It all began last year–for any screenwriters out there, you know what development hell is and I was in predevelopment purgatory. Waiting for someone to get back to me on something everyone knew I was writing. What do I do? While I wait, I end up writing 360 pages of a new Middle Earth story in under a year. I even learned Tolkien Elvish and Black Speech (I also know some Adûnaic).
So, now everyone’s liking the story that evolved from something totally unrelated and in my absolute shock and amazement that the first five chapters were 80 pages long, I forgot I had to edit the darn thing. So right now it’s a little rough–that I don’t mind at all. It’s the first draft and it’s always rough. Then the nightmare: editing elvish.
First of all, The Kingdom of the Woodland Realm does not use “film” elvish (no disrespect, but Tolkien didn’t have Peter Jackson when he created his world, so I decided against it for this story for authenticity). Since I began the story in the middle of the trilogy, figuring out which elvish to use wasn’t too hard–until I relearned actual English.
First of all, most of my readers cried when I told them Thranduil was 6200 years old and not 3000 (well, he can’t be 3000 in the Hobbit: Legolas was 2900–they would be the same age based on how elves age*). Part of the writing as well as the editing involves using Tolkien mathematics. Using his appendix in The Lord of the Rings, I was able to figure out when Legolas was born and how old Thranduil was when Legolas was born thereby figuring out when Thranduil was born. Translation: if you thought reading a Tolkien novel was fun, you’re about to roll over laughing with TKWR.
I am extremely crazy when it comes to making sure the last draft is perfect. Had I had been the editor for 50 Shades of Grey, it wouldn’t be on bookshelves yet (I read one page and started looking for my red pencil). Even going back through the excerpts on Tumblr, I cringe at the tiniest mistake–and sometimes I change it if it is a big enough issue (like a name change, for example). But I also know I still have a few things left to put in–some surprises for readers who want to see this thing on a shelf. However, now I cringe when I know the elvish is wrong and it will always be wrong because spellcheck was not made to know elvish. Lû trenarath amarth nîn gets a lot of red lines.
I have over 170 new characters (mostly elves), three ages to cover and each one literally evolves in every aspect–especially linguistically–there are three versions for Adûnaic as well as the elvish Quenya and Sindarin. It all makes me happy I am only dyslexic with numbers (which is why it took six months to do Tolkien mathematics that I continuously check every day).
You would think I would have thought of this when I completed Book II on July 14. Well, I knew I had to edit it but the scope of it escaped me until today while reading some elvish for the “mini-book” Trenarn o Legolas Lasgalen (or The Last Tale of Legolas Greenleaf) which is written mostly in elvish. I found myself editing in elvish like it was second nature–like a Middle Earth Middle School teacher reading bad elvish. It was then I realized my elvish is way better than my English. For someone who can spend a day correcting Facebook and Tumblr posts, this made me hyperventilate. So as I begin Book III (which the first chapter is already longer than first chapter of Book II by 15 pages), when I have a moment, I am now going over Book II all over again (so for anyone reading it on Tumblr, forgive me and spellcheck–it is a rough draft).–J.
*How Elves Age: You don’t really need to know, but I’m going to tell you anyway.
Based on the Appendix in the Lord of the Rings (p.1085), Arwen was born in 241 Third Age. If Legolas is 200 years older than she was, he was born in 41 Third Age. By the time of the Battle of the Five Armies in 2941, he would have been 2900 years old. 2900/144 = 20.1 Human Years Old.
It was estimated that Thranduil was 6200 years old at the time of the Hobbit, which means he would have been 3300 years old when Legolas was born in 41 T.A. He would have been 3,259 years old ( 22.6 Human Years) during the War of the Last Alliance (3441 Second Age). From there, going backwards, Thranduil was born in 182 Second Age.
When using Elven Age/Human Conversion, never round up the decimal. They remain within a certain age until the cycle changes naturally: 1 = 144, 2 = 288, 3 = 432, 4 = 576, 5 = 720, etc. (144 x Human Year). To figure out an elf’s age from their given age (for example, Galadriel: if she is 7000 years old, then you divide 144. 7000/144 = 48.6 Human Years.