beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've been thinking on my latest fantasy world, as per usual, and therefore making AU versions of assorted characters, mostly from the Flash. We've got STAR labs too, it's just doing magical research.

So I was thinking what the characters are there for.

Read more... )

And to make the story go right now there's a !Wells, Bear, Hart, Cat and Ram. An overriding purpose, with an absolute opposition, a snarky one who cares what people think, someone who is mostly don't, and someone who is mostly can. But I don't want to put all the deciding in the same place as the Flash. Even though I can see exactly how I could.

I want to put me in there, making choices, weighing things up. Because there's never anyone on TV who thinks like I would.

Don't know if anyone would want to read that.

Guess if I ever wrote it I would find out.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Today I looked up the etymology of Tory and Whig, and then started trying to find lists of more stuff like that, because fun.

Turns out it more or less means the Plunderer or Outlaw and Country Bumpkin parties.

Which I had heard but wasn't sure I quite believed until I saw it in respectable etymology. Because they called themselves that. Like, not at first, but for ages they happily owned it.

So all these fantasy politics stories that make up ordinary sort of color and animal names for political parties? Not going hard enough. Turns out you should start with Monster Raving Loony Party and then pretend they got elected a few hundred years ago and everyone got used to it.

Though if you do go animal mascot, the US Whigs were apparently Raccoons, so now I'm having some very Guardians of the Galaxy related mental images. I mean, if you're going to have a fantasy race, Rocket makes a perfectly reasonable prototype, they don't all have to be green. ... look like Rocket, called Whigs... *blinks a lot*

I also decided to have a party called the Salmons, who are the Everyone Go Back Where You Came From people. ... because calling them kippers is too much local.

Your basic yellow bird party is staying though, because then you've got the Canary family, big political movers of Central and the Middle Lands.

Though Canaries, around here, means the football
whose colors are truly eye watering when used to decorate a whole building. ... high school let students vote on how to decorate the new block. Mistaaaaaaake. disambiguation page says it was a dance too. Nifty.

The reason Norwich are called canaries is pretty cool, wiki page says "the city of Norwich had long connections with canaries owing to its 15th and 16th century links to Flemish weavers who had imported the birds to the Low Countries from the Dutch colonies in the Caribbean." Said weavers are the Strangers that Strangers Hall in Norwich is named for,

So to get the name of a football club you've gone through a whole history of religious refugees and the economic history of Norwich, which was a powerhouse in its day, especially in textiles. Religious tension, extremism, international politics, and jobs. History is awesome.

And if I'm pulling a fantasy AU version of the Canary family that's a pretty detailed one right there.

It's all well and good writing the fantasy history of wolves vs lions in big wars, but the little birds were so much more interesting because varied. Fighting is fighting, but it's a tiny fraction of the full business of civilisation.

... and now I'm wandered off to read more history. There's always so much I don't know where to start.

But today I started with etymologies of Tory, and it was so interesting I'm now pouting I can't find a simple list of such nicknames, to plunder for writing purposes.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It is Cleaner Day
so I have to be awake until there is a cleaner and they work and go away
but I do not have to like it.

I mean I like the part where things get clean
ugh, awake.

So post apocalyptic societies Read more... )

Economies have a lot of story in them. I know I go straight from post apocalypse economics to zombies and magic but it's plenty complex enough for plot without. Actually that's part of the appeal of magic, there's a rulebook and we can say what the effects are without multiple degrees, because it's all handwavium.

Except it wouldn't be once you had established parameters. Magic would be just another factor in a thriving economy.

It's easier to control the magic use by thinking of ways it just wouldn't do the thing, but it's more fun to try and see what it would do, if the thing got easy.

I still have to be awake some more but I don't think I'm having great insights.

I'll go do something else.

plot click

Apr. 18th, 2017 03:02 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
as well as being a nice bit of wish fulfilment to kick things off with
and a geographic fixed point to draw the characters to
I just figured out how my magic item moves the plot along

I love it when a plan comes together.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It bothers me when writers use holy items without regard to the theology of that particular religion.

I mean sometimes it's because different denominations can't agree which way is up, let alone what's the significance of this, that and t'other.

And sometimes it's just being rude.

But it bothers me because it's sloppy storytelling, bringing up all these associations and then just shrugging them off because Our Thing Is Different.

The specific associated theology implies morality implies which actions make our heroes heroes. They can go with or against that, but to have it hanging around ignored is... tacky.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I was reading a string of Moffat quotes on the topic of recasting the Doctor as a woman. He maintains that you never cast just A Woman, because you never cast A Man, you'd only do it if you had someone specific in mind. Which I maintain is how we get more straight white men everyone has seen before, and never enough of the rest of us, so it's dangerous bollocks.

But. His other point was to wonder if we, the audience, are ready yet. His question is Would the viewer accept her as The Doctor?

And, wrong.

That is the wrong question.

The question is, How do we make them accept her as The Doctor? Better yet, how do we make them love the Doctor?

And the answer to that is the same as every other time.

You have them walk on and Be The Doctor.

Twelve climbing out the window because 'Me', listening to a dinosaur, being so so sorry, caring so much, and being brilliant. Eleven rolling up all faster than light travel with two diagrams and a joke, whoever I am I'm a genius. Is this world protected? (Ten has declared it so.) I'm the Doctor. Basically, run. (Run for your life, says Nine to Rose.) And every other time we meet him for the first, eighth, seventh, so on and so forth times, though I think Eleven did it with the most style.

