lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
([personal profile] lea_hazel Mar. 5th, 2010 11:49 am)
I'm not sure this is exactly the right forum, since I'm asking kind of a broad discussion question, although it does relate to something specific I wrote, sort of. I would have posted it in [community profile] fantasy, but it's more of a horror thing if it belongs to any genre, which is a bit alarming when I consider that horror is about as far from my genre pool as possible.

What do you think about ghost trains? Have you ever read or heard a ghost train story? Do you think they're interesting, and if so, what's the most interesting thing about them? Or do you prefer some other ghost method of transportation, like ghost ships (cf. the Flying Dutchman -- warning, TV Tropes time-eating sand-pit link)?

I am not usually one for ghosts, barring The Sims 3. For some reason, though, the phrase "ghost train" got stuck in my head a while back and I want to write something about it. I just can't figure out if it should be a story or a poem, or, heavens forbid, a novel.
Guys, I really need your help. This is a pretty much relationship advice for a romance novel, though, so I'm sorry if the question seems stupid or inappropriate.

Now. The story is set in the modern era Western-type society, about 7-10 years in the future. There is a couple that once had a sudden, bright and passionate romance, that, sadly, turned out to be pretty short-lived. Therefore, they divorce, having gone from being madly in love to hostility. The question is, they have a 2 y.o. baby which I need to stay with its father after the divorce.

I don't want to demonize the mother and I really don't want to kill her off (she's not a bad person, besides, it would be awesome if I could still have this character later in the story), but I need to somehow make it work. Being a woman myself I honestly cannot come up with any explanations. This has to be a non-scandalous arrangement, no forcing the kid away from her mother or something. They have to agree on the terms. I need some valid reason for the mother to agree that the baby will be better off with the father, although she and her ex-husband are now pretty hostile to each other. The mother is about 27-29 when she divorces her husband. Also, she's a kind of a performer (not a celebrity!) traveling a lot, so maybe the arrangement can somehow be tied to that?

All and any input on this will be appreciated. :)
I cannot get my characters to drop exposition.

I'm working on a fantasy involving a parallel dimension inhabited by the personifications of character tropes and archetypes. I suppose you could think of them as being in the same general ballpark as the Endless from Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" comic. They appear as ordinary people (or most of them do, anyway), but they sort of influence their world based on the trope they represent--the Wise Woman's sphere of influence is a very serene place and others sort of naturally turn to her for advice, the Pirate Queen is a cut-throat corporate CEO surrounded by similarly ruthless business folk--if that makes sense. My main character, Fox, is a pretty ordinary woman who owns a bookstore and gives Tarot readings in a little college town in southwestern Ohio. She's got no reason to know any of this.

My problem is that none of my trope-world characters will tell her about it once she gets entangled in their problems. What's happened is that the Pirate Queen's gentleman friend, the Knight in Shining Armor, went missing shortly after Fox did a Tarot reading for him at her bookshop. The Pirate Queen doesn't believe that Fox had nothing to do with her and tells her basically that she'd better either give him back or find out what happened to him, or else. All the trope characters involved are too worried about their own problems to slow down and tell her what's what or don't care that she doesn't know.

The villain was supposed to show up to Fox’s house looking like a pair of normal people so that it could try to ferret out of her what she knows about all this. Then when it was inside it would sort of gradually lose track of its human form, drop some hints and minor explanations and a warning, and leave. But it basically swept in in its normal nightmare form, said, “heh, you really don’t have any idea what’s going here at all, do you? Now keep your damn mouth shut or else,” killed her pet lizard, and swept out. It told her its name when she asked, but it didn’t do any of the explaining I’d meant it to do.

