January 17, 2018, 08:08:03 PM

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Messages - The Gem Cutter

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Piper and I just played some catch - in a snow shower in Georgia

Whether it's weapons or physics, deviation from reality is fine - when it's deliberate, consistent, and entertaining. But if it comes across as haphazard or for the convenience of the plot, it's probably not going to be appreciated.

Writers' Corner / An example of distinct style
« on: Today at 12:09:28 AM »
So we've had a number of terrific discussions on several topics that all point to style, and by that, I mean the collection of writer's choices in a wide range of key areas. Our discussions have ranged from determining whether to accept feedback, which rules to follow, and others - that all should be driven, in my opinion, by what it is we're trying to do. I use the word "do" because the book should do some things to the audience, and by that I mean something more specific than the true but undecipherable "entertain". We have to have specific goals for specific bits: produce shock, cultivate empathy for our protags, reader animosity for our villains, and ... whatever other entertaining situations we can contrive.

Again, the point is that before we can determine the validity of a guideline or concept or feedback is we have to know what we're trying to do. We have to make stylistic choices, and then execute them. And we should take feedback based on the execution of those ideas.

I came across this video, one of a series that does a wonderful job of looking at filmmakers and the kinds of stylistic choices they tend to make. I think this is a useful guide - for example, with some exceptions, the work I want to produce will align more closely with Christopher Nolan's favored approaches to films. I don't juggle timelines, for an example of where we differ in our objectives. ( @Justan Henner & @Not Lu - I'd be interested if you see any similarities in style between my WIP and this video's description of Nolan's work)

Anyway, we often discuss things from an execution standpoint, and this is probably several points past the area we should be focusing on. What are we trying to do and how do we plan to do it are critical prerequisites for determining A) whether we're doing it B) how well, and C) how we should carry the story forward.


Writers' Corner / Re: Do you need to know how to use a crossbow?
« on: January 16, 2018, 11:01:24 PM »
I think the following apply for any machine and any weapon in fiction:
1. You must know what the weapon can and cannot do. For weapons, this includes accuracy, reliability, impacts and effects (penetration of armor) etc. In short, whatever you plan for it to do, you should know whether you're presenting something realistic or not. You can, of course, present things that are unrealistic, provided you intend to. For example, splitting an apple with a crossbow at 25 feet is doable. At 50, it's a stretch. At 75, you're gambling. At 200, well, thank goodness it's Anime...

2. If you want to portray the thing in ways beyond its use, you need to know what you're talking about. I know nothing about crossbows - but they have a crank and pulleys and cables. These are sensitive to dust and dirt and water, over time. So how do you clean it? Can you leave it all tightened up and ready to fire all day? For a week? For a year? If you have a character loading it, how is that done? Can a person do it with one hand? Etc., Etc., Etc. If you get this wrong, fans will tear you up, and rightly so, for being lazy.
Again, you can violate this if you do it intelligently. Totally making this up, but using the above example, let's say my Elven crossbow is special because you CAN crank it with one hand and leave it ready to fire for centuries...

3. What your characters do not do impacts realism, too. Samurai do not drag their swords through the sand or put the point on something and use it as a walking stick because it dulls and damages the weapon, for example.

So build in some quiet, decompression time, like a diver coming up from the deeps. Fight through the crowds over here, then plan to chill at cafes over there, and so on. You're going to have a terrific time.

Writers' Corner / Re: Poems and Prose-Poetry here!
« on: January 15, 2018, 06:30:30 PM »
This is a longish one, and it's not even close to being finished. I am curious if it is rhythmically followable and at all entertaining.

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Summer Wizards have me, I’m trapped in this high place,
All my friends are lost to me, they lie in death’s embrace.
The ancient bridge so high and wide, the town of Ryn below,
Shadowed by the citadel, that looms like threatened blow.
Five deadly Apex Wizards, now bar me from escape,
I can neither flee nor hide, this fate I can’t evade.

My shock shortlived to see him, the false friend now revealed,
Whose bitter mocking laughter, now proves my fate is sealed.
Rachtus greater power wields, we both know that is true.
Influence - my weaker craft, its merits all unproved,
Naught to Rachtus or his ilk, Empowered wizards all,
Whose sorcerous defenses, negate what I can call.

Neither shield nor wards have I, an Influential weak,
But mine’s the greater anger, my spells I needn’t speak.
“Yield,” the bastard Rachtus says, as if I might forget,
The ashes of his victims, and pain of my regret.

My sisters and my brothers, become now fearsome foes,
Kindle wards of ghostly light, to shield them from my blows.
Around me ring the killers, likes wolves around the stag.
Strong the gusting high winds blow, that whip our capes like flags.

