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Topics - Raptori

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Sci-Fi, Horror, YA & Urban Fantasy Books / Dune, 50 Years On
« on: July 05, 2015, 01:50:46 PM »
Apparently it's been 50 years since Dune was published, and the Guardian have posted a nice retrospective on it (contains a lot of spoilers, so don't read the article if you plan to read it).

Really love that book, I'm always wishing I could find something that manages to capture the intense sense of peace that some of the desert sequences portrayed for me. I'm reading the part of the Wheel of Time where Rand is in the Aiel waste, and it just feels like a poor homage. I'll have to give Dune another re-read sometime...  :)

Writers' Corner / Are you an explorer or an architect?
« on: June 15, 2015, 09:48:56 PM »
From various discussions, I've got a clear impression that most of the writers on here are explorers rather than architects - this poll is to see whether that's really the case or whether I'm imagining things! I've found a couple of older polls on the same subject - here and here - so it'll be interesting to see how they compare.

I think most people these days accept that it's a spectrum rather than two opposites, so I've added 5 options to the poll rather than just two - brief explanations below.

Note: I hate the term "pantser", and it bugs me that "discovery writer" doesn't match "planner" or "plotter", so for the sake of my sanity I'll use the terms "explorer" and "architect". Feel free to use whatever terms you want, since they all mean the same thing!

I'm an explorer only.
This means you do almost no planning whatsoever - you come up with the characters and/or an initial situation and then just write until you're done.

I'm an explorer most of the time.
This means you plan some parts before writing, but leave most of it to improvisation - for example you might have rough targets for the beginning, middle and end of the story, but you don't bother working out how you'll get there.

I'm equal parts explorer and architect.
This means you use both or either at different times, and don't have a preference either way - for example you might switch based on your mood, or what you feel works for a specific story, or anything really.

I'm an architect most of the time.
This means you plan most of the story before writing, but leave bits of it to improvisation - you come up with a fairly detailed plan, but you'll sometimes improvise sections or characters without going back to the drawing board.

I'm an architect only.
This means you rarely (if ever) improvise the plot after the planning stage - your improvisation comes early on while you create a detailed plan, and if you hit a snag or have new ideas you stop writing and return to the planning stage to iron out the issues before continuing.

We're option 5 - architects only. We plan out everything beforehand, working down from single sentence summary all the way to scene-by-scene breakdown (beat sheet). With this approach, we can adjust the flow of the whole story and shift events around before we've even spent any time writing them, which feels a lot more flexible, and probably saves a lot of time in the long run. It's the same approach we've always taken for art/design projects (we're both graphic designers) - plan, then make adjustments to the plan, then add colour, detail, and artistic flair once you're sure everything will look just right.

So, which approach do you take?  :D

Monthly Writing Contest / Winners Medals
« on: May 28, 2015, 04:18:05 PM »
I'm a member of a cartography forum which hosts a couple of monthly mapping competitions, similar to the writing contest on here. One nice little feature is that winners get a small gold or silver compass icon next to all of their posts to show they've won a contest (gold = full challenge, silver = lite challenge, since they have two difficulty levels), as you can see in the screenshot below.

I was just thinking it'd be awesome to have something like that on here, and found a thread where people who use the same forum as F-F are helping each other install an awards system... Any chance at all that this could happen? I'd be happy to make an icon for it if that helps!  :P

I have a fairly decent to-read list - roughly 60 books once unreleased ones are taken out - but I always find it really hard to choose which one to read next. Unless there's something that I've really been looking forward to it takes me ages to move on to the next book, especially if I've just finished something that I really enjoyed. Right now I want to read something, but can't bring myself to pick anything. Nothing stands out.

How do you decide what comes next?

General Discussion / Bad Lip Reading & Honest Trailers
« on: May 07, 2015, 10:25:56 PM »
These are absolute classics, if you haven't seen them before, watch them right now!  :P

Bad Lip Reading is brilliant, I've put their Twilight ones below and there are more on their Youtube channel.


Honest Trailers are also usually pretty good (though some of them are awful), there are something like 100 of them now on their list. Some random ones:



Writers' Corner / ...like a cat.
« on: May 02, 2015, 07:55:34 AM »
Does anyone else cringe when they read a simile that compares someone/something to a cat? @Saurus pointed them out once while reading Robin Hobb, now they always stand out. I love cats, but it's so common and used to convey so many things that it's really just a bland nothing. Most of the time removing the cat simile would actually make the description stronger.

A lot of the time the simile actually makes no sense, for example "tight as a cat's skin" is weird considering cat's skin is not tight. People seem to often "stretch like a cat", and the pedant in me naturally pictures them getting down on all fours and then moving their spine in a wave before stretching their legs out behind them. In examples like "cautious as a cat", it really means "cautious as a cautious cat" - cats aren't always cautious so it's a completely empty comparison.

I think writers should have a quota of one or two cat similes per book--maybe then they'll actually use it in places where it adds something.

Since I'm really cool, here's a run-down of the cat similes in RotE (excluding Rain Wilds since we don't have that on ebook):

Assassin's Apprentice - 4
Spoiler for Hiden:
Before I could react, she flung herself from me and fled into her bedchamber with a cry like a scalded cat.
Patience running in tears after Fitz shows her his painting of Smithy.

At a time when full sleeves slashed with colors were the mark of a wealthy man, he wore his shirt as tight as a cat's skin.
Describing Galen.

The Inland and Coastal Dukes took sides at the council tables, hissing and spitting at one another like cats over fish.

Clinging like a cat, I snugged myself up to the supports of the chamber floor and waited.
In Jhaampe, hanging underneath Regal's rooms trying to eavesdrop.

Royal Assassin - 5
Spoiler for Hiden:
She was as Shrewd had described her, a handsome woman, well muscled, who moved lithe as a little hunting cat.
Describing Virago, the troublemaker in Bearns duchy.

Compared with the other women in their voluminous skirts and cloaks; she looked agile as a cat.
Describing Kettricken.

In a little cat voice, she replied, “Only for hours.”
Molly when upset with Fitz for getting drunk at Winterfest.

Regal, in contrast, was as lavishly clothed as if to go a-courting, and moved as surely as a hunting cat.

He stepped back from my door, stretched like a lazy cat.
Will just before Skill-torturing Fitz.

Assassin's Quest - 8
Spoiler for Hiden:
The boy's face was tattooed with stripes like a cat's.
Describing a random kid.

They prowled about like trapped cats in Farrow's gold-and-brown livery.
Describing guards at Blue Lake.

She stretched herself like a little cat.
Starling after giving Fitz a makeover.

He slept like a cat, lax, but with that aura of constant wariness.
The Fool sleeping.

They caught the firelight, yellow as a cat's.
The Fool's eyes (a page later).

She moved like a stalking cat.
Fitz skill-seeing Chade talking to a woman.

His green eyes gleamed like a hunting cat's.
Chade's eyes (a couple of pages later).

He stretched like a cat, bowing and rolling reptilian shoulders and spreading claws.
Verity-as-dragon awakening.

Ship Of Magic - 18
Spoiler for Hiden:
It was a carefully rehearsed posture that suggested the languid grace of a hunting cat.
Kennit posing.

She watched the street with a cat's wide unblinking stare.
Amber watching a street.

Althea drew breath, swelling like an angry cat, but her mother's cold voice cut across her quarrel with Kyle.
Althea swelling like an angry cat...?

The woman's sallow cheeks were almost warm, her golden eyes glowing like a cat's before a fire.
Amber watching Althea look through her beads.

Agile as a cat, quick as a monkey, he made his way swiftly to the bow of the ship, leaving her clinging in the rigging and staring after him.
Brashen moving across the ship.

She wrung out her queue and shook her wet feet like a cat before padding back to her corner.
Althea (a page later).

Once he got up on the bear's back, the bear just folded up like a sleeping cat.
Comfrey talking to Wintrow (later in that same chapter).

Soft-footed as a cat he padded up the darkened stairs.
Kennit walking down some stairs.

Etta, crouched naked over her kill, looked savage as a feral cat as she unconsciously bared her teeth to the sound.

"He came aboard with a bound, like he always did, landing on the deck like a cat and stood before me."
Althea talking.

Malta watched Cerwin with the avidity of a stalking cat.

She hit the deck cat-lightly and stood a moment kneading her stiff hands.
Althea landing.

Her open hand slapped him away like a man swipes at an annoying cat.
Althea slapping Kyle.

A small cat smile curved Etta's lips
Dialogue tag.

Kennit, lithe and lucky as a cat, sprang clear of the falling boat.

Etta growled low as a threatening cat.
Another dialogue tag.

!Little whip of a kid you was, spitting and scratching like a cat when we hauled you out of the rigging.!
Tarlock talking to Brashen.

Her eyes were narrowed, like a cat's when she stares down a hostile dog.
Vivacia glaring at Etta.

The Mad Ship - 17
Spoiler for Hiden:
From what Wintrow had seen of her, she was savagely tempered and remorseless as a cat.
Wintrow thinking about Etta.

The woman moved faster than a clawing cat.
Etta attacking.

He had a tiny thin mustache that twitched just like a cat's whiskers.
Description of the Satrap.

When she did, her mouth would curve in the tiniest of cat-smiles.
Malta smiling.

Amber's eyes burned with a cat-like intensity.

"You two have been apart for almost a year, and the first time you are in a room together, all you do is spit at each other like cats."
Ronica talking to Althea and Keffria.

The man would be as soft and easy as a fat purring cat, but when it came to the bargaining, this Faldin would be lucky to walk off with the shirt still on his back.
Brashen describing Faldin.

Quick as a cat's pounce, he seized the boy by his shoulders and jerked him near.
Kennit grabbing Wintrow.

Ever since then, the Satrap had watched her like a cat, waiting for her to challenge him.
Satrap watching Serilla.

"He is sweet, like a little house cat."
Malta describing Cerwin.

The sailor had watched her move like a hungry cat stalking a bird.
Malta describing how Brashen watches Althea.

She was glaring, her eyes yellow as a cat's, at Davad Restart.
Amber glaring at Davad.

She was not softly feminine. Instead, she was female in a cat-like way that was as much threat as it was enticement.
Brashen describing Althea.

As a wave lifted the tiny vessel within reach, the sailor leaned out and scooped her into an arm like a cat snatching a mouse from under a cupboard.
Serilla being picked up by a sailor.

The Satrap rose, stretching like a cat.
Satrap standing up.

But when she did come in, she came slinking in like a cat after a night's hunt.
Etta trying not to disturb Kennit.

It reminded him of a cat's tongue.
Paragon describing the sensation of Amber using a rasp on his chest.

Ship Of Destiny - 12
Spoiler for Hiden:
She leaned back along the railing with catlike grace and stared up at the early stars speculatively.
Jek leaning.

Roed would be no more than a cat in the path of a carriage if Ronica managed to gain an audience.

He turned as he spoke, somehow conveying both the charm and arrogance of a well-clawed cat.
Description of Roed Caern (a few pages later)

Like a panicky cat, he flailed and clawed in all directions, seeking something, anything to attach himself to.
Wintrow returning to consciousness.

They fled over the side, like startled cats.
Pirates fleeing from Paragon.

"There is the water against your bow, purring like a cat, and the wind shushes us along."
Amber talking to Paragon.

She toys with you like a cat with a mouse, and you have not the sense to remove yourself.
Etta talking to Wintrow.

He supposed it might be her pregnancy, but during his mother’s times with child, she had become as content as a fat purring cat.
Kennit thinking about Etta.

It was like hugging an angry cat.
Ankle attacking Brashen.

Her head swayed like a poisoned cat’s.
Althea while drugged.

Amber had observed Wintrow as a cat watches a bird.
Amber watching Wintrow.

She spoke to herself as she poured tea for Etta, a gentle stream of words, soothing as a cat’s purr.
Kennit's mother babbling at Etta.

Fool's Errand - 10
Spoiler for Hiden:
He opened one cat-yellow eye.
Description of the Fool.

It was like watching a cat explore a strange house.
Fitz watching the Fool explore his house (a couple of pages later).

He rose suddenly, graceful as a cat.
The Fool standing up.

I held my awareness still and small, waiting as a cat lurks beside a mousehole.
Fitz sensing Nettle while skilling.

Then he came to his feet as effortlessly as a cat.
The Fool standing up.

In the dark, he was up and moving silently and gracefully as a cat.
The Fool walking.

Dainty as a cat, he arranged the food.
Dutiful eating.

Catlike he glowered at me, head canted, mouth ajar.
Dutiful glaring at Fitz.

He hissed like a cat from his open mouth as he sprang, and the tiny sound gave me an instant of warning.
Dutiful attacking Fitz (a couple of pages later).

He was there, still and taut as a crouching cat.
Fitz skilling Dutiful.

Golden Fool - 3
Spoiler for Hiden:
It was like being stalked by a large, overly friendly cat.
Jek talking to Fitz.

It was like poking a sleeping cat.
Fitz waking Thick.

Yet he sat watching me so intently that I felt like a mouse under a cat’s eye.
Dutiful staring at Fitz.

Fool's Fate - 19
Spoiler for Hiden:
Then, as effortlessly as a cat lofts into a chair, she rose from the railing, her cupped wings catching the wind and lifting her in flight.
Gull flying around.

Large and round as a fat cat, yet masked like a ferret, he crouched on the table, his bushy striped tail sticking straight up behind him.
Description of a raccoon.

He pounced on the Fool like a cat on a mouse, and together they went rolling into the snow. Civil snarled like a cat as he fought.
Civil attacking the Fool.

Civil was like a crouching cat with a lashing tail.
Civil still angry with the Fool (a couple of pages later).

"I feel in this creature the charm of a great cat, the beckoning wile that can bond a youngster whether he would or no."
Webb talking to Swift.

"He has the tenacity of a cat, and I'll wager he'd be just as hard to kill as one."
The Pale Woman talking to her guard.

She smiled a cat's smile now, and observed
Pale Woman Dialogue tag.

And all the while, the Pale Woman watched me like a cat watches a bird.
Pale Woman watching Fitz (a couple of pages later).

She made a pleased sound, like a settling cat.
Pale Woman again (a few more pages later).

She landed on the dragon that had been Kebal Rawbread like a furious cat and her jaws closed on his neck just behind his blocky head.
Tintaglia landing on the skill-dragon.

She walked stiff-legged as a stalking cat toward the stone dragon.
Tintaglia walking towards the skill-dragon (a couple of pages later).

When she leaped from the ground to the air it was effortless in the manner of a cat floating from the floor up to a tabletop.
Tintaglia taking flight.

Cautious as a cat, he approached it.
The Fool approaching a blanket.

He possessed the lax grace of a sleeping hunting cat.
Fitz describing the Fool.

She suddenly looked like a cat with a mouse between her paws.
Dialogue tag for Nettle.

The candles released a calming perfume into the air, but Kettricken was tense as a treed cat.

She had thrown back her head and died, mouth open like a snarling cat.
The Pale Woman's corpse.

Her shortened hair stood up like the hair on an angry cat's back.
Description of Nettle.

She peered round the corner of the concealed door, saw me, but still came in cautious as a cat.
Nettle entering Fitz's hideout (a couple of pages later).

General Discussion / My Greatest Achievement
« on: April 18, 2015, 11:25:43 AM »
I'm going to buck the trend here, and create a self-congratulatory post. Wait, what?  ???

I have 200 likes, you may all bask in my glow. (Except @Jmack with his nearly 250 likes. Grumblegrumble.)


Fantasy Art / Fan Art / Book Cover Project
« on: April 02, 2015, 06:31:58 PM »
I was looking through some old project files earlier today and found these, thought some of you on here might appreciate them!

My partner and I both did the same graphic design course in college, and this was probably our favourite project. The brief was to create two posters for a book released prior to 1960, one implicit and one explicit (we made the book covers in addition to the posters). I'll put some key parts of the write-up in spoilers in case anyone wants to read a summary of the ideas behind each cover.  :)

I chose Foundation by Isaac Asimov as my subject.
Spoiler for Book Background:
While the Galactic Empire is crumbling and decaying, a brilliant scientist and mathematician called Hari Seldon works out a reliable scientific way of predicting the future course of history. He uses this knowledge to change the future by creating a new society called the Foundation at the very edge of the galaxy, with the aim of creating a new empire within 1,000 years rather than the predicted 30,000 years of chaos.


Spoiler for Explanation:
The explicit cover is a typographic representation of the overall concept of the book. The Empire in the middle of the galaxy has the appearance of might, solidity and power, but is rotting away at the edges. The Foundation at the tip of the galaxy is fresh and vital, and is expanding inwards. The caption is a quote from Hari Seldon that encapsulates the book's underlying idea.


Spoiler for Explanation:
The implicit cover shows an event far in the future of the book itself, which is referenced in the sequels. This event is the sacking of the city planet Trantor, capital of the Galactic Empire. This represents the book on a number of levels. First, the fact that it depicts an event far in the future from the point of view of the book mirrors the prediction aspect of the story. The sacking of Trantor itself is a perfect metaphor for the decay and eventual destruction of what was once a glorious empire.

Among the chaos of the sacking only the university remained untouched, which further represents the way the collective knowledge of humanity was protected by the creation of the Foundation. Again, the text is a quote from a main character that is highly relevant to the illustration and the idea behind it.

My partner chose Lord of the Flies by William Golding as her subject.
Spoiler for Book Background:
Lord of the Flies follows a group of boys from England who are stranded on a desert island, and explores deep questions about life, humanity, and society. The boys initially create a society modelled on the world in which they grew up, but they slowly slide into savagery.


Spoiler for Explanation:
The explicit cover depicts one of the boys putting a savage mask on his face, with the half of his face already obscured by the mask partly in shadow. This image very clearly represents several major themes of the book. These themes include civilisation vs savagery, expressed in the contrast between the two sides of the boy's face; loss of innocence, for which the mask is the most effective symbol; and the question of inner evil, which again has the mask as the ideal symbol. The words chosen, spoken by the protagonist Ralph, explicitly state the situation the boys find themselves in at the start of the book, while the illustration hints at the events to come.


Spoiler for Explanation:
The implicit cover shows Piggy's glasses, broken and abandoned on the sandy beach. Again, this represents several of the major themes of the book, though in a more subtle manner. In this case, these themes include ignorance vs science, implied by the fact that the boys' use of the glasses is not what they were intended for; civilisation vs savagery, represented by the fact that one lens is whole and one is broken, symbolising the descent from order to disorder; and the loss of innocence, implied by the glasses being a symbol for Piggy, who Roger deliberately murders. The words, this time spoken by Piggy, don't give anything away about the book, but imply the conflict and danger that is increasingly prevalent in the book as time goes on.

Would anyone here buy those books if they saw them in a bookstore?  :P

I might post some more recent illustrations that the two of us made together in a bit, although they're more like 5% my input and 95% (or more) my partner's...

[FEB 2015] Fanfic / [FEB 2015] - Fanfic - Critique Thread
« on: April 02, 2015, 12:42:35 AM »
So here is the possibility to get critiques for your stories entered in our Science Fiction writing contest - and to give critique as well.

If everybody wants and gives critique, this thread will be pure chaos soon, while 2-3 critiques for as many stories shouldn't be a problem. We'll see how it goes and adapt if necessary. :)

So what we're doing is this:
1. Everybody who wants critique for his story posts in here.*
2. Everybody who wants to do a critique for a specific story (whose writer has asked for critique) posts it in here.

IF this thread is overrun fast, I'm splitting it so that every story has it's own one to avoid confusion. :)

* I know that critique isn't always easy to handle, especially if you are not used to it. So if you feel more comfortable receiving it in private, people can send it via pm. They can post here that they sent a critique via pm so that others know about it.

At the moment I don't think it necessary that we create a system balancing given/received critiques. However, if it turns out to be unfair and some people are giving critiques without receiving some (or the other way round) we have to add one.

Basic rules for critiquing:

This is just a small guideline for those that haven't done critiques before, stolen from this forum's writing section.
Critiquing Other’s Work
1. Please read what the poster is asking for before you post your critique.
2. Critique the writing, not the writer.  Never, “You are...” or “You should...” but rather, “The writing is...” or “The story should...”
3. We all have different levels of writing ability here, keep that in mind when critiquing.
4. Find what is right in each piece as well as what is wrong.
5. Remember that subject matter is personal. You don't have to like a story to give it a fair critique.
6. Remember what your biases are and critique around them.
7. Remember that real people wrote this stuff, and real people have real feelings. Things you may not say while critiquing: “That’s awful.” “That’s stupid.” “You couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag.”

Don't kill me for stealing your job @xiagan!

General Discussion / Nature: Dragons are real
« on: April 01, 2015, 03:46:08 PM »
Long considered to be the stuff of legend, dragons cross cultures and continents. Until recently, however, scant attention had been paid to the fact that the commonality in cultural representations of such creatures indicates something more sinister. From depictions in Ancient Greek literature and Slavic myth, to the dragons of the East or allusions in Zoroastrian scripture, the descriptions resonate. What if these legends were rooted in truth? The differences in appearance — some lack wings, some have multiple heads and some seem not to breathe fire — once thought to reflect local traditions, can also readily be explained by speciation.

The 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta in 1215 has sparked an unprecedented investigation of literary resources from the early medieval period. One such document, uncovered by chance under a pile of rusty candlesticks in a locked cupboard marked “loste propertie” in the depths of the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, provides strong evidence that the field of fantastical beasts requires urgent re-evaluation. Attributed to the monk Godfrey of Exmouth, the treatise discusses many verified aspects of English history but, crucially, proffers evidence that for millennia dragons have periodically been a scourge to civilizations.

More here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/520042a.html


Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Favourite Fantasy Book Covers
« on: March 26, 2015, 10:03:44 AM »
Old thread here, when I went to reply it suggested making a new thread since it's more than 120 days old. Mods feel free to merge if you think a new thread isn't necessary!

So, favourite fantasy book covers! Which ones do you like the most?

There are a few that I really like - my favourites are probably the old Long Price Quartet ones, which sadly I don't own (I have the atrocious omnibus editions).

I think the most gorgeous cover I've seen recently was a book in Goodreads Giveaways. Based on the genre (fantasy romance) it's not really my kind of book, but the cover really is great:

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Goodreads Troll - Words of Radiance
« on: March 22, 2015, 08:58:17 PM »

General Discussion / My Throat Hurts
« on: March 19, 2015, 12:15:56 PM »
Cannot stop laughing. It just gets funnier and funnier.


General Discussion / Aurora
« on: March 17, 2015, 10:01:16 PM »
Has anyone else seen the aurora/northern lights/southern lights?

I've always wanted to see it, and finally got to see it for the first time just now. The best part is that we only had to go on one of our usual dog walking routes, 15 minutes from where we live to a tall hill in the middle of a forest area which cut out a lot of the glare from streetlamps. Must've spent a whole hour watching it, frozen half to death now from lying on the ground in sub-zero temperatures  ;D

It was mostly colourless with a slight turquoise tint, but even so it was absolutely breathtaking.  Even with a fair amount of light pollution it was beautifully clear. The way it moves reminded me of a sort of mix of plasma balls and waterfalls and other stuff like that, completely mesmerising. I had the music from Interstellar in my head the whole time, which felt quite appropriate!

Might go out again in a bit with some extra layers of clothing  ;)

Writers' Corner / Scene & Chapter Length
« on: March 16, 2015, 05:22:46 PM »
According to google, for most writers a scene averages anything from 1000 to 3000 words (and can obviously range far beyond those numbers if necessary). Obviously certain types of scene will typically be longer than others, and it'll vary depending on the type of book you're writing, but it's worth thinking about anyway.

We haven't really written enough to know what comes naturally to us, so that makes it pretty difficult to plan a novel out scene by scene - and not planning it out like that just doesn't make sense to either of us. Based on those numbers a 100,000 word novel could be anything between 100 and 33 scenes, which means we have a slight problem at the moment. It looks like we're going to have to write at least a few chapters before we can know for sure how much needs to happen overall.  :(

What scene and chapter lengths do you usually aim for/end up with? And what do you think works best?

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