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The Professor Speaks
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The Professor Speaks

Please don't take anything here as a direct criticism. I was mostly trying to think of things that would shock the good Professor. (I am as guilty as the next person for writing Legolas fics.) Thank you to all who contributed additions and corrections and thanks to my freshman composition professor, Natalie Harper, for drilling the above grammar rules into my head. She's gone now, but I'm sure she's happily spending eternity drilling the angels on the difference between "lie" and "lay".


My Very Dear Fan Fiction Writers;

Let me first say how pleased I am that so many of you have found literary inspiration from Middle Earth and its inhabitants. However, if you are going to continue to use my world and my characters to further your own artistic ambitions, please do me the courtesy of avoiding the following mistakes:

1. It's elven, not elvin and most especially not elfin. I fought with my publishers for years over this. Their proofreaders kept changing elven to elfin, thinking it was a mistake. It's not a mistake. Elven, please.

2. Similarly, more than one elf is elves, not elfs. More than one dwarf is dwarves, not dwarfs.

3. Elrond lives in RivenDELL, not Rivendale or heaven forbid, Riverdale. That sounds like a cheap suburb and not at all a place for such a noble elf to dwell.

4. When Aragorn is with other rangers, he is one of the Dunedain...plural. When alone, he is the Dunadan...singular. Please make note of this. There is no such thing as Dunedains, and certainly nothing by the name Dunedanis ever inhabited any world of mine.

5. While on the subject of plurals, let me point out that one Rider of Rohan is just that-a Rider of Rohan. A group of Riders are called Rohirrim (or if they are referring to themselves, an Éored). They are not called Rohanis or Rohans. In fact, if you would like to be completely accurate, they call themselves Éorlingas.

6. There is no such place as "hell" in Middle Earth. Without a hell, it is also impossible to be damned. Please be culturally accurate in your use of profanity. (Unless of course you are writing one of those silly modern-girl-lands-in-middle-earth stories. Then it is totally appropriate for your heroine to swear in whatever ways she sees fit and since the story is bound to be most terrible anyway, the cultural context hardly matters, does it?)

Next, let me point out that being a professor, I could spell properly in ten different languages whilst I was alive. Now I know that most people don't share that ability, but I am given to understand that computers are equipped these days with spell-checkers. Most ingenious...most ingenious. And as a linguist, I feel compelled to offer a few grammar tips for the unenlightened among you. Remember this axiom, dear writers: Using poor grammar and spelling distracts readers from your plot. Using proper grammar and spelling add to your credibility.

1. If you are feeling sick to your stomach, you are *nauseated* not nauseous. Saying you are nauseous means that you make other people feel sick.

2. To lay means to put or place something or someone down. To lie, on the other hand, means to rest or recline. Don't worry if you got it wrong...this is a tough one, even for illustrious scholars like myself.

3. "Your" is a word indicating that something belongs to you. "You're" on the other hand, is a contraction of "you are." Similarly, "its" indicates that something belongs to it. "It's" is a contraction of "it is."

Here is a question that has haunted my dreams since first I visited your illustrious web site. Who, my dear writers, is Orlando Bloom? I don't remember a character by that name in any of my books. Nor do I remember an Elijah Wood or a Viggo (precisely what *is* a Viggo?). I can't imagine why stories about these people (not to mention their legions of nieces) appear in a section devoted to my beloved Middle Earth and I was quite elated to discover that this sort of thing will no longer be allowed. (I shall be devastated if they ban stories about me, however, for then I will no longer be able to impart my wisdom to you, my protégés.) Now if they could just do something about that Mary Sue person who keeps popping up all over the place...

Finally, I would like to add that Legolas is a fine specimen of elf, to be sure, but to make him the be-all and end-all of Middle Earth is placing a heavy responsibility on his fair shoulders, don't you think? I'm proud of the wide range of characters I created to people Middle Earth and I warmly invite you to make use of them. But please...please... WRITE ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE...Gandalf, Arwen, Eomer, anyone else but Legolas...

...I'm sorry; I don't know what came over me. Now where was I?

Oh yes. In closing I exhort you all to please keep sending modern young women to Middle Earth. Go ahead and create new races of super-elves. Add new rings and bits of other wicked jewelry to the mix. Bring my characters back from eternal peace and rest in Valinor just to cause them further torment. Continue to change the sexual preferences of my characters whenever you like.

After all, rolling over in my grave is exceedingly good exercise.

Very Truly Yours,

Professor Tolkien


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