S04E01 Script Discussion

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Here's a link to the Google Doc. The formatting didn't copy, but if you look at it with the PDF, you can tell what's supposed to be underlined.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Comments on Episode 1 Script (based on pdf; I forgot we have a Google Doc version of this, oops):

Teaser/Tag Frame: Your Bilbo voice is delightful! He sounds quaintly English and hobbity to my (very American) ears. No suggestions for improvement from me. I do like the 'significant look' and the set-up of Balin and Gandalf clearly playing Bilbo a bit here. Good job working in the wolves and the reference to the Important Events of the end of the Hobbit. And Bilbo rushing to put his papers in order and that sign on the door! Just, superbly done!

Act 1:
Setting up camp - my father constructed a tent for my sister's wedding reception, and this scene immediately recalled that for me. If you want references to anything other than tent poles, they can be in need of ropes to tie things down as well as stakes. I have never been to an SCA event like Pennsic or Gulf Wars, but I imagine the set up/break down is very similar there as well! I am okay with everyone setting up their own tents, even princes.

Perfect for you to bring up Turgon's grief before his demand for revenge. It both explains his anger and humanizes him.

p. 6 "Our approach to Feanor shall not be an immediate attack. We must first give him a chance to answer for his crimes. And I do not think he will attack us. He abandoned this campsite and moved to across the lake in order to avoid a confrontation."
I feel this should be condensed a bit. Perhaps....
"We do not attack without first giving Fëanor a chance to answer for his deeds. He did not attack us when we arrived, but abandoned this campsite and gave way before us."

The Fëanorean messenger is great. Lots of awkward standing around. Tears in Fingon's eyes. Love it. Fingolfin admitting that he's not sure what to do might be a bit too far. Perhaps he should just admit that this changes things. I know he's talking to his two sons, so honesty is fine, but Fingolfin shows good leadership even when caught off guard (well, most of the time...)

I am not sure how I feel about Círdan and Celeborn discussing the language barrier before they meet, but I suppose it's fine to prime the audience for that. I do think the "their camp has been out of sight for a few days now" line is too on the nose. Maybe they could discuss the newly risen sun and moon instead? I very much like that they bring up Olwë's connection to Círdan and their assumptions about the ships and elves by the lake.

The mind-reading scene - ugh, I feel like you did a decent job, but it's just so clunky sounding on paper! I think it's the concept of reading minds that is at fault, not your portrayal of it, but it's a weak point of this script, I fear. Turgon's joke about 'how do I say 'spoon' in Sindarin?' was a nice end note, though.

Act 2:
How to reforge a blade - magic or smithing or both? I do like the magical elements you've incorporated, but I think the process should be shown to be...something vaguely realistic. So, I am fine with the snow that does not melt (because magic) but I am less fine with the seams between the shards that just...mend.

p. 23 To avoid the specific time reference, I would change this: "Five years have passed since we arrived at this lake. Methinks Maglor would have attacked us already if he were planning to do so." to "Methinks Maglor would have attacked us already if he were planning to do so. How long do you plan to sit idle beside this lake?" And then include Fingolfin's reply, but cut the next two lines of the exchange - no need for Fingolfin to say 'indeed' and Fingon can jump right ahead to 'And what of Morgoth?'

It is probably necessary to include the reason why Círdan and Celeborn haven't spoken with the Fëanoreans directly - Fingolfin told them not to. I don't know if I like it or not, but I'm glad you wrote it.

Act 2 is really short - only 6 pages, and with three montage-like scenes lacking dialogue (passage of time, forging of Ringil, and Fingon exploring Thangorodrim). As a ballpark figure, we're aiming at 15-16 pages for an Act, so these are long spaces without dialogue that we should think about the ramifications of putting back-to-back-to-back like this. Changing seasons scene should be very brief (as you wrote it). Reforging Ringil scene could have some lines prior to the arrival of Fingon - Fingolfin can react to the memories of Fëanor he sees in the old blade, or chant something when he begins the reforging process, or well...hum as he works. Just, you know...something! I think the solo adventures of Fingon will be tense enough without dialogue, I'm just slightly concerned with that following these other dialogue-scarce scenes.