There’s also a later scene where Fox goes to meet with the Pirate Queen (O’Malley), who would explain the whole thing. What has happened is that O’Malley has skipped that section of the conversation entirely. I’m still working on it, but pretty much the conversation has been a one-sided “Okay, so where is he? I don’t believe that you don’t know anything about this, quit playing stupid. Yeah, I don’t care what my assistant told you I’d do–What? The scary villain's involved? You’ve seen what it does, and it hates him more than it hates most people. Oh crap, this is bad. This is really bad. Get out there and do something about it.” from O’Malley. Even when I try to steer the conversation the way I want it to go by having Fox come right out and ask “whoa, wait, you’re dating a knight? What are you talking about?” O’Malley completely ignores the question.

There is one more character (or pair of characters, I’m still not exactly sure) Fox is going to be spending time with who might do a better job of explaining it to her, but his attitude is pretty much “look, lady, I don’t care, I know what’s going on here so just be quiet and let me lead.” Also Fox doesn’t really like or trust him very much. I have one last one who might tell her what's up because he likes feeling like he's smarter than other people, but I'm not positive he doesn't die before she comes on the scene.

Even aside from where it fits, having someone saying "why yes, I'm the Whatever, we're all this" seems really artificial to me. People don't talk about themselves like that. I just can't figure out how to get this idea across. Anyone else have any ideas?
So, I have a scene in my NaNovel (this is actually the same one I was talking about in the guns and technology question) where Main Character's Fiance (Tiresse) has joined the military squad that's been assigned to hunt him down (she's taken the place of a new recruit that this was going to be his first mission anyway - why they're sending an utter newbie as part of the squad to hunt down a "dangerous criminal" and why they have a squad made up of people who have never met each other before from all over their military - I don't know. Those are plot holes that are going to need fixing later).

In this scene, the squad is traveling, Tiresse takes out the gun which she's never actually used before, screws something up, and one of the more experienced squad members (who she's seen before and is hoping that he won't recognize her during the journey) decides to help her out and teaches her how to use the darned thing.


1) Any recommendations on a gun I ought to be using here specifically?

I had looked around here (ok apparently my trying to direct you straight to the firearms page results in me breaking the link, so that's the main page) and liked the look of a lot of those, but I'm not sure which ones would be more of a military-style gun, aside from the muskets (and I was hoping to find something with a shorter barrel)

I also looked at this: http://www.amazon.com/18th-Century-Pirate-Flintlock-Pistol/dp/B000MGID10 and thought that as I've got pirates, something like that might be good for them to carry around, but I don't know that it would do me as much as military weapons.



2) what kinds of problems would a complete newbie have with firing a gun in general, and 19th century guns in particular? (I looked for beginner guides online, but what I've found looks geared towards automatic/semi-automatic pistols. Which isn't what the military's going to have, at least, at this point).
anthimeria: unicorn rampant, first line of Kipling's "The Thousandth Man" (Default)
([personal profile] anthimeria Nov. 5th, 2009 05:08 pm)
For those of us writing lengthy prose, I want to pose the question--What do you think about chapters?

I tend to read books straight through, so I don't notice chapters.  This, unfortunately, means I have a hard time writing them.  I know they serve a purpose, but what?  You tell me.

Should they all be approximately the same length in a given work?  Why do they exist at all?  Should there be internal structure in a chapter?  A cliffhanger ending?  How do chapters function for readers?
You know, that advise you get all the time. It has some truth to it (especially if not taken to literally).

But what do you do if you suffer from prosopagnosia (facial blindness), when you couldn't describe the face of someone you knew if your life depended on it even? If you are incapable of reading facial expressions (at least, if they are not really exaggerated). Does that mean you have to write stories about faceless beings who never shows the slightest hint of an expression on their faces? It would be all right if your character had the same condition, but if you don't want that...?

This is not just a question out of idle curiosity, I have these problems, and so far I have avoided it by using generic descriptions (put together from stuff I've read), but it feels a bit like cheating (no, no, not word-by-word, of course not - but still!) - and I'm terrified someone will, eventually, see through it. After all, I know it's fake!

Or, do I have no choice but to continue as I do now?

[somewhat cross-posted]
Ok, I've started work on another of my projects - this one set in an alternate world that is mostly generic fantasy (i.e. medieval Europe) with a backstory based on the fall of Atlantis and Ancient Greece.

