Problems with research and need help

What's going on in your writing world? Connect with the writing community here and talk about whatever's on your mind.
User avatar
robjvargas
Captain
 
Posts: 1209
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:59 pm
Location: IL, USA

Re: Problems with research and need help

Postby robjvargas » Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:43 pm

> So I though I would ask you guys what you considered traditional and what you enjoyed seeing in literature, movies, and such? What kinds of things do you feel break suspension of disbelief?
I'm afraid I don't have specifics. For me, there are two things about magical elements in a story that ignite my disbelief. First of all is deus ex machina. I'm not using that term quite correctly, but I hate when magic is simply used as a means to "make stuff happen." Sort of like coming to a big chasm and suddenly the characters know a flying spell, or wings just pop out of their backs. I need to feel that magic has rules, even if the only image I have of that is the consequences of using the magic. And from that comes number two: consistency. If magic has rules and consequences, then it ALWAYS has rules and consequences. If it's not possible on page ten, then the story better have a damned good reason (and foreshadowing could help this) why it's possible on page two hundred.

> I had a person literally tell me I needed to make it accurate and not just mix and match religions and cultures that it is offensive and what not.
Two words for you. Satanic Verse. It's a book written by Salman Rushdie. He had to go into hiding because certain radical muslim clerics put out a fatwa demanding his death for the contents of that book.

But the book was accepted, and published. I haven't read it. So I can't say it was good or bad writing. I just know that it illustrates that you can make controversial choices that offend some population, and it can still be successful.

Realism and accuracy aren't bad things, however. Orson Scott Card wrote a series of books set in early America that used a lot of the folk magics of that time. It was about this boy known as Alvin The Maker, the seventh son of a seventh son. He took a few liberties, but I've seen several reviews express that his portrayal of the magics was pretty accurate. Don't dismiss it outright.

At the same time, let your imagination go. See where you can take it. Every idea is a bad idea... until it isn't. Generally, people say don't create a whole new language for your work. And yet one of the most popular fantasy series of all time did exactly that. The Lord of the Rings series.

Research isn't about finding out who is right or wrong. It's about finding facts, maybe suppositions and predispositions. This is how Norse mythology expresses magical and magical beings. This is how the celts did it. Ancient Rome did it this way. And so on and so forth.

So... back to that saying: Every idea is a bad idea... until it isn't.

Don't fight opinions. This isn't the time for that. Nod your head, accept the passion that others are expressing to you, and continue on.

I'm a bit concerned by something you stated, however:
> Besides, I don't mean to be rude in pointing out the hypocrisy here but paganism is a giant buffet of other religions... I can't even take it seriously. A lot of which is Christian and middle eastern and with neo pagans Asian too. Half of the people I knew in high school that were into that couldn't even practice their religions correctly... So my thought as to why I find this silly...
You HAVE to take it seriously. I don't know you, so I readily admit that I may be seeing something that isn't there. I'm going to express what I see for your consideration.

This looks to me like an ulterior agenda sneaking into your writing. Or perhaps a kind of chip on your shoulder. And if you try to "win" this argument through your writing, I feel like you're going to fall. Hard. Readers don't like being preached at. You may have some earth-shattering wisdom in your writing, but if the reader feels that you're trying to preach, teach, or in some express how things "should be," then right or wrong, you're going to lose the reader. And then it doesn't matter how brilliant your insight is. Get that agenda out of your writing. Write a story with relatable people living in whatever world it is that they inhabit, send through a story that captures the imaginations of readers, and then it won't matter who is right or wrong.

Those people you speak of are passionate about the subject. It's near and dear to them. Okay, fine, they do or don't practice what they preach very well. How does that affect the dangers and the adventures that your characters will experience?

Personally, I don't think it does. But it's clearly affecting you, and will therefore affect your writing. Don't let it. Let your story be whatever it is. And let them buy your story, or not buy it. You can't make them like your story. The only thing you can do is write the best version of your story.

So write it. Let go of what others think it should be, and just... write it.

You know, Harrison Ford's first acting job as as a bellboy in a hotel. He had a two-minute role of walking through a lobby announcing a message for someone. After shooting wrapped up for the day, the director of the movie told him to go home and give up acting. "I worked with Cary Grant," he said, "And the first time I saw Cary Grant act, I knew he was a star. You're not a star, kid."

Harrison Ford says he replied, "I thought I was supposed to be a bellboy."

Let me ask you, who was right? Or does it even matter?
Slowly putting together a "replacement" forum at http://writerswriting.proboards.com.

It's still under construction, but come take a look.

User avatar
ostarella
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 830
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:51 am

Re: Problems with research and need help

Postby ostarella » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:08 am

I agree with Rob, especially about preaching to your readers. Readers don't like that - especially if that preaching is based on erroneous beliefs of your own. (For example, pagans didn't steal from Christianity; Christianity stole from pagans - or one could be generous and say "incorporated pagan rites".) So my thought is that there's no problem making up your own religions in fiction - but you should have a good understanding of whatever religions you may be basing them on. Inventing a new religion for your work is like Tolkien's inventing new languages for his - he had a thorough understanding of actual language constructs and based his fictional languages on those (https://stancarey.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/tolkien-on-language-invention/). Developing a fictional religion is the same thing - understanding the reasons behind the rituals and customs of various real life religions so your book's religion makes sense to readers.
"The trick of the fiction writer is the beautiful lie..." Thomas Fox Averill

aka shadowwalker
http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=26159

http://shadowwalker.info/home.html

LadySeshiiria
Private E-1
 
Posts: 29
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:01 pm

Re: Problems with research and need help

Postby LadySeshiiria » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:20 pm

robjvargas wrote:
> > So I though I would ask you guys what you considered traditional and what you
> enjoyed seeing in literature, movies, and such? What kinds of things do you feel
> break suspension of disbelief?
> I'm afraid I don't have specifics. For me, there are two things about magical
> elements in a story that ignite my disbelief. First of all is deus ex machina. I'm
> not using that term quite correctly, but I hate when magic is simply used as a means
> to "make stuff happen." Sort of like coming to a big chasm and suddenly
> the characters know a flying spell, or wings just pop out of their backs. I need to
> feel that magic has rules, even if the only image I have of that is the consequences
> of using the magic. And from that comes number two: consistency. If magic has rules
> and consequences, then it ALWAYS has rules and consequences. If it's not possible on
> page ten, then the story better have a damned good reason (and foreshadowing could
> help this) why it's possible on page two hundred.
>
> > I had a person literally tell me I needed to make it accurate and not just mix
> and match religions and cultures that it is offensive and what not.
> Two words for you. Satanic Verse. It's a book written by Salman Rushdie. He had to
> go into hiding because certain radical muslim clerics put out a fatwa demanding his
> death for the contents of that book.
>
> But the book was accepted, and published. I haven't read it. So I can't say it was
> good or bad writing. I just know that it illustrates that you can make controversial
> choices that offend some population, and it can still be successful.
>
> Realism and accuracy aren't bad things, however. Orson Scott Card wrote a series of
> books set in early America that used a lot of the folk magics of that time. It was
> about this boy known as Alvin The Maker, the seventh son of a seventh son. He took a
> few liberties, but I've seen several reviews express that his portrayal of the magics
> was pretty accurate. Don't dismiss it outright.
>
> At the same time, let your imagination go. See where you can take it. Every idea is
> a bad idea... until it isn't. Generally, people say don't create a whole new
> language for your work. And yet one of the most popular fantasy series of all time
> did exactly that. The Lord of the Rings series.
>
> Research isn't about finding out who is right or wrong. It's about finding facts,
> maybe suppositions and predispositions. This is how Norse mythology expresses
> magical and magical beings. This is how the celts did it. Ancient Rome did it this
> way. And so on and so forth.
>
> So... back to that saying: Every idea is a bad idea... until it isn't.
>
> Don't fight opinions. This isn't the time for that. Nod your head, accept the
> passion that others are expressing to you, and continue on.
>
> I'm a bit concerned by something you stated, however:
> > Besides, I don't mean to be rude in pointing out the hypocrisy here but paganism
> is a giant buffet of other religions... I can't even take it seriously. A lot of
> which is Christian and middle eastern and with neo pagans Asian too. Half of the
> people I knew in high school that were into that couldn't even practice their
> religions correctly... So my thought as to why I find this silly...
> You HAVE to take it seriously. I don't know you, so I readily admit that I may be
> seeing something that isn't there. I'm going to express what I see for your
> consideration.
>
> This looks to me like an ulterior agenda sneaking into your writing. Or perhaps a
> kind of chip on your shoulder. And if you try to "win" this argument
> through your writing, I feel like you're going to fall. Hard. Readers don't like
> being preached at. You may have some earth-shattering wisdom in your writing, but if
> the reader feels that you're trying to preach, teach, or in some express how things
> "should be," then right or wrong, you're going to lose the reader. And
> then it doesn't matter how brilliant your insight is. Get that agenda out of your
> writing. Write a story with relatable people living in whatever world it is that
> they inhabit, send through a story that captures the imaginations of readers, and
> then it won't matter who is right or wrong.
>
> Those people you speak of are passionate about the subject. It's near and dear to
> them. Okay, fine, they do or don't practice what they preach very well. How does
> that affect the dangers and the adventures that your characters will experience?
>
> Personally, I don't think it does. But it's clearly affecting you, and will
> therefore affect your writing. Don't let it. Let your story be whatever it is. And
> let them buy your story, or not buy it. You can't make them like your story. The
> only thing you can do is write the best version of your story.
>
> So write it. Let go of what others think it should be, and just... write it.
>
> You know, Harrison Ford's first acting job as as a bellboy in a hotel. He had a
> two-minute role of walking through a lobby announcing a message for someone. After
> shooting wrapped up for the day, the director of the movie told him to go home and
> give up acting. "I worked with Cary Grant," he said, "And the first
> time I saw Cary Grant act, I knew he was a star. You're not a star, kid."
>
> Harrison Ford says he replied, "I thought I was supposed to be a bellboy."
>
> Let me ask you, who was right? Or does it even matter?

I guess I wasn't making myself clear if people are thinking that I have an ulterior motive and an agenda. (Magic plays a huge part in my story, and I am a big fan of fantasy because of it.) Thank you for the advice btw it is appreciated. What I was meaning to say earlier is that, in another forum I had people telling me I HAD to make it appeal to wiccans and pagans. Were I have friends I can't take seriously on that subject I don't have anything against them. I guess what I want is something some what authentic but not to the entire extent. A mish mash of real world but having its own imaginative uniqueness to it. I want to go for something more traditional like on a game or D and D book series kind of thing. You know something for nerds like me, I'm not out to impress the religious peeps. If they happen to be Wiccan or Christian its incidental. I guess what I'm more irritated at is that I'm being told I HAVE to do my magic system their way. I understand things have to be done a certain way for believably like what you described up above with suspension of disbelief and rules, which I have been working on. So many magic systems in games I played have their own thing and aren't even accurate and are a buffet of things or even down right made up which makes it fun. Which can be cool, but I'm being told I can't just make up my own thing and that I have to follow the real thing. This is what I find saddening. It wasn't even related to the original artistic question which was on creating your own magic runes. Designing so to speak: "My question is, are people using things in the public domain like crowley, or anything to create them, or are the designing them themselves." If you look at this link: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS779US779&biw=1366&bih=598&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=BHugWt3-DZPIjwONgZmgDw&q=magic+circles&oq=magic+circles&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i67k1j0l5j0i67k1j0j0i30k1l2.2957.3147.0.3483.2.2.0.0.0.0.149.271.0j2.2.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.2.268....0.LROlmdw7540
There area ton of really cool designs for circles and such, which makes me wonder if they are drawings of of old things or just making them up. I had one person tell me to look up sacred geometry which has helped a lot. And from what I can tell there are some things that are pulled from already existing things. So some stuff is coming from public domain. How much though, I don't really know. About the only thing I really care for on realism is some of the visuals and that's it. Like with the actual travel magic and how I'm going to set it up. It needs to be complex but I need something to look at to get an idea to base it off of. My thoughts are to use star maps, some how have it follow a coordinate system, a point a to point b kind of thing, and activator, and I want it to appeal to the complex almost mathematical side of things. Like fore thought was put into the making of said circle. Something to show that those that use the travel magics or summons have to be ultra intelligent or well versed in its knowledge. The higher power magic so to speak. In order to make it believable I'm trying to make is look and feel complicated if it will help with that suspension.

As for the guy who had the fatwa put on him, can that happen for just borrowing a look and feel like fashion and architecture for the middle east? I've always been a fan of their architecture its a grand sight to see. Persian, Arab, Egyptian. Its all cool. Some of our most technological advanced and mathematically inclined societies sprung out of those areas. It feels right to adapt a similar feel to my desert kingdom.

ostarella wrote:
> I agree with Rob, especially about preaching to your readers. Readers don't like
> that - especially if that preaching is based on erroneous beliefs of your own. (For
> example, pagans didn't steal from Christianity; Christianity stole from pagans -
> or one could be generous and say "incorporated pagan rites".) So my thought is that
> there's no problem making up your own religions in fiction - but you should have
> a good understanding of whatever religions you may be basing them on. Inventing
> a new religion for your work is like Tolkien's inventing new languages for his -
> he had a thorough understanding of actual language constructs and based his fictional
> languages on those (https://stancarey.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/tolkien-on-language-invention/).
> Developing a fictional religion is the same thing - understanding the reasons behind
> the rituals and customs of various real life religions so your book's religion makes
> sense to readers.

Yeah I'm aware of that, with Christmas a one example and such. Technically Christmas needs to be around Easter too. No I wasn't trying to come off as arrogant or ignorant there so much as I was trying to use examples and point out that everyone borrows or steals from everyone. Point out that its bothersome that people are fixating on the fact that I HAVE to make it their thing and follow it to the tooth. Like no variation. And in paganism their is so much variation its hard to know what the original religion was supposed to be. I'm looking to just create my own religions anyway and already have my main and basic concepts lined out. Its not even based on anything in the real world that I can readily think of.
What I was pointing out is that I am looking to learn how to make my own magic circles for my story or base them off of real world not inject its religion into it. I'm looking at it from the design side of things not the religious aspect since I've got my own thing covered. Kind of like taking a familiar image and re-branding its idea.

User avatar
ostarella
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 830
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:51 am

Re: Problems with research and need help

Postby ostarella » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:38 pm

You can make up your own designs, certainly. I can't tell you about rights and such with symbols or artwork, but you should be able to find that easily enough via internet search or a quick call to a librarian; even a law office could give you a quick summary, enough for your use anyway. And of course, if you're only using them for your own reference, it doesn't matter one whit where you get them or what you change. As to other people's opinions of those designs/ideas, well, like with the story itself, you're not going to please everyone, ever, so don't try.

Might I suggest that in the future, you try to stick to the main question, rather than extraneous details about what happened to you on other forums or exchanges with other people and your reaction to them? I only say that because that way you'll get responses directly related to what you want to know, rather than people getting confused about what you're actually asking. :)
"The trick of the fiction writer is the beautiful lie..." Thomas Fox Averill

aka shadowwalker
http://www.writersdigest.com/forum/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=26159

http://shadowwalker.info/home.html

RobTheThird
Private First Class
 
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:08 am

Re: Problems with research and need help

Postby RobTheThird » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:32 am

> I want to go for something more traditional like on a game or D and D book series kind of thing.
> You know something for nerds like me, I'm not out to impress the religious peeps. If they happen
> to be Wiccan or Christian its incidental. I guess what I'm more irritated at is that I'm being told I HAVE to do my magic system their way.

Let me ask you a hard question. Do you want to be right, or do you want to sell your book?

There's a fine line between taking dramatic license to something, and insulting people's intelligence. If you call it wiccan magic (for example) then make the rituals all come of asian and eastern rituals and philosophies, then you may well be insulting someone who hold wicca (or the eastern religions) close to their heart. You lose two readers with one action. And they won't see the cool factor.

Look, if you want to create your own magic system using derivations of other real ones, that's fine. Go for it. Some authors develop magic systems from the ground up, some borrow from existing philosophies and religions.

Story is first, second, third and fourth priority. People protested Harry Potter, too. But if the story is compelling and draws people in, then people won't care that you took liberties with existing magic systems, or intermingled them.

Create what you need to create for your tale. But the REAL face of your tale won't be the magic system. It'll be the story.

MikePhillip
Private E-2
 
Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:43 am

Re: Problems with research and need help

Postby MikePhillip » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:00 pm

I responded to your thread on how crappy the internet is for research, so won't belabor any points here.

Scrivener vs Word is a topic worthy of it's own thread. I used both. Word because its files (.doc, .docx, etc.) are an industry standard. Scrivener even converts to them for submission or printing - which is my main complaint about it. On the plus side I love the index card presentation for making notes in Scrivener. However, docking OneNote to the side of the screen gives a writer much of the same information views as does the ribbon/sidebar in Scrivener. Scrivener does not play well with OneDrive and other clouds. Scrivener was originally only for Apple products, so the version for PC's is a generation behind the version for Macs. But try it out - if I remember right the trial period is 30 days except during NaNoWriMo when it can be used from late October through early December. One interesting observation is that many Scrivener users (much like many Mac/Apple users) seem to defend their choices quite vocally and leave little room for disagreement of any level. My recommendation is that you try the trail version of Scrivener and then make your own comparison. Use what you like and what works best for you.

Word counts vary depending on the source, but my reading indicates the following:

Up to 1500 words = flash fiction (but some places it's 1K words or even 600 words)
1500 -20,000 words = short story
20K - 45K = novella
50k+ = novel (lord only knows what the between novella and novel is)

The fantasy genre expectation for word count is 90K - 120K, but that, too, depends on who's asking, who's telling, and who's counting. I'd say write the story and not worry about counting words.

Formatting: most of the sources I've seen state the standard format for submission is 1" margins all around, 12 pt Courier or Times New Roman font, and double spaced. However, checking to see if the publisher, agent, or publication has any specific requirements before submitting makes a lot of sense because one never knows for sure until asking.

Where to find free use occult images? Hundreds of web sites offer free occult images. A search for that three word phrase will provide more than 32 million results using Google. One only needs poke around in the myriad image libraries to find stuff. But, that begs the question, "What is free use?" No ascertainable copyrights (public domain)? Free to use but not royalty free in all instances? Something advertised as "Free" these days is seldom free. To quote a 20th century sage, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch - TANSTAAFL".

Finally, a suggestion to increase the likelihood your questions will recieve answers: Limit a post to one or two questions, and wait a few days for that thread to run its course. Spend the waiting time writing. ;)

PHEW!

Previous

Return to Writers' Block Party

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests