Writers corner.

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by Atomic Postman, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    A writing pet peeve I have are undetectable errors during typing. My favorite is "meg" and "med"
    Meg is Norwegian for "me", med is Norwegian for "with", both words are correct, and won't be spellchecked. Both words are also "ingrained" in me, and are often typed "automatically" by my fingers, resulting in sentences appearing like "What do you want with with?" or "It's between with and you!", "Tea me sugar" etc. These little bastard errors may sit hidden in texts after several corrections. This has made me very cautious about what I consider to have been proofread, to the point that I still consider none of my writings complete o_o
     
  2. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    I always ask friends to proofread everything I do, I have a friend who is super anal about grammar and ortography (I have to basically check what I write on facebook when chatting with her or else is Grammar class online) so she is perfect for proofreading my stuff.
     
  3. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    So many of us are real sloppy in RL - particularly if we're using our native language. Worst of all, you've got to remember this when writing; as some words have different meanings when used by the majority. Like the word 'deviant' - the dictionary will simply state 'far from the usual norm' while 80%+ of readers will simply assume you mean it in a sexual way.

    One thing I would say is don't over-correct grammar, punctuation and what-not - particularly when writing dialogue. Each individual's skill in language use is different; if you get real anal about all the rules, you'll often end up ironing out all the quirks and making everybody sounding exactly the same. Then you'll have to go into using crude tricks to make each person unique like catchphrases or accents. If you're writing in first person, this goes for the narrator too. I'd say the rules are a guide, not a straight-jacket. After all, some of the greatest works in the English language have examples of 'bad' language usage within their pages. Good grammar is not protection against bad writing - get the plot and characters right, then worry about that stuff. My second novel I ended up abandoning after nine months because I kept on faffing over such things and therefore never got to the end.

    zegh8578 - your little problem doesn't surprise me at all. My grandmother was from Gibraltar, and even though she'd lived in the UK for fifty years and spoke English like a native still occasionally used a Spanish word in conversation. At least you can see the problem, so can correct. (Find and replace, perhaps?)

    The one thing I've been wondering is: when does a novel become a historical novel? The one I've almost finished now is set in that faraway time called 1994. Yes, some of you can remember the time first-hand, but teenagers can't. (My alpha-readers say it's a teen novel). I've looked around, but can't find any definition of it. And personally, would you read a book set twenty years ago? (not a alternate history, just normal 1994. The year's not integral to the plot either).
     
  4. Akratus

    Akratus Bleep bloop.

    May 14, 2011
    I had this idea to write a story about an alternate reality. Magic exists there, so guns for instance were never invented. So armies for example would all consist of mages. Also it takes place in modern(ish) times so it's all people in fancy suits with fancy staves with gold and shit. Real classy stuff.

    It would be about the kingdom of England, encompassing all of the british isles, as it deals with the looming threat of the combined forces of Germany and Russia in an alternate world war 2.

    Because basically everything is done with magic London is for instance totally different. It has giant towering structures with golden details. The royalty is head of the magical societies encompassing many schools and universities creating scholars as well as schools with a more military focus. But they do not rule the nation, as in real life the politics are largely seperate from the royalty in modern times.

    The mages of the western world focus basically only on energy based magics. White colored spells practical in use. It's basically the creation and manipulation of physical effects. One can shield oneself, fire white flashes of pure physics as a (better) replacement for conventional firearms, and it also has non-combat practical uses. The city of london was built with it. And that is why buildings are far bigger and flashier than they were in real-life at the time. Magic allows them to do much more than we ever could.

    The russians practice shamanism, which is elemental magical control. Their primary power and a feared enemy of London and the allies is their control over fire. Since it is the primordial element of destruction.

    Also although I am dutch I would find it particularly funny to set up the dutch as being the weakest power that nobody cares about with no particular strengths at all.

    Africa is the oldest and strongest empire in this alternate world. Unified mostly before any other civilization. They have colonies in South Africa and Australia and are the wealthiest and strongest power. But they do not meddle in the war at all.

    Japan also exist as a somewhat powerful nation, but with little interaction with the outside world and they would not be very important in the story I would write.

    There are no religions, and no spiritual link is made between the magical powers and any god or religion.

    Also america exists, but they suck at magic quite a bit as well.

    Does this sound cool or is it just me?
     
  5. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    Hmm...

    1 - How strong is magic? How much of the effects of our own modern technology could be replicated using it? If history is anything to go on, new lines of development start when the current designs reach an apex of development. If you couldn't magic up food, it's perfectly possible that we'd have still had the agricultural revolution of the 16th-19th Centuries, which in turn would have led indirectly to the growth of modern chemistry (ie fertilizers) in the 20th. So it's possible that we could have a lop-sided world scientifically; we might have plastics and jet engines, but no penicillin or antiseptics because the 'Healer's Caste' always managed to do fine without them.

