I would like to start a novel, but it would include Fantasy species such as Dwarves and Elves, etc. I got this idea after reading several of Tolkien's novels. If I write this novel it would have completely different characters, plot, and settings. But the basic concept of the 'time period' and the way they live (Swords, daggers, bow and arrows for weapons, no modern technology included, etc.) would remain the same. Is this considered a copyright infringement? Would it be acceptable if Tolkien was credited for it? Is there even a possibility of publishing a novel that gives credit for ideas to another author? Actually laws and facts to back up answers would be great. All help is appreciated.

  • 4
    Honestly, you have NO problem with using Elves and Dwarves. A lot of people want fantasy authors to STOP using them because they're overused! Tolkien did not invent this races in any case, they're from mythology, so you'd be fine anyhow. Hobbits, on the other hand. (Obligitory TV Trope warning): tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame check that link out ^^ (Just a note: this Question may be downvoted quite quickly due to complete lack of personal research).
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 22:18
  • 3
    If you want to write fantasy I'd strongly suggest you read more fantasy before you do. If all you've read is Tolkien you've not even scratched the surface of the genre. The less you read the more your story will end up being derivative
    – CLockeWork
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 9:01
  • 1
    Also, take a stab at understanding why Tolkien's works are as compelling as they are. (Hint: It has nothing to do with having Elves and Dwarves in them.)
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 3:54

2 Answers 2


Elves and dwarves are all over fantasy fiction. Here's one compilation found by Googling "fantasy novels with elves". They are generic mythological creatures. If anything these tropes are overused; Tolkien used them well so his works are the benchmarks against which others are often measured, but he didn't invent them.

The question in your title is a little different. If another author actually did invent a species, you would be well-advised to avoid copying it directly. The Tolkien estate successfully kept the Dungeons and Dragons game from using hobbits; that's why the short-human race there is called "halflings". If you want to use hobbits, kzin, Minbari, or any other clear inventions of specific authors, you should either seek permission (probably hard) or genericize them. Even if you think you could ultimately win a copyright-infringement suit, you're still risking having to spend the time and money defending against it. Is it really worth it? Especially when there's a publisher or studio backing the other party, not just an author acting on his own?

  • On the other hand, the creators of some of these fictional races (such as Kzin and the Star Wars races) have created publishing venues for third-party authors' stories. Of course, this means using only approved races and settings in approved ways, but it does provide an avenue for publication.
    – Jasper
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 20:29
  • 1
    @Jasper that's a good point; I was reading the question as being about independently publishing work using these species, as opposed to working through authorized channels, but it's good to note that sometimes there are authorized channels. Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 20:35

You could first ask the Author so that he doesn't has any problem or if a book is an old one from Shakespeare or something you use it. Before taking that character as any comparison check the popularity of the book you are taking the character from or if you want to simply copy the ideas you have do as I said in the beginning

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.