Act 3:
p. 28 "half-cousin" Certainly, this is how the Fëanoreans refer to the children of Finarfin and Fingolfin. I am not certain if the Host of Fingolfin would be so quick to draw that distinction? So, perhaps Rhogrin would say "your cousin" and Caranthir would jump in to point out "half-cousin" or something like that.
I do like how Fingolfin has reason to believe Fingon is captive in the Fëanorean camp - it's not a baseless accusation. And, alas, Maglor thinks his eldest brother dead, because of course he does....

p. 35 - hahaha, Maglor would *never* take someone's son! *cough* Elrond and Elros. Love it! And of course his repeated insistence that no one saw Fingon and his frustration that no one will believe him or accept his word rings very true. Huan bounding over to greet Finrod <3

p. 36 - This line of Celegorm's feels a bit off "I have a similar role in our camp, yet I often go hunting alone. I think it not radical that Fingon would seek time to himself away from your camp, especially if, as you said, he seemed upset before he departed." The first sentence is fine, but for the rest, I might suggest: "Why do you think it strange that Fingon would seek to be away from your camp, especially if, as you say, he seemed troubled?" Likewise, his later use of "reciprocal" seems off.

p. 38 Regarding Maedhros on Thangorodrim - his state of dress is up for debate, but I would argue that his armor at least was stripped from him in Angband after his capture. A captive isn't allowed weapons (obviously), so why would they be allowed armor to protect them from the lashes of their captors? He doesn't have to be stripped naked, but he could be. Sauron will do that to Finrod and Beren in Tol Sirion, and the parallel here is to Frodo in the tower of Cirith Ungol, where he was very explicitly stripped of all his clothing. I'm fine with his clothes hanging off him in tatters, but I do want to remove the reference to armor.

Act 4:
Yeah, the talking-in-your-mind thing is just as wince-worthy when Galadriel does it. I don't necessarily hate that part of the Lord of the Rings films, so maybe it's better on film than on paper. I don't know. It worries me, is all.

I know others have already pointed out that 'Bcaw!' brings a smile to my face, which is maybe not what we should be going for in this scene. So, a rush of wind it is!

I am going back and forth in my own mind what Thorondor should call Fingon. I'm fine with Fingon calling him "Lord Eagle." I feel like there should be something more formal (like 'child of Finwë' or 'valiant elf' or something), but...it's also true that Fingon and Maedhros have been calling each others' names and Thorondor has heard them say that. So...he would at least know to refer to him as Fingon. But...maybe something more to make it less familiar? "Fingon of the northern shore of Lake Mithrim" or "Fingon of Valinor" or something?

I am also pleased to see that Maedhros does not get a coherent speech until after he drinks some water. Because, yeah, he can't find it easy to talk! And answering the question 'how did he live like this?' is probably important for the audience....

I do really appreciate the timing of the reveal of Maedhros being alive and everyone's reaction to that. You have a really good sense of pacing throughout, but it's quite clear in this climax what you are building to and the exact moment the tension shifts for each piece. The farewell note between Turgon and Thorondor and the little nod with Huan were a great cap on that scene. The 'knives out' parts of the debate are maybe a bit tough to sell, but I think you handled the rising frustration without there being any reason to think they were delaying hostilities until the eagle arrived intentionally - it feels natural enough how it gets out of hand.



General comments: I would encourage you to use published Silmarillion spelling whenever possible. So, for example, Fëanor rather than Feanor, Helcaraxë rather than Helcaraxe. It's a minor issue, and if that's a nuisance to correct it can wait until later. I can give you the keyboard shortcuts for the accented letters if you're using a PC. (It can be done on a Mac as well, it's just different)

I know that writing in archaic language can be awkward and uncomfortable. I think you're getting the hang of it, though, and we'll see how the Exec Team reacts to it. I'm a bit nervous that they'll just be like 'can you not?' but....let's let them see it and go from there!


Whew! I hope these thoughts and comments were helpful. I wanted to be all 'and this is awesome! and this is awesome! And that's just what we were going for in that scene!' throughout - I think it's a very good script, overall, and the weak points are quite honestly mostly weak points that existed in the structure before you got to it, so...hardly your fault.
 
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Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Thank you so, so much for your feedback! I went ahead and incorporated most of it in my version 2, where I had already gone back and tried to make the archaic language a little better and made a few more changes.

Teaser/Tag Frame: Your Bilbo voice is delightful! He sounds quaintly English and hobbity to my (very American) ears. No suggestions for improvement from me. I do like the 'significant look' and the set-up of Balin and Gandalf clearly playing Bilbo a bit here. Good job working in the wolves and the reference to the Important Events of the end of the Hobbit. And Bilbo rushing to put his papers in order and that sign on the door! Just, superbly done!
I think the frame for this episode is probably the best frame I've written, and I'm glad you like it. In this new version, I added a little more to the tag so it would include a full stanza of the Misty Mountains song.

p. 6 "Our approach to Feanor shall not be an immediate attack. We must first give him a chance to answer for his crimes. And I do not think he will attack us. He abandoned this campsite and moved to across the lake in order to avoid a confrontation."
I feel this should be condensed a bit. Perhaps....
"We do not attack without first giving Fëanor a chance to answer for his deeds. He did not attack us when we arrived, but abandoned this campsite and gave way before us."
Thanks for the suggestion. I changed this line.

The Fëanorean messenger is great. Lots of awkward standing around. Tears in Fingon's eyes. Love it. Fingolfin admitting that he's not sure what to do might be a bit too far. Perhaps he should just admit that this changes things. I know he's talking to his two sons, so honesty is fine, but Fingolfin shows good leadership even when caught off guard (well, most of the time...)
Fingolfin just learned that his brother is dead, which is a shock to him. I imagine that he spent a lot of his time on the Helcaraxe picturing what his confrontation with Feanor was going to be like, but he never considered that Feanor might be dead, so any plans he made are now completely irrelevant. Immediately after this statement of doubt, he demonstrates that he is a good leader and does, in fact, know what to do. He reflects on what the Feanorians must be feeling, decides what his camp will do, and considers the practical matter of hunting.

This sentiment could probably be conveyed equally well with a long pause in place of the line, but I like the parallelism of Fingolfin wondering what Maglor will do "as king" then wondering what he himself will do - but trailing off before referring to himself as king. I'm not trying to suggest that Fingolfin is reluctant or unwilling to be king, rather he is thinking of what the title king would mean if said in that context. Does his statement to Feanor, "Thou shalt lead and I will follow," also apply to Feanor's second son? Is Fingolfin equal in status to Maglor and now king of a separate people? Is he challenging Maglor for the kingship? Fingolfin genuinely does not yet know.

I am not sure how I feel about Círdan and Celeborn discussing the language barrier before they meet, but I suppose it's fine to prime the audience for that. I do think the "their camp has been out of sight for a few days now" line is too on the nose. Maybe they could discuss the newly risen sun and moon instead? I very much like that they bring up Olwë's connection to Círdan and their assumptions about the ships and elves by the lake.
Thanks for pointing that out. "Days" and "tomorrow" probably wouldn't be concepts for the Elves yet anyway. I made Cirdan and Celeborn talk about the Sindarin names for the Sun and Moon, which led directly into their conversation about the language barrier.

The mind-reading scene - ugh, I feel like you did a decent job, but it's just so clunky sounding on paper! I think it's the concept of reading minds that is at fault, not your portrayal of it, but it's a weak point of this script, I fear. Turgon's joke about 'how do I say 'spoon' in Sindarin?' was a nice end note, though.
I used a different font for dialogue that is spoken telepathically instead of saying "voice over" every time. Does this make the telepathic scenes less awkward to read?

Act 2:
How to reforge a blade - magic or smithing or both? I do like the magical elements you've incorporated, but I think the process should be shown to be...something vaguely realistic. So, I am fine with the snow that does not melt (because magic) but I am less fine with the seams between the shards that just...mend.
I looked up how to reforge a sword before writing this scene, and one of the most consistent things I read was that, when pieces of a blade are just welded back together, the sword is much weaker and very likely to break along those seams again. Since Ringil won't break again, I thought it might be good to explain this via magic. I changed it to make it a little more clear in the description that most of the work was Fingolfin's smithcraft and the magic just reinforced the weld, but I can change it more if the process is still too magical.

p. 23 To avoid the specific time reference, I would change this: "Five years have passed since we arrived at this lake. Methinks Maglor would have attacked us already if he were planning to do so." to "Methinks Maglor would have attacked us already if he were planning to do so. How long do you plan to sit idle beside this lake?" And then include Fingolfin's reply, but cut the next two lines of the exchange - no need for Fingolfin to say 'indeed' and Fingon can jump right ahead to 'And what of Morgoth?'
I want to keep the specific time reference here. I understand that leaving out specific references to time helps to convey the sense of timelessness of the Elves, but here I think it would do the opposite. Without it, I think viewers would perceive the amount of time to have passed as much shorter than it actually was. Two groups of humans probably would not spend five years sitting in separate camps on either side of a lake without doing anything, so mentioning that the Elves did so reaffirms that they are immortal and perceive the passage of time differently. Also, it reinforces that the Noldor really have wasted what probably would have been their best time to attack Morgoth.

Act 2 is really short - only 6 pages, and with three montage-like scenes lacking dialogue (passage of time, forging of Ringil, and Fingon exploring Thangorodrim). As a ballpark figure, we're aiming at 15-16 pages for an Act, so these are long spaces without dialogue that we should think about the ramifications of putting back-to-back-to-back like this. Changing seasons scene should be very brief (as you wrote it). Reforging Ringil scene could have some lines prior to the arrival of Fingon - Fingolfin can react to the memories of Fëanor he sees in the old blade, or chant something when he begins the reforging process, or well...hum as he works. Just, you know...something! I think the solo adventures of Fingon will be tense enough without dialogue, I'm just slightly concerned with that following these other dialogue-scarce scenes.
I added that Fingolfin hears the faint cries of his people as they perish on the Helcaraxe, and I had him chanting to blade before its starts to glow.

While I was writing the scene, I imagined this song as the soundtrack for the reforging of Ringil. I don't know if we actually want to use this type of music, but it would be something to make the reforging montage different from the other two montages nearby.

Act 3:
p. 28 "half-cousin" Certainly, this is how the Fëanoreans refer to the children of Finarfin and Fingolfin. I am not certain if the Host of Fingolfin would be so quick to draw that distinction? So, perhaps Rhogrin would say "your cousin" and Caranthir would jump in to point out "half-cousin" or something like that.

p. 36 - This line of Celegorm's feels a bit off "I have a similar role in our camp, yet I often go hunting alone. I think it not radical that Fingon would seek time to himself away from your camp, especially if, as you said, he seemed upset before he departed." The first sentence is fine, but for the rest, I might suggest: "Why do you think it strange that Fingon would seek to be away from your camp, especially if, as you say, he seemed troubled?" Likewise, his later use of "reciprocal" seems off.
Thanks. I changed these.
 

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Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
p. 38 Regarding Maedhros on Thangorodrim - his state of dress is up for debate, but I would argue that his armor at least was stripped from him in Angband after his capture. A captive isn't allowed weapons (obviously), so why would they be allowed armor to protect them from the lashes of their captors? He doesn't have to be stripped naked, but he could be. Sauron will do that to Finrod and Beren in Tol Sirion, and the parallel here is to Frodo in the tower of Cirith Ungol, where he was very explicitly stripped of all his clothing. I'm fine with his clothes hanging off him in tatters, but I do want to remove the reference to armor.
I thought people might object to this, but I really like having Maedhros in his armor. Hanging from a cliff for a really long time while wearing tattered clothes would be uncomfortable, but doing so while wearing heavy armor would be much worse. Not only would the added weight of the armor cause more pressure on Maedhros' arm, but I think it would eventually dig deeply into his skin and, because it's metal, get really hot in the sunlight or really cold. Also, I imagine that Maedhros is wearing Feanor's heraldic device, so Morgoth is kind of using him as a flag. Morgoth doesn't expect anyone to be able to rescue Maedhros, so he puts him out on display so that, if any Noldor who come to attack Angband notice Maedhros, they may not recognize him, but they would recognize Feanor's symbol (and so will the viewers when they see him). Additionally, Morgoth probably enjoys gazing out his window at his captive and being reminded that Feanor is dead. However, the most important reason I want Maedhros to be wearing his armor is that Fingon can't kill him by shooting him in the chest. Fingon has to shoot Maedhros in the head, which means he has to look his friend in the eyes before he kills him.

I definitely don't think Maedhros had his armor on while he was being tortured in Angband before he was hung from Thangorodrim. It was probably taken from him along with his weapons when he arrived, but, after a while, it is inexplicably returned to him. Maedhros puts the armor on, thinking perhaps that he will be forced into gladiatorial combat or something, but he is instead taken to Morgoth to be hung from the cliff.

I am going back and forth in my own mind what Thorondor should call Fingon. I'm fine with Fingon calling him "Lord Eagle." I feel like there should be something more formal (like 'child of Finwë' or 'valiant elf' or something), but...it's also true that Fingon and Maedhros have been calling each others' names and Thorondor has heard them say that. So...he would at least know to refer to him as Fingon. But...maybe something more to make it less familiar? "Fingon of the northern shore of Lake Mithrim" or "Fingon of Valinor" or something?
I changed the line so Thorondor calls Fingon "Fingon" the first time he says his name then "Fingon the Valiant" when he talks about what he specifically saw Fingon do.

General comments: I would encourage you to use published Silmarillion spelling whenever possible. So, for example, Fëanor rather than Feanor, Helcaraxë rather than Helcaraxe. It's a minor issue, and if that's a nuisance to correct it can wait until later. I can give you the keyboard shortcuts for the accented letters if you're using a PC. (It can be done on a Mac as well, it's just different)
I know how to make the accented letters, I just chose not to do it for the drafts. When I was first writing the script, I found that continually looking up names to see whether they had diacritical marks interrupted my flow of writing, so I just decided to ignore them all and then go back and add them later with Find-Replace in MS Word. I went ahead and did that for this script. Please let me know if I missed any names that need accents.

