This is my final exam essay I did for my creative writing class. It is relevant to the book I am working on called Justin Case so I decided to include it as apart of my content in the form of a blog post. Enjoy!
Popular Literature (ENG 2510)
April 28th, 2019
Have you ever tried writing a book? If so, did you finish the book? Personally, I can say yes to one of these questions considering I am in the middle of writing my first book. The book is called Justin Case and it is a fiction novel. That being said, I am using The Hobbit as a template for my story. I chose The Hobbit because it is a fiction novel that tells a story anyone can pick up and read. To the surprise of some but expected by others, read they did. Eventually, the story of The Hobbit became so popular that fans became just as invested in the world The Hobbit took place in as they did with the story itself. Creating a world of this magnitude set up the foundation for the Lord of the Rings which would go on to become a pop culture phenomenon. Analyzing how the story went about setting up such a solid foundation, from a scholarly perspective, is a great way to get deeper insight into The Hobbit as well as help me improve as a writer.
The Hobbit is my template for the length of my story. I figure The Hobbit is one of those stories that is the perfect length, and I want my story to be one of those too. Some people would argue that instead of pursuing this “perfect length” one should pursue writing the best story they can. I agree with those people, to an extent. From my perspective, the sweet spot here is somewhere in the middle. Pursuing the writer’s vision is crucial to the success of the story. At the same time, looking at those who came before, that accomplished what the writer is trying to accomplish, is highly advantageous to the writer for many reasons. Some of these reasons include trusting that people who spent so much time on their craft figured something out along the way that helped lead their story to the finish line. Another reason is that having a set goal, even if the goal is set to be flexible, and possibly even temporary, makes writing the story easier. At least this is true for me.
The best way I can explain why this is revolves around a simple concept we are taught from a young age. This is the concept of a finish line. If we know where we are going it is much easier to push and grind through the tough times that we must push through in order to reach the finish line. Once we reach the finish line we are rewarded with the rewards & spoils of victory.
The Hobbit is 95,022 words long. For the book I’m writing, Justin Case, I’m currently at the roughly 34,000-word mark, myself, so I am a third of the way there. I could make my story shorter as long as it is over 40,000 words as that is the minimum requirement a book needs to be called a novel. That being said, this paper is a literary analysis of The Hobbit. Analyzing the story from a scholarly perspective is a great way to get deeper insight into The Hobbit and help me improve as a writer.
LITERARY ANALYSIS PART 1: WORLD BUILDING & CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
The Hobbit is one of my favorite books. One of the reasons I love The Hobbit so much is the world the story takes place in. Let’s take a closer look at this world and see if we can identify what makes it so enticing to me and millions of others around the globe.
The star quality of Tolkien’s notorious Middle-earth is that the world gives itself up to the reader, allowing them to immerse themselves to the fullest extent. How exactly Tolkien crafted Middle-earth into such a compelling world I cannot say for sure. There are a variety of factors that go into putting together a world in fiction. From what I know about Tolkien’s work, as well as what I already know, I believe I have identified two of Middle-earth’s star quality’s star qualities.
The first quality comes from the fact that Tolkien does not allow his story or the world his story takes place in to stop moving, evolving, and changing during times when the main character is not involved with the world. This makes the world more believable because as it is in real life, the world does not stop for us, and it never will. Think about this next time you watch a television show, watch a movie, read a book, or consume a story in any other way. Does the main character seem to always be present and a part of major events that shape the story the world the story takes place in.
The second quality comes from Tolkien’s creativity. Using his imagination Tolkien spawned magical interactions between mythical beings. To take things a step further Tolkien did this in a way that tickled the irresistible nature of humans. Specifically, the primal nature of humans to love stories that inspire the imagination.
Another reason I love The Hobbit so much is the characters. When I say this, I am not talking about the dwarves, elves, and wizards. Well, I am, but I am talking about what makes the characters of The Hobbit, such as Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf, so timeless. For the purpose of this essay I will analyze, identify, and describe what makes these two characters so great.
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit. This already makes him an interesting character. In how many stories does a hobbit appear, and in the what I would presume to be a comparatively small number of stories, in regard to all stories ever told, how many of those stories choose to make the main character a hobbit. Many writers who are afraid of criticism from their peers or the public have boxed themselves into a place where the only ideas available to them are those ideas that are safe. The ideas that have been reused and recycled over and over. This causes the writer’s work to suffer as they are not staying true to their pen. Furthermore, it causes the writer to focus on the wrong things. Specifically, they forget what makes a character special. What does make a character special? That depends on the character.