Every single time, every single episode, every time you meet you've got to sell two things: This is The Doctor, the definite article, and the Doctor is the most amazing being you will ever meet.

So you bring on the new cast, sure, and to sell the transition you have someone who already knows him, and to sell the Doctor you have someone falling for him for the very first time. Not romantically, at least not until recently and I don't consider it an improvement. That feeling that this is the single most interesting person in any room, and you could follow them anywhere. All of time and space, yeah, but it's who you travel it with who matters.

So there's the new Doctor and the old Companion and the new audience identification figure companion the second, bewildered but bewitched.

And there's not one word of that that changes if you change her gender. Not one line.

I'm the Doctor, I'm a genius, and this is defended.

If you can't sell that you've no business writing Doctor Who.

... and we had Clara selling that, which was interesting. But you don't get the structural shift in center until you move the white man out of it, so, it has to be the Doctor.


And the thing is, every writer, every fanfic writer, but novels and audios and episodes too, has to sell us the same thing every single time. Or else fail to convey why this is Doctor Who and not some other thing with the serial numbers swapped.

And funnily enough they do it pretty frequently.

So I just don't see the argument. I don't give a monkeys if you think the audience won't swallow it cold. Cook the blooming banquet and serve it to them at such a pace they're asking for it by the time it gets to table. Make us feel it, and we'll believe. That's what writing is about.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I do not know how to be helpful when people are in a bad brain place
but I think it might involve writing more stories.

Like, Owen Harper on a rooftop was helpful. But a random person just saying to think about a hot cup of tea is really unlikely to be helpful. You kind of have to go on that whole journey through some very dark places to get to where it matters when he says maybe, just maybe, there's a light.

But it's difficult thinking how to put a story together. Like, I can remember feeling bad, and on the bad days that's most of what I can remember, but then I don't feel so bad any more. As just a thing that happened over time. Like, there's not a magic sword I can pass on. Just... I don't know, standing with Jack up on a rooftop waiting for a sunrise. Things get better. And just saying that doesn't seem terribly helpful when they are not in fact currently better.

It also matters that these people matter before they say the encouraging hopeful thing. I mean, the difference between some random officer and Aragorn is we've followed Aragorn halfway across their world and seen all the places he's been and the things he's done, so if he says to stand and have some hope, he knows of what he speaks.

Being a random person on the internet who sees someone having a bad night and wants to say something encouraging cannot have quite the same emotional heft.

Even if I ever could think of something helpful to say.

So if I'm going to be helpful, I have to think of a story full of characters a reader can identify with and or look up to as they go through the toughest stuff and survive.

... well it's good to have goals...

But also they don't necessarily need a big speech, they just need someone reaching out and saying we can get through this. And it being true.

So identifiable characters, metaphor demons of identifiable problems, and solutions that involve the power of friendship and stubborn free will.

Ingredients list.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I have written 2500 words of fic

It is not the fic I set out to write
It is much more miserable and angsty
and I have only the vaguest idea of how to fix it.

also as a story it only very tenuously connects to those bits of canon I've managed to absorb as spoilers, and will be super jossed by next tuesday.

but I wrote quite a lot of words in a row, for me.

Only I think they'll piss off everyone? Like, they start with the teensy tiny unfortunate point that the OTP tend to beat each other up and knock each other out and so forth, and then, like, foregrounds that, and compares it to the relevsnt family history of abuse. and like, if people like the pairing, they probably don't want their problems all front and center like that? and if they don't like it then they wouldn't read. And it's doing stuff with time travel and memory that makes them not even the canon guys anyway, not exactly. and I'm not sure who in the world would read it and like it.

I should probably go back to the other much more naked idea I thought I was writing when I sat down. There's always readers for naked.

but I've got my characters stuck up the tree and now have very little idea how to get them down, which doesn't hardly seem fair. can't leave them like that...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
You ever sit down to write and realise you need to know how taxes work in your alternate universe?

I do not know from taxes in the real world. I don't know accountancy. I happen to have read a couple of engaging fics lately where a character was an accountant - Coulson and Cold I've seen written that way. So I know there are badass things to do when you follow the money and/or hide the money for a living.

But how the heck did Roman taxes work? Probably lots of different ways, since Roman covers a heck of a lot of time and geography. I read one web page about it and realised I need new vocabulary and a larger book.

And how did taxes work in the middle ages, or right before and after the Black Death? Whenever I get to that bit in the fantasy AU where there are sticks of Cure Disease that work then the whole of history takes a sharp turn. That would change all kinds of everything. What even were taxes then?

And then there's the thing where I sat down to write a medievalish fantasy using my vague knowings from those three textbooks I read, but I keep being distracted by knowing that, with those three agricultural spells, crop yields would be much closer to modern than that, and could support a population level way up near the industrial revolution. You get more food from less land with less effort, you need fewer people spread out doing the farming, you get more people more concentrated, there's room for education and specialisation, innovation happens.

A world where magic works is a world where plague and famine are not major factors, unless mages are weird somehow.

It ought to advance further with fewer setbacks. Even if most of that advancement is new spells. A magic using society shouldn't look medieval for long.

