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Messages - J.R. Darewood

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Writers' Corner / Re: Nonhuman peoples
« on: December 15, 2015, 06:12:27 PM »
For some reasons, nonhuman peoples seem to have really gotten out of favor. They never were really popular with Sword & Sorcery and in Epic Fantasy they only get very little roles, if they even exist at all. Maybe it's because of the stuff I've been reading recently, but it appears that nonhuman peoples really only show up in fiction based on roleplaying games or strongly inspired by Tolkien. Both segments of the market that are not particularly high in regard.
I am working on a story idea, and I almost feel like struggling to find away to have elves but trying to cover up that fact that they are elves.

How are you approaching this?

I guess I'm jumping into the convo late.

Some people want elves others don't (I have to say I'm losing my sh*t with excitement over seeing elves on MTV next month, but that's me).  Going with Tolkien-esque tropes might turn some people off, but it's fair to say that it's a huge draw for some people, especially as fantasy becomes more mainstream.

The way I started to deal with it in my WIP was to go back before Tolkien and D&D to the source material-- legends and shit like that.  I'm not sure it really worked because I modified the names.  I think it would have worked better if I had stayed closer to my legendary sources and went for a bit more cultural cohesion instead of just making my own sewn-together amalgamation.

My Ogiers are O'gog, (derived from the biblical story of Gog and Magog), with their legendary history of descending from a series of First Children like Gog, Danu (think Tuatha de Dannan), and Tehemat (a fusion of Tiamat and the Hindu goddess Kali).  Magog are my substitute for minotaurs-- they're just like 7-8ft tall humans (usually jacked) whose warriors bolt steel horns (1-3) into their skulls as a badge of accomplishment in battle.

My elves (influenced by Irish and germanic aelfish stories but human-ized) just have elongated ears and they're called A'elfar.  My version of Dark Elves are the A'elfar who are branded exiled to the Fell (a place that was plunged into my version of hell like 1000 years ago) so if you are born there, you're eyes are black b/c of the way the Fell interfere's with the soul's connection to the body. So Dae'elfar either have a big brand or their eyes are black-- not exactly like Drow but there are some similarities. They live in caves b/c they have to hide from the crazy awful shit that roams around in the fell.

I guess the point in mentioning all that is that there is sort of a middle ground between the full-on magical realists and the Tolkien tropes.  Maybe.  I'm not sure if it worked, tbh, but I"m trying it out.

Writers' Corner / Re: One Sentence writing advice
« on: December 06, 2015, 11:02:04 PM »
advice I never take:

Get off facebook.

The same could be said for wikipedia, but that's my weird fetish, fb is probably more common.

Writers' Corner / Re: Do you enter 'the zone' when writing?
« on: December 06, 2015, 10:54:09 PM »

Also a little alcohol and finger food next to the computer.

I'm with you there! I need a continuous supply of sugar. I go through a *lot* of finger food. One night of writing might take a bag of chips, 5 cookies from Subway, several candybars (usually big cup reese's) trail mix and a box of cereal.

Was it Hemmingway that said "write drunk, edit sober" or did the internet make that up?

Writers' Corner / Re: Calling All Maps!
« on: December 05, 2015, 02:29:10 AM »

I got 5. Ouch, that was difficult. Somehow I even got GRRM's map wrong!

At least I got the Gentleman Bastards and the Earthsea Cycle right...

Writers' Corner / Re: Do you enter 'the zone' when writing?
« on: December 04, 2015, 10:41:16 AM »
This looks like a great series!

I like the approach to describing writing that you're using here-- too often writing advice feels mechanical-- but those are just the tools- the jab, the hook, the front kick or whatever.  You still have to put them together in a way that's almost subconscious to make it real.

I've done some fighting, but for me the writing zone is about tapping into the emotional arc of the scene. It's more like the focus that happens when you're playing music and you can feel it and do that intangible stuff that makes the music sound like the emotion your are channeling.  I have to feel the emotions I'm writing tenfold.

That's actually a big problem for me when I'm editing (as you note in the article!), b/c I feel like I lose some of that when I come back and chop things up-- it's much harder for me to get back in the zone.  But I'm not a very successful writer so it may be that I just need more of the right kind of training...

God, editing sucks.

Will one of your pieces focus on recapturing the zone while editing?

Fantasy Resources / Re: Anyone know of a Fantasy Thesaurus?
« on: November 14, 2015, 01:50:02 AM »
... or I could just run sentences through the Jmack-translator...

Fantasy Resources / Re: Anyone know of a Fantasy Thesaurus?
« on: November 14, 2015, 01:49:05 AM »
Hahaha, I'll have to go check the Interweave then :)

There is the Historical Thesaurus of the OED

which tracks really fascinating shifts in clusters of meanings (eg-- the existence of "teenagers" as a social category etc.) so it gets into the sociology of words and meanings as these change over time.  It's not really the quick fix I was looking for tho, and I just didn't want to pay for a subscription to it if it's going to take more effort than I've got to give it ATM.  So I'm not 100% sure if it's a good choice or not without being able to try it out first. (plus it's like 30$/month which is INSANE).

Fantasy Resources / Anyone know of a Fantasy Thesaurus?
« on: November 13, 2015, 10:23:05 PM »

So I'm wondering if this exists: is there a thesaurus out there that you can use to convert modern words/sayings to those that might be common in the periods we write in?

Writers' Corner / Re: Calling All Maps!
« on: September 02, 2015, 09:17:35 AM »

@bradley darewood, fellow unsummonable  :P
Your map style reminds me of the maps of Dragon Age in style. It's pretty nice.

I haven't found this program you call automap however (all I get is music programs). Do you have a link?

My bad it was AutoREALM.  It only works on PC.

Here's a tutorial that can give you sort of a preview:

My process was like this:

1) I searched free textures online using google image search-- mostly wooden, papyrus, concrete, stone, etc.  I Think I ended up using wood of some sort but i don't remember.

2) I used the texture as my background on AutoREALM.  I mostly needed autoREALM for the little mountain icons, city icons and for the fractal coastline as well as the smooth lines of the river and dotted lines of the country borders.  I had very poor control over the fractal generator, so I ended up just adapting my map to what the fractal wanted to do-- it was close enough to what i was going for. 

3) In photoshop i painted the ocean and shaded the borders/rivers etc.  I downloaded a special font to use for the country names.  I think it might have been Cloister Black.

And that's it more or less!

Writers' Corner / Re: Calling All Maps!
« on: August 29, 2015, 06:10:54 AM »
I"m a little late to the party but here's mine:

The geography is political and magical and religious:  the mountain range, the Fell, housed a city that was once the gate to Heaven (like Shangrila), but it got cast into Ghenna (Hell, sort of) so now it's a creepy-ass place with all kinds of terrible shit and 1,000 years ago and now there are these enormous statues that keep anything from leaving the mountain range (in addition to dragons and ogre-like dudes, anyone who dies there comes back to life as a gollog (like a golem) in 7 days unless you cut their body into 7 pieces and cuts 1/7th off of people to sew onto themselves to replace their rotting parts).  On the other side of the range is a whole other set of countries-- the two sides have forgotten about each other-- and their legends/religion has evolved very differently from the other side.

I used a combination of AUTOmap and photoshop

Writers' Corner / Re: Does There Need To Be A Hook?
« on: August 11, 2015, 09:35:43 AM »
For me, I would echo what has already been said, but put it like this:

The reader needs to be engaged, that's without question.  A hook is a very powerful way to do that, but it's not the only way.  So not using a hook doesn't let you off the hook, so to speak....

Links, Competitions and 'Stuff' / Fantasy contest
« on: July 13, 2015, 10:46:04 PM »

So the winner gets like a 25$ Amazon gift certificate and a coffee mug-- so it's sort of a gimmick to get more content for their site without forking out much cash, I think, but hey, it's exposure right?

Writers' Corner / Re: To Describe or Not To Describe
« on: July 13, 2015, 06:06:19 AM »
This is all really great advice!

Writers' Corner / Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« on: July 13, 2015, 03:40:50 AM »
Thanks for adding me Arry!

Thx Dr. Chill-- I'm polishing the novel to hopefully submit it places in the next year or so; I'm already writing the sequel.

(Just a background check, fingerprint scan, blood work, and drug test is all.)

If you like I can still piss into a cup and mail it to you....

Writers' Corner / To Describe or Not To Describe
« on: July 13, 2015, 12:14:02 AM »

So, I've written a novel and I've had a ton of fellow writers beta-read it for me, and so far they've tended to prefer sparse description.  But I had my first "real person" beta-reader recently and he said I don't describe things enough.  I started thinking back to some of my favorite fantasy novels (yes, I like Robert Jordan) and the dude describes the hell out of everything. 

So what's your take?  Do the basics: quick and dirty location and set up the character a tiny bit and leave it to the reader's imagination?  Or set the scene in intricate detail and describe your characters physical appearance with precision?

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