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Messages - Nora

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Hello all!

I'm starting this thread hoping it could evolve in a sort of experience and source sharing. I hope this isn't a thing already...

My idea here is that Fantasy, and fiction in most its genres, is a type of story that strongly benefits from solid and realistic world building (as we all know and thrive to achieve) and the best example for us all is our real world.
While we all benefit from reading other fantasy writers and see how they managed to hook us with their worlds or with the underlying themes they chose, I personally think that my own world and ideas benefit from a lot of my non-fiction reading.
After all, good sourcing and research is how we avoid cliche and weak themes. But maybe by sharing more personal discoveries we could help each other out?
After all some of the greatest stories and movies out there were picked out of philosophy problems for example.

Well, i guess I'll make more sense if I just give my own examples. Worse come to worse it'll just be me throwing out a bunch of links and yaking my face off! :D

I apologize for the length of this post, but believe passion about reading or writing ought to be taken seriously and I shall fart in your general direction.

In the personal experience area :

Spoiler for Hiden:
I'm too lazy to make any researches concerning english speaking countries laws, but let me share mine.
In France, for centuries every citizen has benefited from a right, which is called "Glanage". It is still valid today, and allows anyone to walk on a farmer's land after the harvest and pick up whatever was left behind. It is also legal in orchads, where you can pick up fruits off the ground.
A famous painting is dedicated solely to that concept, called "Les glaneuses", by Jean Francois Millet :

Contrarily to what first comes to mind these women are not harvesting, this is probably not their field, and it won't go to the farmer. They are picking left over for themselves.
If you search around you'll find more paintings showing how popular a thing that was :

The laws surrounding the propriety of goods is a very useful knowledge. We have two types of "goods without owners". All "immobile" goods (buildings) without owners pertain to the state (which would lead to fascinating discussions about squats), so only "mobile" goods are detailed:

> Res Derelictae : objects voluntarily abandoned by former proprietors, the first person to put their hands on it becomes the new owner. This applies from objects left on the street to the content of bins (and is why I've got such a hard time with aussie and nz laws regarding bags left at charity's doorsteps. To me those are anyone's stuff until the shop takes them in).
The only nuance is that it does not include lost objects. So you're not technically the legal owner of a watch you found on the street!

> Res Nullius : Fish, game, and wild animals.

In France a "glaneuse" is what I called myself, while you would call me a dumpster diver or a freegan.
I was forced to learn more about the law, as you can be yelled at by people thinking themselves righteous in annoying you (this can apply to policemen who can be fairly pushy until you show that you explicitly know your rights).

I think anyone wishing to write about medieval times, or characters evolving in rural areas should know about this. More modern settings are worse. While older times had very organized recycling systems where little was wasted, we've got the stark opposite nowadays.

Take my word as a real-life bum for it : you need to try REALLY hard to go hungry in a city.
I'm attaching here a handful of pictures I've taken while dumpster-diving in Australia or France:

(note the mental haul in the last picture? It's one trip, all I could carry by myself in a cardboard, off a Melbourne's Coles back alley)
I've spent months of my life buying no food but the rare essential I would miss.
I've also never, ever been sick due to eating food taken off the bins. Bakeries dump fresh food every night. Markets are insane, with the smallest defect on a produce leading to it been binned.
The gold mines are in large supermarket bins.
A can with a scratched paper? Bin. Boxes of goon cracked open but perfectly fine inner bag? Bin. 12 pack of glass bottled beer, one broken? 11 in the bin. Products didn't sell on the last discount but is still perfectly fine? Bin. This includes new clothing, candles, beach chairs, but also consoles, watches, shoes, good bike parts and house keeping products.
In Adelaide I lived several weeks with only 20$ in my pocket.

