February 25, 2020, 04:16:17 PM

Author Topic: Experiences with worldbuilding  (Read 29838 times)

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2111
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #60 on: March 11, 2015, 03:58:36 PM »
I only said humans and elves, and Tolkiens two books with a hobbit. There are hundreds of humanoids people have created to populate their worlds but they are never protagonists, only sidekicks and villains.
Yeah I guess, I'm usually pretty skeptical about humanoids though  :P

Thinking about it I really liked the bits in Mistborn from the kandra's perspective, more unusual stuff like that could be really good.
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Rukaio_Alter

  • Writing Contest Regular and Ineffectual Comic Relief
  • Writing Group
  • Ambient Mage
  • ****
  • Posts: 412
  • Total likes: 431
    • View Profile
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #61 on: March 11, 2015, 04:15:29 PM »
Speaking of which: I can't really think of any fantasy stories in which the protagonist isn't a human, elf, or hobbit or some kind of small talking animal in a world of small talking animals.
Nonhuman characters are plenty, but they never get to be the hero. Spock, Chewbacca, and Thorin are generally the best you will get. Lots of great and beloved characters, but they are never the hero. Of course they can be villains and when a setting has nonhumans the boss villain will usually be one. Even if all his minions are humans.

That always seemed very strange to me. I can understand writers thinking that it might be tough for readers to go into a strange world without a human protagonist to take their hand and guide them  hundred or even fifty years ago. But now the concept of fictional humanoid species and magical worlds really isn't anything new or unusual anymore.
I assume it's mostly a simple of fact of relatability. Audiences and authors can better relate to a human protagonists because we ourselves are humans. If you have a nonhuman protagonist, they will likely have a nonhuman way of thinking (or at least a different way of reacting to the world around them) that will seem odd to the audience and make them more difficult to follow 24/7 (as opposed to simply having them as a side character). Not to mention, it's more difficult to write, so many don't bother. I've got a story I'm  working on where the protagonist is a demon lord (long story), but even with that he still thinks and acts largely like a human (albeit a fairly arrogant and douchey one).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that trail of thought is inherently correct, since I'm of the opinion that a competent writer can pull off any premise. It's just my explanation as to why I don't think we see many non-human protagonists around.
5 Times Winner of the Forum Writing Contest who Totally Hasn't Let it All go to his Head.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Also, <Insert GOD EMPEROR OF THE WRITING CONTEST joke here>

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Big Wee Hag
  • ******
  • Posts: 7041
  • Total likes: 4805
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #62 on: March 11, 2015, 07:37:03 PM »
Maybe the best example of non-human hero I can think of is the fabulous SF book: Startide Rising. The main characters are genetically-engineered dolphins who are part of a mixed human-dolphin spaceship crew. Great work to make the dolphins unique but "relatable".

Yes, I enjoyed the kandra very much, too, although:
Spoiler for Hiden:
their sudden and complete demise with barely a sentence spared on it bugged me
and somehow, I kept thinking D&D monster manual "gelatinous cube" whenever their pre-kandra life stage was described.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Doctor_Chill

  • RPG Ringleader and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ta'veren
  • **
  • Posts: 3700
  • Total likes: 776
  • Gender: Male
  • You've been pugged.
    • View Profile
    • Acerbic Writing
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #63 on: March 11, 2015, 08:18:57 PM »
I'm reading a collection of short stories by Hannu Rajaniemi and my favorite so far is from the narration of a dog. There's also been one from a "server" dragon and a talking bear. Sad that I don't see this enough in Fantasy, but I do think SF lends itself better with voice recognition technology so humans are better integrated into the story.

