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    BradSleigh
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    Initial Ideas

    Post by BradSleigh on Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:11 pm

    Okay: it can be rather crippling just going for it without any concept or ideas or direction whatsoever, whilst at the same time it can be even more crippling planning things out to the very tee and therefore not actually achieving anything other than pedantic details.

    SO.

    Write a list here of the *basic* themes, subjects, characters, tropes here that you want to delve into for, for example:

    Magic
    Redemption
    Trolls
    Wizards
    Darkness
    Conventional villain

    Go into as much or as little detail as you see fit, but it's basically an initial brainstorm of the aspects you personally would want to see included in this venture


    Last edited by BradSleigh on Tue May 17, 2016 6:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    ShaunCarter19
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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by ShaunCarter19 on Thu Apr 28, 2016 4:42 pm

    Okay. I've cut this response into two sections. Let's see what this first half provokes from you.

    I’m going to start with the notion of intent.

    We spoke in relative depth last Thursday about some of the archetypes in fantasy: Mongol-like hordes of horse warriors with their curved blades and composite bows who come invading (or don’t, and have to be found) from the East; barbarians and their one, defiant ‘Noble Savage’, who come down to the centre from the north. Deserts in the south or southeast; and the sophisticate western society that often simply tries to reflect the wonders and flaws of America and/or Europe. Funny how Meso-America and South America and their wonderful jungle mythologies rarely get mentioned.  

    We spoke about the probability of a reader going into a story with an expectation of some kind of overlying patriarchal society coursing through the story; and we spoke race, colour, and ethnicity as factors that determine things in stories similar to how they do in life, such as racism, opportunities or the lack thereof.

    Ultimately, aye, a reader will enter a story with expectations.
    Let’s squash those expectations like bugs underfoot.

    I firmly believe that as long as the changes (or, rather, alternatives) that we want to present in our story can feel as though they are part of the cause and effect of our created world, and we can relate those alternatives to our human readers by maintaining both humans as characters in our story and the fundamental qualities of humans, such as, most importantly, compassion, empathy, obsessiveness, to name a few…then we can set the bar as high as we like.

    I think one way we could begin immediately stretching our wings of resistance is by rejecting the quintessential medieval setting. Let’s do some research! There are hundreds of different cultures that have come and gone; if we’re going to draw influence, why not push towards something that hasn’t been done a thousand times? Peter V Brett’s fantasy series, as an example of him flexing his muscles, doesn’t include a single sword; it’s just not a weapon in his world. There are spears, axes, bows and crossbows, halberds. (There are knives, but if you have problems with that, then take it up with him.) But in itself, it’s a quite a big decision to make when you consider how many fantasy stories have named swords that are either ancient or magical or both.

    Rather than medieval, we could look at the Romans, or the Greeks, or Byzantium; we could push further East. Make the Ancient East our focal point.

    But even then, all we need take is cultural tidbits; societal expectations. We could dip our hands into all the variant cultural baskets and see how many different ingredients we have in hand, and then modify them to create something that might become a part of a people’s civilization.

    A quote that’s useful to bear in mind when worldbuilding:

    Approach world-building from geology upward. From there, slap on layers of geography, history, anthropology and archaeology, biology and so on. Start with maps, because maps help direct on how to create the cultures and civilizations on those maps (coast versus inland, traders versus introverted, closed cultures, mobile versus sedentary, lowland versus highland, hill-tribes versus plain-tribes; forest-dwellers versus river-farers, old versus new, stagnant versus innovative, rigid versus egalitarian, and so on). Once you have a general idea of all that, you can start layering the land's back history -- what came before, and what came before that, and what drifted down and to what extent did that knowledge become twisted? Bear in mind that ecosystems evolve as well: a very early culture that deforested its environment and, say, introduced goats into the landscape, will ultimately lead to an arid, rocky, denuded setting for the present culture (think Middle East, Greece, parts of Italy and Spain). You want the landscape to be as protean as the cultures living on it, just working on a slower pace of change.

