Dec. 9th, 2010 10:18 pm
kippurbird: (You're Using Logic)
There was some discussion in response to the review of the fan fic about fantasy culture vs. Medieval European culture.

After some thought, I decided that it's the technology level. Most fantasy stories take place in a world where the technology level is equivalent to that of Medieval Europe. You've got swords and knights and kings. There are peasants and princesses and no middle class to speak of. But if you have an urban fantasy then you're in a fantasy world that has a technological equivalent to our modern world, though I have yet to see an urban fantasy that doesn't take place on Earth. (*kicks plot bunny* Go away)

However technology level doesn't always indicate society's mores. Some authors just use the medieval structure as a short hand or even just as an under layer without actually changing how things work. They may add a mageocracy or a special class for magic users but in the end a lot of times it looks and feels just like yea old merry England... or country of your choice with the added value dissonance of when you have the girl who suddenly thinks that she should be allowed to marry for love or have the same rights as men. It's like some sort of strange fungal mutation that shows up in the world.

True, this is done to cause conflict for the characters in the story and provide plot but it's an artificial and sort of fake way of doing it. For it to work better, aspects of the idea must already be present in the world. Maybe, for example, the lower classes can marry who they wish, including for love, because they don't have to worry about political alliances. The girl would have heard about it and maybe it was romanticized a little in songs and she thought it would be nice. Or maybe there are dignitaries from another country visiting where marrying for love is a common thing in the upper classes which makes the girl start thinking about maybe it might be okay to marry for Love.

It could be interesting if there was a culture that thought that marrying for love was a bad idea because that might make it difficult to raise children and have a family as people can fall out of love and then the entire unit would be filled with anger and tension. And someone who insists on marrying for love is considered to be funny in the head.

But that's a tangent.

The point is that it the technology and the culture shouldn't be dependent on one another. It'd be perfectly fine to have a matriarchal society in a world with medieval European technology levels if the rest of the world around it show sufficient enough changes. And those don't mean just a few characters with modern understandings who we're supposed to root for.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
kippurbird: (Witic)
Why Oromis’ statement that Galbatorix’s confidence would be shaken learning that he’s still around won’t work, but Paolini thinks it might because this is what happened in Star Wars.

Long title.

In our chapter entitled Leave Taking, Oromis says that Galbatorix might believe that there are other dragon Riders still alive when he learns of his existence. This comes, likely, from the idea in Star Wars where after Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi are dead, other Jedi come out of the woodwork once the Empire is defeated. Also there have been smaller resistances of Jedi in various places during the war, it’s just for their own safety they had to remain hidden.

This is possible for one reason: the Star Wars universe takes place in an entire Galaxy. Galaxy which means hundreds of thousands of planets and hundreds of billions of people. Trying to find several thousand Jedi who may have survived the purge is like trying to find a needle in a haystack the size of Montana. Not all Jedi would have been working on the front lines with the Clone Troopers when Order 66 went down. Some Jedi might have survived the attacks, like Yoda did. The thing is, when you get down to it, there’s no real way to know who lived and who died with any certainty. Especially when you consider “I am not the Jedi you are looking for” at their disposal.

With a galaxy so large, the Jedi were able to hide away from the Empire as long as they were smart about it.

Now lets look at Eragon’s empire. For starters it’s only on one continent. Not even an entire continent. Varying sizes exist, but it can’t be more than the size of North America. This makes it a much smaller territory to explore and try to find people in it. The second part is that the Riders have... you know... dragons.

Dragons are big. They can get to the size of a mountain big. Or so we’re told. In any case they’re pretty hard to hide. That’s why Saphira couldn’t leave the Varden. People would notice she was missing. There are only so many places that a dragon could hide in safety where they can be taken care of and their riders can be taken care of. Remember, they require lots of food to eat. As we’re told by Oromis that he’s the only one with the elves, the Riders would have to live else where.

Where exactly would you hide a dragon?