So what does that do to the taxes? How did tax law evolve, why did it do that, and how much had to do with advances in information technology like fancier bookkeeping?

And then, of course, I've skipped some important questions, like what size of what kind of powers are even collecting said taxes, and then I need to figure what they're even doing with them.

And all this I need to know because my character wants to roll up and set up a trading business, and what would that even involve? Do they have to register a unique company name with companies house? since when is companies house a thing? what's a limited liability company when it's at home anyway?

... the only fiction I've read where it focused on trading, either the characters were caravan guards, or the dude learned everything he knew by being a waiter in a coffee shop. They were not especially legally focused, is what I'm saying. And I don't even know enough to write either thing. Though I can guess which bit of the library to find relevant books in.

And Law... does anyone do conlaw the way there's conlang, or is that just international comparative law? I mean there's a lot of countries, there's got to be a bazillion ways to rule on anything. Picking one particular part of the world to base your alternate universe on could mean just using a law system that is not usually in English and/or differs from American TV Stereotypical in some significant respect, thus making it all spooky new. Or you could pick a legal ruling that could have gone either way and tip tilt. But that's a whole huge thing.

I mean mostly even fiction full of rogue characters doesn't get into too much detail about what laws precisely they're breaking. Nicking stuff and killing people seems fairly self explanatory.

But because my brain is a weird place, one of my characters just turned up to take possession of their nice new plot of land, and they discover it no longer has topsoil. That seems like a law courts sort of a thing, there. Like, excuse me, but we were awarded land, not land minus the top four inches. And all the plants went away with the previous owners, leaving the new guy with a serious erosion problem along his riverbank that's going to annoy the neighbours fairly swiftly. What kind of law applies there? Just because a magic user can make the plants get up and follow them doesn't mean legally speaking they should, is what I'm saying.

But I am not only not a lawyer, I have zero books read that could be even vaguely relevant. I only even thought of it cause I was house hunting and one new build had a dirt around it that did not feel like garden and apparently was failing to support even grass, and mum said topsoil probably sold for moneys before they built there. And in a 'verse where magic like Create Earth and Purify Earth can make topsoil out of nothing (which is absolutely a huge big deal, they can terraform bare desert i they feel the need, topsoil usually takes between decades and centuries and they can make it in seconds, how is it rpg magic never understands which bits it can do are huge... er this is a lot for a bracket what was I talking about...) ... oh, yeah, if magic could replace the soil in a jiffy, maybe the law thinks it's as trivial as taking your carpets with you. Or maybe it's meant as a deliberate challenge for the new residents, lets see how well they can put their place in order. Except only half the team arrives in one piece, so story ensues.

I need to know property law and who can own land and how, because I vaguely decided the place was a park but the keep has given it to the new couple, but that's, like, enclosing the commons, or something, unless the keep was letting the town wander around a lady's private garden, and either way, big changes. And I need to decide how Morgan even got the land. How does anyone get land? I decided only women own land, because why not, and the difference between a woman and a Lady was the difference between leasehold and freehold, and you have to qualify to be a Lady by being able to do some basic magic. That's an interesting set of starter conditions. But then I need to actually build law about that. I mean, may e the land is always stripped, so a new Lady proves she can Hold it all by moving in and making it alive? But that's a hell of a waste of earlier effort, that doesn't seem quite right.

And of course this is all the questions I know I need to ask myself. The ones I don't know I don't know will come back to bite me, I'm sure.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Today I started writing but it was just not coming alive
and I realised I hadn't figured the game mechanics or the in world economics well enough to know what actually happened.
So I've read a bunch of GURPS rules to come up with my preferred flavour of arbitrary numbers, and now I know how magic hospital works.
It involves a very specific reading of how one optional spell from Thaumatology works, and how Ceremonial Magic can maintain a spell forever, and how that means you can bank energy for later as long as enough people keep a dance going.
I have to handwave prerequisites or set up new ones, but there's rules for systematically ignoring the rules, so they'll have that covered. It's mostly about keeping the number the same, so that's straightforward, just say any 14 spells in addition to Lend Energy... simples!
... this world is not simples.

But once I've applied my imaginary numbers I work out that getting Alter Body done costs a maximum of two weeks working for the hospital, donating your FP to heal or Alter other people.
And then I know why my character is walking out alone
and roughly what they've been doing and for how long
and why the story was grinding gears.
Two weeks knowledge of the city due to helping out in hospital is going to get you a different knowledge base than a new arrival would have.

Also the other character in an earlier scene has prepaid, so they have two weeks apart to be all anxious about things.

And since you can see all the major locations of the City around the central plaza, either hospital has no outward facing windows, or my character has already spent down time staring at the other buildings and the great big building site.

So, I need to start somewhere else and write a different thing
because the arbitrary rules I pick and mixed say so.

... I actually find this fun, and also a great excuse to read instead of making word count.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Today a whole bunch of worldbuilding choices I'd picked because they seemed shiny at the time
came together to explain my what my characters are even doing, and why it's essential to their world.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
How to swear in three different languages. Badly, of course. But, swears in Latin, Greek and Hebrew were acquired.

Latin was so far the easiest to find. Romans had opinions.

I have also learned the word count button in Open Office on my computer does not want to count words. I mean, it's fine, I don't need to know, I logically can survive without... but it says it's either 750 or 1200 words I did today, and I'm sulking because I'm sure I worded real good and it should tell me so.

