Tolkien on creating a world

Posted: January 20, 2013 in Quotes, Tolkien
Tags: , , , , ,

Tolkien 2

What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful ‘sub-creator’. He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is ‘true’: it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside.

I love this quote, even though it’s a bit technical. J.R.R. Tolkien (John Ronald Reuel Tolkien) is my favorite author, and if there’s one thing he understood about writing, it was how to create a world. In your writing, you are the master and creator of the world the characters are in. Anything you reveal to the reader about that world is the truth about that world, because you decide what is true for that world. The trick therefore, is to keep this world believable and interesting enough that it can entice readers to enter and accept it. If your world fails in this, the spell, as Tolkien says, is broken.

What worlds will you create? Tell me in the comments!

  1. jshankman says:

    Good point on writing. Do you have anything your currently working on?

    • Voidlight says:

      Yes actually. I am working on a series, the first book of which is called Evernight. I expect to have it done by the end of this year, as far as publishing… who knows. I had the Idea to create a world, and then have each book explore the story of a different character in that world, with the plot-lines gradually coming together and intertwining.

  2. lmize13 says:

    Even though I am not proud of it now, but when I read the Twilight Saga I loved the world Stephanie Meyer created. I felt like I was apart of that world, which is very important when reading a book.

  3. Thanks for the great tips on writing. I like how you describe worlds when writing. When I read a book, I like to think I’m in a world.

  4. jfrakes13 says:

    I have read many books and while reading them I have actually felt like I was apart of the story. People get more out of book if they try to be apart of the book!

  5. clecadences says:

    The quote was a bit technical, but you did a good job of explaining it. I think it would be a good idea to explain using an analogy or a comparison of a good and bad example. (Harry Potter vs L of Rings) maybe? Tolkien obviously prided himself on the creation of his “middle earth” to the point that I finally had to put the book down. Not because I didn’t “believe” in middle earth but because I am impatient… So I would argue that you have to have a happy medium when subcreating… But for those who stuck with the famed Tolkien series, you love it because you feel as though it’s a home away from home I suppose. 13/15

  6. rayadd says:

    I really like this quote, and you broke it down really well to elicit responses. Creating future worlds or recreating worlds that may have existed are really interesting to me. It’s not interesting to read about day to day events, like a bunch of high school students attending a regular school with drama.

  7. mrwagner13 says:

    I totally agree that reading creates another world! For example, when I read Harry Potter I feel like I am there with them, going through the same adventures as Harry! Great quote too!

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