Tag Archive | preptober

Two “PrepTober” Pieces

These have been sitting in my drafts bin for a bit, but here we go…

Based on Twitter Prompts

Write your character sick  – Deline, Bear Empire, some time before the book

“Bear Claws don’t get sick.”

Deline had been saying this for a week, but the evidence was mounting up against her: chills, fever, an unfortunate habit of losing whatever she put in her stomach, an increasing inability to stand up.

“We don’t.   It’s part of the magic of the Claw.  It’s part of the initiation, it’s part of what we are.  We don’t get sick.”  She wasn’t really arguing with Anire, her husband’s junior wife; she was more arguing with the facts.
Anire had never turned down a fight.  She looked Deline up and down and huffed.

“Well then, someone poisoned you.  Or cast a nasty sort of magery on you.  Something like that.  Either way, you cannot go on a mission today, and you shouldn’t be going to a formal dinner. You shouldn’t be going anywhere except to bed.”  Anire took a firm hold on Deline’s arm and tugged.

It was a sign of how miserable that Deline was feeling that she didn’t feel strong enough to resist the tug.  “We have to be at that dinner.  Any absence, any of the four of us, it will be noted.”

“This, this is why you need another husband.  You need someone to send you to bed and then take your regrets to the dinner.  You need someone to tell you when you’re being foolish, Deline.  And make sure that you don’t knock yourself over.  If you’d listened to me, if you hadn’t gone out on that hunt yesterday-”

“Enough.”  Deline tried to put some firmness in her voice, but she found she had none to offer.  “Enough, Anire.  I will go to bed and sleep until an hour before the dinner.  You can send your junior husband in, if you’re worried about me staying in place.  And then, when it’s time for the dinner, I will put on my best gown and my best bright-eyes spell, and I will walk around.  Then, if someone has poisoned me, they will see that they’ve failed.”

“Sleep.”  Anire shoved Deline lightly into bed and hauled a blanket over her.  “If you sleep now and drink broth when I bring it to you, I will make sure someone wakes you up in time for you to dress for the dinner.  But if you give me any trouble at all, I’m going to sit on you, and we will both miss that dinner, and the scandal can say that we would rather spend the day in bed together than meet with the governors.  Which, considering it’s the Lynx and Elk governors, has more than a small grain of truth to it.  Sleep, Deline.”
Deline blinked up at her husband’s junior wife, wondering why she looked as if she was shining.  “Sleep,” she agreed.  She was so cold.  “Another blanket?”

“Another blanket.  And, you know, Deline.  I’m a Claw, too.  You know I know there’s no such thing as magic to keep you from getting sick.”  Anire kissed her forehead lightly.  “Rest, Sister Claw.  I’ll watch your back.”

Continue reading

Worldbuilding for Preptober… Laws and Rules

First, a link: http://www.robinlafevers.com/2016/10/30/managing-a-cast-of-thousands/

I found this quite interesting, and actually useful in working on the cast for my Nano project.


Now, a completely different topic: Rules, laws, and Taboo, or You Can’t Do That on Television (for a totally outdated pop-culture reference).

This comes down to some pretty basic questions:

* what are important rules in your society/country/world?

* how are they (are they?) enforced?

* how are they codified?

* how are transgressions punished?

Rules themselves divide up further: social mores, institutional rules, laws, natural laws*.

And, of course, you don’t have to figure them all out, but it might help to consider where your characters are going to be and what level of freedom they will have:

* do people of your protagonist’s age and gender wander freely? If not, what restrictions are on their movement?

* What about speech? To what level is free expression censured?

* Physical contact? Is it okay for a woman to touch an unmarried man? If not, why not?

These may be simply unwritten rules – good girls or boys just “don’t do” certain things, and to do so risks shunning or social disgrace. They may be laws, with commensurate punishments. They could be natural laws*, incapable of being broken.

For instance: In 4th Husband, unmarried men do not speak to women outside of their families. This is a social more, and their sisters and mothers will enforce it, often with “grounding” or spankings.

In Edally/Reiassan, casual touch between strangers is taboo. Again, a social more, one that tends to be self-enforced.

However, in Fae Apoc, if a fae has made a promise, they are bound by it. They cannot break that promise without risking their own mind shattering, and many people are not strong enough to even attempt it.