Does anybody know any honorifics used in either medieval Europe or Ancient Greece (or modern Greece, for that matter? I could work with that) to address commoners, peasants, or basically people without any real standing or nobility? I feel like I overuse sir,madam, and ma'am. I'm looking for something to replace Mr. and Mrs. in modern usage.

The very specific situation I'm looking at right now involves a group of three of my main characters (T, F, and A). A and F are keeping an old woman busy while T is treating her husband of an illness). I'm trying to figure out how A and F would address the old woman politely (so "Old Lady!" is pretty much out.

This feels like something I ought to know (well, for medieval European-style fantasy, anyway), and have probably seen in books before, but I'm completely blanking out now.

Thanks in advance for the help!

EDIT: Wow, thanks for al the help, guys! I think I've got what I need for this now. Whoo!!
So there I am, about four chapters into the novel I'm working on now, sailing along, thinking about maybe trying to move my next chapter earlier in the book, when suddenly I realize that I have a big problem with the next chapter coming up in my half-hearted stab at an outline.

My FMC is a psychic who co-owns a New Age bookstore and does readings there, Tarot and the I Ching and things. In her first chapter, a weird guy (WG) turns up in the store. She isn't even sure that he's actually a person instead of a ghost or spirit or something like that, he just feels wrong. WG is fairly pleasant except for being really, really weird and asking lots of odd questions. Specifically he wants to know if she's seen a certain man lately and if she did any readings for him. FMC kind of blows him off so that he'll go away, he creeps her out so badly.

In the last chapter I finished, FMC has been kind of uneasy for a few days. WG and the man he was asking about have been on her mind and she doesn't know why. In the middle of a reading, she has a vision of the sudden, intense sort she hardly ever gets--the man WG was asking about is in a lot of trouble and suddenly the ominous cards she read for him make a lot of sense. Also she gets kind of a sense during the vision that WG might have something to do with it, and even if he doesn't it's probably a good thing she didn't tell him what he wanted to know.

The weird guy is from the alternate world where the embodiments of character archetypes and tropes live. So far as anyone knows this early in the story, he works for the Woman Warrior but isn't anything specific himself. The current Woman Warrior (the tropes sort of change over time, it's complicated) is more of a ruthless corporate executive than an actual battlefield fighter, and she has an office in the city nearest to the little town where FMC lives. The next chapter I had planned was the one where he turns up again at FMC's shop a few days or a week later and takes her downtown so the Woman Warrior can basically explain the plot (the man FMC read the cards for is Woman Warrior's gentleman friend. He's gone missing and the last place anyone saw him was around FMC's shop. So she'd better tell them where he is or go find him, or else).

So if she's had, all of these big flashing warning signs up until now, then why in the hell would she just be like "sure, let's go!" when WG turns up again insisting she get in his car or whatever and come with him? I'd been thinking that she doesn't want to look like a flake in front of her business partner when WG shows up, and/or she just wants to get to the bottom of what's going on here, and/or she thinks that this might be only way to help the man she saw in the vision since the police aren't going to take that kind of story real seriously. But would those be strong enough reasons for her to just up and get in a car with a man who spooked her out so badly the other day?

Edit: Okay, new question.

I've had a few people suggest various places that perhaps FMC is willing to with WG because he rescued her from something, maybe something he staged, which started me thinking.

There's a character in the story who's a particularly nasty piece of work, the Villain's Hounds (like the Nazgûl, Gmork, Croup and Vandemar--the beastie that the villain sends out on "find and destroy" missions). In an earlier draft of my outline I'd been planning to send it to visit FMC after she'd gone to Warrior Woman's office. She didn't buy any part of what Woman Warrior had to say; FMC's attitude was more or less "lady, you're crazy, let me go home now." Then the Hounds showed up to warn her off and that was what made her change her mind about staying out of it. If there are things like that taking an interest in her, she wants this business done. I'd decided not to do that because I thought it pushed the start of the story back too far (and, now I think of it, it still doesn't address the question of why she'd go to the office with Weird Guy anyway). Then I'd been considering a scene after the guy in trouble escapes and FMC meets up with him where the Hounds come to ask her if she's seen this person they need to talk to (but I was sort of lukewarm on that idea since it's basically identical to one from early in "Neverwhere").

I'll show my hand a little and admit that Weird Guy and the Hounds are working together on something I could totally see WG saying to it, "look, she won't listen to me, you go put the fear of, um, you into her." And then either WG happens along right at the most opportune moment to save her from the Hounds, or after it's gone FMC calls the number on his card he gave her and says okay, if this kind of crazy crap is going to keep happening, maybe we can talk. Woman Warrior isn't in on their plans so I'm not sure quite why they'd want to drive FMC to her.

My question here: is this too much happening before we get to the explanation of the premise? First WG shows up, then she has this vision, then the Hounds maybe come by, and then FMC finally says to Woman Warrior, "okay, tell me what this is all about." I was sort of thinking about cutting the chapter where she has the vision. Good move, or does it sound like it would work okay as is?
sweet_sparrow: Miaka (Fushigi Yûgi) looking very happy. (Not mine)
([personal profile] sweet_sparrow Aug. 11th, 2009 09:38 pm)
Hi, all. My first post here, though I've lurked a bit in the comments and tried to help people out.

My question regarding numbers is: Spell them out or write them all numerically?

Please note, I'm not asking this because I need help deciding. Rather, I'm curious where you all stand on the matter and hope to spark an interesting discussion. My experiences have taught me that this is a choice dependent on the writer in question with no right or wrong answer, per se. (Of course it's different if you're writing for a publishing house with its own style guide.)

For my part, I was taught that smaller/easy numbers should be spelled out (e.g. "fifty-five") and longer/complicated numbers (such as '1,999') be written numerically and I like it that way. But I have an irrational fear of numbers (outside date notation in the headers and page number notation and the like. I can deal with those), so the less numerical writing I have to do in-story, the better for my general health.

There's also the group that holds that numbers above 20/100 should be numerical, but everything below should be spelled out. And there's the question of placement and meaning, so for the sake of the argument let's suppose that we're talking about numbers used in dialogue or narrative. Say, a house number or a monetary amount a shopkeeper is quoting. How would you reflect that number in the text and why?

I hope that that's all clear. (I'm not exactly known for clarity, I'm afraid.)
I have a novel I've been working on for a little while. It's sort of complicated. Trying to explain it I feel a little bit like I'm doing one of those slight-of-hand tricks where they walk you through it nice and slow and then go "aha! But where did the coin go?"

Okay, so. The main question the protagonist is trying to find in the story is "what happened to Secondary Character A?" The basic premise is that there’s a fantasy world where characters live who are the embodiment of archetypes and tropes--the Hero, the Pair of Creepy Villains, etc.--alongside the real one. My main character, Fox, owns a New Age bookstore and is a psychic. She gets pulled into the other world's political shenanigans when the Warrior Woman enlists Fox to find out what's become of her gentleman friend, the Knight in Shining Armor. Last place anyone saw him was coming out of Fox's store and she read the cards for him, so she must know something (which, of course, is all news to her).

My problem comes with the first chapter I wrote. I'd just meant it to be a good hook into the story, but it sort of vaguely answers the question, though that isn't obvious at the time. Where did he go? He was kidnapped by the Villain and the Turncoat. Their motivation is a lot more complicated than it first seems--it looks like a simple ransom at first, but they're working for somebody else, who is attempting to rearrange the political power structure in the trope world--and I feel like I ought to keep writing that subplot more than I am.