Admittedly, they could have also hidden with the elves, but then that leaves us with this problem. If they were hiding with the elves, then why? Shouldn’t they still be out fighting the evil empire? After all there’s now only Galby and he’s just one man. If Eragon, not even quarter trained as he is, is supposedly capable enough of destroying Galbatorix with maybe six months at the most training, what could three or four dragon Riders who have had full training be able to do?

If Galbatorix had half a brain, he’d be able to figure this out rather quickly.

But for some reason, if the dragons decided to hide, where would they hide. If you had a bunch of dragons with the elves, their territory isn’t large enough to support them. They would need cattle or other domesticated animals because the native forest life like deer wouldn’t be enough to feed them. The domesticated animals would be noticeable because they need a place to graze. Forests don’t have good grazing grounds. Forests aren’t grazing grounds, if they were we wouldn’t need to deforest things. It’d make life a lot easier.

So, the dragons couldn’t have hidden with the elves. They most certainly wouldn’t have been welcomed with the dwarves. That leaves... well, very few places to hide where they wouldn’t be seen and Galby’s men would have picked them out. If the dragons attacked the men, then it would get back that hey there’s something eating the men over that way. Again, not good for hiding.

Therefore they couldn’t have been lazing about hiding somewhere in safety.

Then why even mention it?

Because that’s what happened in Star Wars. There were Jedi in hiding and the Emperor knew about it. That’s why he had Jedi hunting squads like the Inquisitors and his Hands. He had people searching out young Force Sensitives so that he could bend them to his will and change them to the Dark Side. There was always a possibility for there to be more Jedi to be turned against him. Case in point: Luke Skywalker.

Even though, in Paolini’s world it’s impossible for there to be more Riders, the idea must be brought up for that’s what happened in Star Wars, the Inheritance novel’s template. While it may bring some moral bonuses to the common folk, (I think I’d be more pissed off that they were hiding a Rider all this time) it shouldn’t do any harm to Galbatorix’s confidence.

At least, it shouldn’t if these books were written in some sort of logical manner. However, we’ll never know for certain, I don’t think, because we never see Galbatorix’s point of view.
kippurbird: (Lost)
Dragons of a Different Scale

The relationship between man and dragon is a popular subject in fantasy literature. From Dungeon and Dragons to Anne McCaffery's Dragon Rider's of Pern series, authors have explored what it would be like to have a dragon as a humans' companion. This is a desirable idea, after all, who wouldn't want a fire breathing, flying protector the size of a house? There are two kinds of dragons found in these human/dragon relationships. One where the dragon is merely a horse, not having any intelligence and the other where the dragon is as intelligent, if not more so, than a human. When the dragon is little more than a beast of burden then there is little problem with the human riding and using it as a mode of transportation. However if the dragon is intelligent the question then becomes: Why would an intelligent individual allow themselves to be made slaves and little more than a flying weapon or any other such use that the riders would have them?

Read more... )

Also, I think I need a dragon icon.

Adopt one today!
kippurbird: (What goes on in Kippur's head)
A long while ago, Internet time, I wrote an entry/rant on the natures of characters and their "reality". I also dragged out the quote: "The bad novelist constructs his characters; he directs them and makes them speak. The true novelist listens to them and watches them act; he hears their voices even before he knows them." ~*~André Gide

What brings this all up again, is this posting. The discussion involves Meyer's spoiling her own books and how her characters are being forced into doing things. This brings about the age old debate on how to create and use characters as well as the use of events in a story.

Ramble ahead )
kippurbird: (Fantasy writers)
So, what makes a dwarf a dwarf?

A question I came up with while gaming over the weekend. During a break in our session several of us were going over the fourth edition of the Dungeon and Dragons Player's Handbook. One of the things that always bothered me about the races section in the book is that all the races but humans seemed to be typed cast. Elves were described as being "friendly and merry", the dragonborn felt honor above anything, dwarves were gruff and sturdy. Half-Elves were naturally diplomatic. Humans on the other hand were allowed to be of any sort of whatever they wanted. Complaining about this brought up the comment that "I was complaining about what made a dwarf a dwarf".

So, I started to wonder, what makes a dwarf a dwarf?

