Writers corner.

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

  1. Wumbology

    Wumbology Actually a sentient CRT

    299
    Mar 5, 2013
    Ooh, here's one:

    The Spanish win the Battle of the Armada- and England never has a chance to be a colonial power. The Americas are split between the French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The insanely bloated English nationalistic ego never develops and everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

    Anyways, I may as well type this out here.

    I've been writing this setting. The world has a slight magical presence, but is... historically analogous, I suppose, to the High Middle Ages/High Renaissance. The conditions that lead up to the centralization of power around monarchs are present, so there's a lot of opportunity for political intrigue and... revolution. It's also in pike & shot times, with magical fireballs or whatnot competing with the new rifles and cannons. The concept of "antiquated chivalry" would appear a lot, I suppose.

    There's a number of powers.
    Down to the south, a rich black empire- like Mansa Musa's Ghana- is wealthy off of the trade and mining of salt and silver. To the east, the ancient Zeke empire- which is a combination of Australian aboriginal people, Slav culture, and Ottoman Empire- is split between the feuding sons of the dead Sultan. Further to the east, and across the ocean, there's an enigmatic land of bugmen. Then there's the Ordain Empire, which is incredibly weak- much like the Holy Roman Empire in its time, and split between various lords and nobles of varying power. There's also Tudor England thrown in for good measure.

    It's all centered around a peninsula like Italy- split between nearly a dozen independent nation-states. What the story in particular revolves around is the rise of one state to power in a quick and vicious power struggle. The main character, unknown to him/her, is involved in a minor prophecy. The prophecy is; however, just that- minor. Some quick-lived sainthood and soon forgotten would be all to come out of it, nothing else. Nothing to mark the end of an Epoch.

    However, Copalis- that state vying to rise to power- learns of this minor prophecy through magicians that it is closely tied to. By learning of this prophecy, they use the main character to their advantage- they (Copalis's King/council) seek to eliminate enemies, shift trade routes, and create allegiance, all while using the main char as a free agent, convincing him/her that this is how the prophecy is intended.

    The story ends, I suppose, with the main character at the side of Copalis' king, merely a pawn and a show piece, at the side of his throne, conflicted and appalled at the course of events. Perhaps he or she oddly feels this is not the way history should have been...
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
  2. alec

    alec White heterosexual male Orderite

    May 21, 2003
    The best way to create something overall unique is probably autobiographical writing. It helps if you actually had an odd/unusual/... life.
     
  3. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    The Armada succeeds, eh? But who says Phillip II would be able to exploit this effectively? Perhaps the rest of Europe goes nuts and France forms a massive anti-Hapsburg alliance to try to take down this shadow of Charles V. England might have just been another Netherlands; sucking in Spanish blood and treasure that could have been better used in building up an empire in the New World. A counter-history of Europe might have seen Charles I of Scotland, backed with French money and English Protestant rebels taking most of England as Spain's fought to a stand-still on all the other fronts. By the 1680's, we might have the 'United Provinces' (Netherlands, England & Scotland) seizing the New World as France finally gets her dream of driving the Iberians back over the Pyrenees. Then Spain goes bust, just like in RL. The English have their arrogance, but now a chip on their shoulder too from the 'Popish Occupation'. By 1750, the time-line seems to have folded back to reality; France and & English/Dutch squabbling, with Spain sinking into decay.

    Prophecies can seem like deus ex machina at times. Perhaps it was read wrong, or was incomplete? That the actions that the council 'thought' would lead to their dominance was actually the moves that would cause their collapse, to the prophecy could be really fulfilled by a third party; perhaps one that everybody else was so weak and poor nobody bothered involving them with anything?
     
  4. Wumbology

    Wumbology Actually a sentient CRT

    299
    Mar 5, 2013
    Akratus, 40k is the furthest thing from original. It's doesn't hide that every element is taken from either Dune or 2000AD. There isn't an original bone in it's body. For a wargame, this doesn't matter.

