The Work

Have you ever watched the director and writer’s commentary for The Fellowship of the Ring?

In it, the writing staff talks about the difficulty they had writing the prologue. If you haven’t seen the movie in a while (or ever), this is the initial scene that gives all of the backstory on the Ring of Power.

In the commentary, they said the prologue alone went through several drafts.

First they tried it with Isildur, the one who cut the ring off of Sauron’s finger. That was no good.

Then they tried it in an omniscient POV through a nameless narrator. That didn’t work either.

Gandalf voiced the prologue in one draft. There was even a take where Ian McKellan read it.

There was even a draft where Frodo read the beginning.

At some points, they weren’t even sure they were going to have a prologue. There were several versions of the movie where the story began with Bilbo writing his book.

None of these were the final draft. They were all small failures and mistakes that went into creating what eventually went into the film.

That’s at LEAST four drafts, none of which were the final. And those are just for the prologue, which they weren’t sure was going to make the final cut.

The team eventually settled on having the prologue be from the Ring’s POV to show, quite literally, that the Ring was powerful and had a will of its own. They decided to have it voiced by Galadriel, an elf. Not only was Galadriel immortal, so she would have been around to remember such things, she is one of the most powerful elves in the world. And Cate Blanchett had an awesome voice.

The Lesson?

When you write a story, expect to fail. Don’t just expect it. Embrace it. It’s all part of the process, and it’s not really failure. It’s a necessary step to figure out the most important parts of the story. No one does it right the first time.

Writing is work. Put in the hours, write the drafts. Sometimes it will take three. Four. More.

Don’t get discouraged. What separates the best from everyone else isn’t talent. It’s perseverance. It’s dedication. It’s doing the work.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


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