Dwarfiness )
kippurbird: (meme lemmings)
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next three sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

As a species, humans are physically, culturally, and politically diverse. Hardy or fine, light-skined or dark, humans remain one of the most dominant species through out all eras of play. Personality: Human personality runs the gamut of possibilities, though members of this species tend to be highly adaptable, tenacious, and willing to keep striving no matter the odds.

~Star Wars, Saga Edition, RPG manual.

On a side note, since this is what came up. I've read a lot of RPG manuals and in regards to humans they always say that they're very adaptable and diverse etc. Other species, every individual is all the same. They're all "calm, peaceful, tranquil and gentle" (Ithorians) or "Violent, tenacious and dedicated" (Rodains) which doesn't make any sense, since when is an entire race of millions or billions of people definable in three words?

And now that I think about it why do all non-human races have only one society, one culture, one way of doing things? All the Klingons are a warrior race bent on Honor. All Vulcans embrace logic. There's an entire planet of these people and they're all the same. They don't have different countries or religions. They're all one society. And those that do happen to have different beliefs are heretics or rebels or different from the norm.

I suppose it's because it's rather difficult to come up with one alien culture, much less five or six. But at least they could be indicated, or hinted at even if they aren't shown.

I now must do this for my own races.

kippurbird: (Duck of doom)
I finished reading Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David the other day and started doing that mental analyzing thing that I tend to do. As I did so, I thought to myself well Apropos is kinda like Thomas Covenant from the books by Stephen R. Donaldson. Well, they have some similarities at least. Though I have to admit, this maybe completely and utterly wrong because I didn't get very far in the Donaldson book before putting it down because I just... didn't like it.

Still from what I read, there were similarities. Both of them are anti-heroes. They don't follow along the heroic track, they don't set out to be heroic. Apropos does end up being heroic... but only through other people's eyes. To him it's just dumb luck. I have no idea if Covenant ends up being heroic, but I imagine that he does.

They also both had similar sort of mindsets- being very selfish- which motivated them them to do things. And they both did horrible things to accomplish their goal. (Or at least I'm told that Covenant does.)

The thing was, I found Covenant horribly annoying and while I didn't necessarily like Apropos, I could understand him. I think it was because Covenant seemed to be sort of stuck in a "Woe is Me" sort of mind set. He was a leper. (Which reminds me of a Munchkin card the Lepercaun.) He was shunned by society. SHUNNED I tell you. He lived by himself and wallowed in misery. Then when he was taken to the other land he was cured! Miraculously, but without the naked elven twins having incestuous lesbian sex. He was just cured... which is also a pretty big Dues Ex Machina. But then again it's kinda hard to have a hero wandering around when he's a leper and bits off him are falling off. Personally, I think if you're going to give a character a disability you need to stick with it and not give them one that's going to miraculously cured. There could have been something else that Covenant could of had that made him a pariah in society without needing to be fixed when he got to the Other Land. It could be cured along the way, but it doesn't need to automatically be fixed.

Apropos on the other hand, is not a leper. He does, however, have a lame leg. He's also a bit of a society pariah being born from a gang rape and his mother was a whore. He's horribly cynical, hates his only friend because he feels that it's not fair that his friend is better than him -more heroic than him- and really has terrible luck. The first woman he falls in love with steals all his money and bashes his mother's urn of ashes over his head. But instead of wallowing in self pity he goes and does something about it. He doesn't do the heroic thing about it, but he does something about it. He's very motivated about staying alive and tries to do what he can to keep himself alive.

Now, I fully admit that Covenant may have done such things, may have ended up less of an angstwhore as the books progressed, but I haven't read them, so I don't really know. In fact, I fully admit that this entire essay could be completely and utterly wrong. But from what I read, this is what I feel to be true.
kippurbird: (Pretty sane...except for the duck)
Mwahaha... I remembered what else I wanted to say in the "Why" essay.

