Category Archives: Writing

Writing, Conlanging, World Building

Haven’t updated in a long while. Sorry.

Fairly certain not many people are too worried or were desperately missing it, but it isn’t professional so here we are.

My writing has continued to move forward. Currently between 60,000 and 61,000 words and hoping to break through that line today.

Also, just got back from Germany. Pretty sweet.

Sent out Sun-King to some agents in a push to get published. No word back so far, but then again its only been a few weeks so no rush either.

Been working on the map too. Expanding it to include more of the world – spoiler alert – for future books. Map-drawing is often one of my favorite things to do, strange to be doing it with business purposes in mind. Really like what I have done this far but I have a lot of world left to go. Hopefully it doesn’t all suck balls.

Lastly been thinking about restarting my work on Hadysh, essentially flushing most of my work down the drain. If I do that expect some posts here about it. I have some new ideas and want to rid myself of some bad ones that had crept into the language. So. Who knows?

Anyway, this is about as much time as I am willing to spend here.

Sláinte!

On Moons, Barycenters, and What you Put into your Work

Been writing a lot recent.

Not here, though, mostly in my books, which I am still trying to – you know – get published. I’ve been quiet because I have Sun-King out with both an agent and an editor and have quietly had my fingers crossed. I also lost my copy-editor, but that’s okay because my last few first readers are wrapping up (hopefully).

With the new prologue and the new chapter one, people’s reactions have greatly improved – and in rewriting it so has my skill (I think). It took a very rude awakening but I thank those deconstructive readers very much for really not holding back and giving it to me straight. It is what I needed and it worked. Thanks gentlemen who probably avoid this site like the plague.

Recently I’ve gone from one fantasy writing sin (too much conlanging) to the other (too much thinking and science). I’ve mentioned on reddit that I’ve always enjoyed small consistencies. To me a little nod to physics or reality is like looking at the fine details of a painting or the tiny, intricate shapes of a statue. It can really show a writer’s love or perhaps a second passion.

Last year I talked about moons. Namely I talked about moons in my books, the three that orbit the world my stories take place in. They go by many names in different languages and they are storied and worshiped. But they are also consistent.

The three moons in my world orbit in a 1:2:4 resonance, in the same positions as the inner-most Galilean moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede). But unlike the Jovian moons they are grey and dusty like our own moon.

It was important to me that the moons orbit correctly, that I know what phases they are in, how big they look in the sky, and how quickly they move. These facts would dictate to the writer what a character can and cannot be seeing. For example new moons rarely follow full moons. We also rarely think about how big the moon really is and how it grows and shrinks, and though I didn’t go as far as to make more advanced libation cycles  or eclipse cycles.

But I did use some simplified equations to figure out how far apart they are, how big they appear, when they appear, cataloging all this gave me a sense of being an astronomer in this world. How do I figure out these things? Where does the planet fit? Like we often think about the moon orbiting the Earth, but it isn’t so simple.

The Earth/Moon system orbit a barycenter or a center of mass. That center of mass is inside the Earth but it isn’t the center of the Earth – it is actually more than 4,600 km from the center, about 73% of the Earth’s radius. It is this point that traces the orbit around the Sun and it means that Earth doesn’t just rotate, it rocks back and forth as it “orbits” the barycenter. If this point was above the Earth’s surface, by most definitions the Moon wouldn’t be a satellite anymore, it would be a planet in a binary planet system. (There are other definitions that might already consider the Moon a planet rather than a simple satellite.)

This started going down a path that lead to at least one scene I really like and I hope other people enjoy- a scene that is unique to this system. And it’s as accurate as I am willing to get.

The system in Sun-King (and that series as a whole) has some fun tidbits hidden in it, but by far my favorite is the work put into the moons. I’d love to be able to sit on my deck and watch as two moons reach their zenith together, or seeing the nearest rise alone in its full glory.

On a tangent thought – what if the Earth/Moon system were both tidally locked to the other?  That is to say, what if one face of the Earth always pointed the Moon? What happens when people from the moonless side go to the mooned side? Could you imagine? What if the European explorers reached the Americas and there was this big, extra light in the sky?

Their little heads would have exploded.

Funny to think about.

minçɪn nedəwaðʌl, dati?

Maidin mhaith.

Spent last night and a bit this morning working on conlanging as a way to distract myself from writing.

The topic that caught my interest and ended up generating quite a bit of vocabulary and vocab was asking questions. This was semi-introduced last time which even started with a question: ɸat æs, de?

In it we learned about dialect and some more complicated things like word order and the question particle. In English we often learn the six question words: who, what, where, when, why, how. There are more. A full list would look like: who, what, where, when, why, how, which, whose, whence, whither, whether.