Again, thank you so much for the feedback!
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I looked up how to reforge a sword before writing this scene, and one of the most consistent things I read was that, when pieces of a blade are just welded back together, the sword is much weaker and very likely to break along those seams again. Since Ringil won't break again, I thought it might be good to explain this via magic. I changed it to make it a little more clear in the description that most of the work was Fingolfin's smithcraft and the magic just reinforced the weld, but I can change it more if the process is still too magical.
You are exactly right about the issue with blade-welding. Another way to solve the problem is to show Fingolfin heating and breaking the blade into small strips, then welding those into a new billet, similarly to the way he would have made the original blade. This way he can make a new blade entirely from the pieces. This is likely the way I will want to show Anduril reforged as well.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I thought people might object to this, but I really like having Maedhros in his armor.
I remain completely unconvinced, but I certainly am willing to let you go to bat and defend this idea to see if it makes it through Executive review.

As for the mind-reading, I think I find the premise uncomfortable, so I guess I just have this visceral squirming reaction while reading it. It's not your fault and it's not that the writing is bad or poorly formatted or anything. I dunno. I just...blah.

And as to the Blind Guardian soundtrack - I love them, and have seen them in concert! But yeah, probably not entirely fitting for this project. If you want to suggest to Phillip that he lift something from that for a 'reforging Ringil' piece, though, he might be willing to work with you.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
So, revisiting the question of archaic speech among our First Age elves in Beleriand, I want to consider the following dialogue passage from p. 6-9, where the messenger from the Fëanorean camp visits Fingolfin's camp and delivers news:

ANGROD: (from inside the tent) But Fëanor, too, is securing his position. The longer we hesitate in our attack – (He steps out.) - the more chance we give him to strike first.

FINGOLFIN: We shall not attack without first giving Fëanor a chance to answer for his crimes. He attacked us not when we arrived but abandoned this campsite and moved to the other shore.

The poles are all up inside the tent, so everyone moves outside and starts tying the tent down.

ANGROD: We bring with us a larger force. He hath likely relocated to a more strategic position.

TURGON: As far as I see, nothing maketh his position more strategic than our own, although his people are far better armed and equipped than we.

FINGOLFIN: Exactly. I have no wish to confront Fëanor until my full force is ready to stand at my back.

FINGON and RHOGRIN come over.

RHOGRIN: Lord Fingolfin, messengers have arrived from the camp across the lake.

FINGOLFIN: Though perhaps this confrontation shall be quite soon. Lead me to them, Rhogrin.

Fingolfin follows Fingon and Rhogrin to the edge of camp, where a MESSENGER flanked by two GUARDS from the Fëanorian camp waits. All three are on horseback. The Messenger dismounts to deliver his message as Fingolfin draws near.

MESSENGER: We come bearing greetings from Maglor, Lord of the Fëanorians and High King of the Noldor.

FINGOLFIN: What?

MESSENGER: We come bearing greetings from Maglor, Lord of the Fëanorians –

FINGOLFIN: Maglor is lord? What happened to Fëanor?

MESSENGER: Fëanor is dead.

FINGOLFIN: How? (The messenger is silent.) How did my brother die?

MESSENGER: He was slain by Morgoth’s demons of fire. We call them Balrogs.

FINGON: And what of Maedhros? Did the kingship not then pass to his eldest son?

MESSENGER: It did, but Maedhros was taken in battle. We know not whether he liveth still, so Maglor hath been declared king. (There is a long pause. Fingolfin does not respond, so the Messenger continues.) King Maglor would like to know ... how your people crossed the sea.

FINGOLFIN: (slightly accusingly) We walked across the Helcaraxë.

MESSENGER: (shocked) The Grinding Ice? Ye crossed it on foot?

FINGOLFIN: At the great loss of many of our people. Why did ye not send the ships back for us?
The Messenger gets back on his horse. He looks quite nervous because he did not expect to have to deliver news about the ship burning.

MESSENGER: I must bear these tidings to King Maglor.

FINGON: (angrily) Answerest thou my father’s question! What happened to the ships that were taken from the Teleri?

MESSENGER: (quickly) Fëanor and his sons burned them ... as soon as we reached land.

The Messenger and his Guards ride away, glancing back in case of pursuit. Rhogrin makes a move to go after them, but Fingolfin gestures at him to stand down. Fingon is completely shocked by the betrayal. He stares blankly at the riders retreating into the distance.

FINGON: They burned them ... they burned the ships ... Maedhros would never ...

Fingolfin places his hand on Fingon’s shoulder.

FINGOLFIN: Thy brother saw the ships aflame. We knew they were not coming back. We suspected –

Fingon turns to Fingolfin. There are tears in his eyes.

