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From Book to Movie

Why Read the Books?

Many fans like to try their hand at writing The Lord of the Rings fan fiction after seeing the movie. I suppose they figure, “Hey, it’s the movie of the book, right? There can’t be that many changes, right?” Luckily, they are wrong. The books are immense, and to make them a movie, the filmmakers did what they had to do: reduce it to the barest skim off the top of the books in every way. So, if you thought that you experienced The Lord of the Rings by watching the movies, you haven’t seen anything yet. I wouldn’t even venture to call someone a Tolkien fan if they hadn’t read The Lord of the Rings. I can write all of the informative essays I want, but they can’t replace the actual books. You should read the books to know about them. It’s common sense.

What if I want to write fan fiction about the movie?

I have no trouble with ‘movieverse’ fan fiction, as long as it is clearly marked as movie verse. Some fan fiction websites have movie sections. Then, you should put your movieverse fan fiction in the movie section. This way, you won’t get a tongue lashing from book readers, and the book readers, which are characteristically a little intolerant of people who haven’t read the books, won’t accidentally read your fan fiction. Another thing to avoid is mixing the book and the movie. The two versions often clash badly, (for instance, large sections of land disappear in the movie) so it’s best to choose one and stick with it.

Can I use the Elvish from the movies in my writing?

Go ahead. I won’t stop you, but I’ll caution you. The world of Tolkien Linguistics is continually changing. As more and more of Tolkien’s notes are published, what was the best reconstruction one year becomes outdated the next. So, the translations from the movies are outdated. Another problem is that David Salo used a lot of Anglicisms, like "Havo dad!" and "Mellon nîn", which diminish the "Elvishness" of a statement. (Sit down… how else was Legolas going to sit? And my friend… you own your friend? How is that endearing? Sindarin uses the suffix -ig/-eg for endearments.) However, it is still the valid work of a scholar, and I respect that. So, go ahead and use it. You may be called lazy if you do, and some Tolkien scholars will thumb their noses at you. Also, those translations were made specifically for the context they appeared in. Using them out of that context might make for some hilarious translation errors.

A Rant About Using the Movies for the Dialogue and Plot in Fan Fiction

Don’t. Just don’t. It makes you look as though you didn’t read the books, and it’s blatant plagiarism. Those are the scriptwriters’ words, not your own. You may argue that since you’re writing fan fiction that it’s plagiarism anyways, and I’ll agree with you to a point. However, there is a big difference between writing about someone else’s work while recognizing it as theirs (thus the importance of disclaimers) and copying it and calling it your own. This isn’t an assignment for class. There’s no deadline; you’re in no hurry. Your fan fiction should be a product of your creativity, not someone else’s with a few of the names changed.

Edro i phairf! Gelio din!

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