So, You Want to Create an Original Hobbit Character?
For as long as anyone can remember, fanfiction has been a favourite pastime of fans all over the world. Obviously, those fans know that when they write fanfiction, they won't be earning any money when their story is finished, since what they're writing about does not belong to them. But they do it anyway - in hopes of honouring the fictional world and characters they're writing about; exploring the world within the fiction; letting themselves walk in the character's shoes for a bit; etc. They don't expect money because writing about what they care about is enough.
On September 21st, 1937, The Hobbit was published through the publisher George Allen & Unwin, and exploded in popularity. Thus, for the last 79 years, this lovely story of a short, little man with pointed ears and an affinity for the calm life, books, and smoking his little pipe has enchanted many an individual, both young and old.
Then, on December 14th, 2012, The Unexpected Journey came out in theatres and enchanted countless movie-goers with a semi-accurate adaption. It was followed by two other movies - The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies (originally titled There and Back Again) - and the newest experience in Middle-Earth was over, leaving some of us serious, non-Tolkien-purists feeling strangely empty.
After all, it wasn't likely Peter Jackson would be able to make a movie out of The Silmarillion, since he didn't have the rights, right?
So, some of you have decided to continue the experience of being in Middle-Earth by writing fanfiction. And some of you want to create an accurate Hobbit character - but there are some things you have to consider.
This Is What You Need to Consider
There are many things one must think about when they are creating their Hobbit so that their character can fit into the culture and the ways of life that surround the Hobbits of the Shire seamlessly. You wouldn't want to create a Hobbit that's actually half-Hobbit, a quarter human, and a quarter elf (like I did when I was younger) because there are many reasons that go against it.
Such as: it was quite rare that an elf and a human got together in canon1 and since Hobbits in the Shire (discounting the ones that live in Bree) are rather intimidated (a lot) by anyone taller than them it's safe to say that there's probably never been a married couple consisting of a Hobbit and a human, let alone a Hobbit and an elf-human.
So, to help guide you through this process, I've created a list of questions to help build your character.
Disclaimer: This list is not, in any way, a complete or comprehensive guide to creating a well-rounded character. This is simply a little guide to help you write a Hobbit that readers will be willing to follow on their adventures (despite adventures being "nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things").
I hope you've got your notebooks out or an empty document up on your computer screen, because class is now in session!
#1 - How old is your Hobbit?
Despite Hobbits being related to the race of Man in Middle-Earth, Hobbits' life-spans are vastly different from that of humanity's. I don't know how or why, but the life-span of a Hobbit is something interesting indeed.
When it comes to a Hobbit finally graduating into adulthood, the thing to note is that Hobbits don't mature nearly as fast as humans do. In fact, they aren't considered adults until they're 33 years old! So, if you want to create a Hobbit that's only 17 years old, their parents probably won't let them go traipsing off into the wild on their own (or with a group of strangers) since they're still a child.
And if you would like to write about the days before they die out of old age, remember - the average life-span of a Hobbit is 100 years, give or take a few. They won't be able to be, say, 124 years old in their final days. The only reason why Bilbo made it to 131 years old was because of the One Ring. It had a great and terrible influence over his body as well as his mind, thus slowing his aging down so that he appeared to have the body of an 80 year old, approximately, at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, despite being 111 years old.
#2 - What does your Hobbit look like?
All Hobbits known have hair colours ranging from brown to chestnut (like Bilbo) to black (like Frodo) to blonde (like Sam) to probably even auburn and red. Hobbits are known to have hair that's mainly earthy due to their close connection with the earth. But as they grow older, like humans their hair will lose colour and go grey.
When it comes to eye colour, I'm pretty sure that any natural eye colour will work. But no normal Hobbit would have eyes with colours like red, highlighter yellow, or purple (to name a few).
Now, about skin colour. I know that all the Hobbits in the film were white (or "whitewashed" as I've head some fans call it), but I believe that there's some science behind that.