FINGON: You and Turgon suspected they had betrayed us. I never did. I believed the ships were burnt in an accident - or an attack. I thought they had been attacked. All while crossing the Ice, I thought they were in danger, that we would need rescue them. (beat) What-what shall we do, father?

FINGOLFIN: We will not attack them now. I know not what Maglor planneth to do as king. I know not what I should do ... No apologies did they offer for their betrayal, but it is plain they have suffered losses, just as have we. For now, we shall settle in our camp and keep watch across the lake. Dost thou think thou canst arrange our hunting parties?

Fingon nods, still looking extremely upset.
One reason I chose this passage is because I think the content and tension conveyed are really solid as written. (One could quibble that the messenger should have known that whatever response was given to 'how did you get here?' the obvious question in reply would be 'what happened to the ships?' - it's a predictable bind he's caught in. But also completely understandable that he would want to awkwardly get out of it rather than reply.)

But the other reason I chose it is because while the entire conversation is focused on politics, the beginning and end of the conversation is between close family members while doing a mundane task, while the middle half of the scene is a very formal diplomatic exchange. It would be quite natural for the characters to code-switch as they shift from one setting to the other.

So, looking over this - Turgon's "maketh" stands out. Is there a reason to use that here? When the messenger says "liveth" it fits the context better.

In the other direction, Fingolfin's bald "What?" when the messenger delivers the beginning of his message sounds very informal, when what is being delivered is clearly a rehearsed introduction. Now, of course Fingolfin is caught completely flat-footed by this surprising news. I'm not expecting him to be particularly articulate here. But, maybe a smidgen more articulate, as he is the lord of his people receiving an envoy at this time. I'm not sure exactly what I'm suggesting - most of the things people say in similar situations are too informal - "Come again?" or "Wait, back up/hold on...." or simply "Huh?" Perhaps we could upgrade him to "What did you say?" though.

It seems Fingolfin is having difficulty switching back after talking with the messenger diplomatically. But here is the line that is just too much for me: "Dost thou think thou canst arrange our hunting parties?" If this were a line of dialogue delivered between two of the Valar, it would not be out of place (maybe just missing the 'arrangeth'). Like, that's how Manwë talks to Oromë, probably. I know Fingolfin can talk like this when he wants to...but think about this. He's just gone from knocked speechless by news of his brother's death, his nephew's capture (and presumed death), and confirmation of the betrayal of the ship burning. Rather than react to this, he turns to comfort his clearly distraught son. And...delivers this line?! Obviously, I get that he would refer to his son familiarly here. The two "thou"s aren't the problem. Is there any reason he doesn't simply ask, "Can thou arrange our hunting parties?"

Likewise, I'm wondering if this would perhaps work better: "I know not what plans Maglor makes as king. I know not what I should do ... " If he's going to trail off mid-thought, it's obviously not a pre-prepared speech or anything like that.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Okay. I am going to take a stab at converting that scene to published-Silmarillion-compatible (and Athrabeth-of-Finrod-ah-Andreth-compatible) dialogue styles.