... actually the words are not very good, I started in the wrong place even if it's a good visual, logically I should delete the paragraphs before the main character hits the screen or else it makes the ship look too important for this stage of the story, but I have so seldom made words I'm just keeping these. so.

I have decided the only way to break a three year writers block is to discard all standards and just write whatever is in my head, then treat it as raw materials. All first drafts, when written, are perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist. Once it does it can be sculpture or canvas or scaffolding, but until it does it's sheep in the mist and no use to anyone. So. I shall word.

this time for reals.

beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So I idly invented an alternate gender system for a fantasy world, because everything being the same is boring

so in my world, nobody is assigned a gender, gender and bodies has nothing to do with each other, people just choose to be a man or woman or person and can stay a person their whole lives or switch as many times as they want.

So then I go to populate this world
and I keep gendering everyone
by binary gender.

I made this stuff up and I keep failing at it.

I decided my main character is nonbinary and I keep typing she.

I feel like a fraud.

It's like my brain is so thoroughly colonised I can run through it with a burning flag yelling 'no masters' but in five minutes I'll be back to doing the same old shit anyway.


Some of it is because I'm populating it fanfic style and just throwing characters at it to see where they'd fit, but of course in the source they're basically binary gendered, and basically all cis and not fluid, and then they just end up staying the same and my world is disproportionately white guys again. Which is daft, because I just made it up, it should not be white guys.

Some of it is because it's one thing to set out to disrupt gender by using unfamiliar pronouns or singular they, and quite another to get your fingers to remember. Singular they bugs me, you lose data, but there I am using ambiguously general you and that doesn't bug me, so it's just habit.

Also the per/per/pers/perself pronoun set is tempting but the first per doesn't fit, we have she he they in that slot already, so clearly it should be pe, which is then unfortunate. It can't be Phe because that changes the P sound weirdly, and Peh belongs to another set.

I'm better at typing ze but for some reason best known to my subconscious it doesn't feel like it belongs in this verse.

So just, in general, thanks brain.

I shall type a first draft and then fix it later.

But seriously, gender is weird.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm trying to think of a plot, rather than just a bunny
but I put the me-alike in this story so basically they want to go around being brilliant and making everyone adore them
and that's fine as personal goals go, it's a dash of Prove To Them All and a whole heaping helping of ... like romance, but a lot of those are about deciding who to choose, and this is more like trying to be chosen, which is difficult because I am the author and everyone will sleep with anyone if I say so but then there is not drama and tension so I'd have to have like obstacles in the way but I want everyone to like me.

... so, this is why self insert fic goes poorly.

But okay, prove to them all plus looking for love, probably trying to bower bird this stuff, wants to build the good place, those are goals.

but now I've got to decide on things like flaws and obstacles and why this character wouldn't cooperate immediately and it's all just very personal.

so then I take the me alike out of the story again and go do fanfic ideas
but then there continues to be nobody like me in stories.


Read more... )

All this is personal stuff though. It is surely easier to have the sort of plot where they need to punch the thing and then they punch it so good everyone likes them. Or yet another story that is basically about miscommunication and low self esteem and as soon as someone asks someone out they win.

... instead I want to enlighten all the bad guys. *sigh*

I have a bunch of potential story parts but if I take it apart to see what the attractive fantasy is I then feel silly and like probably they should just date a good person in the first place. Like, fixing people is not a good thing, because hello problematic definitions.

... but the bad guys would frequently be so hot if they stopped randomly killing people to fix their feelings.
... or, you know, are hot, leaving the attracted to feel bad unless they can better version them.

Okay, but, if the demon isn't a demon demon but instead is, like, Magneto for demonkind? Like he's trying to better the lot of his people, his people are just kind of screwed because they're possessing entities from a plane of raging energies that make it hard to hold intelligence together so it was shut away from the material, except some intelligences developed there or maybe developed after they got let in here, so they know it sucks there and rocks here. So he's trying to bring his people home, out of chaos into form. He has a useful and constructive and understandable goal. That would probably destroy human life as we know it. So then he has a problem and we can help think of a solution, but he might get in his own way because of being bitter and resentful and wanting revenge and stuff, so he needs to be a better person before this will work. But it could work. He'd just need to talk his people into being tok'ra instead of goa'uld. And then they wouldn't have to invade, they'd just have to explain how symbiosis is clearly a better idea.

Which leads to sexy persuading that letting someone in is a good thing.

But held still have a backlog of being angry and kind of a dick so he might screw up and drive his friends away sometimes and then have to be a better person and earn his way back.

like if everyone abandons and betrays, and he has an opportunity to use it to get revenge, but instead he turns up and is helpful.

I mean if the opportunity is to help his people and he chooses romance instead then that's a different level of problem not an actual solution. maybe he can do that and be a different kind of selfish by over correcting and his partner can demonstrate how right for him they are by being the one to actually help more of his people?

then I get to be most awesome. I like that part.

except obviously as author I'm also the characters screwing up a lot. I never like that part.

story is difficult.


