? Where do you stand on stuff like this:
|Go on, John Ronald. Tell me why this was necessary.|