Culture! Culture is a big, big thing that needs Why asked a lot. First there are things that are transplanted from our cultures that must be examined. Cultural biases are one of those things. Why does a group of people do or believe the things that you do? For example slavery is bad in our culture, but why does it have to be bad in another world? They could have different rules for it. In Judaism, back when slavery was legal or a normal thing, a person could only be kept as a slave for seven years. Once those seven years were up, they were set free. This is something that could be transplanted into another world's culture. Slavery in most fantasy worlds is generally considered a bad thing because it is in our world. But this is only a recent development, now that we've had both the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution that allowed people to get more work done with less effort. Most fantasy worlds aren't in a place that would allow labor to be that free. They need the crops planted and harvested. They can have serfs do it, but they were practically slaves tied to the land. So, if slavery is going to be "bad" in a fantasy world, the people who believe this better have a better economic way of getting things done. This isn't to say that slavery that treats its slaves poorly has to be tolerated, this could be something that the protagonist stands against, but the actual institution of slavery could be kept intact.

Another thing to think about is culture for culture's sake. What do I mean by this? Well it's when you give a culture a unique feature just to make it stand out. Robert Jordan does this a lot in his Wheel of Time books. The people of Altara are an example of this. One of their identifying characteristics is that they often have duels over the most trivial matters and that a woman has the right to kill a man over any sort of reason. This culture should be a completely lawless place, after all people are supposed to be killing each other over any sort of insult. Theoretically they could duel the Queen if they felt insulted by something she did. Or one of the guards. How can you have order where there is no rules for duels and they can happen at any sort of place for any sort of reason? There is no place in such a society for a judicial component because everyone takes the law into their own hands. There isn't a way for someone to prove that they are right or wrong, just who ever wins the duel is right. So the question is why would Robert Jordan put in such an unsustainable culture? Because he wanted something different than all the other cultures that he had created. He wanted something that would make this city - this land- stick out from all the other lands and cultures that he created. However he forgot to ask why would a culture do this? Why is this culture even still around when they should have killed themselves off a long time ago? Such rules of dueling is better suited to a barbaric civilization than one within a city or the trappings of advanced society. In an effort to make the culture unique he forgot to logically look at the consequences of such a culture. We don't even know why this idea even started in this culture. It just is. Which is never, as stated before, a good reason.

Culture needs to grow organically from the beliefs and needs of the people living in it. In a society that has a high magic population, magic would be important and they would have a lot of things that regard magic, but it may be considered an every day thing since everyone could do it. Another culture that depends on a certain thing such as sheep to make their livelihood would have sheep as an important part of their culture. A good example of this from Robert Jordan (he of the many different cultures) is the Aeil. They live in the desert where there is very little water, so they consider water to be sacred. A good part of their culture is derived around water and the finding of it. They have water oaths that are considered to be the most important of all oaths. Things like this work to make a good culture. Why do the Aiel consider water sacred? Because they live in a desert where it is scarce.

If you can answer such a question, then you know that you're doing something right. Another question, however, that could be applied to the Aiel that wouldn't make as much sense is why is having the women wear their hair in braids considered something only children do? The answer to this is because the women of Two Rivers consider it something that an adult can only do and Jordan wanted to have a cultural conflict. That doesn't make any sense. There is no reason here for the hair to be up or down. In regards to hair, for another cultural example, in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, women in the Midlands use hair to denote status. The longer a woman's hair is, the more important. The reasoning for this is that a noble woman would have more time to devote to taking care of her hair than a commoner. This isn't the best of reasons, but it can and does sort of make sense. At least it makes more sense than the Aeil/Two Rivers reason.

As long as "Why" is capable of being answered with a reasonable explanation for the differences in beliefs or the customs of a world, for character motivations and for other things that make a world different from all other worlds, then things are on the right track. It means that things in the world makes sense or have a reason for being there even if it isn't obvious to the characters that live there.


May. 14th, 2007 08:51 pm
kippurbird: (Boom!)
So, I've been thinking about this one for a while.

I think that the most important question you can ask while creating a world and characters is "Why?" Why? Because it gives you reasons for why things are the way they are. Just because is never a reason. Things in the real world aren't there just because (even if sometimes it may seem like it). Things exist and people act in certain was because they have a reason to. These reasons may not ever be told with in the story it self, but they should be there in the background so if it ever comes up, you'll know why.