ANGROD: (from inside the tent) But Fëanor, too, secures his position. The longer we hesitate in our attack – (He steps out.) - the more chance we give him to strike first.​
FINGOLFIN: We shall not attack without first giving Fëanor a chance to answer for his crimes. He attacked us not when we arrived but abandoned this campsite and moved to the other shore.​
The poles are all up inside the tent, so everyone moves outside and starts tying the tent down.
ANGROD: We bring with us a larger force. He has likely relocated to a more strategic position.​
TURGON: As far as I see, nothing makes his position more strategic than our own, although his people are far better armed and equipped than we.​
FINGOLFIN: Exactly. I have no wish to confront Fëanor until my full force is ready to stand at my back.​
FINGON and RHOGRIN come over.
RHOGRIN: Lord Fingolfin, messengers have arrived from the camp across the lake.​
FINGOLFIN: Though perhaps this confrontation shall be quite soon. Lead me to them, Rhogrin.​
Fingolfin follows Fingon and Rhogrin to the edge of camp, where a MESSENGER flanked by two GUARDS from the Fëanorian camp waits. All three are on horseback. The Messenger dismounts to deliver his message as Fingolfin draws near.
MESSENGER: We come bearing greetings from Maglor, Lord of the Fëanorians and High King of the Noldor.​
FINGOLFIN: What did you say?​
MESSENGER: We come bearing greetings from Maglor, Lord of the Fëanorians –​
FINGOLFIN: Maglor is lord? What happened to Fëanor?​
MESSENGER: Fëanor is dead.​
FINGOLFIN: How? (The messenger is silent.) How did my brother die?​
MESSENGER: He was slain by Morgoth’s demons of fire, whom we call Balrogs.​
FINGON: And what of Maedhros? Did the kingship not then pass to his eldest son?​
MESSENGER: It did, but Maedhros was taken in battle. We know not whether he still lives, so Maglor has been declared king. (There is a long pause. Fingolfin does not respond, so the Messenger continues.) King Maglor would like to know ... how your people crossed the sea.​
FINGOLFIN: (slightly accusingly) We walked across the Helcaraxë.​
MESSENGER: (shocked) The Grinding Ice? Ye crossed it on foot?​
FINGOLFIN: At the great loss of many of our people. Why did ye not send the ships back for us?​
The Messenger gets back on his horse. He looks quite nervous because he did not expect to have to deliver news about the ship burning.
MESSENGER: I must bear these tidings to King Maglor.​
FINGON: (angrily) Answer thou my father’s question! What happened to the ships that were taken from the Teleri?​
MESSENGER: (quickly) Fëanor and his sons burned them ... as soon as we reached land.​
The Messenger and his Guards ride away, glancing back in case of pursuit. Rhogrin makes a move to go after them, but Fingolfin gestures at him to stand down. Fingon is completely shocked by the betrayal. He stares blankly at the riders retreating into the distance.
FINGON: They burned them ... they burned the ships ... Maedhros would never ...​
Fingolfin places his hand on Fingon’s shoulder.
FINGOLFIN: Thy brother saw the ships aflame. We knew they were not coming back. We suspected –​
Fingon turns to Fingolfin. There are tears in his eyes.
FINGON: You and Turgon suspected they had betrayed us. I never did. I believed the ships were burnt in an accident - or an attack. I thought they had been attacked. All while crossing the Ice, I thought they were in danger, that we would need rescue them. (beat) What-what shall we do, father?​
FINGOLFIN: We will not attack them now. I know not what plans Maglor makes as king. I know not what I should do ... No apologies did they offer for their betrayal, but it is plain they have suffered losses, just as have we. For now, we shall settle in our camp and keep watch across the lake. Canst thou arrange our hunting parties?​
Fingon nods, still looking extremely upset.


If it now feels...not archaic enough, edits can be made to word choice and phrases to make the speech patterns more compatible with how we think 'elves' should sound. For instance, 'Exactly' could be replaced by 'Truly' or 'Indeed' or even 'Verily.' And 'we bring with us a larger force' could become 'our force is the larger.' But I think that removing the -eth ending from the language makes it seem less remote, which is not a bad thing, and more importantly is compatible with how Tolkien wrote these characters speaking.
 
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MithLuin

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Still working on this passage, trying to find the balance for how we would like First Age Noldor in Beleriand to be speaking.

The premise in this version is:
  • Use of 'thou/thee/thy/thine' for familiar singular 'you/your/yours'.
  • Use of '-est' verb ending with indicative thou (though not with imperative or subjunctive moods).
  • Use of 'ye' for plural 'you'

  • No use of -eth verb endings for 3rd person singular indicative; these are given as -s.

  • When a word has more than one meaning in modern usage, it is probably best to use it in its oldest sense rather than for meanings that came later (unless of course the other uses are also very old!) Some dictionaries will indicate which of the listed meanings apply to the first use of the word historically.
    • So, while "exactly" dates back to the 14th century and was used in Middle English, it had the meaning of 'a precise measure.' Using 'Exactly!' to mean 'I agree, that is correct' is a more modern application, and so can be replaced by 'Indeed' or some other older variation of stating agreement.
    • In the same way, "accident" comes with the original meaning 'a nonessential property or quality of an entity or circumstance,' rather than 'an unfortunate event.'
  • Attempts are made to work in words that Tolkien frequently used in the Athrabeth. I haven't taken the time to thoroughly analyze that text, so still refining what I think he was doing in that dialogue.
    • So far, this means: indeed, chance, perceive, and alas. I'm sure there are more that could be worked in naturally if desired. 'Deem,' for instance.
Let's try this one more time:

