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September 19th, 2005

10:19 pm: Rant on other worlds/alternate worlds
So! Some ideas about these concepts as they apply—in fantasy, not science fiction (though, properly done, fantasy could snitch ideas about these from SF. Why not? SF has snitched plenty from fantasy.)

Onwards! Outwards! Acrosswards! )

Ooh. And now I have license to write a rant I’ve wanted to write for some time: conlangs. *slobbers, drools*

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September 14th, 2005

09:14 pm: Neutral character rant
This is a rambly rant. I do not care. It is also a shorter rant, due to another case of “Hands hurting like hell.”

Making them neutral, keeping them neutral, turning them into friends )

Aaand the other worlds/alternate worlds rant is next.

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September 12th, 2005

05:45 pm: Rant on juxtaposed worlds
This means worlds with varying levels of technology and magic—cultures existing side by side, perhaps, but still not on the same technical level.

Of course these are perfectly plausible )

This isn’t rocket science, people, it’s plausible, non-generic fantasy.

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September 9th, 2005

07:27 pm: Rant on mute and non-speaking characters
Just a note: This rant includes all the types of non-speaking characters I could think of, not just those born mute.

Read more... )

Phew. That got longer than I expected, and more serious.

But at least the letter C is happy.

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September 7th, 2005

07:21 pm: Rant on non-angsty werewolves
I could write a rant about how boring angst is and how much prettier joy is, but instead I choose to write about non-angsty werewolves.

Because I can.

Because even werewolves are prettier when they don’t cry )

See? Aren’t smiling werewolves pretty?

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September 5th, 2005

02:55 pm: Rant on handling a large cast of viewpoint characters
The second of the rants [info]cinnamonical asked for, on handling a large cast of viewpoint characters. Note that I’m defining this as, probably, six or more, up into the double digits. The more you add, the more problematic it gets, and there are going to be problems with ten viewpoint characters that there won’t be with seven, but I don’t attempt to be that specific. There are still underlying similarities that I think can be teased out and used, and so I’m trying to tease them out and use them.

A cast of thousands—or at least ten or twelve )

I seem to keep saying “I will never do this again” when I work with a large cast of viewpoint characters, but I always wind up doing it again.

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September 4th, 2005

04:07 pm: Rant on elemental magic
For [info]cinnamonical, the first of two rants she asked for after she donated. I make fun of this system of magic a lot, so let’s see what I can make of it beyond that.

Elementary elementalism )

And next is handling a large cast of viewpoint characters, also for [info]cinnamonical.

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September 3rd, 2005

03:15 pm: Putting non-obvious bits of yourself in the story/characters
Huh. Well, okay, this is one of those rants, like the “ten alternatives” ones, where each item is short because each is obvious and I don’t have much to say about it.

Here’s hoping it’s still of use )

Yeah, I admit that if I tried to write an author who was exactly like me, she would be suspicious of authors who put bits of themselves into their characters with laser-like precision. That’s just the way it is.

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September 1st, 2005

06:15 pm: Magical families and making them non-irritating
Ah, another rant on a subject I am heavily biased against. Well, I shall attempt to restrain my bitchiness, although last time that seemed to result in more bitchiness than normal. Regardless.

Mama, mama, look! I have the lightning magic! )

When these work well, they work really, really well, and when they’re bad, they’re barfy.

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August 30th, 2005

10:08 pm: Making a protagonist into a hero
*stares at keyboard for a while*

Yeah, my definition is kind of over against the wall, given that I’ve lately started defining “hero” in negative terms and using “protagonist” or “main character” instead. So I have to try to praise something I don’t want to praise.

Oh, well, what the hell )

All right, I think the poor heroes have taken enough of a beating.

Not that inborn virtue idea, though. That can take more beating. *goes after idea with bat*

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August 28th, 2005

07:40 pm: International relationships rant
Not (perhaps sadly) about what happens when people from different nations become friends or fall in love, but about relationships between countries—from war to outright dominance of one by another, and everywhere in between.

Read more... )

…Well, that was depressing.

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August 26th, 2005

06:51 pm: Propaganda rant
Ooh, the propaganda rant! Here we go.

Read more... )

Propaganda-centered fantasy would be a great way to write about messages and even give them without writing message fantasy. I’m surprised that more people don’t use it.

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August 24th, 2005

09:47 pm: Beings of extreme power rant
I apologize for the simplicity of this rant. However, I think a large number of mistakes that people make in handling BOEP’s (Beings of Extreme Power—and no, do not ask me how to pronounce that acronym) happen not because the topic is so difficult, but because authors start out with a number of assumptions and attitudes that condition the background of their fantasy worlds, and thus their writing.

*Limyaael beats people about the head with fish*

When you write fantasy, there is no law that says any particular attitude needs to stay the same, and that includes attitudes about power. Sure, they can be the same if you want them to be, or if that will make for a better story. But don’t just assume they have to be. A great deal of “truth” about BOEP’s is cliché, not natural law.

So here we go )

This is not hard, not really. What makes it so is that damn network of assumptions that make people think previous authors have explored all possible ways of writing BOEP’s and that cliché is law, instead of both of them being a set of suggestions.

This is freedom. This is power. Both can be taken and used as wisely as any magic you give your characters.

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August 22nd, 2005

07:23 pm: Showing your viewpoint character as not 100% correct
This advice is intended mostly for stories or novels where there’s just a single viewpoint character. If you have multiple ones, I maintain that the simplest and easiest way to show that one of them is wrong is having another comment on the same event or object or situation with a different perspective.

If you can’t do that... )

And did some people say “beings of extreme power” was next? Why, yes, in fact, I think they did.

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August 18th, 2005

06:01 pm: Idiot plots, and how to avoid them
I used to think I had no idea what an idiot plot looked like. Then I read a nearly purebred example that impressed me with how diligently and carefully the characters acted like idiots, to make every possible event in the story come off as contrived and layered with stupidity.

I will point out right here that if your plot only works because your characters act like morons (when they are not actually supposed to be), you are writing an idiot plot story. If that’s all you need, you can go on your way right now. You don’t need to read the rant.

For the rest of you, come on in )

And, oh, yes. I’m back. *runs about answering comments*

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August 10th, 2005

06:40 pm: Serious optimism rant
The last rant of the poll, and one I’ve been turning around in my head for a bit now.

“Serious optimism” is one of those Really Cool Things I’d like to see more of in fantasy—not clichéd morals, nor Impending Doom turned by a loophole or deus ex machina, but a story with heavy flesh that yet steps lightly. The author who provides the purest example I can think of is Terry Pratchett, in his last few Discworld books, but I think the principles can be generalized.

Serious optimism )

Poll post up in a while.

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August 7th, 2005

04:05 pm: On escaping the arranged marriage trap
This was the one I was dreading, but then, when I thought about it, I realized I had a whole bunch of ideas I’d never considered—not only about why most stories with an arranged marriage in them don’t work for me, but how to make them work.

*examines brain cautiously* Sometimes, I have no idea what’s in there until I write it down.

Escaping the forked stick )

Why was I scared of that again?

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August 5th, 2005

04:35 pm: Nonhuman-centric worlds
Once again, two rants with equal numbers of votes. Once again, choosing the one I want to do more, because the arranged marriage one is currently scaring me.

Where the humans are the squatters... )

You’ll probably notice more burble than rant in there. So don’t care. Intelligent nonhumans are still the number one way to attract me to a fantasy book, and the more varied and in-depth they are, the more I like ‘em.

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August 3rd, 2005

07:00 pm: Taking inspiration from literature
I suppose I ought to add “and literary history” to the title, since this rant is also about that.

Whee! )

That’s a lot more links than I usually give, but this is one of those rants where I can’t restrain myself from giving specific examples. I can see fantasy doing so much with these kinds of themes, without even breaking a sweat. I wish I could walk into a bookstore and find tons of books like this right now. Fantasy’s fantasy, sure, and a genre, and the little stepsister of science fiction, and the descendant of fairy tales and epics and myths, but it’s also writing, and there’s an awful lot to learn by reading what came before and taking inspiration from that.

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August 1st, 2005

04:59 pm: Silence and its uses
Since my guiding theme this time is more of a, well, theme, rather than object or persona or type of behavior, this rant is more scattered than usual.

The sound of silence )

That…bit quite a lot harder than I expected it to. I suppose that I’ve just read too many books that had stupid silences oiling an incredibly stupid plot.

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