    2 - How hard is it to learn / how many people have the 'ability' to learn? If only 10% are mages, and you say a gun wouldn't work against them, then firearms would still work against the other 90%. If the teaching of magic is really restricted and/or hard, you'd end up with some clever Muggles inventing stuff to do what mages could do anyway. You also might end up with a situation where a mage could rustle up a fireball to kill you, but it's just damn easier to pull out their flintlock musket and shoot you in the head. I seriously doubt Muggles will simply stay in the Dung Ages scientifically unless literally forced to. Even if most people can use magic to some degree, you'd need tech/enchanted shit to help out those who aren't very good at stuff.

    3 - The cream rises to the top. If magical ability was hereditary, you'd end up with the majority of the upper classes mages and ability in it a fast-track to position of wealth and command. This would cause society stress, with possible apartheid-esque divisions between the mages and Muggles. If it was on the basis of intelligence, you'd end up with a more Brave New World thing - they'd bound to tinker with Eugenics to try to breed more magic-users.

    4 - Just were does magic come from? Are there any special places / things that can improve their power? One of the reasons that the UK rose to such prominence was her ample coal reserves. If say France had several 'nexus points' to harness magic while the UK had none, the power ratios in the 19th Century would have been much different. Hell, the Dutch might have been a much stronger power than in RL if they'd found a magical ore on one of the Frisian Islands or an long-forgotten nexus point while draining a polder.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  6. Akratus

    Akratus Bleep bloop.

    May 14, 2011
    Yeah those are the kinds of things I still have to partially figure out. I have no writing experience, only an active imagination. It would take a lot of planning and conceptualizing to get that setting/story into a shape i'd be happy with.

    Items can't be apparitioned into existence with magic. Things like trains/cars and other advanced technology were invented by magical mechanics. Basically technology is as advanced as it is for us now, only decades in the comparative past. Magic sped up our invention processes. So they have computers for instance, but with old fashioned design sensibilities. Mages can teleport but it's not as cost effective as regular transportation, there's large train networks, both above and under ground as well as roads and highways with cars. Magic requires bodily energy, which restricts the 'magic can do anything!' idea you have in Harry Potter. Teleportation would be an advanced technique for emergencies/special occasions.

    There is indeed a healing caste, but there is no 'healing magic'. They can't just wave their hand and heal someone. Wounds still need to be treated as they are in real-life. And the ability to manipulate physics come in there. So there's hospitals where there are doctors who just do modern day medicine simply with different, magical, tools. They are by the way the only ones to use wands. Staves are the main magical apparatus but they usually need smaller instruments. So things like incisions are made by wands, and they use wands to perform surgeries etc.

    The people who don't have magical abilities are basically peasants with their own rights, which they aquired in their emancipatory movement about a century prior to the story I would write, with indeed the upper class being basically all magically gifted. The power mostly lies in wealthy mage families which take part in the governments and politics. Though the 'muggles' still have their part in the governments, however small. In the latest century and some centuries before the story takes place questions of morality and inclusion were raised and better rights were demanded by and given to the 'muggle' castes. The 'muggles' are part of the great industries and economies that make every-day items. Mages can also construct products, invent and produce technology etc. They are the higher caste of worksmen who create computers/most cars etc.


    Since the mages do all the fighting, and the 'muggles' are not eager to fight against people who have magical abilities when they have none. Sure they could invent weapons and do some damage, but there's no need at all. They would mostly be cannon fodder, and that's an old practice no longer used in civilized times.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  7. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    One site I've found invaluable in thinking all these things through is www.tvtropes.org . It often lists other media (books, films, video games etc) which uses the particular idea (say, daywalking vampire). Though expect to be made a little annoyed - I discovered halfway through my second attempt that my 'original' idea had already been done a decade before!

    Respect to all those authors who did all their research before the internet...
     
  8. Akratus

    Akratus Bleep bloop.

    May 14, 2011
    Yes, at least a similar setting to mine has been done before, I guarantee it.
     
  9. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    Standing on the shoulders of giants... though if you're writing about the supernatural (like me), it's more like using their bodies to make a safe path over the quicksand. That and it's better to learn that at the 'ideas' stage rather than 'third draft'.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  10. Akratus

    Akratus Bleep bloop.

    May 14, 2011
    I suppose so.

    I think the best way to create something overal unique is to smash together more ideas than the other known settings have. Like 40k.
     
  11. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    'Nothing new under the sun' - Ecclesiastes 1:9.

    They were complaining about it even then.

    Steal one idea, you're a plagiarist. Steal fifty and lash 'em together, you're an artist. Even the 'greats' were nicking ideas from Classical Rome and the Bible. People don't really mind as long as you actually do something new with them.

    Thinking of which - why base it in London? Various Londons have appeared in literally thousands of creations. Why not Amsterdam? Or perhaps some random town which ended up as the leading city of the Low Countries due to historical shift? The region could end up anywhere politically; the linchpin of a still-surviving Burgundy, part of a greater 'United Kingdom' due to William of Orange's takeover of England of 1688, a buffer state riddled with pro-German/British/French factions all plotting... the possibilities are excellent.
     
