March's Challenges

From Evil Comes Good

For many of our members, it will soon be spring, a time of growth and renewal. In The Silmarillion it is written that evil should constantly arise and, out of it, new good should constantly come. This challenge is to write something in which you demonstrate how something good came out of something evil. One example is Huan the hound of Celegorm, who leaves his murderous master in order to help Lúthien, or the Exile of the Noldor, which keeps Morgoth at bay and keeps Beleriand peaceful for many centuries.

It's Magic!

Let’s bring a little magic into our fanfic! So many of our stories are written very realistically, as if the events are taking place in the present day. However, Tolkien's stories do include magical elements, from the Silmarils to the duel between Finrod and Morgoth to the magical cottage in The Cottage of Lost Play from the Book of Lost Tales I. Other aspects of daily life for the citizens of Middle-earth--Elven "mind-speak," for example--seem magical to us, in the modern world.

This challenge asks authors to incorporate elements of fantasy or magic into a story. Whether "canon magic" or that of your own imagining, let's break our grip on reality and see how well we can transport an audience to a distant and truly magical place.

The Quote of the Month Challenge

The Quote of the Month challenge asks you to write based on the themes and thoughts the quote inspires or about the event in which the quote occurred. You may write in any format--poem, story, essay, or drabble--with any characters, genre, or rating.

Then Lúthien stood upon the bridge, and declare her power: and the spell was loosed that bound stone to stone, and the gates were thrown down, and the walls opened, and the pits laid bare; and many thralls and captives came forth in wonder and dismay, shielding their eyes against the pale moon light, for they had lain long in the darkness of Sauron.
-The Silmarillion, "Of Beren and Lúthien"

Character of the Month: Melian

The character of the month for March is Melian, one of the most magical characters in The Silmarillion. Responsible for the girdle that kept Doriath safe through much of the First Age, Melian also stands at the center of one of the The Silmarillion's most tragic love stories, is the mother of the beautiful and powerful Lúthien Tinuviel, and makes the controversial decision to leave Doriath unprotected after Thingol's death. Why did she make the choices that she did? And what might life have been like for one such as Melian, bound by love to a world not her own?

Feel free to recommend (in a comment to this post) exceptional stories about Melian. Also, as he is honored this month, old and new stories of your own are welcome in the community as challenge entries.

News and Announcements

March Is Back to Middle-earth Month

Once again, it is March! And March--as many of you know--is Back to Middle-earth Month.

Different groups and individuals have plans for Back to Middle-earth Month this year. Last year's meme asked Tolkien fans to choose a day of the week and make an effort to post something Tolkien-related to their blogs or journals on that day. Just like last year, those of you who will be using March as a time to remember and reflect upon your own discoveries of Middle-earth are welcome to share your entries here as well.

However, I can't help but to feel that the spirit of B2MeM is somewhat lost for many of us. After all, we continue to journey to Middle-earth through stories, artwork, and discussion every day. So going back to Middle-earth doesn't exactly describe the journey for many of us, who feel that we have never left.

And so when thinking about the best way for SWG to commemorate Back to Middle-earth Month, I was somewhat at a loss. After all, how do we go back when we're still there? And recalling the heyday of the movie trilogy does little to promote The Silmarillion, which is what this group is about. And then I started to think about my own relationship with Tolkien's world and how it compares to the purpose of B2MeM, and I realized how much my focus has narrowed since I read The Silmarillion for the first time three years ago. I used to devour any piece of writing that I could find that mentioned Tolkien's world. Now, I have my favorite characters and my preferred eras of history. Rarely do I venture outside of these bounds. Running SWG, writing my own stories, beta-reading, and researching means little time to take chances on new authors and new ideas.

Sound familiar?

For many of us, I think that it will.

And so for B2MeM 2007, I think of it not so much as going back to Middle-earth as trying to look anew at the world that has enriched our lives. Each day for the month of March, I offer a quote from The Silmarillion from a different "stop" along our journey through the history of Arda. What should you do with these quotes? Why, whatever you'd like! Perhaps they will inspire stories or drabbles or poems. Or maybe allow you to recall an old favorite story that you haven't read in years and wish to share with others. Or draw a picture. Or just read and remember the first time you went to Nan Elmoth or Alqualondë or Avallónë. If the quotes inspire something that you wish to share, of course, feel free to share it or a link to it on that day's post.

The journey begins with the creation of Arda and can be found here.

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