As the story sits, the first chapter is the White Knight going to meet with some folks who turn out to have bad things planned for him, though it isn't clear in that chapter what they intend or why he's there. It isn't until chapter three or four that the Warrior Woman brings Fox to her offices and says pretty much "look, my boy's missing and you're going to find him." There's a lot more going on than they know about--the Knight was trying to get away from his present situation and really, really bet on the wrong horse when he tried to get someone to help him leave. He made a deal with the Villain (I don't even know what yet) and didn't find out until it was too late that he'd been double-crossed. After the first chapter, I don't go back to that subplot until somewhere near the middle of the story, where the Knight has somehow escaped and knows that pretty much everyone is in a lot of trouble. I don't want to let the plot out too early, because there's no real suspense if the reader sees everything that's happening right from the beginning, is there? But on the other hand it seems like it would be sort of frustrating/annoying/disappointing for the reader to jump right from "they got him" to "oh no, he's loose, that's no problem now!"

I'd been playing with the structure of the story such that major revelations come in the chapter after the main characters figure out the most likely answer. For example, the Knight isn't the only trope to disappear. Fox finds this out when she and her companion go looking for the Wise Woman for advice only to find that she's gone too. Then in the next chapter, it's back to the Knight wherever he's being held and the same gang who grabbed him are also holding the Wise Woman for whatever reason. I'm just not sure that if I keep that up, that "oh, that's not good. What happened?" "This happened!" structure for the whole story, that it would work well. I can sort of see where it might fall into the "protagonist is always right" trap and be annoying. And while I'm alternating storylines between chapters, I'm not quite sure how long is too long to spend with the subplot. I think every other chapter would be too often and would be jarring, but I think more than two or three in the main story before checking in on the subplot would be spreading it too thin.

I'm not sure. Does it sound like it ought to work as is, or should I change it somehow? How do you keep from giving away too much of your stories too soon?

[edited to include specifics of the story]
Hi everyone!

I'm trying to figure out weaponry for one of my stories. The setting is based in Victorian-esque time period. There is magical energy in this world, called evthene, which is divided into two categories: revtha (physical) and kethna (spiritual/mental and so far, is greatly unexplored). The civilized cultures have learned to harness the power of revtha waves as a general energy source (At the beginning of the story is the first tranport run, which would probably be equivalent to the first train/railroad in the US, and the tranport is powered by revtha waves/energy). Kethna waves are pretty much unexplored, except by a few people. Evthene is a somewhat limited natural resource, probably along the lines of.... coal? Lumber? I don't remember what the figures are at for those, but something that there happens to be a lot of right now, but they are using it up. There is another source for it, but they haven't discovered it yet.

So. weaponry. Bladed and crushing weapons are commonly used everywhere. What I'm trying to figure out are ranged weapons.

I've got a former pirate (MC) who, as a boy, ends up making friends with an aristocratic boy(A) on a ship he's supposed to be helping raid, making friends with him, and saving his life by getting him and his servant away from the ship before the pirates attack, and ends up going with them and abandoning his ship (This is that short story prequel I'd been having trouble with earlier). Fast forward about eight to ten years (main story), and MC has been living with the aristocratic family, gets engaged to an aristocrat from another country(F), and meets up with his former crew and captain, who wants him back on the ship, and is willing to use force to get him there.

So we have aristocrats vs. pirates. The aristocrats(MC, A, and F) are all pretty good fighters with a sword, at least (fencing is popular), though other than MC, none of the others have been in a real blood fight before. A's sister (S) isn't a fighter, but she's smart (she's the "science" geek and oohs and aahs and tinkers with mechanical and evthene related things. Personality-wise, she reminds me a little of Gadget from Chip'n'Dale's Rescue Rangers). But the pirates have new weapons, developed in the realm of organized crime.

My first thought was that these new weapons were guns - revolvers or pistols, maybe. But, quite frankly, I'm pretty sure those would have been available for a long while, and MC, at least knows how to use them. The other aristocrats ought to know them, too, even if they aren't favored weaponry. So, my next thought is: technologically advanced guns.

I know. My imagination is failing me.

These guns would probably use evthene/revtha somehow, and would give the pirates an unfair advantage over the aristocrats. They would also be something that could be dropped, so that S could find it, start tinkering with it, reverse engineering it, improving on it, and possibly bringing an advantage back over to the aristocrats.

