I am a youngster (18 years old) who always enjoyed to write stories. My main inspirations were always drawn from fantasy stories, mainly A Song of Ice and Fire, which I read when I was 14/15/17 years old and The Lord of the Rings, when I was about 11. I've always wanted to write a fantasy novel, but I wasn't able to create a world or a plot much different from Tolkien's.
I think I found some ways to make my work different than his, however I am not quite sure. First of all, Tolkien wrote in a very mythological scope, his writing was slow and difficult to keep with and his characters (excluding Gollum/Smeagol, Frodo and Turin from The Children of Hurin)were, psychologically, a little limited, lacking depth.
So, my solutions are: to bring it down to a more human level, by making descriptions closer to reality, use some techniques to keep the plot interesting a try to "humanize" the characters, giving them internal conflicts, human goals and an evil, not honorable side. As for the antagonist, a Dark Lord (I couldn't avoid that),I plan to show the motives behind his actions, like early life trauma, and see him defeated because of love or any other quality instead of an evil ring or deathly hallows.
As for the world I have created, which I've been constructing since I was 12 years old, it is indeed a very Tolkien world: vast areas of wilderness, vast forests, great almost uncrossable mountains and a wasteland, where a Dark Lord dwells surrounded by demonic armies.
I would very much like to know your
opinion on other things I should do about the plot and if you agree/disagree with my strategies.
Sorry for the long text and for my lousy English, I am actually Portuguese.Answer:
I think you're definitely right to take the characterization a step further than Tolkein did and to make your antagonist a more three-dimensional person. Readers tastes change over time, and these days they expect more depth, inner conflict, realism, etc.
To develop your plot, you might start with the 8 basic elements. See this article...
Most important is to know what your story goal is, because the entire plot and cast of characters hangs on it. In The Lord of the Rings
the story goal is to destroy the ring. Choosing a different type of goal is an easy way to start making your book different.
It sounds as though you are a plotter by nature (a writer who works by planning the story first). If so, Dramatica (both the theory and software) is a powerful tool for planning both plot and the emotional arcs of a story. Just be careful that you don't get so lost in the planning that you fail to start writing. It sounds as though you've been planning this book for a long time. Try not to let another year go by before you put it on paper.
One final tip...Tolkein set the standard in regards to plotting/world-building in the last century, and has inspired many high fantasy writers and readers. But you should keep in mind that, for most readers, the emotional journey is as important as the landscape the story takes place in.