The Tolkien Writing guide Part I:

The Men of Middle Earth

Or: "Walk like a man, my soo-hooo-hooo-hooooooon…."

Note: We will not be addressing the Ainur or Maiar (or wizards), since bodies are apparently optional for them. They could be switching back and forth all the time, for all we know. Theoretically, those which are permanently coupled could be gay one week and straight the next, although this sounds rather confusing for them.

Important Characteristics of the Tolkien Man:


Height. The first descriptor of a noble Man is almost always "tall," often followed by "grim," "noble," or in extreme cases "broad-shouldered."

Noble birth. It doesn't matter how minor a character he is. If he touches the storyline at all, he'd better be Thrangon son of Bangon, of the line of the Mighty House of Omicron.

Grim demeanor. It's so difficult to be attractive, educated, and of noble birth. No one understands poor Thrangon except his One True Love. Too bad he spends all his time around other Men.

Special weapon. It doesn't matter if it's a sword, a horn, armor, etc., though brownie points are awarded for pointy phallic objects. Toss in a name like Nothancs, the Spear of Lobstor, and call it a day.

Easily provoked. It doesn't take much to have this individual "laying his hand on the hilt of his mighty sword." (Shut UP, you in the back.) Even innocent comments from hobbits can cause quasi-violent responses.

Inexplicable knowledge of history of other races. Especially elves, of course.

Poetry. Get a couple of drinks in Thrangon and he's off on a complete poetic rendition of the Silmarillion. Don't try to stop him or you'll soon be seeing the sharp end of Nothancs.


Surprisingly, pointed ears is NOT one of the requirements. Just try and catch Tolkien mentioning, even once, what Elven ears look like. They could have Bajoran nose wrinkles for all we know.

(NOTE:We have been informed that Tolkien mentions hobbits and elves as having pointed ears in a letter to his publisher discussing illustrations. We have given this matter some thought and would like to say the following: Phbbbbt.)

No, the first qualification is:

Height. In this case "tall" is generally followed by "slim," "fair," "gay," et cetera.

Long, beautiful hair. It doesn't matter how annoying it is in battle, it darn well better be there! It doesn't have to be blond, however, since there are as many ethnic groups of Elf as there are Men. (Don't believe me? Read the Silmarillion.)

Laughter. Elves are always laughing merrily at things which are not funny. This is one of the things that makes Tolkien elves truly fey. If elves shoot you for trespassing, merry laughter will be the last thing you hear.

Grimness. You think I'm joking? Show me Elrond Halfelven laughing in the books. Laughter is for those subordinate elves whose character does not have to be developed in depth. If necessarily, an important Elvish character can laugh grimly.

Elvish language. Which often turns out to be magical in and of itself as regards curing wounds, casting glamours, causing people to fall asleep, et cetera. Though falling asleep is no surprising reaction to an Elvish poetry night. Don't let them get Thrangon and his dear friend Neiringol ThreeQuartersElven started.

Auras. Elves glow. They shine. They sparkle. It doesn't matter how tough they are on the field of battle, or how supposedly good at sneaking through the woods, they'd darn well better glitter like a Tide commercial at all times.


Height. No, seriously. If you're going to put in a dwarf as a main character, he has to be taller than the other dwarfs. Tolkien was not bothered by phrases like "tall dwarf," and neither should you be.

Grimness. Yep. Dwarves are frightfully grim, no matter what film directors try to make you believe about their usage as comic relief. See how cheery you are when half your ancestors have been eaten by a dragon. For another good reason, see "dwarf women" in the next chapter.

Axes. For some reason an axe is thought to be a good weapon for a short, abnormally strong person, better than a club, sword, mace, morningstar, or anything else that would extend their reach in close quarters. Fingering this axe can substitute for the sword fondling of which Tolkien Men are so fond.

Beards. Lots of beards. A dwarf without a beard is like a wizard without a staff.


Hairy feet. Not sure where Peter Jackson got those funny ears, but Tolkien never mentions them. He goes into a LOT of detail on the furry feet, though.

Chubbiness. Left out of the film, except for poor Sam, but Tolkien's hobbits are not short little underwear models. They are "fat little bunny" type people.

Sneakiness. Hobbits are good at creeping around quietly and avoiding Big People, although this turns out to be surprisingly ineffective many times in the books. Go figure.

Merriness, defined as "worshipping elves and making jests that start with Ho! Or Ha!"

Heart, defined as "ability to resist evil when the plot requires it while being ineffective the rest of the time." It doesn't matter how long they can hold out against a Morghul blade wound, you don't want them on your side in a big battle, trust us.

Smoking. In the books, they're very proud of having invented this. Apparently lung cancer is not a problem in the Shire.