But yeah, not enough stories from the POV of a Dragon, let alone merely about them in F. I'd also garner to say it's easier to tell a "novel" from the POV of a humanoid perspective (because as some said, easier to relate to and that's probably the biggest connection in a book) than compared to writing about a fish in a short story where the attention and depth has a little more leniency.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2015, 08:20:49 PM by Doctor Chill »
“It’s a dangerous thing, pretense. A man ought to know who he is, even if he isn’t proud to be it.” - Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Big Wee Hag
  • ******
  • Posts: 7041
  • Total likes: 4805
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #64 on: March 11, 2015, 09:26:06 PM »
But yeah, not enough stories from the POV of a Dragon, let alone merely about them in F.
Dragons have sort of forced themselves into my WIP  :o, especially last night as I was writing some cosmology. I've begun to think about book 2 (oh, boy, is this cart before the horse!) and started to consider a dragon or a "brin" for one out of several POV characters therein.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #65 on: March 12, 2015, 12:27:53 AM »
Unless its for the sake of a punchline, my naming (at least my character naming) follows only a single rule: It must be easy to read in English. I take names from all over the world, but I avoid anything that has a pronunciation unlike it's spelling. Things with unusual phonemes (to an English speaker), like Nyugen,  Arroux, Persson, rarely make the cut, usually ceding favor to shorter names like Ped, Lu, Trin, Gahn, and so on.

That's all very well if you just have two or three contiguous countries at a time, but if you're actually creating a world there's a point where that gets repetitive and unbelievable. If you don't at least hint at there being a huge variation in name-types throughout the world, it's going to come over as very artificial.

But it's artificial either way. Nguyen isn't an accurate representation of the actual sound, it's the best guess english alphabet translation of a foreign word. It's artificial. Hell, English is so wacky, we don't even trust people on what their own languages and countries are called, even when we can spell something close to accurate. (i.e. Deutsch vs. German, España vs. Spain, Polska vs. Poland. )

I don't see a problem with simplifying for English readers, and I don't think it prevents you from creating different naming structures either, especially since the best you can do short of using the word's native characters, is a best guess anyway. For most cases, it's basically what English has already done, I'm just taking it a step further by avoiding/restructuring those words inaccurately described/hard to read in English spelling. [I feel like Slavic languages are a particularly good example, at least here in America, since most Slavic surnames (in the US) have been completely Americanized.]
I'm not saying don't simplify at all, but when I either write or read about another world and its cultures, I want to explore the differences, not a guide for dummies. If you restrict yourself to short, English-type names, I'm just going to find that boring.

I totally agree with your analysis of how people from other cultures are expected to conform. I call it bigotry. If fantasy, which is supposed to embrace otherness, kowtows to that bigotry, what hope is there of becoming more accepting of RW cultures?

Offline Justan Henner

  • Barbarian who pronounces are, our and hour all the same way
  • Writing Group
  • Auror
  • ***
  • Posts: 1069
  • Total likes: 601
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #66 on: March 12, 2015, 01:59:05 AM »
I totally agree with your analysis of how people from other cultures are expected to conform. I call it bigotry. If fantasy, which is supposed to embrace otherness, kowtows to that bigotry, what hope is there of becoming more accepting of RW cultures?

I'm a little confused because I'm not sure which part you're referring to that is bigoted... I'm assuming you mean the Americanized Slavic names reference and the Ellis Island style "here's a new name, forget your old one, live with it," that such Americanization implies. I agree there was surely a lot of bigotry involved there, but I don't think restructuring bad or inaccurate English letter representations of foreign phonemes is bigotry, especially when applied to secondary world fantasy... I also don't think best guess, English letter translations of foreign phonemes is bigotry either.

Even if it's inaccurate I don't see any other way to represent that information, short of using a word's native characters, which quite frankly, would be an absurd standard because obviously you can't teach every English speaker every foreign alphabet and the corresponding phonemes. (In fact, it's physically impossible. After a certain age, the brain loses the ability to process certain phonemes if not exposed to them on a regular basis. Most English speakers will never be able to understand those phonemes unused in English. A best guess interpretation is not bigotry, it is literally the best we can do.)

If you restrict yourself to short, English-type names, I'm just going to find that boring.

I agree with you here. I don't restrict myself to them, I simply prefer them for the culture I'm writing in. Indeed, I would say it's part of that culture. When create new naming structures outside that culture, I branch out to different forms, I just prefer to use easier to read spellings (Wynne vs. Nguyen). I think you can still get a lot of diversity from that though. If you're saying that choosing Wynne over Nguyen is bigotry, I don't see how considering Nguyen is the French Alphabet equivalent of Vietnamese symbols. It's already been "reprocessed" so to speak. (If I were writing in our world, I wouldn't do that because the spelling Nguyen has cultural connotations for certain groups in our world, but when working outside our world's cultures, I don't see a problem.)
« Last Edit: March 12, 2015, 02:34:05 AM by Justan Henner »

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2111
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #67 on: March 12, 2015, 04:13:42 AM »
Yes, I enjoyed the kandra very much, too, although:
Spoiler for Hiden:
their sudden and complete demise with barely a sentence spared on it bugged me
and somehow, I kept thinking D&D monster manual "gelatinous cube" whenever their pre-kandra life stage was described.
Never played much D&D so that didn't happen for me  :P Also...
Spoiler for Hiden:
I get the feeling that he didn't make their demise a big thing because he had already planned for them to be restored by Sazed, so in his head they weren't really gone. Possibly. It's the only think I can think of, since it really is downplayed.