Oct. 29th, 2016 01:15 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Poll #17718 Pronouns
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 8

Which pronouns do you recognise

View Answers

E, Em, Eir, Eirs, Emself.
3 (42.9%)

ou, ou, ous, ous, ouself.
0 (0.0%)

per, per, per, pers, perself.
2 (28.6%)

they, them, their, theirs, themself.
7 (100.0%)

ze, zim, zir, zirs, zirself.
7 (100.0%)

Which would be best to use in a fantasy story where gender at birth is 'person'

View Answers

E, Em, Eir, Eirs, Emself.
1 (12.5%)

ou, ou, ous, ous, ouself.
0 (0.0%)

per, per, per, pers, perself.
3 (37.5%)

they, them, their, theirs, themself.
4 (50.0%)

ze, zim, zir, zirs, zirself.
0 (0.0%)

I'm pretending I'll start writing again any time soon, and this one 'verse I've been thinking on just doesn't assign gender, they wait until someone declares themselves. So I've been wondering if to stick with 'they' or to make it more obvious something unusual is going on by using unusual words. Except not always recogniseable are the unusual words. So, poll.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm reading a thing from an actual screenwriter dude and it's increasingly bugging me
and I was trying to work out why
because it's first glance uncontroversial to say a protagonist should have both global and personal stakes.
Thing explains personal stakes are what make the audience emotionally connect, because easy to understand one small story and systems level is difficult.

But then I read the examples
and it's like
hero can't just hero because hero.
Cannot just do good because doing good is good to do.
Cannot just decide that if nothing we do matters then the only thing that matters is what we do.
Kindness is never its own reason.

To give them personal stakes the way this professional screenwriter is suggesting means the protagonist isn't doing things to help the world except coincidentally as a way of helping people he cares about.

And if this is dominant common sense for screenwriters then suddenly I understand why they keep making everyone Batman, because dead parents are the damsel you can never save.
Give them a living personal stake and the story gets stuck with a finite goal or a repetitive one. Give them relatable issues about the one they failed to save, and everything is personal forever, but never actually resolved.

So. Problem. Personal is not the same as important and making all the heroes only care because they're already involved makes them very small.
Plus the go to way of doing so involves fridging people a lot.

On Desire

Oct. 18th, 2016 02:24 am
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I have been reading, and watching, and listening stories, and I have been thinking
and my thought is
Laurell K Hamilton books are better than I thought.

Yes, even the one I gave up after, where the detective part of the plot got forgotten about until the bad guys literally sent them a note about it at the end.

They are better because
I am sick of love triangles.

I mean, I'm especially sick of the weird little dance where a woman has to choose between two men without doing anything so forward as actually actively desiring them, and the contortions even erotica can go through to avoid a woman owning her own desires,
but right now I am most thoroughly annoyed how the only solution allowed when someone has much
is to want less.

Just, really? Really? This dance of assorted threes can be kept up for years, yet somehow that's only ever a bad thing?


Want *all* the loves!

Keep them!

Desire as much as pleases you and get your lucky, lucky hands on every last one!

And hey, maybe simplify the scheduling by having them want each other too. Efficient *and* pretty.

For goodness sake, when someone has a big speech about how 'there were always three people in this relationship' why don't they *ever* just buy a bigger house? It doesn't even have to be queer, though obviously my happy place has opinions on that. Just act like grown ups and make three people happy instead of one and a half miserable!

And, yes, continuing this pattern over multiple iterations does make leaving room for the plot a task for advanced writers, but for goodness sakes, it can hardly be more of a challenge than making every single relationship an unhappy love triangle, and the CW manages that pretty consistently.

I mean there's times where imposing monogamy makes absolutely zero sense within verse logic, like on Lost Girl where having to choose between two lovers still meant one of them would have to ignore all the other sex Bo was having, and left said sex substantially less convenient and more dangerous, yet necessary for feeding and healing purposes. Writing about a bisexual succubus who refuses to choose and yet imposing as close to sequential monogamy as possible on her happily ever after was nonsensical and vastly unsatisfying.

Choose everything! Be everything! Refuse to leave anyone out!

... *sigh* ...

I know, it's hardly likely to happen when we can't hardly ever get men kissing or women's relationships treated as relationships rather than throwaway eyecandy, and both are almost always tragedies

but really

so many possibilities that harm none
and yet culture so seldom goes there.

Fanfic is not exempt.
The one fic I read that decided someone's canon clumsy romantic overtures were actually on behalf of his sister was uniquely special
but I am so tired of the thing where we find out half the OTP is married
and instead of gleefully playing with new canon and what kind of OT3 we have here
we ignore it.

So many wonderful women screwed over by so much canon, do we really need to do it again just to queer the pretty?

Want everyone. Get to keep everyone. See how that can possibly work.
There's story in that for years.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So a while back, while reading about European history, I decided that I'd never invent a world with no Jews
because many people across millennia have done their best to make a world with no jews and I do not ever want to be on their side.
(This is part of what is creepy about future worlds like a couple of centuries away without religion. How do they think they get that? Did the world wake up with amnesia?)

Which is a grand declaration, especially given my ongoing lack of actually doing writing, but then I have to do, like, work and thinking and stuff.

Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
google is frustrating me. I was inventing pantheons for fantasy worlds, and the AD&D book said that Luck is usually a Lady, so of course I wanted to flip that. So I was thinking of all those Lady Luck pin up girls and tattoos and so forth, and now I want something like that, but with a guy. A pretty, slutty guy, because we know Luck is a tease who everyone wants.