So, my questions:
1. What kinds of ranged weaponry, specifically guns, were commonly in use in the Victorian period?
2. Do you have any ideas for what these weapons could do/be other than "Ooh! We have ranged weapons that explode and you don't!" ("Nyah, nya, nya, nyah, nyah")

Sorry if that wasn't very coherent. If you have questions, I'll try to explain further.
I'm not sure if this is the right comm to post in, does Dreamwidth have any communities like [community profile] little_details?

I need some help from people who know a little something about either guns, or sedatives. These are more research-y questions than plot brainstorming, but it'll help me a hell of a lot.

The Place: Romsdalen Valley, Norway
The Time: 1995

- What kind of rifles would a fairly well-off hunting enthusiast have?

- Is there a type of gun-rack/gun storage furniture where the guns themselves are plainly visible, but it locked so that only the owner can access them? Would any other paraphernalia be in there with them?

- What kind of sedatives would have been available which would be tasteless, and would knock out a fourteen year old girl for no more than six hours or so? To put it bluntly, I'm looking for something akin to a date rape drug, though my villain is using this as a way to get the main protagonist out of her hair while she commits some acts of dark sorcery.

Story details here )

Thanks in advance to anyone who can point me in the right direction.

I hope my entry is ok here, I write since a long time my novel. Its a fiction and its written  in separate little stories for each chapter with always the same character ( a woman) and she has different adventures each time (each chapters has links with the others). I almost finished my novel and Im at the last chapter. A each time I find a title and then work with it to create the story, But since almost a year I can write anymore, I blocked at the same place: the principale character is with her new boyfriend, is the morning, they took a shower together, they eat their breakfast, they are happy then someone bang at the door.

My problem is: I don't know who bang at the door.  I have few possibilities

1-A old aunt who arrive with her bags

2- He deliver boy with a package

3- Three little scout girls for calendar fund sale.

Im a french canadian, I write in French, is a humor novel and my character is completely insane (in a good way she thinks...). The title in this last chapter is : And the winner is.,......  I know the end of the chapter and to the novel. Is just I can decide at who bang at the door and with that complete the story, I really need support to finish this.  

Soooo, wich one of the possiblities inspire you??? Do you have other suggestions????

Please I need help !!! lol

Hooo and I hope Im clear...... If not don't be shy to ask more explanations.

 Ok, this isn't so much a brainstorming question as advice.

If you have a short story that takes place over 3 days, and you have something important happening on the first day, and on the third day, what do you do with the second?

Would you try to find something interesting to go in the second day? Or would you gloss over or skip it entirely?

EDIT: Thanks, guys, for all the ideas! I didn't think about how vague I was being, but it was really me being curious in general as to how you'd handle a situation like that. For extra context, if you'd like, it's a short story that's sort of a prequel to a novel I'm planning, and involves how two of the characters meet for the first time. On the first day, they meet. On the second day, they do stuff together, and on the third day, something happens. Since I'm writing this partially for my own benefit, and to get a sense of the characters, I think I'll write out what I can of the second day, and then cut it out if need be. I've already got the first day done, which already has a bit of glossing over it, so just need to finish the other two.

By the way, is everyone all right with my editing the original entry to show that it's resolved, or would you need me to respond to your comments individually? (Obviously, discussion about specific comments should go with those, but I thought this might be better for overall.) Let me know what you think.

magycmyste: (moon)
([personal profile] magycmyste Apr. 23rd, 2009 10:15 pm)
 Hi! Welcome to [community profile] writerstorm !

If you have any questions or ideas regarding your writing, feel free to ask them here, and hopefully someone (or more than one someones) will be able to help you out.

Also, if you know anyone else who would be interested in this community (on Dreamwidth or able to comment via OpenID), feel free to spread the word! (OpenID users will only be able to comment on other people's posts to answer questions, but I'm wondering if we can work around that by having someone post the question by proxy. Any OpenID users watching can sound off here about that idea.) After all, the more brains there are to pick, the more questions can be answered!

Brainstorming time!