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Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
One thing to keep in mind about historical memory. Pre-literate peoples had way better memories than we do. There are methods for remembering things, methods that we have largely ... well ... forgotten.

Historians are constantly trying to find ways to verify ancient facts. What might surprise you is how often we have found that Herodotus or Arrian or Polybius or You-Name-Him gave an account that can in fact be independently confirmed.

I'm not saying that their memories were perfect, but I am saying that we should not take our own very poor memories as the model. Tribes could and did pass down accurate genealogies that stretched seven and even ten generations. Rather famously, the accounts of Troy recorded by Homer were considered entirely fictional, until Schliemann dug up Troy. And so on.

In story-telling terms, this means the author can assert his characters have some tradition of the Long Ago that is more or less accurate. It also means the author can pick just exactly the inaccuracy the story needs.

-= Skip =-
Another example is the insane level of detail that the more "primitive" people have about their environment and surroundings. I think it's mentioned in Jared Diamond's Collapse, where he talks about the highlanders in New Guinea. They had encyclopaedic knowledge about thousands upon thousands of different species of plants, how they best grow, how to tend them, what farming techniques work best in different situations, and so on.

February 11, 2015, 07:58:15 AM
Re: We are not using the Z-Word The original zombie in Haitian folklore was a corpse reanimated by magic. The current usage depicting a mindless creature with a taste for brains was something George Romero started in the '60's, although in The Night of the Living Dead they're actually described as ghouls, which is an entirely different thing, he did however call them zombies in interviews and by the time Dawn of the Dead was made in 1978 they were recognised as zombies.
March 16, 2015, 06:04:47 AM
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April 27, 2015, 01:13:06 PM
Re: How to Avoid Scaring Away Male Readers - Too Much Touchy Feely Stuff (literally) Interesting topic.

I'm a male reader, and I've been trying to think about how sex and romance are handled in some of my favorite SFF books.

Obviously, Brandon Sanderson is entirely off-screen.  Robert Jordan seems to do the imply-and-cut-away method.  Lots of "romance" in Wheel of Time though -- although the Lan-and-Nynaeve one seems to be the only one really popular with fans.

Jim Butcher.  In the Dresden Files, book 5: Death Masks, there's a pretty intense sex scene between Harry and Susan.  It's a long scene, very intense and as explicit as a romance novel until it gets below the waist.  Lots of focus on the emotions, with tiny vague details of the physical, leaving the reader to fill it in.  The scene is definitely earned after three books of their relationship and it's important to the plot on several different time scales.

I don't think *any* male reader has been turned off the series by that scene.

Patrick Rothfuss.  Name of the Wind doesn't have any (Kvothe's what, fourteen or fifteen in most of that?) but Wise Man's Fear has a good bit.  After the first scene with Felurian, it's not very explicit, though.  He does with sex what Jordan did with fighting -- it's all poetic names for different techniques.

Plenty of romance, though.  On top of the main Kvothe-Denna "romance" if that's what it is.
Spoiler for "quote":
Losi stepped close to me again, brushing her hair back. “Was she really as beautiful as they say?” Her chin went up proudly. “More beautiful than me?”

I hesitated, then spoke softly. “She was Felurian, most beautiful of all.” I reached out to brush the side of her neck where her red hair began its curling tumble downward, then leaned forward and whispered seven words into her ear. “For all that, she lacked your fire.” And she loved me for those seven words, and her pride was safe.

Rothfuss, Patrick (2011-03-01). The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two (p. 700). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

The moment when Fela first notices Simmon is amazing, and a fan favorite. 
Spoiler for "quote":
I saw Fela turn her head to look at Simmon, almost as if she were surprised to see him sitting there.

No, it was almost as if up until that point, he’d just been occupying space around her, like a piece of furniture. But this time when she looked at him, she took all of him in. His sandy hair, the line of his jaw, the span of his shoulders beneath his shirt. This time when she looked, she actually saw him.

Let me say this. It was worth the whole awful, irritating time spent searching the Archives just to watch that moment happen. It was worth blood and the fear of death to see her fall in love with him. Just a little. Just the first faint breath of love, so light she probably didn’t notice it herself. It wasn’t dramatic, like some bolt of lightning with a crack of thunder following.  It was more like when flint strikes steel and the spark fades almost too fast for you to see. But still, you know it’s there, down where you can’t see, kindling.

Rothfuss, Patrick (2011-03-01). The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two (p. 225). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn.  Considering the length of the thing, there's not that much sex -- I can only remember two sex scenes.  The first one is explicit enough that it talks about the ways in which humanity has genetically modified itself for increased sexual performance.  The other one was as explicit as any romance novel with a bare-chested cover model, but the sex is also crucial to the plot, kicking off a major subplot.  So it's not *just* titillation.

Again, I don't think any male readers were turned off by the amount of sex in a sweeping epic space war-and-adventure story.

Re: What's "warranted" mean?

People have already mentioned that the scene should be important to plot and character, not just tacked on.

I'd add that it should usually come as the "payoff" to an arc, rather than as something that just happens.  That is, there should be a buildup of tension, or flirting, or courting, or fighting, or *something* between the two characters over several scenes before they hop into bed.  It should be something the reader wants to happen when it does -- just like an infodump.

But I'd agree with everyone else: Write for yourself first, adapt it to others (if at all) in later edits.  If you don't like what you've written, it's hard to ask someone else to.

May 31, 2015, 03:31:04 PM
Re: How to Avoid Scaring Away Male Readers - Too Much Touchy Feely Stuff (literally) Perhaps make the sex/love scenes more about lust and physical attraction rather then love and spiritual attraction. I'm not saying you do this but I find that male audiences are much more driven by physical attraction and would probably relate more to that sort of feeling in any love scenes (That's why GRRM sex scenes are accepted by a male audience). Also, its much more real then having lovey dovey type sex. Generally speaking, even if two people love each other, sex is very much a physical experience. You don't think during sex "I'm in love with this person" it's all about the then and there and is very much driven by lust and primal feelings. All the feelings that come past physical attraction are usually after sex and in-between it, not during.
May 31, 2015, 10:11:43 PM
Re: How to Avoid Scaring Away Male Readers - Too Much Touchy Feely Stuff (literally) Just a thought and feel free to tell me it's a stereotypical misogynist one, I am big and tough enough to deal with it (and there is no one here to see me cry)

If I was writing an unexpected spontaneous sex scene from a male perspective it would be nearly as simple as wow, unexpected spontaneous sex.
For that to work from a female perspective I suspect the female protagonist would have to have showered, shaved have her make up and hair just so.
Be feeling good about herself and her body and how she looked in what she was wearing. There is no way this is happening if she has her granny knickers on, lingerie by preference.
Any kids would be away staying at friends or relatives and taken care of. Should it happen at home the house would be spotless and the housework just done, the bed linen if a bed is required would be fresh.
At least four paragraphs prior to the scene of what male readers may take as irrelevance are necessary for that sort of spontaneity to work from a female perspective. Or am I completely missing the mark?
 Thinking back over the few romance novels and female perspective erotica I have read there was a lot of what I would consider clutter building up to the sex scenes that is not the primary focus of male readers.

But what if the "chick" isn't especially hot? What if it's from her point of view? And what if it's between two gay men and you're not gay?

I think the hotness factor works both ways and is overcome by writing your characters well enough for the reader to identify or at least have empathy with them. The Mills and Boon stereotypical fit and rugged (shirtless as well) millionaire comes to mind. Instant attraction becomes less about looks as you age and the desire to reproduce lessens. Sex scenes from a female perspective I would have thought are of more interest than from a male perspective to a male reader, but maybe that’s just me.
 As a heterosexual male I am not as squeamish as some men about homosexual sex scenes if they are well done I have no problem reading them. I rarely give up on a book and am more likely to do so over bad writing that sexual content. Saying that a guy I work with abandoned Cloud Atlas as soon as he found there were gay characters. Even before there was any sexual activity.

June 06, 2015, 08:56:49 PM
Re: Hemmingway app to improve your writing. Experiences? Looks like it has a lot of bugs... "The world was so alive" was marked as "very hard to read"! Plus of course you can write long sentences that are easy to read if they have an internal logic that makes them flow properly - long sentences like that are often more effective at communicating things than choppy prose imo.
June 21, 2015, 09:19:55 PM
Re: Re-inventing (the history of) the wheel Hi @NinjaRaptor, thanks for sharing your idea re the wheel. I think it's a terrific idea and could be expanded on brilliantly. Definitely Pratchettesque
Spoiler for Hiden:
with primitive people and infringement of copyrights
, made me smile. ;D

Now on to a few words of warning re writing traps with Australian subjects generally, whether back in history, present day and even tongue-in-cheek.

1. Be very careful using  Australian slang you have heard in films or on the internet, most of it is so outdated now, it reads like typical stereotyped rubbish and overused to death . eg sheila, now actually very non pc as well. Point 2 below also applies in this case as all such slang is from European origins.

2. You are writing of time long before the British arrived on the First Fleet, so the actual word Australian did not exist. You could try something like Great Empty Desert Land or nonsense like Hopping Monster South Land or from lists below.

3.The local people are called Indigenous People or nowadays Aboriginal Australians, but not just Aboriginals. This is still a thorny subject so maybe better to choose your own name for them. They have absolutely wonderful words for names,  tribes and also place names which you couldn't invent. Check here: -




(Just check each place name you actually use carefully on Google, some have bad associations from later history eg Maralinga)

4. This would not apply to your tribesmen, but the best of luck to anyone ever trying to write  Australian dialogue with the speech patterns and idioms, been here 41 years and can speak it easily, but coming to write it down was nearly impossible.  Recently tried on our crazy RPG and it was baaad. ;D

None of that was meant to be off putting, just a few thoughts  and looking forward to hearing more about the Invention of the Wheel . ;D

June 22, 2015, 01:44:12 AM
Re: Re-inventing (the history of) the wheel Steve Irwin and Paul Hogan made the most of acting what we would call Ocker and deliberately spoke Strine - good publicity and other countries loved to hear it.  ;D  Seriously though, nowadays this place is pc fraught and you are never sure what will become unacceptable next either from a feminist or a racist angle. Seriously do not want to pursue this.

Was thinking about your premise of having natives and still doing Aussie take off and remembered TP's The Last Continent which is wonderful, clever and funny. He got around all such problems by clearly basing it on Australia, packed it out with references to our way of life etc.,  but specifically stating something to the effect "it was not Australia but may have had similarities." That way you can do what you like - and after all this is fantasy, so go for your life and good luck ;)

June 22, 2015, 09:50:10 AM
Re: Re-inventing (the history of) the wheel Mad Max meets 1,000,000 BC. I love it.
June 22, 2015, 11:36:32 AM