May's Challenges

In honor of The Children of Húrin being released last month, this month's challenges are inspired by events and themes from the new book.

"You Can't Go Home Again"

At last worn by haste and the long road (for forty leagues and more had he journeyed without rest) he came with the first ice of winter to the pools of Ivrin, where before he had been healed. But they were now but a frozen mire, and he could drink there no more.

Thus he came hardly by the passes of Dor-lómin, through bitter snows from the north, and found again the land of his childhood. Bare and bleak it was; and Morwen was gone. Her house stood empty, broken and cold; and no living thing dwelt nigh.

-The Silmarillion, "Of Túrin"

What would happen if one of Tolkien's characters returned to a beloved home after a long absence? This challenge asks authors to pursue that very question. The return may be canonical--such as Túrin's return to Dor-lómin in the quote--or alternate universe, such as Fëanor's return to Tirion after many ages in the halls of Mandos. What and whom might the character encounter? What has changed? How has the character changed?

The Soft Underbelly

It is said that all dragons have a weakness despite their huge size and heavily armored skin. It is their soft underbelly, which in Glaurung’s case, was vulnerable to the sword of Túrin.

The Silmarillion is often thought to be such great fodder for stories because its characters are flawed and possess obvious weaknesses. This challenge asks authors to explore a weakness of any of Tolkien’s characters in The Silmarillion and show how that character was felled by this innate frailty of his or hers. For example, King Thingol of Doriath was obsessed with the Silmarils of Fëanor, and eventually, they caused his death. Likewise, Celegorm’s quickness to anger contributed to his becoming the first of Fëanor’s sons to die.

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.

Through the deep dusk Mîm led them past the pool, where now faint stars were mirrored among the shadows of the birch-boughs. At the mouth of the cave he turned and bowed to Túrin. 'Enter, lord!' he said: 'Bar-en-Danwedh, the House of Ransom. For so it shall be called.'

-The Children of Húrin, "Of Mîm the Dwarf"

The Character of the Month: Morwen

In the new book The Children of Húrin, Morwen's character is one of the most poignantly described. Proud to a fault, she nonetheless represents one of Tolkien's strongest female characters, and her courage is undeniable. Ensnared in the curse set upon her husband, the mother of Túrin and Niënor is one of the most fearsome of the Edain, and with the new book, Tolkien fans have been granted a rare glimpse of new material about her character.

This month, we invite our members to share everything Morwen: their favorite stories about her, their thoughts on her, and their own writing and artwork.

Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for almost two years' worth of challenges to inspire your writing!

Have an idea for a challenge? Some of our most popular challenges have been created by you, the members of SWG! If you have a plotbunny gnawing at your ankle, a favorite quote, or a favorite character that you think might inspire others as well, please send an email to and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!

May's News

New Ratings System

In preparation for debuting our archive, the SWG moderators have discussed the ratings system that we would like to use. Our old system was simple but inflexible, offering a mere two options to authors for rating their stories: General and Adult. In discussion, we determined that keeping the system simple was of the essence, but authors needed more choices in providing information to readers about their stories.

The new system offers three options for rating stories: General, Teens, and Adult. The new rating system is described in detail in the Ratings Guide. Please be aware that the new system will apply not only on the eventual archive but also our LiveJournal community. Please rate your stories accordingly so that readers may have a consistent manner by which to judge and choose the stories that they are comfortable in reading.

Help Wanted

As SWG expands, we're always in need of help from our members. In fact, much of what we've accomplished so far (and will accomplish in the near future!) is thanks to the hard work and talents of our volunteers.

If you want to help out with SWG, we're always happy to have you! Check out our new volunteer page for an up-to-date listing of where we need the most help.

We Need Essays!

One of the features that we hope to develop on SWG is an extensive Reference Library. But we need references to make this possible! We know that many of our members have written (or are writing) research articles and essays based on Tolkien's world and the craft of writing, and we'd love to publish your work here! For more information, please check out our submission guidelines; if you have something to share that doesn't seem to quite fit what we're asking for, please feel free to query anyway. All submissions, questions, and queries should be sent to

New to the Website

May saw the addition of a lot of new material to the website. Thanks to Rhapsody, we now have a newsletter archive where members can view past news items and challenges. Our Reference library added four new resources. The Perfect Girl, by Nikara, looks at the fan fiction phenomenon of "Mary Sue" and how readers and reviewers react to her. Doc Bushwell looks at how The Silmarillion portrays science and technology in The Tolkienian War on Science. And Dawn Felagund's Silmarillion chapter summaries and History of Middle-earth summaries are now archived in the library as well. And our LiveJournal userinfo page got a much-needed update and face-lift.

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