What about your worlds? What things just Don’t Happen? Contrariwise, what things Must Happen?

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1193551.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Worldbuilding for Preptober… Working out an Antagonist

First, a link – How To Vividly Describe a Setting That You’ve Never Visited: http://romanceuniversity.org/2016/07/22/how-to-vividly-describe-a-setting-that-youve-never-visited-by-angela-ackerman/

Okay, I have my character dressed (or I will as soon as I figure it out); I know where she starts out the story (with her mother, fathers, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandmother, nieces, and nephews), what sort of schooling (loosely) she’s had, and what sort of technology the world has. I know it’s a totalitarian govern without the technological control to be as invasive as it could be. I know it’s a poor nation, with far too much of its resources going towards war.

…Crap, I need a bad guy.

My preferred sort of antagonist, as many of you have noticed over the years, is the Setting Is the Problem: Tír na Cali, Addergoole, Unicorn/Factory, probably Things Unspoken. I mean, in The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper, the main antagonist, technically, is a collar.

I should probably branch out a bit.

And yet, because I decided I was using some parody twitter accounts as the launching point for this series/world, I have a dystopian world. I have an oppressive government, in part because I wanted to play with some elements from some of the best-known dystopian worlds. Also, the idea of having the protagonist be “Chosen” reminded me of some real-world totalitarian governments, so…

The world itself is creating problems for my protagonist. She doesn’t want to be Disappeared. She doesn’t want to live the life the government has picked out for her. Yes, I’m running on tropes for that part; that’s the whole idea of the series. 🙂

But the world doesn’t actually act on its own.

For instance, in Addergoole, there’s a lot of elements that are setting-creating-problems, but some of those were caused by the gods – they could make some awesome antagonists for something a bit more high-powered… – right, back on track. There are elements which relate to the school, but those are caused by students (Ardell, for instance, Baram, Rozen) or by the staff – especially Regine, who created this little corner of hell intentionally and caused it to be as bad as it is through a combination of mindful goals and failure to understand certain parts of human nature. In Tír na Cali, slavery is part of the world, but the abuses of such are caused by specific people and institutions.

Bear with me; I’m talking through this as I go.

Cal got me thinking the other day about antagonists being people – okay, yeah, it’s a little late for that – but with mutually exclusive goals to the protagonist. So I’m going to think about that for a bit.
If your protagonist wants to overthrow the government, why does their antagonist want to keep the government intact?

If your protagonist doesn’t want to be Disappeared, why does the antagonist want to Disappear her?

My protagonist wants to make her own choices about her life. She wants to find a niche that makes her happy.

The government wants to make her choices for her, based on her skillset. This is supposed to also make her happy; indeed, a lot is put into propaganda about how being properly chosen for your ideal job should make you thrilled. “A well-placed nation is a happy nation.”

The agents of the government going against her plans will be working within the government’s goals (stability of the nation, success and victory in war, the power remaining in the hands of the powerful). (Note that these are the goals of people, too; government does not have its own thoughts or plans…)
(That would be a good idea for a novel, although Person of Interest might have covered some of that…)

(Anyway!)

Government doesn’t have its own thoughts or plans. That’s all people.

There’s a person in charge of the military/government. Are they good? Evil? Neutral? Okay, that’s not very nuanced. What are their goals?

There’s a person who acts out the will of the military on my protag. What about them? Do they enjoy being mean, or are they pressed by orders? By the will of the greater good?

And then there’s the antagonist for the book: someone in the government, acting out the government’s will while also having their own agenda.

I keep picturing him as President Snow. I’ve really got to work on that. I mean, I don’t even know he’s a he.

The theme of the novel is recruited. It’s even the title. Thus, it would help if the antagonist had something to do with recruiting.

So: Avo had skills that will allow the Governor to achieve their goals. They have been relegated to the back-office job of teaching/monitoring upstarts, abnormals, and rebels because they were themselves an upstart of some kind. They might have a bit of a superiority complex, and they definitely want to get out of running the School for Misfits and climb to what they think is their true position.

If Avo (protagonist) is cautious of the propaganda and learning how many layers deep it has gone, Governor both believes in it whole-heartedly and uses it to their own means.