Some of those are still familiar to us: Which song did you play? Whose album is this?

Some are not: Whence did he come? (Where did he come from?) Whither did he go? (Where did he go to?) Whether chose you? (Which of these two would you choose?)

They probably ring a bell in the way back of your brain, probably from reading some old or poetic piece. Hadysh retains all of them and adds two more. These particles are:

  • dɔma (which)
  • dæxɪmə (whose)
  • dæx (who)
  • dɪn (what)
  • demʃ (where)
  • didæʃ (whence)
  • dɑneʃ (whither)
  • dib (when)
  • dʊçɸ (why)
  • dʌg (whether)
  • de (how)
  • dati (do – ?) Implies a yes/no question
  • dæf (?) Converts a statement into a generic question

As always I have examples and dialect stuff!


Do you have the time? – Single, Formal “you”

[miaçi mʌɹ̝̠̊ʌ, dati]

/miɛçi mʌɹʌ, dɛti/ – Rozenn

/miaçi məɹ̝̠̊ə, dati/ – Einar

This statement uses [dati] but does not imply simple yes/no. The speaker still wishes to know what time it is. It does imply that they want a quick answer. So the reply should be “Half past six” not “Six thirty seven.”

You can switch to requesting an “accurate” answer by making it a generic question with the [dæf] particle.


Where did my dog go to?

[hɹ̝̠̊enəga jamə ɸɔlm, dɑneʃ]

/ɹ̝̠̊enəga jamə ɸɔlm, dɑneʃ/ – Standard formation

/hɹɪnəkɛ jɛmə ɸɔlm, dɔnɪʃ/ – Rozenn

/ɹ̝̠̊enəga jamə fɔlm, dɑneʃ/ – Einar

We’ve been over this strange construction in the first conlang post. The past tense uses [h-] at the beginning of a verb, but the sound cluster [hɹ̝̠̊] is really just a breathy /ɹ̝̠̊/.

But the sound ɹ̝̠̊ doesn’t exist in the Sylian (Rozenn’s) dialect, so the past tense conjugation is more clear.


When were we planning on meeting up? – Inclusive “we”

[θahən kənɔx, dib] (Literally: When do we plan to meet?)

/θɛhən çənɔx, dib/ – Rozenn

/θahən kənɔç, dib/ – Einar

This is the first inclusion of the infinitive of a verb, this is actually a unique conjugation just like future, past, and habitual.  The base form of the verb “to meet” is [nɔx]. The infinitive adds [k-].

The main verb “to plan” is not in the future tense, it starts with [θ] because it is made of the future tense of “to think” but here is present tense. The future of “to plan” is [θɪθahə]. Also strangely the conjugation should be [θahəa], but when a verb ends in a vowel and the conjugation starts with a vowel ([-a] for inclusive we) the vowel of the conjugation becomes [n].


Have you seen Rozenn’s sword? – Plural, Informal “you”

[hjɹæçʌlnaçɪn çeɹiənɪm ɪlpæθ, dæf]

/hjæçʌlnaçɪn çeɹiənɪm ɪlpæθ, dæf/ – Standard formation

/hjaçəlnaçen çeɹiənem elpaθ, daf/ – Einar

The verb “to see” is [ɹæçʌln], the past tense [h-] adds the [j] between the [h] and [ɹ], but the [ɹ] is usually just dropped.

Here we also have the genitive marker [-(n)ɪm] which also softens the word it attaches to, but [çeɹiə] (Rozenn’s name) ends with a vowel.


Does he know how to swim? – Single, Informal “he”

[bɑθæpəga e kəpæg de, dati]

/bɔθɛpəkɛ ɪ çəpɛk’d, dɛti/ – Rozenn

/bɑθapəga e kəpag de, dati/ – Einar

The only thing to note here is that “how to swim” becomes “to swim how” or [kəpæg de].


Whether you a glass of whiskey or a pint of beer? – Sing, Infrm “you”

[æs nʊdlpik ʌt pɔʃ zæ nedan ʌt ætwəɹ, dʌg]

/ɛs nʊdlpik ʌt pɔʃ zɛ nɪdɛn ʌt ɛtwə, dək/ – Rozenn

/as nədlpik ət pɔʃ za nedan ət atvəɹ, dəg/ – Einar

Like in English, there is no verb in this sentence. Oftentimes you can even remove the pronoun and just ask.


May I have a cup of tea, instead?

[tætl nʊdlpik ʌt hɪl vivɪft kəmi, dæf]

/tɛtl nʊdlpik ʌt hɪl fifɪft çəmi, dɛf/ – Rozenn

/tatl nədlpik ət hel viveft kəmi, daf/ – Einar

Here we have the introduction of modal verbs! Germanic languages use modals quite a bit and I have a fondness for them. There are at least seven in Hadysh (English has seven-ish as well, plus a dead one and a handful of demi-modals). Modals conjugate normally and the verb they are changing takes the infinitive form and moves to the end of the clause.