End of the line, any type of character struggling through a city to find food will earn my immediate disbelief. A great depiction of the "underworld" of a large city would also widely benefit from research on that. Most people who shop for their food every day don't really realize how wasteful most systems are.
Every french speaker will have a funny time reading "Le guide du zonard" on the internet, where people filled a wiki with tips on "traveling by train for free", "fixing the soles of your shoes", "getting the coins out of a parking machine", "get free toilet paper off Mac Donalds", "having 87 postal addresses", "screwing a punk chick without getting a hepatitis" or "Still passing for an artist".
I wish there was an english equivalent!
Check out trash wiki for a peak in the freeman life. Some places have google maps with bins located and notes about staff attitude and common hauls.

Non-fiction reading I found very helpful and why :

Spoiler for Hiden:
For people who want to write extensively about war and its consequences, even if the subject is very often mentioned in fantasy and sci-fi, I owe a lot to these :

Guns, germs, and steel : the fates of human societies by Jared M. Diamond
This is proper history focused on war, epic read. Quite the thick book but worth the effort. His style is very easy to follow.

In philosophy, the following texts are short essays you'll find online (your philosophy Ethic classes could have asked you to find and read them) :

Cecile Fabre, Guns, food and liability to attack in war.
Jeff MacMahan, Ethics of Killing in War - where the author works his way toward the concept of "Just war" and "Just war" being the only time where a soldier ought to participate. Such concept is still open to debate, like everything else in philosophy.
But also Torture in Principle and in Practice
Samuel Scheffler, Is Terrorism Morally Distinctive -
Coady, terrorism, Morality, and Supreme Emergency
(a lot are public publications and if you struggle finding them you can PM me, I'll send them to you)

All those are short essays, and though the style is more dense because it's directed at people who enjoy a good mindf***, there is a lot of benefits you can take out of listening to these people.
For one, characters who questions themselves or the general situation in their story in terms other than "good and evil and where do I stand in this" are too rare to my taste.
Reading MacMahan could flesh out dialogs between warriors, reading Coady could add dimension to hostage situations or dialogs in terrorist attacks, whatever the side of the acts your POV follows.

Personally I find my work extremely influenced by a french historian called Philippe Aries who wrote mainly on "daily life" through history, and the evolution of behaviors in societies.

People who want to write about feudal systems, or other historical settings would benefit from reading him.
I found his writings fascinating. The bold is deserved. As you go through his books you realize how incredibly deformed our vision of history is.
While we all go and learn about facts and dates and events, classes never really paint the way life was back then. How ALIEN it could be to us.
Did you know for example that in christian medieval France, when all the family slept in one big bed, it was a rather banal practice to smother an infant to death, because you couldn't well afford this new mouth? Or that romans barely had a concept of "private life" and the entire depended fully on slavery, and how complex it was?
My favorite work of his remains the one he did on the change of attitude of the western world towards death. It's so well written and a topic that is still so strong for us all and since the dawn of times!

The hour of our death or Western attitudes towards death: from the middle ages to the present depending on edition.
Centuries of childhood: a social history of family life
A history of private life - covers in 5 books from the roman times to the modern times. Pick the time you're setting in and read the associated book. Well worth the time, fascinating discoveries.

He wrote more on the history of sexuality in occident and the history of french populations but not sure those got translated.
His works on death I use fully in my own works, as I have a futuristic setting but the mentalities towards death made a big leap backward.

Special mention for people who'd be interested in survival/makeshift medicine. There are two books fully free online you can read called

Where there is no doctor and Where there is no dentist

Besides personal benefits, I learnt some very vivid tricks in there that go beyond the tooth pulled with pliers and the gangrene limb sawed off and cauterized in fire! :D

Alright, I hope I got some of you interested in some stuff… Was well worth trying anyway.
If that makes your bells ring and you do have sources or ideas to share, because you've got a solution for things you find often wanting in fantasy, or just a specific quirky story that could benefit us…
Or just questions and topics you'd like to dig and would like to know if anyone can recommend you anything!