ANGROD: (from inside the tent) But Fëanor, too, secures his position. The longer we hesitate in our attack – (He steps out.) - the greater chance we give him to strike first.​
FINGOLFIN: We shall not attack without first giving Fëanor the chance to answer for his crimes. He attacked us not when we arrived but abandoned these grounds and moved to the far shore.​
The poles are all up inside the tent, so everyone moves outside and starts tying the tent down.
ANGROD: Our force is the larger. He has likely relocated to a more strategic position.​
TURGON: To mine eye, his position is no more strategic than our own, though his people are far better armed and equipped than are we.​
FINGOLFIN: Indeed. I have no wish to confront Fëanor until my full force is ready to stand at my back.​
FINGON and RHOGRIN come over.
RHOGRIN: Lord Fingolfin, messengers have arrived from the Fëanorean camp across the lake.​
FINGOLFIN: Though mayhap we need not wait long. Lead me to them, Rhogrin.​
Fingolfin follows Fingon and Rhogrin to the edge of camp, where a MESSENGER flanked by two GUARDS from the Fëanorian camp waits. All three are on horseback. The Messenger dismounts to deliver his message as Fingolfin draws near.
MESSENGER: We come bearing greetings from Maglor, Lord of the Fëanorians and High King of the Noldor.​
FINGOLFIN: What did you say?​
MESSENGER: We come bearing greetings from Maglor, Lord of the Fëanorians –​
FINGOLFIN: Maglor is lord? What then of Fëanor?​
MESSENGER: Alas, Fëanor is dead.​
FINGOLFIN: How? (The messenger is silent.) How did my brother die?​
MESSENGER: He was slain by Morgoth’s demons of fire, whom we call Balrogs.​
FINGON: And what of Maedhros? Did the kingship not then pass to his eldest son?​
MESSENGER: It did indeed, but Maedhros was taken in battle. We know not whether he yet lives, so Maglor has been declared king. (There is a long pause. Fingolfin does not respond, so the Messenger continues.) King Maglor would like to know ... how your people crossed the sea.​
FINGOLFIN: (slightly accusingly) We walked across the Helcaraxë.​
MESSENGER: (shocked) The Grinding Ice? Ye crossed it on foot?​
FINGOLFIN: At the great loss of many of our people. Why did ye not send the ships back for us?​
The Messenger gets back on his horse. He looks quite nervous because he did not expect to have to deliver news about the ship burning.
MESSENGER: I must bear these tidings to King Maglor.​
FINGON: (angrily) Answer thou my father’s question! What happened to the ships that were taken from the Teleri?​
MESSENGER: (quickly) Fëanor and his sons burned them ... as soon as we reached land.​
The Messenger and his Guards ride away, glancing back in case of pursuit. Rhogrin makes a move to go after them, but Fingolfin gestures at him to stand down. Fingon is completely shocked by the betrayal. He stares blankly at the riders retreating into the distance.
FINGON: They burned them ... they burned the ships ... Maedhros would never ...​
Fingolfin places his hand on Fingon’s shoulder.
FINGOLFIN: Thy brother saw the ships aflame. We knew they would not return. We suspected –​
Fingon turns to Fingolfin. There are tears in his eyes.
FINGON: Turgon suspected they had betrayed us, as did ye all. I never did. Did you not perceive that? I believed the ships were burnt in some ill chance - or an attack. I thought they had been attacked. All while crossing the Ice, I thought them in danger, in need of rescue. (beat) What-what shall we do, father?​
FINGOLFIN: We will not attack them now. I know not what plans Maglor makes as king. I know not what I ought to do ... No apologies did they offer for their betrayal, but plainly they have suffered losses of their own. For now, we shall settle in our camp and keep watch across the lake. Canst thou arrange our hunting parties?​
Fingon nods, still looking extremely upset.



I do have a question - would Fingon address his father with 'thee/thou'? We have Fingolfin addressing Fingon in this manner, especially when they are speaking privately, which makes sense - they are father and son. But...though Fingolfin hasn't maybe taken to calling himself High King of the Noldor yet, he's certainly recognized as such by his people - including Fingon. So, Fingon would likely want to use deference in speaking to his father as king, making it clear that he views him as such....

...but I'm not sure that's the only way of viewing that relationship. It may seem as though he is being cold/distant in explaining his difference of opinion with his father over the ship-burning betrayal, which he has apparently waited until he has been proven wrong to fully give voice to. So there is some bitterness there, and one could interpret use of 'you' in that way.

Also, using "chance" this many times is such a short span of time is likely overdoing it. 'Chance' may sound a lot more like something in Tolkien's non-hobbity stories than 'opportunity' but still. At least one of them can likely be replaced with some other word.

Not every suggested change here is necessarily more archaic nor an improvement. 'Grounds' in particular is fairly bland and not a particularly old usage of that word. 'Although' is certainly old enough and doesn't need to be replaced by 'though' or 'albeit.' And 'mayhap' is perhaps needlessly archaic, when Tolkien was perfectly content to use 'maybe' in his dialogues in the published Silmarillion (Galadriel to Melian) and in the Athrabeth.

Certainly, other changes can be suggested. I mostly want to give people the opportunity to read over the 'same' passage in different styles so we can start to determine what works well and what does not.
 
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