Little factoid: When Tolkien wrote the Hobbit and lord of the Rings, he wanted them to stand as fictional mythos for england.
This might explain why everyone in the Hobbit were white. But in science there's an explanation that might help us understand why even further.
There's a component in our skin, hair, and eyes that dictates what colour our skin, hair, and eyes will be. All the humans on Earth are of the same ancestry, for example, yet we've somehow managed to be of all sorts of colours. This has happened through the processes of adaption - meaning, those that live closer to the creator have darker skin than those who live farther up north.
The component in our skin is called Melanin - it's what causes some of us to tan if we're out in the sun for too long.
Middle-Earth is located up in the northern hemisphere of Arda (basically the planet Middle-Earth is situated on). All of the land south of what's visible on most maps of Middle-Earth is uninhabitable. This is probably why everyone in The Hobbit is white (and before you get mad at Tolkien, I just want to point out that he probably wasn't thinking of race when he was writing the stories and he was never really racist).
I have some ideas on how you can get around the fact that there's a bit of a lack of racial diversity, if you're interested.
- If you're not a Tolkien purist, go ahead and do something daring like this: fairies were mentioned at the beginning of The Hobbit when Tolkien was describing the mythos of the Took bloodline.
"It was often said (in other families) that long ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was still something not entirely hobbitlike about them, and once in a while members of the Took-clan would go and have adventures."
- So if there were fairies, which were never mentioned again in The Hobbit, what other unmentioned magical creatures could their be in Middle-Earth? I have the answer: you could make your Hobbit originate from the south. (more explained in the next bullet-point)
- Before the Hobbits settled down, they were nomads consisting of three different tribes that moved separately of one-another - the Harfoots, the Stoors, and the Fallohides. What if there was another tribe? Or, what if small bands of Hobbits broke away from their tribes and moved south?
- Now, if you wanted a small band to have broken away from the other tribes, you could say they moved south and settled down by a forest in the Sutherland2. And, maybe, in that forest lived a race of nymphs and their skin was dark? Because, if a Took ancestor really took a fairy as his wife, maybe some of the Hobbits would take a nymph as their wives?
- It's really all up to you :3
#3 - How tall is your Hobbit?
Hobbits can be anywhere from 2 to 4 feet tall, though Bilbo Baggins was 4 feet 1 inch (in other sources he's 4 feet 2 inches). The tallest Hobbit was Merry after he drank the Ent-draught which made him grow until he was 4 feet 6 inches. The second-tallest Hobbits on record are Pippin (at 4 feet 5) and Bilbo's ancestor, Bullroarer Took (at 4 feet 5 a well). I advise that you keep your Hobbit between 3 and a couple inches above 4 feet just so they don't seem so out of place. After all we don't want them to seem too unusual for a Hobbit, because that might draw your readers' attention away from the story.
#4 - What does your Hobbit do?
This is important since you need your Hobbit to be doing something with their life before they're called to go on an adventure (if they're going on an adventure) or their life story begins. They can be anything from a butcher to a farmer to a fisherman/woman (despite the Hobbits' obvious fear of water) to an accountant, or even a store-owner!
Here's a really useful link to a pin featuring a list of jobs that could work for your Hobbit on Pinterest: http://pin.it/YTjewCV
The rest is up to you, brave writer! Now, if you haven't done this already, you just have to build your Hobbit's personality, family, dreams and goals, and soon you'll have a well-rounded character ready to go on an adventure!
Good luck to you! Thank you for reading this, hopefully, helpful HubPage!
1 - The only three canon elf/human couples were Beren and Lúthien, Tuor and Idril , and Aragorn and Arwen. (Though Aragorn has elven blood, which is why he's literally 80 at the time of The Lord of the Rings)
2 - Sutherland is viewable on this extremely detailed interactive map: http://lotrproject.com/map/#zoom=3&lat=-1315.5&lon=1500&layers=BTTTTT