And I can't find even the basic concept.

Google keeps on asking if I actually mean bad luck.

No, no I do not, I mean genderswap Luck, rule 63 Luck, possibly queer Luck depending on if you assume the viewer is a guy because somehow the flirty show off guys seem to read queer because straight guys don't work it (ugh).

But I don't know how to get a search engine to cough up, even if such a picture exists.

I would at this point settle for a particularly butch Lady Luck, but searching on that kind of string leads to the discovery that there's a lesbian dating service called Lady Luck, which, good name, great, but not what I was looking for. Today.

Meanwhile all this worldbuilding is, as per usual, far less useful than just sitting down and taking some characters for a walk would be.

I have a problem with bad guys. Or antagonists even. I mean, I sit down and try and make a world that works, and that part is interesting, but then I have to break it so there's some sort of conflict, and that part is less good. I'm interested in trade routes that cross continents and bring new and interesting diseases with them, and the inefficacy of castles in the face of rising maintenance costs and how the force projection embodied in the architectural projects of Edward I kind of stalled out before the Black Death even got here, and of course after that everyone had a great many more problems. I kind of want to write a post apocalyptic after the plague story where only 20% of the known to the characters world survived. Except I don't like post apocalypse stories because they tend to be mean. And I don't know what my characters would do really.

This is why Fantasy invents dragons. Actual problems tended to be weather patterns and droughts and floods and plagues. The occasional invading horde could manage it because of unusual weather and got turned back when everything went muddy again. Empires rose until smallpox swept through. What humans do doesn't seem to be the deciding factor across much of history. So, dragons. We can at least kill a really big lizard. For the win.

... okay, bolshy kings did make a significant impact on history. I'm just... increasingly unconvinced it was the deciding factor. Yaay for antibiotics and the green revolution.

The potential post antibiotic post global warming epic soil erosion era is quite concerning.

The more I read magic books, the more I feel the Plant college would make more of a difference than anything else could do. I mean, the ability to control minds is all very well, you could puppet a king real good, but the ability to fill your fields real fast is a world changer.

... I think it was one of astolat's Merlin fics that went there, pointing out that full fields win wars? Yeah, , The Crown of the Summer Court, "This isn't a power that wins challenges. It's a power that wins wars."

That story managed to be interesting with pretty much no bad guys. I know it can be done. I just... haven't got the hang of it.

Also, it's a demonstration of my priorities that my recent reading and extending knowledge is just making me cranky that I haven't turned it into fiction yet. Learning is good in and of itself. I should keep that in mind.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Been reading fanfic... aaand even saying that is kind of like 'been breathing some more lately'
been reading fanfic with sex scenes that made me think.

Second one brought into focus what I didn't like about the first one.

In both one guy is getting compliments from their long time crush. In both physical features that might in other contexts be considered unattractive are instead what their crush is concentrating positive remarks on. And yet the first one was so very not my thing I stalled on it for like three days, and the second one I liked a lot.

First one was from the point of view of the man giving compliments, and the reaction was a sort of lost for words silent awe and gratitude that I could only just barely buy as being in character. Yet ooc wasn't what was bothering me.

Second one was from the point of view of the one getting the compliments, and the reaction was kind of like blossoming. Like, yes, I am beautiful butterfly, say that some more, do that again, no over there, yaay bodies are fun.

So I realised the first one bothered me because same reasons as in tumblr post about 'social experiment: agree with men giving you compliments'. Like, the one giving the compliments was saying how his new lover wasn't like all those good looking guys who know they're good looking and they're so up themselves. He's all pudgy and soft and kind of wonky looking instead, it's great, he's so sweet. *awe and gratitude* ... silent awe and gratitude... as response to being told his fat bits are sexy. Reminded me too much of ... like, what if he'd said thanks, I know? How would his crush have responded? Like, yaay, we both agree you're gorgeous? Or, oh no, arrogance, this doesn't work. (Despite distinguishing feature of character being arrogance.) It felt more like he was negging him and making him grateful for having his flaws pointed out, more like he was trying to score points for being the only one to ever find him attractive. Which, er, no? Verging on epic no. And it wasn't like the story of itself was inherently creepy, because sincere compliments to what one considers one's less attractive features could be relaxing in that context, but it's too much like too much other stuff so tensing for negative reaction happened.

Second story was fun, because everyone involved seemed to be having fun, and while it would be emotionally devastating to get a really bad reaction in a relationship they cared about so much, it wouldn't be because there's only one person in the world who can physically appreciate him. He's pretty and he knows it because he's seen the mirror and he knows how he feels. Much more relaxing.

It's like in the one version all the power stays with the person giving the compliments, and you're just flinching away from them using it the other way. Someone only feels attractive when they're told they are, that's not fun, and telling it from the point of view of the confident one makes it less fun somehow. But in the other version they're going to be okay either way, so it's better. This person makes them feel beautiful like they know they are, and any gratitude in the equation seems more evenly distributed.

I don't know, I think it's just the other story feels really gendered and really common, like so many 'ugly duckling' stories where she gets a makeover and then the guy notices her and it's supposed to be super cool but it's really saying over and over that it only counts if the guy notices. Somehow putting two guys into the story doesn't take the nasty off.


Mar. 30th, 2016 05:59 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It just occurred to me what bugged me about the women in the... last half dozen books I read by several different male authors.

Women as prizes are never women who choose between different options.

It's obvious once I've seen it. But when I was reading it was all from a male point of view and the most that happens is they compete for a woman but then something happens to take one out of the running and the other mourns for a while and then claims his default prize. It's never like in romances where there's the nice guy and the dangerous guy and a woman has actual opinions on both of them.

Women as prizes happen in the exact quantity required, exist long enough to prove they're worthy of their guy, and then just fade into the background.

It's creepy.

Now I have a sudden urge to rewrite something a bit more Pride & Prejudice... except I've not read that in a really long time and I'm not even sure I mean that one. So it's not my sort of rewrite that I'd be good at. Boo.

But also I was reading about the roles of women historically and how marriage was more about wealth and power than about love and it just struck me again how duty gets devalued by the romantic love narrative. I mean Romeo & Juliet is a tragedy because they die, but also because their stupid hormonal messing around gets other people killed. And yet there's a lot of people under the ridiculous impression it's romantic. Also any story where the lord runs off with the servant girl. It's all very well as far as it goes, it elevates the servant girl's social chances and is a much better gig than just getting the attention without the marriage, but there's a reason that a good aristocrat cares about his wife's wealth. Aristos are the boss of a really large number of people. They need money to maintain their estates, which means employing and feeding a whole lot of people, as well as doing things necessary to the community and being a good landlord. Yes there's not much guarantee they'll be good lords, but if they're good, they need the money for their people. Like reading the word Lord etymologically derives from Loaf Warden. There's the dude with enough bread for everyone. Marrying poor is bad not just for him but for potentially really large swathes of the country. That's not happily ever after, that's not romance, that's just ignoring duty for personal desire.

And yet that's a really difficult point to push, given how uphill it is against current standards.

Checking out someone's prospects is just trying to ensure neither the married couple nor their children will starve. And when a family was pretty much a business organisation, say with farming or weaving or any other thing, the extended family would be relying on strong marriages to keep everyone in eating.

Leaving all that behind, say to ride off on horseback somewhere, would be a bit like leaving with the company car, still on hire purchase, belonging to the company formed with relatives, and never seen again while not a breath of payment comes back.

Doing that for romance just means burning through your assets twice as fast, with more mouths to feed.

And if they're only your assets as part of a complex web of family investments, well, that's just rude.

So I don't get what's so wrong about going looking for a good investment prospect, seeing as you want to continue to eat without taking more than you return in food off the family table.

And the kind of fantasy adventure novel where the prince goes undercover and comes back with some pretty young woman who is at best trained to run a family business the size of an inn or a smallholding... it's like promoting the secretary to CEO because true love, it's really unlikely to work out well for tens of thousands of people.

... promoting the personal assistant to CEO because she's been running the company really well for years anyway is just a good investment.

But choosing the prince because he's a prince has a lot of drawbacks too. I mean, politics involves actual backstabbing. And if the kingdom falls apart you know who they'll blame, fairly or otherwise. And the new girl at court has absolutely no useful contacts.

If you're looking for a good place to raise children it's a hell of a gamble.

So 'romance' in fantasy novels is frequently a series of very poor choices, creepily presented as destiny with an ongoing lack of apparent choice.

I dislike it.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Okay, that's a long title and I haven't got much to go under it, but

I just scrolled past another thing complaining about fics/fiction that spends paragraphs describing everyone's clothes, as if they're important.

Read more... )

Clothes are there like they're important because they are in fact important.

So if the story stops to tell you who wears what, pay attention like there's guns on the mantelpiece, because in some way or another, mood or allegiance or predictions, this data is going to pay off.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
some random links on tumblr lead to a bunch of how-to guides for inventing calendars.

... they all irritate me so far because they don't start with orbital mechanics.

The funniest thing though is they one and all agree that all these fiddly little variable months and quarter days are just the worst. That's the first thing they throw out! Really, the worst.

And I reckon if you want recogniseable humans on another planet, or even a different civilisation on this one, the first thing you're going to get is random encrusted variables.

Some guy comes up with a calendar, and it's near enough. Except you wait a few years and your solstice has wandered off towards your equinox. So okay, what to do? Leap years? Bung in an extra month? Have a few corrective days at some boss dude's fiat and then keep going as before?

The answer is all of the above, depending on who wins the argument this side of the mountain, or the river, or the sky.

And that's without figuring that the original calendars will be different on different continents for sure, and probably far more often than that.

Half a dozen 'how to' in a row started out with 'Earth's calendar has' , though one of them admitted (in the West anyway). And right there they are so very wrong. Because you've got your solar year civilisations and your lunar year civilisations, and they all live interpenetrated even now. And even when you agree how long a year is, when it starts depends on too many things. 'New Year' isn't a beginning for anything except the paper calendar, work restarts in the Spring and education in the Autumn and never the two line up.

I've vaguely wanted to know how we end up with a seven day week, and when that started, and who uses it. *googles*
Ancient Near East, probably something to do with planets maybe, and other places use/d 'weeks' between 4 and 10 days. After that it's a question of terminology, because translators use 'fortnight' or 'month', though 'week' seems to be tied up to this 'rest day' cycle that not everywhere used anyways.

Actual Earth civs? All the calendars. None of them meshed and all of them were great big political and religious arguments in the making, not to mention business implications.