Anyone familiar with German will recognize this. Kannst du Deutsch (sprechen)? Können is the modal. Sprechen is the verb. “Can you speak German?”

Like when asking about time, the [dati]/[dæf] distinction is important. [dæf] implies that you want a cup of tea. [dati] is asking if you have permission to have a cup of tea.


Are you tired? – Plural, Informal “you”

[ɸat æs hwɑnel]

/ɸɛt ɛs ʍɔnɪl/ – Rozenn

/fat as hɁwɑnel/ – Einar

The Waldish and Nyrnish (Einar’s) dialects mutate [ʍ] to /h/ so to imply the particle correctly they divide the [h] and [w] with a glottal stop. In Sylian these are just slurred back to /ʍ/.


Yes

[ɸat ɪ] (Literally: It is)

/ɸɛti/ – Rozenn

/faɁi/ – Einar

Despite being a full sentence (similar to Irish), over time this has contracted down to a single word (similar to English).


No

[ɸat ɪ ʊl] or [ɸat ɪ’l] (Literally: It is not)

/ɸɛɁl/ – Rozenn

/fatl/ – Einar

Like above this is a full sentence, but has been contracted down to a single word.


Do you have a question? – Plural, Formal “you”

[minçɪn nedəwaðʌl, dati] or [minçɪn nedəwaðʌl, dæf]

/minçɪn nɪdəwaðʌl, dɛti/ or /minçɪn nɪdəwaðʌl, dɛf/ – Rozenn

/minçen nedəvaðəl, dati/ or /minçen nedəvaðəl, daf/ – Einar

Don’t forget the [dati]/[dæf] distinction.


Sláinte, everyone!

ɸat æsð, de?

I’ve been wasting a lot of time lately thinking about language. The result has been a great deal of work going into my Hadysh conlang. The big thing I’ve worked on lately was dialect. The reason is that two of the main characters of Sun-King speak Hadysh natively: Einar and Rozenn, but they speak different dialects. In the book this is represented with Rozenn speaking in an accent.

I chose a light, lowland Scots accent for her because there is some baggage that goes along with it. Semi-foreign but not in an exotic way, working-class, poor, tough, ready to rumble. I wanted that baggage to come along. However, Einar speaks a more “proper” dialect. His dialect is closely related to the “proper” dialect with only a few differences in the position of certain vowels.

All told there are nine dialects not including the “perfect” form I’ve been presenting here. No one speaks that dialect, just like no one speaks dialectless English. There is a dialect considered “proper” and a dialect considered “free” of regional variation, but that is a dialect – just the dialect we expect to hear on the radio.

There is a dialect that is closest to “perfect” and it actually considered by the characters of this world as a mark of low status – it is the language of those who live on the frozen edge of civilization. But that is true in most languages. The “correct” or “proper” forms are rarely chosen for their actual closeness to any proto-language. “Received Pronunciation” (Queen’s English) is no closer or further from Shakespearean English than any other – and that assumes we take Shakespearean as “proper” itself.

It’s not.

Languages are not proper – they are arbitrary. We assign everything through baggage. I would assert that “whom” is not correct English. If you use “whom” you are being a dick. You are trying to speak above people. Normal people speaking normal English do not use “whom.” Ergo, “whom” exists in a smart-ass dialect.

Apologies to any speakers of dialects that still natively contain “whom.” Also, we’re coming for you.

Like French, Hadysh uses the dialect of the capital as “correct”. I call this “Waldish” after the capital – Waldenhof. Just like “Hadysh” this is an English word to represent a foreign tongue.

So, in my interest, I’ve written up some phrases and how the two characters would say them. Most of this was to facilitate the creation of new grammar and vocabulary.

All of these are written in IPA, if you are interested in conlanging I strongly, strongly suggest you write in IPA for purposes of communicating your work and leave your self-created alphabet at home. A) IPA works on computers B) People will get it. Hadysh has some sounds that are weird, lets go over some of them:

/ç/ – This is like the “ch” in the German “ich”. It is similar to the “ch” in the Scottish “Loch” like Loch Ness, but it is devoiced so don’t let your vocal chords vibrate.

/x/ – This is the “ch” in Loch Ness. It is NOT a /k/ sound. It isn’t Lok Ness.

/ɹ/ – This is “r” as nearly every English speaker will say it.

/ɹ̝̠̊/ – Start with /ç/, now move your tongue closer to the roof of your mouth and begin to constrict airflow. Close enough.