How does the Governor want to use Avo’s skills to achieve their own means? How will that go against Avo’s goals and wishes?

I still have a lot of work to do on this!

What about you? What do you know about your antagonists? What are their goals, and how to those goals put them at odds with the protagonist(s)?

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1192985.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Worldbuilding for Preptober… Fashion Questions

First, some more Links:
http://www.shesnovel.com/blog/plot-bunny-novel/
http://www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html
**
I keep thinking of all these fun, serious sorts of topics, and then realizing I really want to write about fashion.

Well, then why not? It’s on my worldbuilding bingo, clearly I’m not the only one that thinks about it.

And in some situations it can make or break your story.

(I read a lot of stuff written in the 50’s and 40’s growing up. What I remember most in terms of confusing terminology was fashion terms. Nothing else really said this is a period piece the way the clothing terms did).

I’m going to diverge into actual historical stuff for a moment: If you are writing a period piece, know your terminology, know your fashion era. Do the research! Don’t put your heroine in a bustle when she should be wearing a farthingale, or a corset when it would be “stays.”

Okay, back to worldbuilding and fashion. If you have an urban fantasy world set in nearly-Earth, your fashion choices are likely to be more about character building and less about worldbuilding. But if you have a fantasy, sci-fi, post-apoc world, then you can say a lot about your world by the fashion you put your people in.

If fantasy, are you riffing off a particular historical period or a particular part of the world? Do some research into that period and region: if you want to change things up, do it knowingly. If you want corsets over 13th-century kirtles, well, have a reason for that. If sci-fi, are you extrapolating out from a particular fashion and era?

Basic questions that cover all eras of fashion:
* What is the technology available for weaving cloth and manufacturing clothing?
* What is the climate/are the climates of your setting? Equatorial people are going to end up wearing different things than arctic ones, for one.
* What functional purposes, other than protection from climate, do clothing serve in your culture(s)? Blacksmith’s aprons fall here, as do clean-room suits.
* What are the social mores surrounding clothing, decoration, head- and limb- covering, facial and head hair, body hair, and so on, in your culture(s)?
* What is the economy of your nation(s) currently? (see the Hemline index for one way that might determine what’s currently in fashion).
* What is the current body type fashion for men? For women?
* Is there a strong gendered dichotomy in fashion / in life? A weak one? An aggressive lack of dichotomy?
* Are their actual laws regarding who can wear what? (Sumptuary Laws). Are these laws morality-based, class-based, designed to set off a certain portion of the public?
* Does your culture / do your cultures have strong class divisions? How do these divisions show up in clothing?
* are there non-humanoid aspects to consider? Tails? Horns?

For instance: In Inner Circle/Jumping Rings, every citizen is issued cheap tunics. The climate is warm, Mediterranean general trends; they have no nudity taboo, and they tend towards portable decoration and clothing that can move around the Changes brought on by magic. Technology is barely early-industrial-era, but supplemented by magic. There is very little gendered dichotomy in base clothing, but some people will choose to emphasize traits of one or another gender.

The cities are divided into Rings representing walls separating the citizens from the dangers of the Circled Plain. The lower number of Ring you are, the further inside the city, and thus the safer you are – and generally far more affluent. The outer rings are often very poor people, and these people generally will just wear the government-issue tunic. In the innermost rings, the tunics are either donated directly out-circle, or worn for dirty jobs or slumming around, and in the middle rings, nobody would be caught dead in a government-issue tunic.

And, let’s see, in Arlend, which is my Nano-project-place’s name (Finally! A name!):
* Weaving is mechanized, but still requires human labor. Complex patterns in the weave are possible, but subsequently much more expensive. Luxury tends to be shown in a combination of more fabric and more complexly-woven fabrics.
* The climate is cold in the winter (thick snow) and warm but not oppressively so in the summer. Clothing tends towards layers that can be easily added or shed.
…Still working on the rest!

What about you?

Do you have anything specific in mind for the clothing in your world?
Is it based of a specific Earth era? Are you making it up whole-cloth(ha)?
What does how your protagonist dresses say about them?

