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Posts Tagged ‘Lord of the Rings’

Ever since Lord of the Rings, it seems like every fantasy novel has to include a journey or quest. Why do we do this?

One advantage of having your characters go on a journey is that it takes them out of their comfort zone. They’re in unfamiliar territory, surrounded by strangers. They can’t anticipate what people will do. No more comfy house to return to, either.

They might have gear if the trip was planned, but if they left suddenly, they have to spend time on survival tasks such as searching for water and shelter. If your story is more humorous in tone, there’s lots of opportunity for fish-out-of-water episodes. For darker stories, you can emphasize heat or cold, adverse weather, thirst or hunger, wild animals, and other hazards of hitting the road unprepared.

Journeys allow the writer to vary the setting and introduce new wonders or dangers. Travel can imply a wider world around the story events. Reactions to these new vistas may deepen the characterization of people in the story. You can add more conflict if the characters get lost or argue about where to go next.

It’s also very folkloric. Many of the great epics and story cycles involve heroes who go somewhere and fight a monster or achieve some other great feat. If the characters need to learn a lesson of some sort, inspiration can come with the travel.

What about drawbacks? I’ll look at those on Saturday.


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