    HMmmmm. Yeah, definitely. I was thinking perhaps the prophecy was like... a self-fulfilling falsehood. By becoming something greater than predicted it fulfills itself.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  5. BigBoss

    BigBoss Your Local Scrub

    956
    Dec 24, 2012
    I've been doing research to write a novel version of Fallout 1 (but been sick lately). I want to stick to canon, but I also want to provide a character backstory. For example, the first chapter is going to take place entirely in the vault, and end as he is looking out into the cave as the vault door is opening. The character will be approximately 22 years old (his 22nd birthday being "just a few months ago" to not specify an exact birthday), he will have been raised by the community (I will have him in his own "vault Apartment", however frequently visiting a couple of unnamed characters he simply calls Ma and Dad, with maybe a non blood-related brother or sister, or even best friend. I haven't decided what job he is going to do, I was thinking of having him be a Vault security guard (one of the reasons he was chosen to draw straws between the most fit of the Vault populace), or possibly in maintenance. Not sure yet. The only things I have verified is that the main character will be male, 22 years old, and raised by the community after his mother died in birth (particularly two people who adopted him, possibly related to him in some way? Aunt or Uncle? But he will only call them by "Ma" and/or "Dad", never revealing their actual names, but also hinting that while these were the two most important figures in his life, the community (that particular level of the Vault) helped raise him.

    Any suggestions? I was thinking, since Vault 13 was said to hold 1000 people, maybe have 10 "Living" levels, and the Overseer would have the strongest/most intelligent/healthiest ten of each of these levels draw straws.

    Also, the novel WILL be free, and will be posted on here (written many short stories, but never a full-length feature novel). I also wouldn't mind some of our resident artists drawing up some book covers for me (or converting the document to PDF (I don't want to pay for the "full access" feature for the PDf document, but if no one else on here has it I guess I won't have a choice).

    I was also thinking that, in order to not let the vault get too crowded (past maybe, 1250 occupants), the Overseer would have make families "get permission" to have more than one children?

    Also from what I know, the Hub was HUGE. Supposedly, the Vault (assuming it held 1000 occupants) could be "dropped in there" and people wouldn't even notice. Thus implying there are thousands of people living in the Hub. In the book, I'll calculate it to about 3,000 - 5,000 people currently living in the hub.

    Also, since Vault 15 was meant to be "crowded", when the Vault dweller is climbing down the rope through the second elevator shaft, he will notice there are only 6 or 7 living floors instead of the usual ten. After something slightly interesting happening (perhaps almost falling from the rope), he will note to himself that according the the Dweller's Survival Guide and information terminals in the Vault, most Vaults should be equipped with at least "ten" living floor levels (enough for 1000). He will also note many of the "foreign" objects he finds rummaging through some of the rooms (things like religious items to the Buddhist and Hindi religions, the food dispensers dispensing spicy and foreign foods, etc.)

    As the Vault Dweller Memoirs was, this book will be in "First-Person", maybe with occasionally mixing in a couple of "Third-Person" moments. I.e. it will say "I" instead of "he". Though I'm thinking that while most of the book will be in First-Person, it would be interesting to combine a few Third-Person perspectives in it.

    Again, any suggestions, on any part of the book (basically, any part of the Vault Dwellers adventures). Do you guys suggest me having any side quests take place in the book (besides the Brotherhood of Steel trek to the Glow, which isn't needed to complete the game, but I'm including anyways). Should the Vault Dweller obtain Power Armor before his fight with the Master? Or should he just have some fashioned armor or Combat Armor bought from the Gun Runners (yes, he will encounter them, and possibly the Deathclaws). Again, what side quests should take place in the book?
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  6. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    Are there no "official" population counts for the Hub? I believe to have seen some pretty high counts for the cities in FO2, upto 100 000, which in reality is not very big, humans live clustered, and my lil humble nordic town has about 175 000 people, and is a lil fjord-corner packed in green. 3000 - 5000 sounds very little, like a little farming community. People are notoriously plentiful :I
     
  7. BigBoss

    BigBoss Your Local Scrub

    956
    Dec 24, 2012
    So maybe a minimum of 25,000 people? 100,000 at the most?

    I'm also thinking about giving our Vault Dweller a love interest in the Vault, and at the end, after he has been kicked out, have a short epilouge which, very very slightly implies her and a few others leaving to folow him (though leaving the reader unsure if this actually happened) and hinting this woman would (or maybe wasn't) his future tribal wife.

    EDIT:

    How about this:

    Shady Sands: 1,000 - 1,500
    Junktown: 2,500 - 5,000
    Hub: 20,000 - 40,000
    Necropolis: 2,500 - 4,000
    Brotherhood: 500 - 700
    Boneyard: Around 100,000 (Vault Dweller's estimate from the places he walked through).
    Adytum Itself and Surrounding Areas: 10,000 - 15,000
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  8. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    So I am finally getting to make the first arc of the story I was talking about before.
    Here is an schematic I did for the first page, it's a comic so I gotta make it cinematic.
     