Fauna is one of the things that need to have a reason why. Not the regular fauna which for some reason remains consistent through out fantasy worlds. And which I'm just as guilty as any one else of doing, but it's easier to import familiar animals to create a world's ecology than having to build it up from scratch. This is needed for an alien world, but for most Fantasy lands, it's not. It's the fantastic creatures that need the explanation. Say you have unicorns. They're white, they've got golden horns and hooves, they dislike anyone who's not a virgin, they're magical. They are your typical, standard unicorn. Why? Why do these unicorns don't like virgins? Because that's what unicorns do? That's only in Earth mythology. In my world, mostly to be perverse to fan girls (spite is a wonderful thing. =D) I decided to have unicorns. But they weren't going to be the fluffy magical sort. They were going to be horses with horns. No more magical than a regular horse. In fact, for humans, there aren't any sort of magical horses available. The Fey have them, but they're just special like that. The reason why I gave the horses horns was because they are large flying predators in my world and they're going to need something to protect themselves with. A regular horse can only run, but these horses can at least try and gouge the predator's under belly.

When creating rules for magic, and magic in general, why is also a very important question. This why is something that may need to be explained in the text itself (as opposed to why the horses have horns) if you regularly see magic users. Magic follows rules or has some sort of system by which it works by. There maybe different types of magic, say like in Dungeons and Dragons, you have divine and arcane magic. And there may be different ways of accessing it, again from Dungeons and Dragons: Wizards learn arcane magic through the study of books while sorcerers have an inborn talent, usually from a distant magical ancestor. But the magic has rules. Wizards have to prepare their spells every morning. Clerics have to pray for their spells to receive them from their god. Arcane users are dependent on spell components, while divne are not. The reason for this is for game balance. But an in game way of thinking about it is that clerics' magic is a gift from the god they worship and so they don't need to figure it out so much as channel the divine energy while wizards approach it more like a science, figuring out what components -spoken and physical- create the wanted effect. It's rather like Magrat's type of witch, who figured out what kind of knife and apple was needed to get the name of the person you loved when tossing the peel over your shoulder. An eye of newt is all very well and good, but what sort of newt is it?

People motivation is another big why questioning. After all, why do people do the things that they do? They rarely do things in a vacuum. They may not know the reason for why they do something, but there is a reason. And here, most of all, just because doesn't cut it (unless they're chaotic neutral, but even then they have a reason). To get to the why of things for a character -the main characters most importantly- creating a detailed background is very important. Not only the character's history but their personality, religious beliefs, how they feel about things like their parents, outsiders, their jobs, what are they afraid of, what do they want to be in life. Having this on a separate sheet is very handy. Also writing scenes that explore some of these things, as background pieces that won't ever get into the actual book is useful. Sometimes I think they're more useful than an actual character sheet because it's story and it's the characters doing something as opposed to dry facts. Characters doing something always tells you more than dry facts. And it'll let you know why they react the way they do in the main story.

Annnnd... I lost my train of thought.
kippurbird: (Boom!)
There's nothing like a massive amount of sugar to fuel an essay. Two scoops of ice cream, and tons of sugary toppings. MMmmmm...

We are finally at the end of Eldest. There is only one more chapter left to go. The chapter that culminates the book and sets us up for book three and the end of the series. What should have happened in this book is that the characters grew and changed to prepare them for the challenges of the third book. They should have an understanding of who they are and what they can do and what they have to do to bring about their goals. The question is, then, did this happen?

Eragon, our hero, should have shown the most change and growth because the series -much like the world - revolves around him. He began the book as a moderately powerful human boy with probably sociopathic tendencies, believing that the only way to free the world from Galbatorix's enslavement was by his hand. He ends the book as a exceptionally powerful human boy who looks like an elf with definite sociopathic tendencies, believing that the only way to free the world from Galbatorix's enslavement was by his hand. Now, while physically and in power he has changed and grown, his personality and views of the world has not. At least, he's not made any changes from learning by himself. Everything that he changes -like refusing to eat meat- happens because of what other people show him how to do or believe is right. He does not make any of these decisions on his own. And then even when he makes a belief change, it doesn't seem to have any ramifications of on his behavior. He declares that he has become a vegetarian because he does not wish to cause undo pain and suffering and that it is cruel to the animals to eat them. Yet, when it comes to sentients, from Urgals to humans, he shows no remorse or caring that he has to kill them. Instead he revels in the idea that he can kill more efficiently at one point. If he truly believed in the idea of not causing undo harm because of the pain and suffering it caused, he'd become a pacifist.

