[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Wednesday, 2006-10-04

Spider Season

Filed under: Writing — bblackmoor @ 22:14

I have not been writing as much on Spider Season as I’d hoped. I need to put forth more effort to write more. Zelazny once said in an interiew that he aimed to write something at least four times per day, even if it’s just a couple of sentences. I am going to try and adopt this.

I did manage to get a few lines into the rape scene. That is going to be difficult. I have done a lot of reading in the past week of accounts from rape victims in real life, and frankly it’s pretty horrific stuff. I considered taking that scene out of the book entirely. But it’s her motivation for several short-term goals which are important later, and it also explains her aversion to intimacy. On the other hand, it does seem awfully hackneyed. I am sick to death of having a sexual assault trotted out in every book by every half-assed hack novelist as though it’s a requirement like a copyright notice. (I am looking at you, Piers Anthony). Am I vain to think that I am doing anything better?

I think I am doing something better.

Saturday, 2006-09-30

Spider Season

Filed under: Writing — bblackmoor @ 22:07

Warning: spoilers follow.

I wrote another 1,000 words on Spider Season over the last few days.

I have several ideas I want to get on paper before I forget them.

Rain goes to a village where a werewolf is chained up and is going to be killed. He says he is innocent of the crime he is accused of, and Rain believes him. She finds out who really did it and saves him. Or maybe he really did it but she finds out that he had good reason. Or maybe he’s an evil bastard and he deserves to die.

The iron ring acts as a barrier to magic. Not sure if it works both ways. Maybe she just can’t affect anyone else with magic while she wears it. That’s what the antagonist sorcerer really wants. Rain thinks he wants the magic book.

When Rain meets Scratch, he asks her to name him. The naming of something has great symbolic significance, he says. Scratch pretends to be her familiar, but really he is the familiar of the antagonist sorcerer the entire time. He’s a spy, or a double agent. At the end of the book he chooses to be Rain’s familiar. The antagonist sorcerer commands Scratch to do something — pick up the magic ring and bring it to him, maybe? — and calls him by the name that sorcerer gave him. Scratch walks over to the ring (or whatever), and says that XXX is not his name anymore. His name is Scratch. And he gives Rain the ring (or whatever).

It is Scratch that suggests that Rain goes to the Ivory Tower and ask for Subreiland’s help. This is a ruse to bring the ring to Subreiland. Does he send her on three pointless quests to prive her sincerity, or does his underling do that? Or maybe she goes through trials on the way there.

Wednesday, 2006-09-27

Spider Season

Filed under: Writing — bblackmoor @ 22:03

I am going back and forth on terminology in Spider Season. On the one hand, I am already using “goblin” and “ogre”, and I will probably use “troll” as well. On the other hand, I am averse to using “elf”. It just seems so hackneyed. I have been reading up on mythical creatures from India, Persia, Scandinavia, and elsewhere: “asura”, “jinn”, “dev”, “huldra”, “kropel”, “haldjas”, and so forth. But some of these terms are popularly associated with images that may or may not have anything to do with their traditional mythical meanings (“jinn”, for example). Also, if I mix and match terms from wildly different cultures (Estonian “haldjas” and Hindu “asura”, for example), I think it’ll just annoy people who actually know something about mythology, and they’ll think I am an ignorant twit who is just using terms he found in a thesaurus without understanding them. Not an unfair accusation, really. So I feel like I have three options: 1) stick to English terms even though it strikes me as hackneyed, 2) stick with the terms from one culture (probably Persian, because I think fewer English-speaking people are familiar with those myths), or make up words from whole cloth. I really don’t want to make people learn a whole batch of vocabulary words just to read a silly fantasy novel. But is making up new words any worse than using existing words that people may not know — deliberately mis-using them, in many cases (much like Tolkien misused “wight”)? I guess I do have a fourth option: use common words and apply them to these creatures: “hidden folk”, “moon people”, “forest folk”, and so on. Bleh. I don’t really like that.

Maybe the simplest method is the best: use English words (“elf”, etc.), and be clear to describe their referents so that people won’t think an “elf” is a little man in a green coat riding an earwig. Sigh. It still strikes me as hackneyed. Maybe my problem is that it really is hackneyed — not just the terminology, but the entire concept of having human beings that aren’t quite human beings. People in latex appliances, to use a Star Trek metaphor. Maybe non-human creatures should be really, really non-human. The only problem with that is that the less human a character is (not just in appearance, but in behavior and speech as well), the harder it is for people to sympathize with it. Can we really empathize with an eyeless, six-armed creature that eats rocks and communicates through rhythmic stomping?

What makes this such a nuisance for me is that I have a character — a minor character — who is for most intents and purposes a conventional elf. He is definitely not human, but for the character to work he has to look almost human. He will probably be the only creature of his kind in the entire book (although there might be another).

When in doubt, go with the simplest answer. Use English.

Or maybe Estonian.

Tuesday, 2006-09-26

Spider Season

Filed under: Writing — bblackmoor @ 22:03

I haven’t done much actual writing on Spider Season over the last few days, but I have been laying a lot of groundwork: figuring out relationships, mocking up scenes in my head, deciding on plot points, and so forth. I have decided not to use units for anything if I can help it. Instead I will refer to a day, half a day, most of the morning; a pace, a day’s travel, a week’s travel; and so on. One unit of measure that I will keep is the “stone”, because that is sufficiently archaic without seeming too tied to our specific world. I could see people in a primitive society measuring things in “stones”.

I think the maguffin is a ring and a book. The book is magic: the ring is anti-magic. This is what protects her against the evil sorcerer that wants the book. But if the ring is anti-magic, how can she learn magic from the book? If she takes the ring off to cast spells, wouldn’t the evil sorcerer strike then? Maybe the evil sorcerer is a ruse to get her to go to the Ivory Tower. She needs to stay focused on her goals, though. She looks at this bit with the sorcerer as a distraction.

Wednesday, 2006-09-20

Spider Season

Filed under: Writing — bblackmoor @ 22:01

After several days of plotting scenes in my head, I started writing Spider Season today. That’s the working title. I’ve written about 650 words so far. If I can do 500 words per day, I can finish the novel in 8 months.

I am still not sure how to handle time, weights, and measures. If I make something up, that will push the reader out of the story. If I use “kilos” and “meters” and so on, that will seem too modern. If I use archaic measurements like “stone” or “yards”, that will implicitly place the story in our past. I am not sure what to do.

I have also placed myself in the awkward position of having to find out how large a ten-year-old girl’s feet are. How does one find such information without looking like some kind of pervert?

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