  9. Evitherator

    Evitherator First time out of the vault

    4
    May 20, 2014
    Hello all,
    I have been looking though this thread and I find it quite nice. I am amazed that people have things already written! I have been pondering a dozen story ideas for months now. I have not written anything in years. I can see what happens so clearly, what I want it to be. But I fear that my lack of experience will render the finished product a failure. I cant convince myself it's worth the time and energy. I realize this may be a common thought for someone thinking about an artistic undertaking. I have been a guitar player for over a decade, I play very well. Well enough to impress people. I have never felt like a failure with my guitar, even when performing my own songs, or to people that didn't react the way I wished them to. But writing seems different, I'd have to learn it as I went, and I'm approaching my 30's. It took me 2 years of playing guitar 4 hours a day to get to the skill level I was happy with, and I was already naturally talented to begin with. I fear that will be drastically different with writing.

    Dunno what to do.
     
  10. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    Writing's both harder and easier than most people think. Just a couple of thoughts to get you started...

    Baby Steps - Don't try to write a doorstopper straight off. You'll end up ditching it due to lack of self-esteem and/or as you learn the trade, you'll realise the first parts were crap and need a re-write. Next thing you know, it's been like a year and you're not even on the 'first draft' stage. Do a simple short story first - 2-3 thousand words, clear A-B-C plot, only a couple of characters. Draft once, then get a couple of people to critique it. Listen, put story in your archives to look at again one day, and move on to a new story. Repeat a few times, slowly putting in more characters, plot twists, slightly longer in length etc as you learn the technical arts of writing.

    Fan-Fiction Is Good And Evil - Writing fanfic does take much of the weight off a writer - you've already got a 'world' to base your story in. There's nothing wrong with doing your short stories as fanfic; the only advice I'd give here is that a) don't make your main character the ever-so-perfect person many of us can't resist, b) don't get too technical - it's a story, not a run-through of a game or film and c) avoid 'canon' - ie characters, places etc. So no meeting Luke Skywalker / The Vault Dweller / Harry Potter.

    Don't get daunted. After all, you can only find out how good at it you are by trying it...
     
  11. Evitherator

    Evitherator First time out of the vault

    4
    May 20, 2014
    Thank you mister Police. I was hoping for something like what you wrote. It was well thought out and uplifting. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed with projects like these. Your words have simplified things for me a bit.
     
  12. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    Y'welcome. Yeah, I learnt those lessons the hard, painful way. It took two years, ~200k of writing and two ditched books to finally get to the stage where a couple of betas are reading it. No, I ain't had anything published (yet! - I hope) but I'm a real bookworm so can appreciate what makes a good/bad novel on a technical point of view. There's so much stuff out on the 'net for aspiring writers, but much of it is frankly crap. One said I 'had to have a happy ending', for example. These are a few general-purpose points I've learnt...

    Outline In Advance - Some people skip this, particularly ones who are thinking 'that is boring, and wastes time. I've got a real good idea I want to write!' Wrong - it saves time in the long run. I'm not talking about much here, just throwing out the bare-bones of the scene. If I was writing a novelisation of my F3 game, one scene could read:

    'Kay (the main character) leaves the Vault and travels to Megaton. She asks around town about Dad, and is pointed to Moriarty, the bar owner. After cleaning her out of cash, he tells her that Dad was asking about news about the Wasteland - so Moriarty pointed him towards GNR. But that's pretty far away, and the news on the radio about Super Mutants is making her scared about travel.'

    Before you know it, you've outlined the whole thing, so can start putting meat onto the story, knowing that most of it will make the final cut. Nothing is more depressing than spending a week writing a killer chapter then to realise it's useless!

    Don't Be Scared Just Because You've Seen X Somewhere Else - That is settings, character types, plotlines etc. Fiction is chock-full of authors stealing from each other (we call it 'inspiration'). Just think of some 'greats' and where they stole their ideas from. Star Trek Vulcans are just Elves with warp drive (and Romulans are Dark Elves). Star Wars Jedi are not much more than magical Samurai in space. (and for a twist, Mass Effect Biotics are a bastard child of Jedi). So if you find yourself using something from somewhere else, don't fret - just ask 'what am I doing that's new with them?'.

    Keep It Moving! - Don't be scared to drop scenes or summarise them when they don't move the story along. Whenever you write anything, think - does this add anything to the story? Does the reader really need to know this? Is this something that 95% of readers would assume happened without you spelling it out?

    Hate Your Characters - That is, don't fall in love with them (or make them you!), otherwise you'll find it hard to insult/hurt/kill them. It's fairly obvious to an experienced reader if the author's playing favourites.

    It's A Story, Not A Bunch Of Random Events - the story needs...

    'The Call' - How did the main character find out about the plot?

    'The Hook' - What dragged them in/made them join in?

    'The Velcro' - And what's keeping them from simply doing a Cartman? (Screw you guys, I'm going home!)

    Power And Plot To Scale - A good enemy for a 10 year-old boy could be a teenager or a gang of kids his own age. A hamlet of farmers could be beset by a 'horde' of Raiders (all 6 of them) armed 'to the teeth' (cheap pistols and one worn-out rifle). The enemy doesn't need to be massively powerful - just a challenge for the main character(s). If you've got a powerful enemy, their 'evil plan' needs to fit it. Take Twilight I - all that power those 'vampires' have, and the 'evil plan' is just to drink some dimwit's blood! Jesus, it's like finding out the Emperor in Star Wars built the Death Star for the sole reason to enforce his ban on green trousers...

    A bit random, but off the top of my head of the most common failures in early writing...
     
  13. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    Fucking with my characters is one of my favorite things to do :D

    I have one "victim"-type, he will usually be a sponge-magnet for hurt, pain, and especially unfair situations.
    I have two top protagonists, one male and one female. Both of them have unfair sadistic sides, which sometimes come to the surface, and both of them will also bring upon themselves accusations of grunty bone-headedness. Like you say, I consider it "too obvious" if the author is protecting his favorite characters, and I find it especially entertaining to mess around with them.

    As for dignity, I allow them to keep some, but since it is a part comedy, dignity is something they'll _really_ have to deserve :D
    In fact, in the end, my female protagonist is added to the almost complete list of killed-off characters. The decision to kill her off came almost the same instant that I decided to NOT kill her off, due to being too fond of her as a character (despite all my antics before that point), I thought of Tolkien and how he had planned to sacrifice Frodo in the final, and how he ultimately allowed Frodo to live.

    Despite not having that much experience, I'd like to add another tip:

    Avoid Always or Never - "He never cried a single tear!" "He always wore a black cape!" always and never sounds very dramatic, and at first sounds perfect for "epic" characters, but in the long run, it is difficult to really keep concistencies like that, as well as remembering them. This isn't from my own experience - but lucky for me, I was warned about this before I started working on my sci-fi, so from the beginning, I use "often" or "almost" a lot :D In the course of my entire story, I only have _one_ "never" that I keep track of, and that is my male protagonist never being impressed with anyones actions. That so I could allow him to finally be impressed, as a subtle "revelation" in the end.
     
  14. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    I make a routine of thinking up ways the story affects al the characters negatively, from simple depression to painfully growing apendages to getting something cut off of shot off.
     
  15. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    Nice list, KarmaPolice. Though depending on the material being covered, I wouldn't imagine that "The Velcro" ought pose much difficult for most to accomplish, because threats of death are usually enough to warrant a character's compliance. =)

    There's also more-advanced methods beyond the simple storytelling basics, such as using writing format to define your characters, and if you're writing the story in first-person you can utilize an Unreliable Narrator to depict particular scenes in creative ways. Example, tiny differences in saying the exact same things, such as, "it isn't going to work" and "it's not going to work" and "it won't work", applied to every phrase possible, helps to flesh out a character; whether they're street-ish and rely heavily on slang, or the intellectual who adheres to proper grammar, and this applies to how non-spoken descriptive sentences affect the reader's consumption of your work as well. More examples about the Unreliable Narrator would be someone whose mental state has a tenuous relationship with reality, at best, or someone who has flighty fantasies from time to time, or someone who can't see beyond certain strict principles so their perception of events will always play out in specific manners; how the story plays out is either matter-of-fact as described by the omnipotent author (often times an abstract narrator) or in very subjective ways by flawed characters within the story itself. The latter also adds an addition layer to the dynamic of the story if the readers aren't sure what's real, leaving details open to interpretation and/or speculation. Like a good game having "replay value", the more a story makes its readers contemplate it AFTER they've read it, the stronger the story's impact, the better the story.