    With said quote in mind, we’re in complete control. Suddenly our POV characters, however many, are immediately, for you and me, not necessarily white; not necessarily a hulking straight male; not necessarily humble and heroic and honest.
    If we make clear in our opening pages, scenes, chapter, whatever, that part of our mission is to dismantle the expectations a reader might bring to our story, then we’re giving ourselves room to think about the other things that people can be concerned with. Off the top of my head: needs, desires, fears, motivations, attitudes, secrets, scars, memories, loves, weaknesses.

    If all we do is draw upon struggles created by real world discrimination then there’s an argument that we’re drawing upon suffering to create art, now that can be justified if we empower the victims into overcoming the discriminators…but that sense of overcoming the odds is as common a trope/plot point as any out there because people often organically back themselves into a creative corner by falling back into the problems of the real world and not something they’ve invented.

    So, all as Point One, I suppose, intent. The potential before us of doing something original. That excites me.

    Point two: Religion
    There’s always the road of avoiding it completely, but I don’t see the point. Religion in a very broad sense can be considered as the relationship between a person/couple/cult/society/civilization with everything else around it. Think of how many different gods civilizations such as the Greeks had. Gods of beer and wine; gods of agriculture; of the seasons; of rain; of disease; healing; life; death; fire; war; peace; drama; music; stone; the sea. There’s a vast labyrinth of exploration that could be experienced through the concept of a character’s relationship with as little as one or two of those gods. What sort of questions can we associate? Why is it that a person prays to a being they’ve never seen nor truly heard, for calm seas, or for their newborn to live long and prosperously? Is it very simply and inchoately a fear of the unknown? Well, I doubt it. Otherwise a lot of theorising in the last few thousand years was for fuck all.
    Where else can we go with religion? Abstract nouns such as devotion, faith, marriage, confession, sin. (We could easily create our own set of lexical terms through exploring linking synonyms, if we wanted to wander from the traditional words.) Fanaticism. Holy wars. Theocracies. The effects that faith might have on a relationship between two people or members of a cult…if suddenly their faith is shattered, or strengthened. Religion is above all else, I think, a very useful mechanism for characterisation, theme, and plot.  
    With gods would then inevitably come the question of mythology. Potential ways of using the ‘story within a story’ to develop our fantasy world’s histories, ancestries, and those pesky gods I just mentioned.
    These could lead to further revelations in terms of characterisation. And we could delve into creation myths: how one people believe the world came to be; how another group believe things happened: what effect is created when two different peoples are divided because of such fundamental beliefs?

    Living conditions. This, as a topic, is something I’m often curious about when I read fantasy or watch fantasy. King’s Landing is absolutely nowhere near, in the TV show, as grimy and filthy as it should be. Think about all of the shit, piss, and vomit of the poorer people. Where does it go? Even the nobles' sewer system just feeds into the local river and the nearby, fishermen-plied sea. What do they eat when they can’t get good food? What does this food do to their bodies? What happens if it rains for 10 days and they can’t dry their clothes, what happens to their immune system? Litter, rodents, the dead and dying, all of these things would surely exist in greater numbers in a big city that is so rich in poor people. What would, exploring the POV of a very poor, lower-class character, reveal about faith, or a nobility, or compassion, or sharing, after a life of suffering like that?

