Archive | October 2, 2016

LadiesBingo: Hero – Cady and Lily

Written for my [community profile] ladiesbingo card after or riffing off of Tell Me a Story. See also Heroes..

Sum-up of what’s come before: Lily’s grandma told the best stories, because she could see what needed to be told. What she told for Cady had surprised even her a little bit.


And so the young knight slew her first demon. And although she knew there would be many more demons, and many more mountains to climb, she knew she would never have to face them on her own

Cady had been telling herself those words over and over again. And so the young knight slew a demon. The young knight. A demon. Slew it. She had been whispering them to herself on her walk to school. She’d been shouting them out on the playground, when some of the other girls were pretending they were too old for such things as make-believe, and some of the boys were pretending she couldn’t be a knight, because that’s not what girls did. She and Lily – and Ken and Melissa and Pat – they went to their little corner of the playground, behind the weird thing nobody wanted to play on, that Cady thought might have been an elephant. And they played Knights and Demons, and Rescue the Princess, and, sometimes, when they were sure the teachers were somewhere else, they played Kiss the Knight.

"The knight thrust with her lance!" she shouted at the thin air. They never had anyone play the demon. they didn’t need to. They could all see where he was, the shape he made in the air.

"The lance the princess had made her!" Lily was sitting astride the elephant-thing, cheering her on. She knew the story as well as Cady, of course; it had been Lily’s grandmother that had told it to them. "The lance the Princess had carved from her own flesh and bones and, and, and heart."

That part was new. Cady’s imaginary lance faltered for a second and her steps shook.

"The demon thought the knight was weak!" Ken prompted, scoffing at the demon. "He couldn’t see what even an idiot could see!"

The story was growing. Cady took a step forward. Playground demons could be stabbed with imaginary lances.

"He couldn’t see that the princess held the most powerful of all the elements," Pat improvised. Pat’s stories were all a little bit more, uh, anime than the rest of them, but it just made everything that much more wild. Nobody else would have said the princess was riding a robotic elephant-horse-dragon, for instance. Nobody else would have given the lance a laser pointer. "The princess wielded, uh." He glanced back at Lily.

The other girls on the playground were playing marriage and divorce or some other soap-opera thing, or truth and dare. Cady had seen them at it. She glanced back at Lily, too, turning so her imaginary lance was still pointed at the invisible demon.

Lily raised her chin. "The princess wielded the hammer of love. She’d swung it with all of her might, to forge the lance for the knight. Because nobody else could make the weapon right." She grinned, gap-toothed and proud of herself. "She was the only one."

Cady found herself inclined to agree. "Nobody else could make the weapon right," she nodded firmly. "And so the Knight thrust her lance into the demon, and it fell." She shoved her imaginary lance forward.

The real demons weren’t that easy. But maybe, with Lily’s hammer and Pat’s screwdriver – sonic of course – and Ken’s flower wand, maybe she stood a chance.

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Worldbuilding for Preptober… Some Basic Questions

First, a disclaimer:

Normally, I world-build accidentally: I start writing a story and then end up building a setting around it.

This works decently for me, but it ends up with a couple problems, the biggest of which is artifacts of old ideas hanging around (seems like that part in the Matrix where they meet the vampires, etc.): is it Calenta, Calenna, Catenna? And shouldn’t that be an initial K anyway?

Sometimes I start with a mood, or a specific scene – Emrys being forced by his vow to kneel for Shahin, for instance – or a feeling. That determines certain things: if the mood is oppressive-government-control, there must be an oppressive government. If a vow forces someone to their knees, then vows have that power.

A lot of times, the worldbuilding comes from a question or a plot bunny or just an idea that appeals to me. That stuff is organic, and sometimes it Tribbles, grows out of control, and is hard to track.

Sometimes, I answer questions, and those questions set things in place, and lead to more questions. For instance, right now I’m pondering how a sexist, tightly-gender-bound matriarchal monarchy (Tír na Cali) handles transpeople (Carefully).

But before you get more than a few drabbles in a world, there a few questions even I like to answer first (after you’ve picked a broad genre, of course)

  • Is this on Earth? If not, where are we?
    • Sci-Fi offers in-and out-solar system, in- and out-galaxy, space ships, asteroids, and the question of whether or not they’ve ever heard of Earth (Star Wars for a “no”; Star Trek for a “yes.”)
    • Fantasy offers: second-world, a place that is in no-way Earth (Middle Earth); a place that one travels to FROM earth (Narnia); a place that is disturbingly earthlike but the countries have different names (too many to name).
      Science Fantasy (Darkover, Pern) offers… lots of options, mostly combining the first two.

  • What is the scope of the magic or science? For instance, can it:
    • Cure disease
    • change someone’s appearance
    • Travel long distances quickly or instantaneously
    • shift between universes
    • Kill
    • Make someone love you; make someone obey you.

  • How far-reaching is your government, and how powerful?

  • And what form of government is it, and is it benign or malevolent or… other?

To be fair, that last one can be hand-wavey for a while in, say, urban fantasy, if you’re talking about the governing body of your magical group, not the government of the real-world-like “normal world.”

As a note, while urban fantasy is often set in “a world just like our own, except xx beneath the surface,” I’ve read some interesting books where the world is NOT just like our own in some critical ways, and/or the magic is overt, not at all beneath the surface.

And as a second note, in any urban/modern fantasy setting, or cyberpunk/Shadowrun-like setting, you’ll have to figure out the scope of both your magic and your technology…

…which is where I am. And, because it’s a post-apocalyptic setting…

…First I have to figure out how badly everything was ruined, then how long ago it was ruined, and then how much they have built back up, and in what directions.

That being said, I think the magic is totem-based, with superimposed animal spirits and some *ahem* non-animal spirits.

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