Introductions / Re: Bum nutjob joining
« on: March 18, 2015, 01:29:08 AM »
No no, sorry, my comment is only valid concerning the Austen fan world.
Lots of people do spin offs of Pride and prejudice and all have failed so far in my eyes. Like "an assembly such as this" which is supposedly the book in Darcy's POV. Beyond a flimsy attempt at reproducing Austen's prose, the author completely lacks knowledge of what a gentleman like Darcy would be doing with his time, besides mooning on his love interest.
Because I know Austen by heart (P&P I read several times a year, no hiding it) it's hard for me to escape a harsh critical mindset.

I'm reading your Rogue story now!

Introductions / Re: Bum nutjob joining
« on: March 18, 2015, 01:17:38 AM »
Great recommendations on the dragon side of things. I know about the zombie and sea monster parodies but never got hooked. Mainly because I'm a one of the pricky Austen fans. Modern authors just generally fail at reproducing a genuine regency writing style and the try-hard effect discourages me.
However, O'brien with dragons that's going straight on my to-read list.
I have a book on my short list called Seraphina, showing a world where dragons can shape themselves as humans and are talented at arts... The premises sounded great, so do the ones of Temeraire and tooth and claw, thanks a bunch!!

Introductions / Re: Bum nutjob joining
« on: March 18, 2015, 12:14:21 AM »
Oh MY GOD. Thanks so much! That's sounds right down my fan girl-crazy cat lady alley!!

Monthly Writing Contest / Re: Voting
« on: March 17, 2015, 11:01:37 PM »
Mmmh. If people want to vote yet make things go fast there are ways of course.
Might sound a bit heretical but it suffices to crank your judgement way high and skim the stories:
As soon as the style displeases you, the story fails to hook you or whatever, put the story aside.
Read through only the ones that genuinely works in all aspects, the ones you really want to read till the end, and note those.
Harsh criticism will help put the number of 1500 words shorts you have to read trough... Even if it'll let some on the side. One can always come back to discarded stories later.
If you have too many catching stories to read till the end I guess you're screwed, you're just on a too good forum :p

Introductions / Re: Bum nutjob joining
« on: March 17, 2015, 10:17:06 PM »
Thanks a lot Xiagan!

Hey @Eclipse thanks!
Your question is pretty tough. I don't have a favorite author. Even if I'm a bit more consistent in reading than in music, as I tend to read a lot of the author's work if I like one of their book, at the end of the day I still evaluate them mainly by my best favorite book by them.
So I don't have favorite authors as much as I have favorite books… Do I make any sense?
However, if I list my favorite works, that makes me a fan of the following :

Jane Austen, Franz Kafka, Stephan Zweig, Michael Crichton, Philippe Aries (french historian, considered first and foremost in the new field of "history of behavior and attitudes", wrote superbly about the evolution of our relation to death, childhood, or private life. I'll make a post about his work some time soon), G.R.R Martin (been reading him for over 10 years now!), Anne Rice, I'm also a HUGE fan of Bierce "Devil's dictionary", Bill Bryson, Tolkien… Recently discovered Sanderson with Mistborn and though the first book put him high up the list, the second (and somewhat the third too) make me reserve my judgement till I read more of his work.


I also read a lot of manga and comics and stay a huge fan of Mike Mignola with the BPRD and Hellboy series.

But most of my reading time is taken by scientific books (complex only in fields I manage like biology, and otherwise broken down a bit for a more general public when it comes to physics, with Katherine Freese, Munroe's excellent "What if?", Kip Thorne (brilliant), Greene or Hawking) and philosophy books and essays.
"Defense of moderate autonomism" ought to be read by any artist imo.
Jeff MacMahan is an ethic author I dote on, with "Ethics of killing in war" and "Torture in principle and in practice".

Fantasy Art / Fan Art / Introducing BouletCorp
« on: March 17, 2015, 12:21:57 PM »

Just wanted to share this really cool Frenchman, who is a very talented illustrator and comic artist who got extremely famous in France via his blog posts.
So famous actually that his posts started to get translated in English!
So you can all enjoy some if his most insane work!

Boulet being a fantasy lover, you'll often find fantastic themes in his work, I'm putting here some links, but I'd recommend you read the whole damn blog.
French speakers will have access to more on the French blog.

Those are very funny comparisons between his job as an illustrator and the fantasy warrior's life :

This one is also pretty interesting considering I've seen topics about names and description of new types of weapons and such. He addresses with humor the novels who just go a bit too much on the funky side.

His humor is rad.

He loves dinosaurs and has a lot in his pics.

Just one last nail in the coffin of fandom with a special note to @Jmacyk IMO the best comic in this category :


[MAR 2015] Rogues / Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Discussion Thread
« on: March 17, 2015, 12:17:11 PM »
Phew! Perfect!  ;D was on my way to create a post in the Illustration forums and felt almost sheepish! ;-)

Writers' Corner / Re: Here there be Monsters
« on: March 17, 2015, 11:40:54 AM »
Hearing how you love monsters it reminded me of a cool sketch by a French comic artist. It's been translated on his English blog check it out :


Writers' Corner / Re: Who do you write like?
« on: March 17, 2015, 11:04:54 AM »
I'm not sure at all who I write like, really. Five stories on F-F and some many aborted starts doesn't tell me much. Especially since the story contest encourages, for me, trying on different voices.

I think I'm aiming for CJ Cherryh or Lois McMaster Bujold. Very different writers, but ones I feel I have a shot at emulating. A mix of modern and classic feel, great characterization, exciting action, deep emotion.

At the moment, I ain't even in the ball park.   :P

Try your text on this website : it'll analyze your work and say who you're supposedly writing like.

On my normal main work it told me Douglas Adams (and that's ok)
But I posted the short I just added to the March contest it told me I write like STEPHENIE MEYER and I'll be hanging off a beam, if you're looking for me.

[MAR 2015] Rogues / Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Discussion Thread
« on: March 17, 2015, 10:57:31 AM »
@Nora You are fast! Second day on the forum and you already got a contest story written (and still had the time to flood the forum with posts  ;) ). Very fast, indeed.

Although now that I think of it, I posted my first contest entry the very day I registered.  ;D Okay, I might have registered when I did because I wanted to enter the contest. (I'm still working my way to flooding the forum, though.)

Haha! Sorry, I guess it's the excitement of the first days, and the bliss of being in contact with new people, even if only via a forum. I'll surely quiet down soon.
As for the story, I worked this morning from 5am to 10am while I could think about some basic features. Then I sat down to write from 10am till 6pm, worked an hour and got back to the story and published at what? 9ish? So worked on this for 9 good hours today! Not as fast as I wished it had been!
My only Internet connection is flimsy on my phone so I can lazily flood on the side, but not much else!  :P

You still seem to own the record on posting post subscription time!!

[MAR 2015] Rogues / Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Discussion Thread
« on: March 17, 2015, 10:34:20 AM »
Alright, posted a go. I'm pretty sure my definition of a Rogue is a bit too stretched but gniiiiih...

@Raptori : loooove your story already but I suffer greatly at the end, as I'm not sure if it's my deviant brain or what but... It seems to me like your (superbly written) rogue was actually talking to a goat? What am I missing?!

I reckon I'll read them all as they go and do like you guys re-reading with a point system in the end. Sounds good.
Halfway through reading yours right now, really good so far!

Glad you enjoyed it! In English, "Kid" can mean one of two things: a young human, or a young goat. Han Solo always called Luke Skywalker "kid", so we decided to make a joke about that  :P I guess it's something that people who speak English as a foreign language might not pick up on :D

OMG. Yes! Thank you!!!
Both teaching me a new word and reassuring me.
This makes the ending properly cool. I really like your short. Awesome job!

[MAR 2015] Rogues / Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Discussion Thread
« on: March 17, 2015, 10:11:36 AM »
Alright, posted a go. I'm pretty sure my definition of a Rogue is a bit too stretched but gniiiiih...

@Raptori : loooove your story already but I suffer greatly at the end, as I'm not sure if it's my deviant brain or what but... It seems to me like your (superbly written) rogue was actually talking to a goat? What am I missing?!

I reckon I'll read them all as they go and do like you guys re-reading with a point system in the end. Sounds good.