    With such poor hygiene, what new things could our writing uncover in terms of description? Writing descriptively is, of course, about enriching a reader’s impression of something. Smell, taste, sight, sound, touch. The more visceral the better; and it never has to be anything necessarily ‘Grimdark’.
    To stick with this sense of realism through aspects such as hygiene, we could look at other elements of cause and effect. What would an ill-forged blade cause in a fight? A shield with splinters all around the handle. An armour buckle that comes loose underneath the shoulder. There are countless examples of these things happening in real world history. Military leaders who have died because their horse reared when crossing a river at the sudden appearance of a snake, and the leader fell from the horse and drowned. Or when Harold got shot in the eye from a seemingly stray-ish arrow.
    I like gritty. I like a sense of realism. Of things going wrong and characters having to deal with consequences. Of their paths being diverted. We’ve spoken about how good GRRM is at that. Things like learning and knowing when a character’s side quest can be explained in a short paragraph, and when it requires a 3-page scene to develop plot or character.
    With that sense of realism, we could look at the dichotomy of heroic versus unheroic and what an unheroic protagonist might be like. Unheroic characters are scattered through modern fantasy because they add dimension to people, making them more real. It’s great ground to keep striking; but I’m of a mind that it doesn’t need to be the mocking, Abercrombie kind of unheroic. At least not from beginning to end.  
    Another idea I’m curious about is the idea of writing a story through using ‘secondary characters’ as the POV hosts. Characters who become well-realised in the story and are very much the characters we care for most and are most well-developed in terms of their features, traits, history, growth, etc., but who aren’t necessarily the most powerful, earth-shattering characters. The idea, to elaborate, of keeping the most powerful gods/magic-users/etc. shrouded, to an extent, in some mystery. A human protagonist is never going to learn everything about their world, after all.
    Unreliable narrators and philosophical monologues could also be useful mechanisms of developing character and plot and dramatic irony. When one character thinks something but we the writers, and our readers, know that this character is wrong in their thinking or presumption, and that another character knows the truth or the answer. And as an extension to this notion, the idea of our characters being people who think. Who think a lot. Unlike Abercrombie, as you spotted, let’s have our characters reveal things during their POV. If we didn’t want a particular thing revealed for a while, well, suddenly that character might be difficult to get hold of for 80 pages. If a character is on a quest that threatens their life, aren’t they going to be fucking obsessive about that thing? I would say so. I want them to give thought to their actions; to consider the consequences and rewards (those that they have the mental capacity to consider, anyway; nobody is ever objective enough to see everything both good and bad.) of those actions. How will their actions tie into their relationship with another character and what will that mean and how does that make our POV character feel? Are they anxious? Excited?

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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by BradSleigh on Thu May 05, 2016 10:11 pm

    Okay let’s see…I know I should have responded to this far earlier whilst I still had my train of thought but we learn.

    I agree with all the first half, that’s a lot of waffle and trivia in places but still tip top in meaning and…one might say…’intent’. Originality good, world-building good, bug squashing good. Next in line the map drawing.

    So on to point two which was for some reason about three different points after a very broad and vaguely titled first point but either way: we’ve already spoken about living conditions so there’s no need to repeat it other than the basic underlying point of it being a style of writing rather than a theme or narrative in itself. Simply something to be noted when going into descriptive detail unless you want Frodo to die of a disease he contracted from a poorly washed knife. An element we didn’t really approach with regard to that however is the idea of how the poor living conditions in themselves can craft the personalities of our characters, rich or poor. A lower class (if serfdom is a thing in this world) character may lament at his rabies-infested family whereas a rich guy might be frustrated at not having the television or cappuccino machine invented. But these will come out through the story and not at the initial planning; after all you mentioned the idea of the characters and world itself being as interchangeable as each other, so we won’t know until we create life.

    The point you made about realism (putting aside the living condition element of that) is actually the very first question I asked you when it came to narrative building: how much random events are allowed to have an impact on a story. Harold gets away with being shot in the eye (never thought I’d write that) because it’s a historical fact, whereas a main villain randomly being shot in the eye could come across as deus ex machina and thus weak story telling. I would argue that any random events would have to be at least foreshadowed with little clues in the text to make the plot elements earn their right to be there. For instance your own example about an ill forged blade resulting in a main character losing a fight and being killed due to The Blade Itself (I deserve a medal for that one) rather than the story being crafted that way would need to be preceded by a tiny offhand description of the blade - I feel it would pay off a lot better if several chapters earlier the character picks up a blade that is described as “looking old with a notch in it and is pretty shit etc” and not mentioning again, then having it fail on them. That would tie into your point about consequences, since the character chose to keep the shit blade.

    WHICH LEADS ME TO WHAT I HAVE REALLY BEEN WANTING TO SAY.

    Consequences. I like consequences. I like everything having a consequence, I hate things going back to the way they were before. Things never go back; life is a fluid ever-changing creature. All actions lead to reactions and I firmly believe consequence is an excellent way of moving plot forward. It’s creative writing 101, and it’s so simple: plot is chain reaction, it’s cause and effect, it’s every single character choice resulting in the next plot element of the story. The consequences are the things that drive the story forward and literally would not happen without them. The only thing about that however, is that it seems to contradict your idea of the story being observed through the eyes of secondary characters. If they are secondary characters, then their actions don’t have consequences that are backbone to the story and therefore drive it, and if their actions *do* change and craft the story, then they are not secondary characters. It’s the old if god is good he cannot be all powerful paradox. Either the story is about people making choices and suffering the consequences, or the story is how unfairly you get pulled into life’s ruthless current when bad shit happens that isn’t your fault.

    Okay I know I’ve probably skipped over a lot of your stuff but I can’t possibly keep you waiting any longer. Religion. God damn religion. I don’t want real gods. When gods are real things get messy. Hey when magic alone is real things already get messy. That’s why magic needs real, established rules (for us if not for the story) in order to be convincing. Not just waving a wand and someone dying just because. I don’t mind having people being religious, and I don’t mind various religions existing since superstition is human nature as you said. It will however be my weakest point since religion in fiction doesn’t particularly excite me, so I would leave you to deliver on that front. I know I’d personally get bored writing about it because it doesn’t turn my gears and there’s so much shit you’d have to go into and it’s daunting just thinking about it for me. So religion, yes. Religion being real rather than merely believed…I’d say no. Me writing about religion? I’d say super no. I would much rather concentrate on other parts but will still happily allow its existence through Father Carter. Note I’m not including magic in the conclusion.

    The only danger of religion (as I have previously mentioned over WhatsApp) is it resulting in two-dimensional characters. Characters who exist with the single motivation of being a religious zealot. Antagonists with cliché motivations such as “because my god orders it of me”. I like grey areas. I like villains who have strong arguments. I like villains who have motivations and arguments that are so strong that you often falter being on the side of the hero. I like the idea of a hero faltering because a villain’s argument is so strong. Of course it could all end up being deception to serve a more sinister purpose but regardless of its truth I like two sides having contrasting yet relatable reasons and arguments. Not a villain who’s out for revenge or world domination because it’s so dull and flat these days, but fully fleshed out characters who all want something. Not to say they’ll end up as fun-deprived Abercrombie characters who bleed cynicism, but everyone having their own agenda can be done in a much more uplifting and exciting way, rather than Glokta’s view of the world.

    So yeah, according to the eight persuasive techniques (thanks for reminding me Jezal) I should end strongly, so I’ll end on that sudden F chord and await your response. Also I’ll never wait this long again before responding to a post. But yeah. Anyway.

    F chord.
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    ShaunCarter19
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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by ShaunCarter19 on Mon May 09, 2016 3:05 pm

    Okay, here I am, responding. This is turning out to be the longest Friday I've ever experienced.

    As we discussed, we appear to be standing in the same stream regarding consequences. Ultimately, it's always worth paying attention to simple writing advice such as 'every sentence of a story should either develop a character or be moving forward the plot'. The themes take care of themselves if a story is written deftly. And that means that, essentially, every action should, like you say, have a consequence to the plot of the story, but the action should do something about the character in question; it might not necessarily provide the reader with a revelatory clear-cut consideration regarding the character: It might instead plunge the reader into a vortex of doubt over what the character's intentions are; so long as we can see where the stream leads, we're dandy. Again, GRRM is very good at that. If we dip into the real world for a second, people are surprised all the time by actions of other people, people whom they thought they knew inside out. There's no reason why our characters should be emotionally and motivationally transparent. The muddier the better; the more doubtful the better; the less sure their moral footing, the better.