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1186502.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Worldbuilding for Preptober… The Family Answers

First, some other people’s Preptober-related links:

Find Your Story Plot By Asking These 7 Questions
NaNoWriMo Triage Center: Helping You Get To 50K
Some Writing Worksheets
5 Ways to plot your novel


I was all ready to start this post with “Oh bog, I forgot technology”… and then I remembered that I’d covered it in a handwave in the basic questions post.

So, with technology handled, at this point, I look at my story, and see what I need to know to get it started.

My protagonist starts out at home, so, as mentioned in the Family post, I need to figure out what that looks like.

Here’s a bit of my process in picking family type:

I was super tempted to go with line marriage, because I’m a Heinlein fan and because I’ve never played with it before (the basic concept: a group marriage continues to add spouses over time, so that the family never ends as a unit). But the premise of my story is that it’s based on YA tropes, and attempting to find a line marriage to join wouldn’t fit the young-romance sort of thing well (brb, adding that to my what-to-write-later list in my bujo).

On the other hand, I want to play with some non-“traditional” relationship types, so it can’t be just “man/woman all the time,” hetero-monogamy.

The only other thing I know going in is I don’t want a dead/absent/checked out mother. Divergent had its flaws, but I really liked that there was an active, involved mother figure.

I ended up settling on extended family living arrangements with group marriages of three to five being common. This provides more family support, less duplication of both effort and things needed, and the ability to easier cover for a missing family member, should the government or other circumstances call them away.

So that’s her home life. Things I’ve already picked because of the nature of the story fit in here, too.

For instance:

Their government does yearly testing on people, although I haven’t figured out when it stops. Students gifted in a given area are tracked into that field. Schooling is directed by that testing, leading students into very specific areas. There is no opting-out of the testing, or of the directions it sends one.

This gives me: a governmental, nationwide educational system. A testing system, and the authority to carry it out. Adults who have been tracked into fields they are capable in.

It also gives me the question: what happens to people who aren’t skilled in anything? What about people who hate what they’re best at?

Also, what about people who are skilled in several areas? Or people tracked their whole life into something that’s made obsolete?

No answers yet, but I’ve found that often questions (looking at you, [personal profile] kelkyag, [personal profile] inventrix) stretch and build my world the most.

What parts of your world does your story dictate you understand? What parts of the world are themselves dictated by the story?

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1184360.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Worldbuilding for Preptober… The Family Questions

All right, so far I have:

  • An urban-fantasy post-apocalyptic setting, several generations (probably 2-400 years) after a major catastrophe.
  • Magic which is limited in scope but, within that scope can be very powerful. It is only wielded by 5-10% of the population, and only about 10% of them have any formal training. Exactly what it can do is going to depend on the story for the moment, as will how it works.
  • The government of [country] is intrusive, totalitarian, and controlling, although it loses some control in the remote areas. It covers a country approximately the size of Texas. It is not necessarily malevolent but it is intent on being in control.

Places to go from here include:
The Physical World

  • Geography: what sort of place is it? Are there mountains? Lakes? Islands? Oceans? Is it flat and boring? Hilly and gorgey?
  • Climate: How much weather does your main location get, and of what sorts (obviously not an issue on a space ship, unless you want it to be)

The Governmental World

  • How much does the government interfere with people’s day-to-day lives? Do they even notice it?
  • How granular is the government? Are their regional leaders? How far down (state/town/ village?) do the governments go?
  • What are the leaders called and how do they become leader? (Queen, hereditary; Innermost Circle, wealth-boosted meritocracy; President, representative election by proxy votes).

Where I’m going first:
Family life: What is the family structure, and how did it come about?

  • Who did your protagonist(s) grow up with? Is this common?
  • Who is responsible for child-rearing? Education? Punishment? (are children punished?)
  • What age is adulthood?
  • Marriage? Does it exist? How does it relate to child-rearing, if at all?
  • How much is the state involved in the government?
  • Potential family units include:
  • Polygynous: One husband, many wives. Common in fantasy. Not my fave.
  • Polyandrous: One wife, many husbands. (See Wikipedia). An option that intrigues me here is fraternal polyandry.
  • Polygamous: all the spouses, everywhere! Group marriage, in this case, since polygamy covers both of the above options. This includes Line Marriage, a la Heinlein.
  • Single-parent households.
  • Extended families as a household (Addergoole’s Shahin, for instance, grew up in an extended family of her mother, her mother’s sisters, and her mother’s mother).
    …You know, all of these are based on a dual-sexed human species. If you’re going alien… well, you’re well outside of my expertise, but have fun! Five-pointed marriages, anyone?

