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Messages - The Gem Cutter

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Writers' Corner / Re: Wanted: Writing Group
« on: August 13, 2016, 10:27:36 PM »
Great points D. I'd like to see how many are interested. That will depend on some specifics and the timing. I am running out to drop my boy at his job. In the meantime, why don't you consider a draft charter - that way we can all contribute to it and take ownership of it.

Hell, we're writers, we ought to be able to come up a document that will guide us and inform out interactions, and at the least, keep our expectations in line with our goals, and our performance/contributions in line with our commitments to those goals.

Just a thought as I run out the door.
-Gem Cutter

Introductions / Re: Hi from Lincolnshire UK
« on: August 13, 2016, 09:36:46 AM »
Welcome Pete,

I'm a lowly former colonial living in the fine state of Georgia. But I think many of the others are British. Look forward to hearing from you and seeing your work develop.

I'm an aspiring novelist myself, about 75% through my first draft of my first book.

So what's your premise and do you have an intended sub-genre, etc.?

I also feel weird when people diminish their own problems/illnesses and struggles and say "nothing compared to what you're going through": please don't, your problems are just as important and complicated, because they're part of *your life*.

I admire your stoicism and non-self-centeredness, but there's an oft-overlooked feature of adversity that is really very important. It is right and proper to think to oneself "I lost my temper when I shouldn't have. Person X with critical problem Y behaves better than that on his worst days. Surely I can do better." On our good days we have these thoughts ourselves. On our bad days, someone else points these things out for us.

As corny as this might sound, we all have exemplars, people who showed superior character, whether it's stoicism, poise, restraint, patience - any of the hard things. Being elevated to one of those people by your friends and acquaintances is natural and a good thing, worthy of the quiet, legitimate pride that only grows in the hearts of heroes, whether their battlefields are loud and far away, or quiet and right upstairs.

My two cents.

Fantasy Movies, Comic Books & Video Games / Re: New Rogue One Trailer
« on: August 12, 2016, 05:02:39 PM »
Yes, what Deads said. This film seems poised to take SW to another level, melding the action we enjoy and the storytelling that we love.

Writers' Corner / Re: Wanted: Writing Group
« on: August 12, 2016, 04:37:30 PM »
I injured my neck nodding at everything you all wrote.

This is my full time gig, and I am available almost 24/7 for the foreseeable future. I live in Georgia, and have Skype and technology up the wazoo, and would be interested to meet in person and virtually.

My production has slowed as I near the end of my draft, and I am now wrestling with generating ideas on how to wrap things up and weave in extra plotlines. But I have 86K words of narrative to contribute, and most has been "screened" by my friends, and is at least cogent, draft-level material. There's a sample in the F-F Writer's Corner that shows my skill level. I have learned the comma is not my friend, but I am improving. My exposure to other languages and foreign grammar damaged my English in ways I did not see until this novel.

The issue of feedback is complex and can be frustrating. My experience working on big business proposals is not 100% applicable in all areas - but it is very applicable in that "floating faults" are not useful without at least some cues for the writer to work with. Borrowing from business environments, it is important that everyone have realistic and agreed upon expectations: I believe it is the writer's job to solve issues, and the group's responsibility to help her/him identify, analyze and prioritize them. There's a collaborative interaction there, but again, expectations are everything.

My experience does not include determining turn-around times - this is wholly outside my experience, because I've always worked with people who were dedicated to the project full time, and so turn around was measured in hours and days, not weeks. I look forward to seeing how that works!

Anyway, I would love to collaborate with others and share this otherwise very solitary experience. I know my work has improved dramatically from feedback and I look forward to paying that back, and even forward. I am a committed teammate, and would provide substantive feedback that is as detailed as possible.

My number one priority is encouragement - both receiving and giving. Everything else can be learned (sometimes slowly, sometimes not), but the project's progress and writer's development both depend on confidence and enjoyment to thrive.

Writers' Corner / Re: Wanted: Writing Group
« on: August 12, 2016, 07:34:01 AM »
Thanks. I am amazed how my final third/quarter are taking, so it's not like I'm off to anywhere anytime soon.

Writers' Corner / Re: Copyrighting names before publishing?
« on: August 11, 2016, 08:02:03 PM »
I feel the pain - it drove me nuts I had to add an "L" to "Kelithren" because no one else on Earth seemed to pronounce it like I did - "Kell-i-thren". But it drove me more nuts to hear  to hear "Kel-eye-thren" or "Kelly-thren" or the other butcherings lol

 I feel your pain, literally. I can't write without sitting, but my I sit too much. I can't lie down, walk, or stand without pain in my knees.
You might try changing the hardness/softness of your chair & mattress, changing that shifts weight distribution around. Some time in water might help, if a Jacuzzi or pool is feasible. Hammocks can be good, they distribute weight differently, too.

Writers' Corner / Re: Copyrighting names before publishing?
« on: August 11, 2016, 06:20:20 PM »
TBM, I think that Tebakutis's point was that names are easily crafted - Lucas' more than anyone's!  Darth + (negative sounding word with linguistic cues), and NOT WORTH STEALING, not that they were not important to a work.

And the odds of a truly great, distinct name that can be plucked from Story A and inserted into Story B without losing its power are almost nil. LOTR names do not fit in Star Wars any more than the reverse. There are some exceptions of course, but Frodo isn't a great name, any more than Bilbo or Drogo, despite their potential in a SW setting (Boba, Jabba, Gweedo, Jar-Jar). The perceived power of the name comes from the story, not from the name itself.

Writers' Corner / Re: Copyrighting names before publishing?
« on: August 11, 2016, 05:10:48 PM »
I have had a character named "Talian" in my head since ... 2001? Anyway, he's mine. He comes from my version of King Kong's Skull Island - everything there is big, poisonous, ravenous, and otherwise badass. He is hugely important to my story on many levels, perhaps because he was in place while the story flowed in around him, like the tide rising around a cement piling.

THEN along came a LOTR-based game that has a character named ... Talian. I was bereft for a few cups of coffee. Then it occurred to me - no one owns the name Robert, so certainly no one owns the name Talian. 

I think if I had changed the name I would have lost his brooding mix of sincerity and brutal honesty. He's actually in a scene looking for a critique now, just sayin.

My point is - stand your mental ground and cross the bridge if you come to it. If the day comes when you get that formal letter from a team of crime-fighting lawyers gunning for you, remember: people lose limbs and eyes every day. Someone gets horribly, tragically bad news literally every moment. Changing a name once your composition is complete is not going to be the end of the world, or of you :)

Writers' Corner / Wanted: Writing Group
« on: August 10, 2016, 08:50:06 PM »
I am seeking advice on joining a writing group - or at least I THINK I do. I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that a writing group features:

- writers with similar levels of competence
- writers working on their own project, but contributing to the efforts of the others
- active collaboration; sharing of ideas and opinions; brainstorming ideas and solutions to problems, etc.
- balancing candor, tact, encouragement, and the other emotional aspects of this heady endeavor
- engages regularly

I am open to suggestions of other venues, approaches, methods, tools - whatever is clever and would help me achieve my goals. These are: to improve my skills, expand my knowledge of the genre and the people writing in it, and to wrap my head around the peripheral issues that stand between me and selling my books. I would classify myself as being somewhere between Intermediate in my skills and Advanced, depending on some factors.

My collaborative writing experience is outside fiction, but I am used to operating within tight timelines shared by a group where everyone is working on the same overall project, or at least, its component parts.

I fully expect to contribute to such a group, dedicating time and attention to the needs of its other members. I only mention this ought-to-be-obvious item because, well, the world's full of takers :)

If anyone has advice or experience doing what I am trying to do, I'd love to hear from you.

Writers' Corner / Re: Explain your magic systems
« on: August 10, 2016, 07:19:09 PM »
Really found your detailed approach interesting. Lots of details. And the idea of magic being sentient and uncooperative was not something I've ever seen before. Lots of opportunity there to introduce/heighten conflict arising from or worsened by that sentience.
-Gem Cutter

Writers' Corner / Re: Is There Room For Yet Another Tolkien Clone?
« on: August 10, 2016, 05:11:06 AM »
Since the discussion has slid to presentations of fantasy races, here's an observation: when authors present a diverse group (humans + elves + dwarves, etc.), they can either spend time exploring the differences between the groups, or the differences between individuals, but not both. This is not so much my idea or belief, but rather a phenomenon that smarter writers seemed to know or learned.

Somewhere I read that Tolkien considered having Glorfindel join the party, but decided against it because he felt that he would be indistinguishable from Legolas within the constraints of the story, and this was unfair, because Glorfindel was a high elf of Noldorin descent, who had seen the Light of Aman with his own eyes, and making him identical to a lowly wood elf was unpalatable. I take this to mean that he felt that unless he burdened the story to highlight those differences, they would disappear to some extent (maybe total?).

I think this is the result of the pressures of the narrative to progress the plot, show nuances of the protagonist, convey setting and mood, and all the other things the narrative flow has to support. These pressures leave insufficient bandwidth to support highlighting nuances between members of each group, if the author is also highlighting differences between the groups as a whole. So either it's "dwarves are this way, elves are that way", or its "This dwarf is X, that dwarf is Y."

And yes, there are plenty of moments in LOTR and other works that do both, but the overall trend is to have many more of one than another, with very unequal emphasis.

I think this is crucial because many times in fantasy fiction, there is a temptation to put in X and spend time on it (in this case, the nuances of individuals in a distinct group) at the expense of the story. Sometimes it's other things, like the fictitious languages or the 18,000 year backstory, or whatever. I think Tolkien was wise to avoid this practice, knowing that readers read the story for the story's sake, and anything that takes away from that undermines the work.

Interestingly, one of fan fiction's chief merits (imho) is that it is permissible to explore these nuances as the central premise, i.e., make X the whole point.

My point is that it seems we have a choice - to invest narrative space to highlight differences between races, which worked very well for Tolkien (Gimli vs. Legolas, Elves vs. Men, etc.), or to explore the differences between individuals ... but not both at the same time, and/or not to the same depth, even when the narrative is as vast as LOTR.

In Tolkien's case, there are clear differences between some individuals (Galadriel vs. Celeborn), but they are not explored to much depth, with the exception of Men (Aragorn vs. Boromir, Faramir vs. Boromir, Gandalf & Théoden vs. Denethor, Grima vs. Eomer & Hama). (Yeah, I know Gandalf isn't a man, but within the narrative, he's looked at as an old man).

Food for thought.

Writers' Corner / Re: Looking for beta-readers: Space opera
« on: August 10, 2016, 04:26:48 AM »
I would be happy to serve, if you like. I'm unused to looking at the Big Picture in fiction, but will be happy to give up some of my time.

If you want to post here, I can work that way, or you may email it to me. Msg me and let me know what you prefer. I would find it helpful if you gave me specific objectives for what you want me to focus on - my brain is chaotic and will wander off-task.

Ms. Scarlet, as crude and probably unsavory a suggestion as this is, enemas are an excellent method of rehydration and replenishing electrolytes. Keeping your strength and vitality up are key, or I wouldn't voice the suggestion. We used to run IVs on ourselves after training, but perhaps that's not an option for you? Anyway, I hope you feel better. We used to laugh and joke about drinking water to stay hydrated "Drink water - because it's hard to look cool with a tube in you [pants?]"

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