    And if we are to take this motif of unreliable, morally ambiguous characters into the new planet (which I'm going to abbreviate to NP until we know its name), then all the better. We're going to be dealing with the remnants of a civilization that fled Earth, and then tore itself asunder and reverted to a 'dark age' existence. That sort of existence offers up a grand landscape of emotions. One faction of people might have found itself demonstrating a similar pattern of societal behaviour to a hunter-gatherer society, whereby each individual becomes a single leaf on the faction's tree. That in itself first suggests an importance upon reliance, trust, collectivism; but then, I wonder, what happens when the hunter-gathering society realises that its current modes of survival are easy and manageable; what do people do when they become bored? Ennui leads to all kinds of frivolity. Infidelity? Theft?

    But anyway. That's just a small digression on the potentiality of exploring 'dark age' behaviour in a way that isn't just the innocent 'youth who wants to see more of the world but is held back by elders because of WAY OF LIFE'.

    I'm a big fan of the idea of religion never being real. Or at least, never being proved right. We can do things in the story that seemingly prove it to be ridiculous in order to drive plot and character. This excites me. I watched a documentary a while back that tries to argue that the first religious monuments came before agricultural development, which was a refutation of what archaeologists had previously believed to be true. I like the idea of characters in the story as and when we write it coming across potential monuments, which might just be from the human settlers of NP, but might be some other species. Standing stones, menhirs, plinths. Carvings. Perhaps an ice age took place on the NP and a character ventures north and finds a body well preserved from permafrost. But right there, a piece of cultural room for exploration: death and dealing with the dead. We take burial and cremation as read over here. I'm sure we could look into other ways peoples have honoured the dead.

    I suppose I should say a little on here about what I want the story to be about. Hmm. Echo again the concept of people realising that people are capable of monumental errors. Humility, then, would be a theme.

    Ah. I have just remembered the 'pitch' idea. Okay. Hmm.

    I'm going to work on the basis of this pitch being a pitch that is for us and not the pitch we'd sell to a reader, for now.
    So:

    Following the harmful, pernicious effects of humanity's inability to stay their curiosity where science and innovation are concerned, Earth's greatest species fled in the thousands - under the benevolent guidance of two politically compassionate shepherds (not actually shepherds, I'm being facetious). Travelling en masse with food, animals, weapons, writings, idols, and what technology they could fit onto their evacuation ships, the humans eventually found a new habitable planet, with many similar facets to Earth. Their biggest quest as a large, lost and homeless mass was to begin to create a new home. A new civilization...

    I'm going to be deliberately ambiguous and leave this like it is for now. It's our job to begin to further shape it. The very thought of a few thousand people landing on a foreign planet and trying to rebuild civilization is giving me a headache; never mind the aftermath about which we want to write!

    However, ultimately, this is a continuous discussion, so a shorter reply isn't me being lazy. This is more a teaser to speed this process up.

    Wow. What a long Friday.
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    ShaunCarter19
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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by ShaunCarter19 on Mon May 09, 2016 3:12 pm

    " I like the idea of characters in the story as and when we write it coming across potential monuments, which might just be from the human settlers of NP, but might be some other species. Standing stones, menhirs, plinths. Carvings."

    My point here being that, people are very capable of creating their own impressions of things, whether true or not.
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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by ShaunCarter19 on Mon May 09, 2016 3:37 pm


    BradSleigh
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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by BradSleigh on Mon May 09, 2016 11:11 pm

    "Apothecaries should have a shop"

    Fuck off.

    I very much dislike the tone of that article. The author may have inserted the line "These are only guidelines" but that hasn't stopped them from stating "an apothecary should have the knowledge equivalent to a modern pharmacist" or "I believe most worldbuilders would view herbalists as best suited for fantasy settings" and similar points sounding like rules or commands.

    The only reason worldbuilders would currently believe that, is because authors so far happened to have established that. But the whole point of creating a new world is to do something new, give us something we haven't seen before and make it plausible in its own way. Essentially establishing something *new*. If you're clever enough about something you can make anything you want work because it's *your* world. Just be smart about things. If we all play by tired old traditions, tropes and guidelines then frankly, everyone may as well just pack up and go home.

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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by BradSleigh on Mon May 09, 2016 11:12 pm

    "Fantasy Medicine – Part One: Healthcare, Magical and how to make your world Mundane"

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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by BradSleigh on Mon May 09, 2016 11:31 pm

    I think an interesting way of developing this would be to start to flesh out the history of New Paragraph from when humans arrived (since what happened before humans isn’t necessarily important at this point unless a great wave of inspiration takes us).

    So we start with the two benevolent shepherds (of which I very much like the word), who aren’t necessarily friends in the old friends/brothers-become-enemies cliché, but are certainly working for similar causes. So they arrive with their flock – what happens? How do they initially establish a colony with the resources they have brought with them? Bearing in mind terraforming and the like won’t be necessary considering New Paragraph is already habitable.

    So the last of humanity (in their thousands) have arrived, and what becomes of Earth is irrelevant since we’re never going to hear from it again. These ships are their initial home and they begin to create a new civilisation. How? It’s important to be specific to what they did here and not necessarily specific to how they did it. For example, we would jot down “Frodo travelled from the Shire to Mordor and destroyed the Ring” without anything he did on the way, as if it were an offhand line in a history book about a different topic (as opposed to one about the history of the War of the Ring). All we need to know is that he did it, not *how* he did it. The only useful piece of information might be what system of government they used perhaps.

    After that – why did they start fighting? What wiped out their technology? Why did they forget their origins? If we flesh out the history from the ground upwards starting at the point of origin, riddled with the complications and issues and conflict that humanity excels in, eventually a few centuries down the line we will reach a point where all of a sudden the story we’re looking for should leap out on its own. It should form naturally from the conflict and potential turmoil we establish. For a childishly basic analogy, the history we establish will be planting the seed; fleshing it out would be the nurturing and watering; and then the flower/narrative should grow/form itself without us even needing to think about it. As if what happens next is the only thing that could have possibly ever happened due to the setup we create for it.

    So there’s a good start to go off. And the fact all our history starts in one place is super useful, because it’s the only thing you have to initially build on.
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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by ShaunCarter19 on Fri May 13, 2016 3:47 pm

    BradSleigh wrote:"Fantasy Medicine – Part One: Healthcare, Magical and how to make your world Mundane"

    This made me chuckle. Indeed, it's a bad article, similar to the one today in a sense of wanting to push itself upon people despite pretending to be merely a guideline or a moral/wise outlook on certain things in writing.

    Fleshing out from human arrival sounds like the smart move to begin with. In which case, perhaps a map would be an interesting way of entering the NP together. Some names, perhaps of the two shepherds. Or maybe a bit of detail regarding their motivations and why they rallied people away from Earth. Certainly, I think that it could be a fresher stand point if, with the shepherds, we align them as two people who had to work together for the sake of greatest number in need, and eventually their motivations began to drift on NP, rather than the tired old brothers-in-arms becoming enemies.

    They arrive, okay. They'll have been travelling for a long time, unless we're suggesting that the space ships they travelled in had access to 'lightspeed'. Meaning, if they did travel for a few months, that food and drink will be low, with everybody having consumed most of what could surely be fitted onto even a big spacecraft. So, if we do take that route, the shepherds (are they good public speakers, cunning rhetoricians?) make some landing speech about people volunteering to venture off and find some forage/meat/fish/veg. Here we could play about with diet and bring the old appendix back into use if need be... cough.

