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Topics - fardawg

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Writing Group / WAR!!! (or: What are some good depictions of it?)
« on: June 16, 2011, 12:58:34 AM »
For a long time I have had the idea for a fantasy series that takes place over several large wars in the history of the region (Revolutionary, Civil, and possibly World). The problem comes in how to narratively depict realistic warfare. I need help finding some inspiration for how to depict this.

So... What are some good novels (preferably modern and shorter ones - parts of a long series are fine, but I need to get through them quickly, so specific chapters for these would be nice) that depict large scale, mostly terrestrial, battle scenes (any period or genre is fine, but I prefer sci-fi or fantasy - steampunk would be good) and/or ones that take place during large wars but focus on characters that aren't necessarily participating in them directly, e.g. they are fleeing from them or making their way through battle zones?

Also, if you can recommend non-fiction books on strategy that are comprehensive yet easy to understand for the novice, that would be great. 

Thanks for any help

Writing Group / Need ideas for what Magic can do
« on: May 31, 2011, 12:46:05 PM »
I find myself coming up with what I think are fairly interesting ways to receive, transmit, use, and limit magic. Yet I constantly get stuck on exactly what I want it to do. I usually end up with the basic Elemental magic, or magic that enhances natural abilities and properties of people and items: strength, speed etc.  but I want something different. Any suggestions?

Brandon Sanderson / Need help finding a WE episode
« on: May 27, 2011, 01:22:00 PM »
I remember Brandon mentioning an RPG game he ran where he had an interesting way for characters to be resurrected when they died (at least I think that was it). Something about spirits attaching to them (or something like that). I can't find that episode. Does anyone know which one it was or remember what the topic was?
It may have been in one of his Jordoncon videos but I remember Dan and Howard reacting to it.

Thanks for any help

EDIT: Found it. Dungeon Crawlers Radio interview.

Seriously though.  I have wanted to talk for a while now about several misconceptions that I think Brandon, Howard, and Dan have (or at least had at some point). I could be misunderstanding them, so correct me if I am wrong.

The first is the idea espoused by Brandon several times that Tolkien had World Builders Disease and that he was an outliner. It seems that Brandon thinks that the Silmarillion was worldbuilding backstory for the Hobbit and LOTR and that Tolkien spent too much time on the backstory compared to writing the “real” books. In fact, the Silmarillion is a collection of the “primary” stories of Middle Earth. The reason he spent so much time on it was that he couldn't get anyone to buy it. He actually tried several times to sell it, at least once soon after the Hobbit and then again along with LOTR (the idea of a sequel came from the publisher), but they wouldn’t buy it.
The Hobbit was basically an accident and not intended at first to be connected to his larger Mythology, but he then used some of the Silmarillion as backstory. He used more when he came to the LOTR.

As for being an outliner, it seems from what I have read of the original drafts of LOTR that he was very much a discovery writer and "eternal rewriter". Tolkien had no idea what the story was when he began (he didn't really want a sequel). He would write a chapter or so (if that), come up with another idea and start all over again from the beginning! He started with Bilbo but soon realized that it made no sense due to the way he ended the Hobbit. He then tried to use Bilbo's son (Bingo Baggins, I believe) who morphed into his nephew, etc. At one point the first appearance of the Black Rider turned out to be Gandalf. The history of the “One Ring” was also a surprise to him. It was just a magic ring in the Hobbit until he decided it could have a more sinister origin. He had to revise the Riddles In the Dark chapter for future editions because it (and Gollum) didn't have the sinister edge that it needed (He had a great in-world reason for the differences too: Bilbo was being influenced in a subtle way by the ring so he lied to Gandalf). He also made the briefly mentioned “Necromancer” of the Hobbit into Sauron. He then went back to the Silmarillion and gave him a backstory as a lieutenant of the original Dark Lord, Morgoth.

Next up: the portrayal of the the Hero's Journey.

I know that at least Howard has read (or heard) The Hero With A Thousand Faces and has a better appreciation of it now, but early on in the podcast (e.g. Season 2 Episode 7) they portrayed the Hero's Journey as if it was so rigid that it said the hero MUST have a humble origin ala Star Wars. However, some of the first examples Campbell gives are the Buddha, who was said to have been a prince guarded by his father from the harshness of the world, and The princess from the Princess and the Frog fairy tale. Neither of them are farm boys or all that “humble”. I think a popular misconception is that Star Wars IS the Hero's Journey rather than ONE  example of how it can work. I highly recommend The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler. He uses films as varied as  The Full Monty, Pulp Fiction, and Titanic (and hundreds of others) as examples of the Hero's Journey.  He points out that the Monomyth isn't supposed to be rigid and can be adapted to any genre. 

Anyway, I still love Writing Excuses and can't wait for the Hero's Journey episode (is that still going to happen guys?)   



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