[MAR 2015] Rogues / Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Submission Thread
« on: March 17, 2015, 09:56:19 AM »
Alright, I tried, and pulled this out of my skull today, it's set up in the same world as my main story, except this happens in Europe.

1498 words without a title.

The name of a God

Spoiler for Hiden:
Hades didn't know how he felt about the sight in front of him.
His life had led him to some of the most desolate places on the continent, and he had learnt to appreciate dreariness in a landscape. If you kept morals out, anything could become beautiful.
But the ruin of a city's Plant was something else. The vitreous building, still majestic despite its downfall, was marked by soot. Massive metal beams and towering shards of molten materials stabbed the ground around its broken frame. Fire had killed that Plant.

Nothing spoke of slow and painful death like the carcass of a Plant. It meant no filtered water, no recycled earth. No uncontaminated food.
Despite his twisted tastes, Hades couldn't find it in him to appreciate the view.
Instead he shouldered his bag and went in search of a lookout, internally seething against his employer. It wasn't an assassin they should have sent out here but a recovery crew. The life of his target most certainly wasn't worth more than the smallest piece that could be salvaged from the Plant.
His employer must be ill informed. The town had been doomed years ago in that fire.

He stayed in his lookout for two days before he spotted his first sign of human life. Gray shadow on grayer background. Proof people were still surviving.
He sat in his concrete lair, charging his gun, screwing his silencer on. Maybe after all his target was alive.
When he saw a second human in the distance, he took to the streets.

For several hours he walked in expanding circles, hugging shadows, progressing through debris.
The kid reached him before Hades could sense him. Instant brownie points earned.
This respect was all that saved the child from getting his head blasted, as Hades stood, gripping his pack, grimly staring at the sheepish youth holding on to the other end of it.
Hades shook the straps violently, jolting the kid off against the pile of trash sheltering them. However the kid stood his ground, cooly assessing the older man.

"Are you a Rogue?" the child asked, eyes suddenly sparkling.
"Why? Are you a Rogue killer?" Hades scowled. The kid only groaned, turning his attention back to the pack.
Hades had seen rogue killers younger than this kid. Considering that the ones who could claim the kill had first dibs on the rogue's belongings, people got motivated. In such ruined cities all thieves or scavengers, even simple shady strangers, would fall under the Rogue denomination.
Of course Hades fell into other categories as well.
Spy, thief, murderer. Gun for hire.
Hopelessly for the locals, he would probably prove too hard a kill even if the entire town set after him.
"You've gotta be one though no?" The kid went on, "Not like people come to visit here no more."
"Your English is dreadful." Hades replied. The kid shrugged, unconcerned.

The sound of upset rubble clicked in the air and in an instant the kid fell forward, arms bent, fingers splayed to smoothly catch his weight. He landed soundlessly next to Hades, who had  spontaneously crouched, palming his gun under his coat. He was impressed by the kid's reflexes.
"Smart brat" he whispered.
"Them dumb ones don't grow old."
Hades waited, scanning the ruined street and staying stone-still, even after a scrawny fox dashed away, offering a possible explanation for the noise that had startled them. One didn't survive by being dismissive.
As they finally relaxed, Hades made up his mind.
"What's your name kid?"
"Aki. What's yours?"
Aki frowned, his little dirty nose creasing in concentration. "Heard it before I think but... never met you"
Hades laughed at that. "You probably heard it in old stories."
"Stories about you?"
"No. A very long time ago, some people believed in a God called Hades. They left many stories about their gods."
The kid gaped, his jaw falling open in complete amazement. "You've got a god's name?! Dust me!" he was so enthusiastic that Hades resolved to keep the nature of his namesake's godly business to himself. No need to dampen the mood.
"Aki, sorry to cut the fun but I've been traveling for days to get here. I've got a message for the town's Master Engineer. I didn't know the Plant had died. Is he still alive?" Aki nodded.
"Could you take me to him?" Hades asked.
The child stood up and dusted his thick gloves on his hips.
"Canna do that if you're a Rogue."
"I'm no Rogue."
The kid shrugged again. Obviously the gesture was some local equivalent for "I don't care what you say".
Hades opened his pack with a sigh and made a show of digging through his belongings under the suddenly burning gaze of the youth. He felt bad. Why bother with this kid? Hades had never had to invent a cover story before. Why talk to the rare people who got in his way when he could simply kill them?
But if the kid led him to the Master Engineer, he'd speed Hades' work by days... And betray his Master.
Anyway he wasn't lying was he? He was a traveler. He had a message to deliver.
Bullet message between the eyes.

"Here, that's from Beiry. A shell, the home of a creature that lives in the sea. That's dried fruit paste. They make it in Sakarof, ten days walk West of here. It's sweet. And that's my old mister, you could plug it on your mask. It vibrates when the levels get too high. You pick. I give you the one you want to bring me to your Master Engineer."
It was an easy bargain. The kid was quick in making decisions and wisely chose the mister over the rest.
Aki might look twelve, but Hades suspected him to be older. The scraggy body poking under the layers of protective clothing spoke of years with too little food.
He glanced down at his own chest, peeking under his combi at jutting ribs. He looked almost as malnourished as the child. That's what you got for spending weeks walking through the zone on stupid contracts.

Aki proved to be intense company. He needed frequent breaks and paced their movements in order to always rest in a shelter he was familiar with. He would then indulge in a stream of breathless chatter.
He explained how the ruins of the town were mapped, took them to the water works, pointed at shelters, led the way to the cemetery field and cross-questioned Hades about the ways of other town-people, and if any around had pretty girls. He told him everything he remembered about the day their own Plant burnt.
He was all around the single most bubbly, optimistic, good humored zone dweller Hades had ever met. It baffled him.
"You're a very trustful brat to tell a stranger all this."
"It's my mom's doin' you know? It's how she saved the town too, when the Plant died on us."
"What do you mean?"
"You know of Master no? She's no leader, weird specialty too. Old tech, she used to study. When the Plant died, everyone was just feeling like it should be someone's fault, so they got after her."
"Your Master Engineer is a woman?" Aki nodded. Hades was surprised, but waved at Aki to continue.
"Like I said, my mom always went 'Aki, there is no trustin' no one these days, so you'll have to make a choice each time, and start trusting. Better live with treason than never trustin' no one'. That's what she went yelling at people who were after the Master, too. And she did good on that. None of us would be living but for the Master." Hades' curiosity was definitely piqued.

Aki had led them towards the edge of the town, walking along the hazy border between concrete and wilderness. He finally went up a slope, creeping to the top and hid behind a boulder, pointing down around it.

For the second time that week, Hades didn't know how to feel about the sight in front of him.
Aki sniggered. Underground buildings poked out of the earth, next to three long, half buried glasshouses, complete with lead sheeting. A century old model. People where going around, caring for plants grown on aeroponic beds.
"Dust me to Hell" Hades muttered, "your Master specialized in 21st century tech?"
Aki nodded vigorously. "We're still twenty-two people, eight years after. She's teaching us good."

The Master, easily identifiable by her combi, appeared by a glasshouse, patiently showing another woman how to coil a water cable.
And here he had come, to this impossible, hidden little village of hope, the god of Death he was, to put a bullet in that woman's head, crop it off and carry it to a ruthless employer.
One bullet, twenty-two deaths.
Hades felt sick. Dust it all! He turned to Aki, yanking him close.
"Kid, in that cemetery, didn't you say you buried someone recently?"

Pretty dead topic, but whatever.

I read the first ten/twenty pages about a year ago. Wasn't a fan of the style. Tried the movie. Hated it, but I could see the beautiful themes abounding off the desolation. Or something like that. I'd still suggest every post-apoc lover try and read it, just to see if they get something different or profound out of it. Me? I'll try Blood Meridian instead.

Don't beat yourself up over a famous book you think you should like. Where's the fun in that?

Meh haha. Sounds just like the description of The Exorcist to me. With the "table the colour of sadness".

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