    Food and shelter. Well, the initial shelter could presumably continue to be the spacecraft. But, as mundane a question as that is, what about waste? I'm presuming space ships jettison their sewage into the inky black of space. Things like latrine/refuse pits could be dug.
    Also, (continue assuming they travelled for a period of maybe 3-6 months and that lightspeed isn't a thing), might some people have died during the journey? Where are their bodies? Did people have the wherewithal to bring embalming equipment on the journey? Is there some kind of morgue in a spacecraft where the dead might have been interred? Will they now be buried, or cremated? Would the shepherds advise against cremation because of the clarion beacon lighting a big pyre would be, considering they don't know what, if anything, is stalking this NP?
    Also, it could maybe be cool if the very first graveyard that humans dig and build on this planet became a kind of monument that was oft-misinterpreted later on as a sign of longer life/previous primates/gods. Etc.

    I have to rush off. I'll finish this later, but it's a bit of food for thought.

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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by BradSleigh on Sat May 14, 2016 1:29 pm

    "Fleshing out from human arrival sounds like the smart move to begin with. In which case, perhaps a map would be an interesting way of entering the NP together. Some names, perhaps of the two shepherds. Or maybe a bit of detail regarding their motivations and why they rallied people away from Earth. Certainly, I think that it could be a fresher stand point if, with the shepherds, we align them as two people who had to work together for the sake of greatest number in need, and eventually their motivations began to drift on NP, rather than the tired old brothers-in-arms becoming enemies."

    Awesome.

    "They arrive, okay. They'll have been travelling for a long time, unless we're suggesting that the space ships they travelled in had access to 'lightspeed'. Meaning, if they did travel for a few months, that food and drink will be low, with everybody having consumed most of what could surely be fitted onto even a big spacecraft. So, if we do take that route, the shepherds (are they good public speakers, cunning rhetoricians?) make some landing speech about people volunteering to venture off and find some forage/meat/fish/veg. Here we could play about with diet and bring the old appendix back into use if need be... cough.

    Food and shelter. Well, the initial shelter could presumably continue to be the spacecraft. But, as mundane a question as that is, what about waste? I'm presuming space ships jettison their sewage into the inky black of space. Things like latrine/refuse pits could be dug.
    Also, (continue assuming they travelled for a period of maybe 3-6 months and that lightspeed isn't a thing), might some people have died during the journey? Where are their bodies? Did people have the wherewithal to bring embalming equipment on the journey? Is there some kind of morgue in a spacecraft where the dead might have been interred? Will they now be buried, or cremated? Would the shepherds advise against cremation because of the clarion beacon lighting a big pyre would be, considering they don't know what, if anything, is stalking this NP?"

    Remember, for now we're just writing down that Frodo went on a quest and destroyed the ring, not *how* he did it. These specific details are fun and important, but they're the sweets that we're going to put into the jar afterwards. We need to make the jar first and then fill in the framework and scaffolding afterwards and now I'm jumping metaphors. Look what you made me do.

    "Also, it could maybe be cool if the very first graveyard that humans dig and build on this planet became a kind of monument that was oft-misinterpreted later on as a sign of longer life/previous primates/gods. Etc."

    Awesome: I can imagine it being called "The First Graveyard" or a chapter with such a title, I think that would be a good way to tie into your religious themes and have it become a sort of shrine.

    F chord.
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    ShaunCarter19
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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by ShaunCarter19 on Mon May 16, 2016 9:03 am

    There's no reason why we couldn't play about with some nouns and names of things, too, just as a quick aside.
    For example, say a vast portion of the people who fled all came from the same part of Earth, then a particular tree or animal on Earth, that has a similar-in-appearance counterpart on NP could exist, and we don't necessarily have our characters know what the animal or tree was called. As long as we described it, people would be able to discern through the clues: Like, for example, a willow tree is easily recognised as 'drooping'.

    We need a timeline in that case. We also maybe need to think about day and night, if we're creating a timeline. Is a day going to be 24 hours, is a week 7 days, etc? Important from point of how long the timeline stretches and also, as another side note of humans and their initial landing: how would they have adapted to a different hour/day length?

    I wonder: would it be beneficial for us to write some shorter fiction in these early development stages, maybe each piece no longer than 500-1000 words, that tell little stories about the forward-motion of the timeline? For example, a little flash fiction story from the POV of a member of the first group who go out looking for food. Or the first group who make a burial. Or the first time a baby is born on the NP: does this have significance? Would that child be seen as special?
    The conflicts need only be small, and even self-contained, or they might be unresolved little cliff-hangers that we later expose through either showing or telling later on, during the actual novels.
    Thoughts on that? I know you said you need to have a character formed; however, I'm working on a basis that you might have given one a little bit of thought or formation.
    Otherwise:
    1. They arrive.
    2. They all have a massive orgy.

    BradSleigh
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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by BradSleigh on Tue May 17, 2016 6:48 pm

    Okay, I have created a new topic for backstories as you may or may not have noticed.

    For my reply I started writing something and then carried on with it to see where it would take me, because I find introductions to be so very boring, and even more so if it isn't even the story and simply the groundwork for the history of this world. But it will eventually become richer.

    So: a Foreword.

    It has ended up being about 1900 words long, since 500-1000 is very short for something seen as an introduction. I'm hoping it becomes easier and easier to write shorter, complete stories as the world develops its personality. Right now it is one chapter of two, ideally, maybe three, and is going to act as a sort of prologue for the future of things I write.

    Whilst I am doing that, it is your job to do the same thing in your own way. I am going to post this first chapter, and then you can post something that you end up writing, be it related, unrelated or somewhere in the middle. There is something I need to explain first however.

    I have taken some influence from Animal Farm to approach this, and as a result the two 'shepherds' I have based subtly off of Napoleon and Snowball. Now obviously they are parodies of Stalin and Trotsky respectively, so it's going to be a much subtler approach. Both want to achieve the same goal just in slightly different ways and not nearly as antagonistically.So it isn't quite Napoleon-Snowball, not quite Magneto-Professor X, but the influence is there.

    As a result I have started to flesh out Napoleon. I have called him Alexander for now, but it could well change (or it might not). He appears in the chapter, and I have left Snowball's name as Snowball. That character is for you to flesh out. Alexander wants to advance society but he wants to withhold certain sciences (like nuclear science) no matter the cost to prevent humanity from killing itself again. He isn't going to tell anyone this, but as a result he will be trying to subtly control how society forms. I can imagine Snowball wanting more freedom for people and eventually becoming more of the religious figurehead when things go to shit, which should tie in with your ideas of injecting religions into the eventual story (so he becomes, ironically, a religious figurehead, even though he is peddling the cause for science and people to follow themselves rather than idles). So that would set up Alexander as one of the big 'villains' of the story, but will tie into my desire to have a villain with such a good argument that you're not quite sure who the good guys are.

    Alexander is keeping certain people separate, for reasons I haven't fully decided yet. I've done this in order for them to have had no exposure to Snowball so far until you flesh out who the hell he is and what he does. So that can easily change in future.

    With that in mind, let us begin and see what happens. I will post in the first post in the new topic, which is a first draft in both writing and format (I won't be redrafting backstory when there's little point though) and then it's up to you.

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    ShaunCarter19
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    Re: Initial Ideas

    Post by ShaunCarter19 on Fri May 20, 2016 11:58 am

    I've just posted 2000 or so words, that are the initial encounter between two volunteers and Reinhardt. My intention with this excerpt is to make it another 2000 words or so long, and to begin to develop Reinhardt as a man who is, despite his...eccentricities...very good at using his words to seduce people into feeling certain things, rather than necessarily doing certain things, so that they end up making choices that he is effectively underhandedly driving them towards. Reinforcing the sense of him being more 'freedom' than 'control' in a certain sense.
    The excerpt begins by dwelling briefly on responsibility, and will come full circle in the second extract.

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    Re: Initial Ideas

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