Dragons have sort of forced themselves into my WIP  :o , especially last night as I was writing some cosmology. I've begun to think about book 2 (oh, boy, is this cart before the horse!) and started to consider a dragon or a "brin" for one out of several POV characters therein.
Planning is good, if you don't have a long-term plan then you'll end up having a set of disconnected novels instead of a series that interconnects  :P
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Yora

Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #68 on: March 12, 2015, 09:36:23 AM »
and somehow, I kept thinking D&D monster manual "gelatinous cube" whenever their pre-kandra life stage was described.
There is Rusty & Co., a comic about three D&D monsters going on adventures.  :D
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Big Wee Hag
  • ******
  • Posts: 7041
  • Total likes: 4805
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #69 on: March 12, 2015, 10:53:37 AM »
Also...
Spoiler for Hiden:
I get the feeling that he didn't make their demise a big thing because he had already planned for them to be restored by Sazed, so in his head they weren't really gone. Possibly. It's the only think I can think of, since it really is downplayed.
Er, they were? It was such a fun and goofy ending, like everyone emerging from the hatch in Lost, that I somehow missed that.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Big Wee Hag
  • ******
  • Posts: 7041
  • Total likes: 4805
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #70 on: March 12, 2015, 10:55:25 AM »
and somehow, I kept thinking D&D monster manual "gelatinous cube" whenever their pre-kandra life stage was described.
There is Rusty & Co., a comic about three D&D monsters going on adventures.  :D
Ah, jello with bones. Memories of my teenage years...
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Big Wee Hag
  • ******
  • Posts: 7041
  • Total likes: 4805
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #71 on: March 12, 2015, 11:00:53 AM »
Nyki,
Is
Quote
RW Cultures
a reference to "Read/Write cultures" (I tried to google what you might have meant.) if so, not sure how that fits the discussion, and if not, same. Clarify?
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2111
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #72 on: March 12, 2015, 12:46:01 PM »
Also...
Spoiler for Hiden:
I get the feeling that he didn't make their demise a big thing because he had already planned for them to be restored by Sazed, so in his head they weren't really gone. Possibly. It's the only think I can think of, since it really is downplayed.
Er, they were? It was such a fun and goofy ending, like everyone emerging from the hatch in Lost, that I somehow missed that.
Spoiler for Hiden:
Yeah, they're background characters in the sequel, not sure if the original trilogy mentions it. According to the info online, TenSoon and MeLaan are the kandra in the sequel, though they're impersonating people at the time so you never realise exactly what's happening. So they're not dead at all  :-\
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Doctor_Chill

  • RPG Ringleader and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ta'veren
  • **
  • Posts: 3700
  • Total likes: 776
  • Gender: Male
  • You've been pugged.
    • View Profile
    • Acerbic Writing
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #73 on: March 12, 2015, 02:21:23 PM »
Nyki,
Is
Quote
RW Cultures
a reference to "Read/Write cultures" (I tried to google what you might have meant.) if so, not sure how that fits the discussion, and if not, same. Clarify?

Don't want to answer for him, but RW usually stands for "Real World."
“It’s a dangerous thing, pretense. A man ought to know who he is, even if he isn’t proud to be it.” - Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Big Wee Hag
  • ******
  • Posts: 7041
  • Total likes: 4805
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Experiences with worldbuilding
« Reply #74 on: March 12, 2015, 02:46:25 PM »
Nyki,
Is
Quote
RW Cultures
a reference to "Read/Write cultures" (I tried to google what you might have meant.) if so, not sure how that fits the discussion, and if not, same. Clarify?

Don't want to answer for him, but RW usually stands for "Real World."
(crawls in a hole feeling pretty stupid)
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com