Other characters in the book also suffer from a lack of development. Arya remains without personality, merely there to rebuff Eragon's romantic attempts. Orik does nothing in particular except get drunk at one point. We never see what it is like for him to be living among the elves and how that effects him since dwarves and elves never got along, at least according to Paolini. Nasuada gains the responsibility of the Varden, but we never really see her struggle to come to terms with her leadership, never see her bend the council to her will or the people's uneasiness at having such a young person as their leader. She never faces any of these challenges. Roran may have had some character development, but he goes from an ignorant farm boy to a rather kill happy individual. This could be considered development, though it is not in the direction that Paolini wanted him to go. Paolini wanted him to become a great leader of men, but instead his defining characteristic is that he kills people with his hammer at the slightest offense, which is not the sort of thing you want in a leader of great men.

Then there is Murtagh. He shows up for all of two chapters in the book. It is assumed that he has gone through a great deal of change, after all he has bonded to a dragon and been forced to work for Galbatorix. But none of this appears to bother him. He shrugs off having his mind invaded, never speaking about it in a painful voice. And instead he spouts off Galbatorix's propaganda, propaganda that he didn't believe in the first book. So obviously he's been brainwashed some how, but this never gets explored because he shows up, beats Eragon, takes back his father's sword and flies off. None of his inner conflict, how he feels about what has happened to him is shown. The scenes are almost a throw away, just there so Eragon can learn who his father is, when there are other ways for him to find out. And still, it's not necessary for him to know.

The story arc for Eldest can't really be examined, because there was none. There was no build up to danger. No one was particularly worried about anything. No one was afraid of dying and neither was the reader. It reminds me of a quote from Terry Pratchett, I believe it was from Small Gods, where it said that history was really kings and wars and dramatic events, but if no one noticed them they were just random events. What we have here is random events. They don't make a story because there is no plot, stuff just happens. There is no build up, no pressure of time, no worry. Eragon often feels safe and relaxed during his time with the elves. He doesn't feel pressured to hurry up and learn what he can to get back to the Varden. Galbatorix's army shows up in the last quarter of the book, literally out of nowhere. There's no build up to it. No worry from the Varden if they'll be able to gather up enough men and supplies to meet them in time. No planning on how to defend themselves or deciding where the best place is to have the battle. They learn about the army and the next time we see them, they're already in place ready to fight. We don't see them get ready, we don't see the time table ticking down until the large battle. A battle that doesn't even need to be fought in the first place. With Roran, we could say that things do happen and that there's a rising action - except that there's not. They have problems and solutions immediately appear to fix the problems. They need boats, they get boats. The Ra'zac are after them, but never attack. We never see anyone afraid for their lives, or get sick or die. No one complains to Roran or questions his leadership. They just accept it and do what he says. He has no challenges, once again, to over come.

It is these lack of challenges, these lack of things to over come personal or other wise that makes this book just a series of events and not a story. Struggle and conflict are at the heart of any story. It's what the character has to overcome that drives a story. If a character has nothing to over come then there's no story. It just reads like a dry chronicle of daily events.

At the end of this book, we are no closer to finding a way to defeat Galbatorix than we were in the beginning of Eragon. We haven't learned a thing about the king. We don't know what his potential weaknesses are, if there is a magical way to destroy him or some object that'll help Eragon with the final battle.There isn't even a magical prophecy to point in that direction. Not even Angela's. What Paolini seems to be setting up is a final one on one battle between Eragon and Galbatorix. And the only way for Eragon to do this is to become more powerful. He's not going to figure out a way to defeat him. He's just going to pit his strength against Galbatorix's. Logically, the king should win this fight of power, after all he's been steadily getting more powerful over a hundred years, and we don't know how long he was alive before he destroyed the Riders. Even Murtagh, who was trained by him for maybe six months is more powerful than Eragon. But, since Eragon is the hero the book, he will triumph somehow in an epic one on one battle. He will do this not by any cleverness but by sheer physical power. Physical power that he shouldn't have but will manage to get somehow be it a gift of the dragons or finding that one right magical object and/or spell.