/ʍ/ – Remember the “cool hwip” gag from Family Guy? That “hw” sound is /ʍ/ and used to be very common in English. It’s why “why” is spelled with an “h” in the middle.

/ɸ/ – Start by making /f/, now part and round your lips. Close enough. This should be like a controlled way of blowing out a candle.

/ð/ – It’s the “th” from “breathe”.

/θ/ – It’s the “th” from “thin”.

/j/ – The “y” in “yes”.

Learn the vowels on your own. They are going to get a bit complex and can be very, very dialect dependent. I generally refer to the German examples because High School and Uni forced “perfect” German on me, but my English is native, so I speak with a “strong” dialect.


I am [NAME]

[ɸat a (NAME)] – You

/ɸɛt ɛ çɪɹiə/ – Rozenn

/fat a nafjelən/ – Einar


What is your name? – Single, Informal “you”

[θjelg æs, de]? (Literally: How will I call you?)

/θjɪlk ɛs’d/? – Rozenn

/θjelg as, de/? – Einar


How are you? – Single, Informal “you”

[ɸat æs, de]?

/ɸɛt ɛs’d/? – Rozenn

/fat as, de/? – Einar


I am fine, thank you. – Single, Informal “you”

[ɸat a lʌx, jʊga ɪ æs]

/ɸɛt ɛ lʌx, jʊkɛ ɪ ‘s/ – Rozenn

/fat a ləç, jəga e as/ – Einar


Good morning.

[ʍæmli lʌx]

/ʍɛmli lʌx/ – Rozenn

/hamle ləç/ – Einar


Good afternoon.

[lælxwændʊ lʌx]

/lɛlxwɛndʊ lʌx/ – Rozenn

/lalçandə ləç/ – Einar


Good evening.

[lælɔðɹ̝̠̊en lʌx]

/lɛlɔðɹɪn lʌx/ – Rozenn

/lalɔðɹ̝̠̊en ləç/ – Einar


Good night.

[ɔðɹ̝̠̊en lʌx]

/ɔðɹɪn lʌx/ – Rozenn

/ɔðɹ̝̠̊en ləç/ – Einar


Cheers!

[kæk]

/çɛç/ – Rozenn

/kak/ – Einar


I am Rozenn, daughter of Leofric and the Great Sword of Macenburgh.

[ɸat a çeɹiə, tatiə jan pænðmʌhiɹd pe ɪlpæzɑxt jan zeʍədɹədʌɹɔɸə]

/ɸɛt ɛ çɪɹiə, tɛtɪə jɛn pɛnðmʌhɪɹd pɪ ɪlpɛzɔxt jɛn zɪʍədɹʌɹɔɸə/ – Rozenn


 

Nothing wrong with a bit of fun on that last one, aye?

Some interesting grammar bits to note:

First, even I screw up. I did on a previous post. I labeled “hunter” as [bʊfəd] but it is actually [bʊvəd].

Second, the copula does not conjugate. It is always [ɸat] regardless of the subject. This means it is always followed by a subject.

Third, questions follow the sentence they modify. So it would be a statement + , + question word. For example, in English, it would look like “You are, how?”

Fourth, Hadysh, from my first post, has shifted from SVO to VSO. Correct sentences from older posts as needed. As stated this is a growing and changing project that I do for fun instead of eating or writing. Both things far beyond fixing at this point. So I’m going to make some quick food and call it a night.

ɔðɹ̝̠̊en lʌx or oíche mhaith, motherfuckers.

 

 

Risk

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’ve been rather inactive on this site as of late?

Maybe you haven’t.

That was a pretty good article by Kirk, huh?

I wish I had some good news, but I don’t. Currently in the midst of a bit of an emotional low and having trouble doing anything, really.

Recently decided to get some extra first readers on-board to help the lonely, brave, figure in getting it all done and very quickly that blew up in my face. I mean, it was a bomb I set, primed, and then stood over – but it still blew up, surprising apparently only to me.

Anyway, Sun-King is decidedly not getting good remarks. And that is depressing.

Specifically it is the prologue and chapter one, two of the originally weak pieces that don’t seem to have gotten any better, in fact they seem to have gotten much, much worse.

But that’s the risk I took. I put it out there and I was hoping for positive feed back and… well… I got constructive feed back. I have a lot of work to do, especially as the fires spread deeper into the book. It might mean a second scrapping a second rewrite and right now… I’m not sure emotionally I can pull that off. Right now I’m very drained, stressed, unfocused, wanting to do anything but write but not wanting to let it fester too long. So instead of doing something, anything, I do nothing.

Next week is going to be hard with no one to vent on. Brigid is in Oregon for a writer’s workshop so I’ll briefly be living the life of a lonely man pining for some distant, green light.