  12. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    I am planning somehting with magic having always existed in the setting, but instead of removing conventional weapons, regular people actually had to develop technology to counter magic use thus their technological level is far higher than that of our world, and recently they have been experimenting with combinning both things.
    In that world magic is a little more ritualistic and intricate for it's users than it would be in most fantasy stories. Spells wouldn't just be quick incantations and basically kamehamehas, there is only one being the world who can do that and he was the one who kickstarted magic in humanity to begin with (and the central conflict of the story).
    Spells would need to be prepared days before using them (altho recent developments have permitted Mass production and even premade charms so people can use certain spells whenever they want, altho at a lower level than a regular spell), all of them would require very specific mixes of ingredients, body modifications, blood and even aditional conduits for their users to even hope to start. This has created it's own culture around the different schools of magic use and as mentioned before affected the course of the technological development of the world in very nasy ways. As magic existed for a long time things like human experimentation has always been seen as an acceptable method of furthering any dioscovery, even if it doesn't require it. Very often will appear Magic Users that have modified their bodies so much to be able to achieve specific results with their magic habilities that "Humans" are no longer the only sapient race in the setting. And past conflicts between Magic Users, technology and just outright over ambitious experimentation have made even the geography of the world to be completely different from ours. They basically live in a weird Galaxy shaped pangea.

    I know someone probably have already done a lot of what I said, but I think it's just all about the presentation and the story itself than just the idea of the setting.
     
  13. Gaspard

    Gaspard Kasparov

    833
    May 7, 2009
    Arcanum!
     
  14. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    Hmmm then I guess I have to play it, I stopped after the first 2 hours because it felt too much like just Steam TOlkien to me.
     
  15. Gaspard

    Gaspard Kasparov

    833
    May 7, 2009
    Actually I was trolling a little. Arcanum's setting is still different from what you described. The magic/tech opposition is there and tech is younger than magic, but there it basically ends. If you've played it then you probably remember that it has mana for magic (Fatigue?) so magic is not that different from DnD or any other fantasy game setting.

    The magic you did describe reminds me of Michael Moorcock's Elric books. Magic and tech meet in Roger Zelazny's Amber books, too - there are multiple dimensions where in some places magic works and in some technology works and in some both work but differently.
     
  16. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    If I remember the plot for Arcanium correctly, technology wasn't actually new. It had come around before, but the mages squished it - could see that it was the future. And from the bits and pieces of story, you could think that the tech was 'new' to humans, but not to the dwarves. One of the head mages at the academy literally spells out the long-term threat of technology on the art.

    Oh, it is fatigue that fuels magic. I suppose it represents the mental and physical drain of doing it. And stopping you doing 'destroy life' on everything you meet.

    Now I think of it, couldn't you have a world where magic exists, but many of the disciplines have become 'lost' due to science overtaking them? Who's going to bother with the eye of newt, virgin's blood and hours of chanting to communicate across several hundred miles when you can simply pick up the phone? From my experience from reading/watching/playing magic, you really need to find a way to limit either the numbers of magic-users or limit the effects of magic itself to make sure the story doesn't suffer from what I think of as 'power incontinence'.
     
  17. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Mojave Express Employee of the Month

    Mar 16, 2013
    I've recently been playing around with the idea of alternate history, after playing a lot of Civ 5.

    I'm thinking for a bit of inspiration I'm going to play on a "Huge" sized Earth map with a mod installed that places Civilizations in their correct historical places, then watch how things play out differently.

    The idea does fascinate me, things like The Roman Empire surviving and thriving into the modern world have a lot of potential for stories.
     
  18. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    Personally, I'm more a fan of what's called 'the minor rewrite', where a believable alternative happens leading the world in a strange direction. Like...

    1) An violent alcoholic customs clerk in Austria beats his wife so hard in early 1889 to cause his wife to suffer a miscarriage? Result - No Adolf Hitler.

    2) FDR gives in to the demands of the newsreel crew to re-enact his witty remarks to the crowd in Miami in January 1933? Result - The assassin scores a direct hit, killing FDR instead of the Mayor of Miami.

    3) Winston Churchill is suffering one of his 'black dog days' (he had bipolar disorder) on June 1940 and doesn't bother going to a meeting. Result - Lord Halifax becomes Prime Minister, and surrenders to Hitler.

    4) The French Mediterranean Fleet is delayed by a storm near Malta for four days in 1799. Therefore, it runs into the British Fleet under Nelson in Egypt, and Napoleon drowns as his ship sinks in the Battle Of The Nile.

    5) During the French and Indian War of 175-something, the young Virginian officer obeys the order from the British General to line up his troops in European fashion instead of using the woodland to screen. Result - the unit is cut to ribbons, including the young officer - George Washington.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
  19. .Pixote.

    .Pixote. Carbon Dated and Proud
    Modder

    Sep 14, 2009
    I always suspected George Washington to be a rabble rouser...
     
  20. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    An officer's duty is to follow orders, not to think. The level of skill in British commanders was usually between 'averagely dull' to 'plain incompetent'. It was common enough to get a name for it - Colonel Blimp. While the Blimps have finally died out, we're still saddled with his son - Tim Nice-But-Dim.