Every character should act in a way that makes sense based on their character. Tolkien proves this with his character Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf. Bilbo Baggins hobbit nature makes him cowardly as he just wants to spend time at home eating and smoking with friends. So, when Bilbo Baggins is faced with fear, we expect him to act cowardly. Let’s say the opposing force causing Bilbo Baggins fear has a threat level of 5, Bilbo Baggins has a threat level of 3, and Gandalf has a threat level of 10. Bilbo’s cowardly nature will compound with his realization that he is inferior to his opponent. At the same time, Gandalf’s heroic nature will compound with his realization and confidence in his abilities outclassing his opponents. Therefore, in the same situation both characters will act differently in accordance with what their character would do, not what the writer makes them do through the fear of God gifted to the writer the day they begin writing their story.
The Hobbit’s characters, plus The Hobbit’s world, equals magic powers and mythical beings. After solving for magic powers and mythical beings, add the results of each together. Magic powers, plus mythical beings, equals a result that can only be described through layman’s terms, and that result is: awesome!
Ever since I was a young boy, I have always loved fantasy. Escaping to your imagination in the world of fantasy is an escape led by a tour guide. This tour guide is magical and is known for leading imaginations that have entrusted the tour guide with their fate to a place that exceeds expectations.
LITERARY ANALYSIS PART 2: GENRE(S), THEME(S), AND CULTURAL SIGNIFANCE
Every novel can be anywhere between, distinctly, and roughly, identified by its genre(s). Underlying every novel are theme(s). Imbedded in every novel is some form of cultural significance. Let’s look closer at each of these individually, starting with genre. The genre of The Hobbit is fiction. This simply means the story does not have to be factually or historically correct. It can be about whatever the author wants. Even if it makes sense to nobody, not even the author, the story would still be fiction.
Moving on to The Hobbit’s themes it’s genre classification of fiction plays the role of manipulating the increasing numbers of potential themes in the story, due to the author’s ability to move more freely through the choppy waters known as limitation, making adding more themes to the story something that the writer can do easier and more freely than they would be able to if were not moving freely through limitation’s ocean. Equipped with this knowledge, we are now ready, prepared, and equipped to turn our attention to The Hobbit’s themes.
The Hobbit is filled with many different themes. The story as a whole has encompassing themes, but those themes are not always put at the forefront of the reader’s attention. Many themes take place within a character’s story, within story arcs, and anywhere else the author can think of. As long as the theme can be integrated into the story naturally the addition of the new theme, most of the time, will boost the positive impact that a reader’s experience during their journey through the story prepared for them by the writer in the same way a chef prepares meals for others. Considering the extreme number of variables that surround theme as a concept as well as theme within The Hobbit, this simple understanding of theme is the gateway drug towards a total understanding of theme. With that said, let’s move on to the cultural significance of The Hobbit.
The cultural significance of The Hobbit is painfully obvious so I will keep this part short: A collection of sequel novels and six full length feature films put together as two trilogies later. The Hobbit’s cultural significance is arguably greater now today than it’s ever been before. With more quality original content, and some of that content being made for different mediums of content, spawned for the series new life in the form of exponential growth. What is exponentially growing? The fanbase, the level of fandom, and the revenue the franchise brings in every year. These increases in the fanbase and the level of fandom boost the franchise exponentially through the inherent nature of fanbases: specifically, the relationship between fanbases, their size, and their level of fandom. The revenue the franchise brings in every year can be used to produce more content and to market that content. If done right, this method can be used to create a cycle that will continue in perpetuity.
Analyzing the story from a scholarly perspective is a great way to get deeper insight into The Hobbit and help me improve as a writer. After completing this assignment my knowledge on The Hobbit has increased. I am not just saying that for the sake of this essay either. My basic knowledge on The Hobbit has strengthened through repetition. For example, I now know off the top of my head that The Hobbit is 95,022 words long. Yes, I just typed that whole sentence without googling “How many words is The Hobbit” or scrolling back to the top of this essay. In addition to my basic knowledge of The Hobbit strengthening, I have gained a more intimate relationship with The Hobbit from the perspective of an author. Last time I read The Hobbit was in high school which was over five years ago. I did not start writing yet at this point, and I was in high school, so my time spent reading The Hobbit was not as focused as the time I spent today. To conclude this essay, I want to propose a question to my future self. The future self that will read this essay after he finishes what he believes is the final draft of his first book. Once I reach the creative block preventing any more ideas and utilize the entire flood of ideas I’ve had and continue to have. That is when I will read this essay. This essay will inspire some final ideas, or maybe it will inspire confidence in the decision I made, the decision to say the book is done. Once that inspiration is harnessed and channeled into my novel, the proposed question mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph must be answered… Did you finish the book?
“Number Crunching: Does 'The Hobbit' Justify a Trilogy?” EW.com, ew.com/article/2012/07/30/hobbit-trilogy-book-word-count/.