Hopefully I don’t go into bootlegging.

Anyway so that’s what I’ve been doing these last four days. Slowly falling into a well of self loathing. Probably going to drag myself out of in the next few days. Hope to get some writing done when that happens.

Sláinte, everyone.

Hadyrland – Land of the Hunterfolk

Maidin mhaith, everyone

Yesterday I did no writing.

Yes, yes… shock and awe I’m sure.

I actually spent the entire day working on my map and doing some first reading for another author. The map, as it was on Friday, didn’t have any iconography – that is to say it was flat and didn’t have the neat little pictures of trees and mountains one expects from something like a map in a fantasy book.

But it did have features – colored features that helped me as an author understand the terrain I had designed. Mountains were brown. Deserts were yellow. Forests were a darkish green. &c &c &c.

The big problem is getting it to fit in a little, itty-bitty book. I am having a lot of trouble with that.

This new map, while wildly beautiful, is just as unfit for publishing as any of its predecessors. I need to keep working on this, but in the end the solution is clear to me: a tiny map with clear labels. That I can probably provide. So here is Hadyrland – with borders and  cities included.

Here is the full version.

Today I should be able to wrap up this whole map conundrum and move on. I’m still in a rut of writer’s block, so I’m trying to spend as much time not just starting at an unmoving word count as I can.

Not sure what needs to happen but if it keeps up I’ll probably do some gasp plotting before seeing if I cannot unstick myself.

Anyway, sláinte everyone. Enjoy your day.

ɹ̝̠̊ɔməkal

So I’ve been conlanging again instead of writing. I have some plot ideas, but I haven’t really worked them out and I’m not 100% happy with the last chapter end. So I’m doing some thinking away from just words and just in the world at large.

I am much slower coming up with new stuff then I am editing and reapproving old pieces of text.

So one of the things I do to get into the heads of my characters is try to think and talk like they do. Since this is a second world (that is, one that I’ve entirely made up) they don’t speak English, they speak in their own language – Hadysh (in English) or “ɹ̝̠̊ɔməkal” in their own language.

To help with that mouthful it would be like (HRAW-muh-kahl) and one would speak “vit ɹ̝̠̊ɔməkal” or “vi ʌt ɹ̝̠̊ɔməkal” (“in Hadysh”). I should point out, “vit” and “ʌt” cause softening to the following word, but the phoneme “ɹ̝̠̊” cannot be softened. For example if you wanted to say “in language” as in the medium you are using is language you’d say: “vit çalag” from “vit” (by means of) and “kalag” (language). “Vit” itself is a contraction of “vi” and “ʌt” essentially meaning “in the composition of” and the “kal” at the end of “ɹ̝̠̊ɔməkal” is a shortened form of “kalag.”

So here are some sentences that I’ve worked on. Remember that all of this is in “perfect” speech. Someone speaking this would be considered robotic or speaking the language well, but lacking any regional dialect or native slurring/morphing of specific sounds.


 

We walk to the lake in the forest.

ʃɔnəma ɪ mjθiɹd vi mɑgət.

SHAW-num-mah ih myih-THEERD vee MA-gut 


 

Tomorrow we’re going to hunt in a forest.

xwændalə θɪbʊfað vi nɑgət

CHWAHN-dahl-uh thih-BUHF-ahth vee NA-gut ( like in “Loch Ness”)


 

Certain speakers depending on dialect would change these to more regional.

One aspect compared to English is the compression of the future tense “are going to hunt” to just “hunt” except in the future-tense.

This also highlights the difference between the inclusive and exclusive we. In the first sentence it is inclusive (meaning speaker and listener). The second is exclusive (meaning speaker and not listener). In English we use context, but it can lead to confusion. For example, “We are headed to the lake!” Inclusively I could be telling everyone in the car where I am driving them. Exclusively I could be telling a friend my plans for a date with Brigid (which he is not a part of).

I’ve also worked a bit on more of the mutations, adding and subtracting. The newest addition is the “strange” mutations, which occur in creating compound words. So that adds the third – and likely last – tier of mutations (softening, hardening, and strange).

There is only one good example so far, those who have had a chance to read my drafts so far will understand a bit more context but here is how one little bit works.

The word “to hunt” is “bʊf” and to make it a doer of the verb (-er in English) it’d become “bʊvəd” after you apply the hardening of “f” to “v”.

A specific group of people in my story are the hunterfolk, the word for “folk” or “people” is “tsiað.”

Generally word order in descriptions is backwards of English, so “hunterfolk” would be “folkhunter” so “tsiaðbʊvəd.”

But both “ð” and “b” are voiced and it can be sort of a pain to try to pronounce them both without also inserting a stop. So something has to give. Strange mutation dictates that “voiced+voiced” yields “voiced+m” so it becomes “tsiaðmʊfəd.”

