Originally Posted by Manarion
Second, modern authors tend to paint characters better...I could barely get through LotR due to the fact that there wasn't much in the way of character description, at least, from what I got from it.
Interesting that you should say this and then give David Eddings as an example of a writer who does characterization well. My main problem with Eddings is that no matter how old, wise, or experienced he sets his characters up to be, they always sound to me like adolescents. This strikes one false note after the other. In LOTR, on the other hand, Tolkien reveals his characters through their actions. I may not know what they are thinking at any given moment, but to me their words and deeds are truthful (to who they are) and admirably consistent. He was also writing in a different era, when writers expected their adult readers to be able to pick up subtle clues to character. It's considerably more flattering to the reader's intelligence. (This is not so true of The Hobbit
which was written for children.)
But to answer the original question. There are stories that a writer may (possibly) approach with great excitement and enthusiasm but the connection to the world and characters is essentially on a mental level. There are other stories where the writer makes a deeper and more emotional connection: whatever his or her intentions are in the beginning, the tale becomes something that he or she has
to write, not for any outside considerations like deadlines or reader expectations, but in response to some passionate inner impulse.
I think that most modern fantasy writers fall into the former category, and Tolkien into the latter. People respond to these different kinds of writing depending on what they are looking for when they pick up a book. But since Tolkien's way is rarer these days, if you want that kind of experience as a reader, you have to return to the books where you found it before.