I feel it then the tingling, the thrill of choking fear,
But glittering in answer, the lesson learned most dear,
The southern savage told me, the day he showed my worth,
One day that it would serve me, to know that on the earth,
A harder heart has no one, than mine within my breast,
Strong enough to drive myself, beyond the drowning test.
Power is a handy thing, and wisdom is a boon,
But nothing more than trifles, when facing certain doom.

I advise you to discern from Justan's and Cameron's advice that there's a interrelation between how you write wayyyy down in the phrase level ("I ran hard to keep up ... to catch up ... to keep pace") and your top-level approach. Tone, style, point of view, pacing, character-voice, etc., all impact those decisions in meaningful ways, large and small.
The Writer's Digest series might be useful. It's an inexpensive book series covering the essentials of writing, and would be a useful guide to your questions and others like them. Check out "Description" first.

Writers' Corner / Re: Poems and Prose-Poetry here!
« on: January 15, 2018, 05:06:22 PM »
Am I being the party-pooper if I suggest we think of fantasy-derived titles?

There's a whole bunch of fun ideas relating to bards and such - and Bradley aren't you into that sort of thing in your WIP?

Writers' Corner / Re: Totally not worth it’s own thread, but...
« on: January 15, 2018, 04:58:34 PM »
I think Jmack was asking about a much more primitive device using rope in much earlier times.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Writers' progress
« on: January 14, 2018, 09:54:47 PM »
I can say that R. Scott Bakker's books are decidedly different in quality and have two trends in quality - maximized execution of his particular style and the stories themselves. I found execution trended downward, but it was clearly an editing problem to my eyes and this was confirmed by an insider who communicated a change in editors mid-stream to negative impact. As for story, and I am relying solely on intuition, the earlier books seemed to be older, more fully evolved ideas with interesting, interacting details and nuances. The later series were simpler and although not at all bad, nowhere near as sophisticated and interestingly complex, in terms of story.

Get a small, inexpensive wallet and wear it round your neck on a break-away strap. Don't put anything in it but a picture of The Middle Finger in it. Thieves are observant but unused to ruses that are not their own - if your wallet is in plain sight, in a difficult position, they're unlikely to go for it. If they do, well, they're aiming at the wrong target, and your couple euros at least bought you a smile and story about thieves.

Writers' Corner / Re: Totally not worth it’s own thread, but...
« on: January 14, 2018, 03:59:47 PM »
No, I don't know the word. And those kinds of terms can be tough to find. @Rostum might know?
We actually used them in our shacks in Iraq.

Writers' Corner / Re: Poems and Prose-Poetry here!
« on: January 14, 2018, 03:55:38 PM »
Thank you for your kind words, it is truly wonderful for you to say.

Thank you for walking me through things, and for my part, there's no explanation too long, esp. when the topic is so complex.

I rather agree with you that "light" is both problematic and yet, ironically, appropriate and triply meaningful.  it brings actual light and or meaning; it has the connotation of setting on fire; combined with disaster it implies nuclear/fiery events. I could go on - but I think that's good load-bearing for a 5 letter, single syllable word :)

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Writers' progress
« on: January 14, 2018, 11:47:11 AM »
Something I thought about today after finishing a book, and I wonder what you all think.

As you read more and more books by the same author, you get a sense of their progress, or 'development' - but at the same time it's not a measure of quality, and depends on the reader. And I only notice it in authors I really like (maybe because from the others I only read one or two books).

Is thinking like this normal? Or am I just generalising?
Do you have examples of either case in your books?

A. Yes, not only normal but objectively well-known. B. You are generalizing in that 1) not all writers show much improvement (and some show the opposite) and 2) there are different aspects of development/change, experience, etc., and they impact things differently.

The key issue is separating story from execution. Generally, most writers gain in skill and experience and their execution improves. What often shows a gap is the story - stories get better the more time allotted to the thinking part, imho. So a new writer is writing (for them) an old, well-known story with TONS of nuance and details and connections. No way to replicate that in a 12-18 month novel cycle. So by way of analogy, Leonardo was surely a better painter after the Mona Lisa - but perhaps never had such a good idea again.

Improvement of any kind is not the only change impacting things: they also get busy and that adds distractors and sucks energy - so their improvement is sometimes obscured by these issues and their work can suffer despite their improvements. Also, they don't always apply themselves 100%, for a variety of reasons: laziness, assumptions (they learning to tell story X, in Y way, for Z audience will work for story A, in B way, for C audience)

I can point to Stephen King as an example, although I am unable to point to specific works. Over time, his execution improved, somewhat, but his idea quality has not, imho. His ideas have always been decent, but his best works were in his younger years. At least, so far :)

We have been quietly removing Kaspersky from all US Gov't systems for a while now. In totally unrelated (totally related) news, the now-indicted former head of the DIA (the agency that identified potential risks with them) went to work for ... Kaspersky, for a little while, until he so briefly joined the Trump administration.

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