Why Tolkien wouldn’t be published today – and what that means for writers now

Matthew Wright

I posted the other day about style. It’s important for authors. And with The Hobbit being filmed around where I’m living, I thought I’d talk about its author. J. R. R. Tolkien, his style – and why he wouldn’t be published today.

Tolkien could be chatty – as in The Hobbit, where he nailed the voice of a storyteller. Or he could be epic – as in most of The Silmarillion. In The Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) he was both. At times his words had a biblical quality.

Now, we could claim this was accidental. Tolkien became a household name in spite of himself. He tinkered. He never really finished anything – breaking one of the Heinlein rules about writing. Structurally, LOTR broke a lot of the rules. Many of his characters were cyphers. And as for the written style with its wanderings – well, Tolkien began…

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