And it's not just fantasy writers/gamers who get annoyed with the math. There's a bunch of attempts to tidy up the calendar and make it all regular and fitting together. It just turns back into a mess again in fairly short order when it grinds between habit and neighbours.

You want to invent a new civilisation and you're going to bother thinking about how they think about time?

Simplification is the last thing you want to do.

... though as most of the links pointed out, it do bear consideration how often that's even going to come up. And if your readers/players really want to be fiddling about with it.

But still. The SF writer in me says it should start with figuring out what lights are in the sky, and what kind of orbits you're talking, and how much wiggle there is in the seasons. And if they somehow settle on a 7 day week with none of our cultural precedents in common, you'd better have an actual reason.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Some time in the small hours of the morning I ended up looking up assorted words for monks.

... I started out looking up gender neutral terms for sibling, because sister brother sibling doesn't sound like they're a matched set, mother father brother sister all match and yet you can't say parent and sibling and have it sound the same, does this not bug anyone else at three in the morning?

... smartphones have some odd perils.

But the more I looked the more I got annoyed at fantasy books and their imprecise worldbuilding. Like D&D uses Cleric and Monk as more or less gender neutral terms that cover a really wide range of religious roles. Or fantasy worlds have multiple religions but half of them call their ladies Sister and men Brother. And why would they do that? What is the religious underpinning of that phrasing? What theological basis has them calling some people Father? Father and brother and sister and mother of who or what? And are any of them married? The widespread assumption of religious celibacy seems purely weird to the C of E, let alone the rest of the world's religions.

Wiki wandering got me to distinctions like 'nun' and 'sister' not actually referring to the same thing, since nuns are cloistered and sisters work in the community. Monastics is currently used as gender neutral, and is quite different from monk, which differs from friar, usually used for mendicant orders. There's a difference between monks, owning all their property in common between them, and mendicants, who in theory don't own anything at all at all and have to rely on asking the laity nicely every single day. Monk derives from monos, alone, because originally it referred to hermits or solitary ascetics. Hermits are eremites, and eremitic orders exist. Anchorites and anchoresses are kind of like hermits but different. Sometimes a lot of hermits get together and share a canteen and church, and such orders are probably where communal monasticism began, but there's a great big argue about who was first doing what, so only probably. Sketes or Lavras are that sort of thing. Different forms of monasticism include sketes, lavritic, eremitic and coenobitic. Cenobites, before that one guy wrote that one thing, just means monastics living in a community where they don't all mostly hide in their cells, which is the usual sort people mostly think of when you say monk.

They live in monasteries and abbeys and minsters, and that's just words I recognise off the top of my head. They're slightly different kinds of communities even at any given point in history. Due to constant/repeated monastic and religious reforms they're very different if you look at them a few hundred years apart. I mean at some points there were communities where men and women lived together being religious, and at other points there's big frowning about the very idea, and now we don't have a proper word for those sorts and say 'dual house' and make vague noises about monasteries and nunneries next door to each other when really? We don't entirely know how they sorted themselves out.

And that's just in English. At some point I (accidentally) downloaded a 125 page MPhil thesis on the different words used in the Anglo Saxon era, in Latin and Old English, and how they get translated into English. I skimmed like a chapter but it seems like every time a thing gets translated it uses less variety of words to describe the religious people it's talking about, which erases consistent distinctions in the earlier texts, distinctions that probably had a meaning, though for all we know now it's some dude doing the monk equivalent of 'the fair haired man' and 'the brunet' because everyone they're talking about is basically going to be a religious dude so maybe they were just trying to keep them distinctive.

And that's just in Christianity. Buddhism has a lot of slightly different traditions of people living in community to do religion, and those traditions have different levels or paths with different sets of vows, and once they're talking about them in English they're all just 'monks'. Even some of the nuns sometimes.

And of course there's religions that mostly don't do the thing that looks quite like being monks, and possibly do have friars, but mostly have their very own distinctive traditions that we probably shouldn't translate, except for the thing where several hundred years of confident English have just been calling them 'priests'.

And where does the D&D cleric come into all this? Depends what you read. It's another distinction that gets complex.

And I haven't even started on religious ranks and roles, where there's as many words for monks-that-do-the-thing as there are for civilians-that-do-the-thing, being far as I can tell separate words even for the same things.

And then there's the ways Roman religion and Roman Catholicism got their terms all over each other, as well as the ways they didn't and times where you have to get your head around a very different way of doing things just to properly translate in your head a word usually rendered into English as 'priest' just like all the other 'priests'.

And the etymologies that leave words meaning their opposites, or the particular journeys through language a word has taken that tells you a lot about conquest and missionaries and how civilisations layer on top of each other.

And yet you get fantasy books, or rarely science fiction, that just plonk in a few 'Sisters' or 'Fathers' and act like that sufficiently explains anything.

... I think from this we mostly learn that I can get thoroughly wound up about anything, especially at three in the morning, but there you go.

Words. Especially titles. More complex than you think.

And once we start messing around with the worldbuilding, shakier than they seem and all.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So I wrote down on my to-do list that I should write about the Whore Goddess in a couple fantasy books I read recently.

... the W word is not polite but it's the one both books used.

I'm not sure I've got actual meta about it left but okay to do list, shall write:

Read more... )


beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

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