    But if you're just starting out, that's stuff to strive for years down the road. I spent most of my first drafting just rewriting as much passive tense in an active format, and that transformed my content almost completely. To achieve active tense, you avoid ANY words like "do", "be", "can", "would", "is", or any of their derivatives ("was" or "-'s" as well as "is"), avoid words which end with "-ing", among many other restrictions. Those restrictions act like a proverbial "box" to think outside of, which enhances your creativity when your go-to terms are off-limits. Also a phrase like "mountains that stretch towards the heavens, their peaks impossible to glimpse" offers more sensual appeal than "the mountains were so tall you couldn't see their peaks".
     
  16. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    Of course, there's much more that can be listed, but I was trying to be as generic as possible and highlight the most common newbie problems in storytelling. I personally put "the velcro" in there from experiences from computer games and fanfic where the main character will have others following them to their deaths for little / no obvious reasons. Yes, sheer wanderlust or curiosity might get them to tag along to visit a distant locale, but not to charge into the gates of hell itself. Character development is needed - like Han Solo in Star Wars.

    In regards to my characters, I'm not a sadist, just refuse to protect my babies from harm when harm would happen. Sometimes, you just have to listen to a character's 'head and heart' and realise that they can't rally the troops at the 'final battle' because they'd naturally do X 35k into the story - getting a bullet in the head and a shallow grave for their efforts. Unfortunately, in my current work he was also the main character's budding love interest too - dying at the point where she was just at the point of thinking 'He's a really good friend'.

    Yeah, I've toyed with the concept of the unreliable narrator. But have found it harder to carry off; it's a damn fine line between a narrator who's covering up / biased / nuts and simple bad writing. I try to do 'replay value' too; the occasional seemingly throwaway comment / action / experience where the reader can note the second time round - as well as a few bits that don't add up / red herrings / utter weirdness which happens in real life.
     
  17. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    Well the Unreliable Narrator is definitely a more advanced trick, hence why I like it. I had a really good friend who used to proofread some of my work, and he was a stickler for stamping out cliches wherever they might crop up, so he helped me evolve as a writer to not have to rely on the same old tired tropes again and again. It's a pity I don't have him on hand anymore to offer the same services. I've got another friend who's effectively a chuunibyou, so he's OBSESSED with cliches, and consequentially his advice is much less helpful to me. >_<

    But it's always the goal to do something creative without stumbling into the bad writing rhythm. Introducing an Unreliable Narrator without simply covering up a bad idea. Fleshing out characters with distinct writing styles without making the difference too jarring to readers. Avoiding the plot armor cliche without simply killing off every character haphazardly every chance you get. Riding that line leads to greatness; it's easy to fall off, it's difficult to make your work truly great.
     
  18. KarmaPolice

    KarmaPolice It Wandered In From the Wastes

    110
    May 5, 2010
    Clichés have their time and place; Terry Pratchett seems to thrive on subverting them. That and you've got characters who think in them - an example that comes to mind is Jim Hackett from Yes Minister who mangles them frequently, usually when his brain is obviously empty of actual thought but feels he needs to say something. And we can't forget that clichés, like stereotypes turn up in real life too - otherwise they wouldn't have started in the first place.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2014
  19. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    I love the unrealiable narrator, to me, its strongest effect is that you turn the narrator almost into a person (rather than a source of information) and further, as the reader reads, characters dialogues are firmly attached to each character - but the opinions and statements of the narrator will "fall" onto the reader - thus you can force opinions, sentiments or expectations onto the reader.
    I've also used it to save myself, for example, in my humorous sci-fi I needed to deal with superluminar travel. The narrator simply explains that this shit is way beyond the intellectual scope of the narrator, and that reader should ask someone else (such as, one of the much more knowledgeable characters in the story (which of course they can't :V))

    Cliches - can be amazing. Everything in life is a cliche. War is a cliche, love is a cliche, victory is a cliche, survival is a cliche, its all a big, fat cliche! It's how you wrap it up, present it - how you time and pace it, that makes it bad or not. In my writings I thrived on various cliches, basically re-packaging them, re-arranging them, but still having fun with cliches. A reader might even be hoping for a cliche, if that cliche is going to be well timed :D

    A situation being saved in the nick of time, I think is a cliche that certain genres can simply not do without :D
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2014
  20. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    Anyone here has tried the Stream of tought narration?