It can get more complicated like how “tsiað” is the plural of “person” (so literally “persons” or “people”) but you cannot pluralize “tsiaðmʊfəd” because it is a collective noun.

So the tsiaðmʊvəd of ædʌɹɔməç are ɹ̝̠̊ɔməçi and speak ɹ̝̠̊ɔməkal among the tsiaðɹ̝̠̊ɔməç.

Simple, right? Sláinte, everyone.

The 9 to 5 and the 5 to 9

As of late, I’m increasingly beginning to refer to writing as my second job. It was inevitable, but when my coworkers are so interested in why I hold to such a strict schedule at work they deserve an answer – my second job is calling.

Anyone working with me will quickly learn that I’m a very regimented person. I like my life to be very orderly and I like to be in total control of my schedule. I don’t like changing plans and do everything in my power to arrive exactly when I say I will. I’m not perfect. I misjudge traffic too, and I know other people are far from perfect so I’ll never hold someone being late against them.

But I hold myself to it and it kills me to show up at 7:02 when I said I’d be there “by 7:00.”

It kills me to show up at the parking lot at work at 6:32 when I know damn well I should be pulling in around 6:28 to get into the office at 6:30.

That is how I work.

My life is wake up, drive to work, work, eat, work, drive home, make coffee, do my Irish lessons, write, eat, write, shower, TV, and then sleep.

Day in.

Day out.

I like this. It actually does a lot to keep me calm and collected. But it means that at this point my life consists of two jobs: Ford and Writing. I obviously treat Ford more seriously, but writing is also a serious endeavor for me. If I don’t take it seriously others certainly won’t either.

So I call writing a second job, a second career. Hopefully “real” work will understand. I don’t spend time at work writing, I don’t spend time at home engineering.

Basically my writing schedule has not lessened at all and it’s starting to consume more and more of my time. Generally I’m okay with this. Video games were not a terribly important part of my life and I was becoming increasingly bored with many games. Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV are my two go-to games, but recently I start up and my thought is, I’d rather be writing.

So I write.

Because I’d rather be writing.

So I’m going to go write some more.

Damsel in Distress

Let’s court some controversy, eh?

This is an image on imgur, a place where free ideas are exchanged in that way that free ideas are exchanged on the internet in that it tends to be a gargantuan echo chamber full of people who like imgur.

I don’t mind imgur, it does make facebook really boring as my mum eventually shares George Takei’s page which is really just the best socially-conscience parts of imgur plus a few days. And I can’t fault anyone for that, don’t get me wrong I am not ragging on imgur, George Takei, my mother, or event these two tweets. Sorry for lying to you for your clicks. But they feed me.

What I do want to talk about is old tropes that are falling out of favor, why that might be, is that a good thing, and what if any of those tropes I have in my own writing.

First I want to expand the “damsel in distress” for the time being to the “noble in distress” as this was a very common tactic that anyone with a good knowledge of history can tell you. Kidnap and ransom have always been a huge part of how humans have fought one another. Hostages were often a part of peace negotiations and infamously while it was fine to cut down levy soldiers, you’d always want to leave the nobles alive – so that you could sell them back at a profit.

This plays out time and time again in history, for me most notably in Western Europe’s Hundred Year’s War and in Japan’s Sengoku Period. The thought was if you had a hostage, the hostage’s family would not harm you for fear that you’d first retaliate on their hostage. Other times hostages would leave with sympathies for kind captors and hopefully prevent future conflict. And of course, for the womenfolk, marriages were great ways of cementing alliances as well as building dynastic control.

These situations did not always end well and murder and “disappearances” were common. So to were attempts to recover said missing relatives for things such as “honor” and “glory” and “not liking the political disadvantages placed by having lost a hostage but also not wanting to just abandoned them because of honor and glory.”

Thus the existence of the “damsel in distress” trope is not surprising. It plays well to the the male wish-fulfillment that defined fantasy and genre for admittedly too long. Big strong lad, usually working alone, gets to rescue girl, maybe cop a feel, and be received as a hero having triumphed over evil. When broken down like that, when at its barest and driest, the damsel in distress trope moves into cliche and is rightfully something to deride.

Why does it have to be a male knight?

Why does it have to be a female in distress?

Why does romance have to be the result of rescue?

There are a lot of problems here but the problem doesn’t necessarily have to be feminist or sexual or anything like that. Often times the sexualization of damsels in distress isn’t intended but rather the by-product of lazy, half-assed, mindless writing.

I don’t get the feeling from Mario that it is sexualizing or attempting to downplay the role of women by the original having Peach trapped in the tower. It certainly looks that way in hindsight, but it is a product of its time. Mario would be backwards if made today, but you look at Mario today and just as often Peach is a main character. That is serious progress.

The downside is of course they stick to lame “rebuild the macguffin” cliche plots. Oh boy.

I am digressing, though.

The main issue with sticking to the “damsel in distress” trope is that too often people forget that the damsel is a character too, regardless if the damsel is infact even a damsel and not a… what is the male of a damsel?

Well… “damsel” is the feminine diminutive of dominus so… dom? Don? Fuck it. Let’s go with Don because “dom” has some… other… meanings.

So imagine the scenario of a person in distress. Too often they are essentially a cardboard cut-out who, with their little voice box taped to the back, coos and swoons for our gender-not specified main character.

And that’s really about it.

More recently, and this is where it gets tripe, there has been a movement that suggests that backstory = character. Legend of Zelda, Twilight Princess does this (in my opinion). Link has a significant other (not Zelda) and she is shown to have personality and backstory at the beginning. And then she gets kidnapped and ne’er more is it mentioned.

That’s just as bad! Honestly it is worse because it was like “I know this is wrong so if we throw some personality traits her way it is made okay, right? Then we can ignore her?” Its that whole cover-up is worse than the crime thing.

And for that series it is really all over the place. In Twilight the SO is interesting until she isn’t needed anymore, but at least Zelda and Midna are really strong female characters. And that is a huge plus (again to me). I’m not saying having a good character outweights a bad one, but having good important characters outweighs boring unimportant characters. Yeah, it sucks whats-her-face lost her personality to kidnapping, but in the end she was not an important character. So I guess it is okay?

I mean, think for a second if Midna was a shitty character. Then we start hitting some sour notes.

Actually, the more I think the less I want to do with talking about this game what with (thinks about Native American stereotypes shudders).

As I continue to ramble farther and farther down this trail, I should really cut to the crux of my problem and my point – the Damsel/Don in distress can be interesting – if the rescue isn’t the climax or if it is, the captured has gotten proper attention from the writer and reader.

I think the problem is the failure to create two sides of an otherwise interesting story. Interesting hero + boring villain + boring target character = cliche and boring story.  There has been some focus on sympathetic villains, which is good, but when we don’t see why the hero would rescue this person it sort of lends little weight to the story.

What if the hero doesn’t care about the target, but only the riches and fame? And not in that they’ll change their mind later way.

What if the target doesn’t like the hero? And not in that they’ll change their mind later way.

What if we take this rather dull story arc and relegate it to a subplot and  leave it there? What if we use it for characterization instead of climax? What if we…

Wait… Sam rescuing Frodo from the orcs.

There you fucking go. That is how you do the person in distress trope right.

Fucking eat your heart out.

Now I am not implying that I am the bestest writer evar. Or that my works are perfect, shining examples of it all done right, because they are not. There is a lot of saying and not doing here. That is essentially how a blog works.

In my own works I tend to use the common sense method. Or at least I think I do. My characters have gender, they aren’t like Ripley were you can essentially swap genders and still have them work beside the occasional remark. However I don’t go as far as Sam Sykes’ [highly sarcastic] remark to mention that the women are in fact women at least six times a page.

It exists. The characters exist within a society that has norms. It is a matter of fact, but that is where I draw the line. Just like I wouldn’t go on about most bodily functions (I mention urinating once and waste management once, both in “proper” ways I think), I don’t go on about a character’s gender unless it makes sense.

On of the main-est characters in Sun-King is Rozenn, who is a woman and a knight. She doesn’t completely fit in, but she isn’t rejected in her own society. There are reasons for that beyond it is a fantasy realm and the genders are equal and that is important to her character. She exists mostly within a man’s world. However I think I did a good job avoiding sexualizing beyond what a normal character would be like. She is flirty at times and reserved at others, just like any normal character or real-life human would be.

I mention her chest once and it was to characterize another character as a pig, so I think I can claim to be in the right there but perhaps someone will disagree.

But what about my male characters? Pretty much the same. I don’t on on about glistening muscles and big ol’ cocks. They exist within their societies as well and much in the same way. It is much harder to talk about how well I treat male characters because honestly our culture is much more used to male characters being treated well and female characters being defined more by what they are not than what they are.

Maybe I’m just shit at writing characters and that is what makes me so good at giving the genders equal attention and quality.

Anyway, for the most part I avoid the damsel in distress trope/cliche as much as I can because I didn’t have a chance where it actually came up in a way that wasn’t stupid. None of my characters are captured and held ransom – simple as that. It isn’t really an epic plot line, which is why Sam’s rescue of Frodo is so brief. One hero, one target, one locale, one arc. Done. Over.

Anyway. This is a long post and it doesn’t have any pictures so… um…

SMOKE BOMB

 

Oíche mhaith, motherfuckers.

Detroit City and a little Writer’s Postpartum Depression

This is probably going to be a bit more rambly than most posts on this site, but let’s go ahead and deal with it anyway. I have a few topics and I don’t think I can really make them stand-alone posts.

First – I’ve begun writing Book 2, which has already gone through a few working titles, but given that this is a total re-do we shall see what happens. Having previously written some 45,000-ish words in the previous version I already have a good sense of direction with this one. Hopefully I am not stuck too deep in the rails and I can move away from what I’ve got. Already two chapters have been condensed into what is now the prologue and the original prologue is actually the last chapter of Sun-King!

So yeah, that is off to a decent start but I had to say I’ve hit something I didn’t really expect – it really sucks to not be working on Sun-King anymore. Like really weird. Same characters, same settings, same general direction and it just feels like I am in some strange foreign land. If I had to guess I would assume I am suffering from the shock of having total control again. When editing and rewriting chunks of Sun-King I obviously had laid rail before and was generally following the plan if only soothing some corners out.

Now I have total control again and that is really “weird” to me. Maybe I just need a few days away from writing. Maybe I just need a few days back at the helm of creating rather than editing. Either way it was not something I expected and it has made today rather lethargic (among other things, not going there).

So that is where the postpartum comes into play. I really don’t like not working on it. Where is my baby? What is this blank sheet of a paper that I need to fill with brand new words? Fuck all this shit. Fuck it, I want to work on Sun-King some more.

But I can’t.

Or at least I shouldn’t. I need to move on. That is part of writing. Still. I miss it and I know in the back of my head another round of editing is still on the horizon.

O well. Moving on.

Soccer!

But Nick, the superbow-

Shut it.

Oh, so you’re watching the superb ow-

Shut it.

We’re talking soccer, because I care about soccer. I like gridrion. I care about soccer. It means stuff to me. Newcastle won. Celtic won. Kendal lost. And DCFC is moving forward.

Rumor has it that we are very close to running out of season ticket slots. It essentially implies we are on track to sell out every. single. game this summer. That is FUCKING AWESOME. If you disagree go fuck yourself. Little Detroit City, for whom I’ve had a place in my heart since day one.

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My friend Zak and I made those for our first game back in Season 1. I still have both and I just recently was talking with another fan and he mentioned a season 1 flag that was red with golden fleur de lis all over it. It was weird, strangely enough after the last few seasons, that this stood out. I’m really glad it did. It is a beautiful flag, it is too bad it isn’t mine (it is Zak’s even if I store it).

There is a lot going on. I can feel it. Then a few weeks the big news broke.

Check it out (25:30 in the cast).

The FO has been looking at moving up! This is great. I’m so glad to hear that and though I’m doing my damnedest to not get excited it is hard not to. Hard not to see it all paying off. Hard to not love what DCFC and the NGS have been able to put together from scratch. And from what I’ve heard Peter Wilt of the Indy Eleven is not a man who speaks lightly or rumormongers.

So fuck yes!

With tickets and the NASL in our sights, that leads to some speculation. Honestly my prediction is you won’t see DCFC on the field in the NASL until 2018 or 2020. We need a new stadium. We need major sponsors. We need major names. We need a lot of stuff, including potentially new owners who have the cash. That means a lot of growing pains and a lot of issues that might follow. The NGS might look good on paper but when so many FOs would rather have Sally DoGood and her three cum-sprites in the stands paying $10 for a hotdog with mustard each and Richy DoGood paying $12 for a can of Miller Lite; the NGS (and I’m going to quote Hot Time in Old Town):

THE NORTHERN GUARD IS WHERE FAMILY-FRIENDLY ENTERTAINMENT WENT SLUMMING AND GOT STOMPED BIKER-STYLE INTO INTENSIVE CARE

When one of your loudest mottos is “We’re ruining football and we don’t care” you aren’t a great target for rich, white suburbanites. Or at least that is what people thought until we sold out twice and nearly sold the entire allotment of season tickets three months before kick off.

The Northern Guard has a duty to stand between squatters and the club and ensure that despite ruining football, we don’t ruin DCFC as well. I don’t think that is really at risk. I can’t say with a straight face that DCFC is “less” because of the NGS. Less family friendly? Yes. Less TV friendly? Yes. But less? Less as a whole? Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

Tomorrow the season schedule should be out. There are some major mix-ups apparently. Then, Wednesday, we go to see Victory and grill the ownership at the Q&A. That will be mind-opening to say the least. Finally, Friday night, Midnight Madness as the NGS invades the try-outs.

This is a great week to be a DCFC fan.

Oíche mhaith, bitches.