Technically speaking from what has happened in this book, or at least what hasn't happened in this book, it's completely cuttable from the series. Either that it has to be completely rewritten to be given a plot and a story arc. If this doesn't happen then all it does is waste paper and ink.
kippurbird: (What goes on in Kippur's head)
Why I think everyone should write fan fiction.

An Essay.

Fan Fiction is a controversial subject in the writing world. Published writers say that it's an infringement on their writerly rights and creations. Would be published writers say that it's a cheap substitute to real writing. It's fraught with bad, terrible and disgustingly horrifying writing. However, I think that fan fiction is a fantastic idea for the beginning writer to do.

One of the most difficult things to do in writing is the creation aspect. The creation of characters and then writing them so that they're not some sort of flat creation. World building is also difficult for the beginning writer. All of these things take away from some of the more basic craft things that a writer needs to learn: plot, story telling and dialog. And this is why fan fiction is a good thing to write.

Fan fiction has everything that a writer needs. Characters, a world to put them in. The characters have their motivations and there is even a history of the world. It leaves the writer room to work on other aspects of their craft, the creation of a plot, coming up with smooth story telling techniques and writing believable dialog. They know how a character is supposed to act. What they like and dislike all ready. All they need to do is keep the character in character.

Of course, this is the biggest problem with a lot of fan fiction writers. They don't see writing fan fiction as an exercise in becoming a writer, in fine tuning their craft but instead as a way to write out their fantasies. They don't see the need to keep the characters in character, but instead want to use them to be original characters in their own stories. They don't understand what fan fiction is really about. The writing of stories in someone else's world, but instead think that it is just a template for their own fantasies. They use the characters and the dressings of the world and then go off on their own tangents that don't fit the world. The craft of writing isn't important to them.

Instead they have an idea and they write it, without realizing that they have to see if it actually can work in the world that they're writing in. They force the characters into positions that they can't be in. They then expect to be patted on the back for writing something.

But I digress. I think that if a person really is serious about the craft of writing and interested in becoming a better writer, writing fan fiction is a good exercise for them. They have a model that they need to mimic, something that is difficult to have in writing original fiction. In other arts, like painting when you're learning how to paint, you have models and exercises to copy. But writing so much of it you have to create on your own that if you don't have a good character, then the rest of your story falls flat. But if you're using someone else's character, then you're free to work on other aspects of your writing. And when it's done, you can compare your writing, the way you wrote the world to the original text and see what you did right and what you did wrong.

It makes you learn how to keep a character in character. It makes you have to follow certain rules for a world. It requires discipline to write good fan fiction. You can't write whatever you want and so you have to really think about what you're writing and why. Why are you making a character do this? Is this something they would really do? Is this a plausible use of something in this world? Does it contradict other set down rules?

This is one of the reasons that I enjoy writing fan fiction. I have a ready made world to play in, and I get to work on things like character and story. I don't have to worry about creating a new culture or wondering if this fits into my world. It's all already there. I just have to make sure I'm using everything correctly. It's a good writing exercise.

On an utterly unrelated side note, I'm curious as to the sort of fan fiction that'll be created when my works get published. I can look at what I have written now and extrapolate what sort of things Sue Authors would take advantage of, but for the more serious writers, I'm not so sure what they'll do, and that's something I'm curious to learn about.
kippurbird: (Witic)
This one came from the recent chapters of Eragon where Paolini used the word "ceiling" for "canopy".

The importance of words )
kippurbird: (Writer at work)
Of course, anything I say here is purely my opinion on what I think I should be done. You don't have to take my advice at all and you're free to disagree with me on any or all points.

Character, Plot and Story )

So... what did you think? Helpful?

February 2016

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