I’ll note here that what kind of upbringing characters have had will color what they expect out of their life — what partners they may or may not be looking for. Is their family (or their government) going to arrange a marriage for them? How do they feel about that? Are they looking for a partner, three partners, a line marriage to join? It may not be their primary consideration, but even the lack of a consideration is worth a note.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1183173.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

A Worldbuilding Digression: Limiting your Scope

After a brief conversation with Rion the other day, I thought I’d talk about limiting scale.

The thing about worldbuilding in a fantasy or sci-fi world is that your space if effectively limitless. On a fantasy world, you might only have one planet, but you also have the possibility of other planes (or underground worlds, or sky-worlds, and so on).

Sometimes, that’s a bit much, and you want to keep your characters in one place and/or just focus on a small area of world-building.

Starting with Sci-Fi, ways to limit your scope include:

  • Write something set on Future Earth/Future Other Planet without FTL travel or with really expensive FTL travel, so that people are mostly stuck on one place.
  • Write a bubble city/something stuck under a dome (or a sky city, belt city: a self-contained metropolis, at least)
  • Start with a claustrophobic setting: set in a quarantine, or stuck in a locked-down megacity (think Dr. Who, the episode in the flying cars in the perpetual gridlock)

For a fantasy setting:
  • Set the story on an island nation. Maybe a very small island.
  • Your nation is isolated from the rest of the world, if not by water, then by mountains or desserts or a very very tall wall, or possibly by walls and regulation.
  • The portals are cut off. You can only access other worlds (or other cities, or maybe even other blocks) by two portals that open sporadically and otherwise just lead into the bathroom.

The smaller you dial things down – a bunker! A single room! A closet! – the less you have to flesh out about the world outside.

Of course, your characters still live in the world outside, unless they’ve spent their whole lives in this closet (and, even if they have, someone has fed them, someone has spoken to them, we assume. They’ve interacted with something in the world). That means you will have to determine some things: for instance, how their names work, why they are in a closet, etc.

(If you want to write feral children, more power to you, but from my research, this would be an immense challenge, and outside the scope of this particular article.)

But, by pulling the scope in, you’re buying yourself some time – if your character has never seen the next city over, then the most you have to do is give secondhand descriptions of it.

(Come to think of it, Inner Circle and Addergoole both have a lot of limiting-of-scope going on: In Inner Circle/Jumping Rings, you generally move slowly through the rings of your city, if at all, and most people never travel to another city. The government and the walls limit the first, and the monsters and raiders of the waste limit the second. And in Addergoole, you have people ignorant of the “world as it really is,” stuck in an underground bunker with only a few other examples of their species.)

Of course, if you don’t want to limit scope, you’re free to make your world as big as you want to.

For my YA Para-Drama, I haven’t yet decided to narrow the scope, but I’m starting with an insular nation that does not talk much about its neighbors, preferring swords to plowshares. And I have a young student, at a training camp/school, which limits her ability to move around a bit.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1182076.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

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.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1179665.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

World’tober… building a world in 31 days

It’s October! That means Nano is just a month away!

And, ack, I need a world.

I thought I’d try to go through my worldbuilding process, such as it is, and break it down into thirty easy posts.

Today, I’m cheating. This is the easy stuff.


First

Pick, loosely, a setting genre:

Realism?
Urban Fantasy/Magical Modern? (not quite the same thing but hey, broad strokes)
Post Apocalyptic?
High Fantasy/secondary world? (Thanks to [personal profile] lemon_badgeress for a reminder of the term)
Cyberpunk?
Sci-Fi/Space Opera?

In my case, after a couple polls and some discussion, I’m writing a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy.

That means magic, technology, grit, and ruins.

Of course… lots of my settings are one or both of those: Cali, Addergoole/Fae Apoc, the Planners, Unnamed Water Apocalypses 1 & 2, What-If/Ninefold… So, obviously, this is only the very broadest stroke.

But it’s an important stroke.

What about you? What genre is your setting?
Can you think of any clear options in setting I missed up there?

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1179410.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable