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johnny johnny is offline
writing machine in bad repair
Default   #17  
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzerain of Sheol View Post
...which on that note, I'm not sure what it says that our RP group comprises the sum total of responses in this thread.
Regardless of the implications, I'm happy you folks stopped by to discuss this. I think it's been pretty interesting and helpful, for me at least.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiet Man Cometh View Post
I guess it matters how much you care about the separation of a new setting versus history. If you don't care that readers assume you are writing an alternate Renaissance (even if you don't use the names of countries or significant people,) then don't worry about the language and connotations. If the setting in quest must absolutely be separated from our history and planet, then more care needs to be put in for word choice.
That's a pretty good point about how much concern I have for the readers assuming it's an alternate reality rather than its own world... I think it may be more that I don't want them to get confused, though, rather than making sure they know the story's universe is its own thing? I don't want them to get pushed out of the story by questions over whether they should be picturing maps as post-apocalyptic Earth maps or just regular Earth maps with the names changed. Distraction can be the enemy of world building.

I'm sure that most people don't know the etymology of words, or at the very least realize that the characters need to say a great many words that shouldn't exist in order to make the dialogue understandable, relatable, and so on -- but are they confused if a hostess in a fantasy asks that guests enjoy an assortment of hors d'oeuvres? It's a word so very obviously French, do they get distracted by the question of where a French phrase came from in a world without France?

I think a lot of novels get away with this sort of thing by populating their world with stand-in countries and cultures and applying the borrowed foreign phrasing to those fictional counterparts. What's everyone's opinion on this workaround?

Old Posted 04-18-2017, 06:03 PM Reply With Quote  
Default   #18   Suzerain of Sheol Suzerain of Sheol is offline
Desolation Denizen
It probably won't be a very helpful answer, but I think really it would come down to how you personally handled it. It's easy to imagine ways that those inclusions could seem tacky or strange, but that doesn't mean that they necessarily have to be at all. A large part of it for me would be the style of the narrative; if it sounds like there's a storyteller with a real personality describing things, I wouldn't think twice seeing a reference like that. In a more distant narration, though, it might stand out to a greater degree.

But, that avoids the issue of those terms actually being used in the setting itself, as in character dialogue, which I really think could be tolerable as long as it sounds natural. Reactions will probably vary on a case-by-case basis, too.

I am not hugely a fan of stand-in countries in secondary world fiction, though. It feels somewhat shallow, when even a mix of historical cultures with no additional creative invention on the author's part would be more interesting, generally.

Then there's the Traitor Son Cycle where it's literally medieval Europe except with monsters and magic, and the map is all wrong and all the countries have pretentious Ye Olde names (Alba and Galle for England and France, and so on.) but everyone is in on the con from page 1 being that it opens with a company of knights fighting a wyvern with Hermetical magic while swearing by "Jesu Christo". And really, what more can you ask for? :P
Cold silence has a tendency
to atrophy any sense of compassion
between supposed lovers.
Between supposed brothers.
Old Posted 04-18-2017, 06:53 PM Reply With Quote  
Espy Espy is offline
Wanderer
Default   #19  
Suze, I mean, minus Lawtan, everyone so far in this thread = writers/ex-writers.

Speaking of Final Fantasy (slightly off-topic), the thing that has bothered me the most about that series is the "ninja" class. Just...argh. No. I've rambled about this particular incongruity to many friends, most of whom see no issues with it. I can't be the only one who feels twitchy about the Ninja class...
Old Posted 04-19-2017, 12:06 AM Reply With Quote  
Default   #20   Suzerain of Sheol Suzerain of Sheol is offline
Desolation Denizen
I remember how strongly you felt about it, but not quite specifically what your annoyance was.

I don't want to derail johnny's thread, though. Hit me up on skype.
Cold silence has a tendency
to atrophy any sense of compassion
between supposed lovers.
Between supposed brothers.
Old Posted 04-19-2017, 01:33 AM Reply With Quote  
johnny johnny is offline
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Default   #21  
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzerain of Sheol View Post
I am not hugely a fan of stand-in countries in secondary world fiction, though. It feels somewhat shallow, when even a mix of historical cultures with no additional creative invention on the author's part would be more interesting, generally.
I think it definitely requires finesse. The notable example from my childhood is reading involving a Japan stand-in culture in Tamora Pierce's novels, which I don't think I had any issues with while reading (though it was quite a while ago) and nowadays I'm probably too embedded in nostalgia to give it fair criticism, but I do get this "the author probably read a bunch of stuff on Japanese history and wanted to do something with that culture" vibe from the whole thing.

I really wouldn't want to give that impression to anyone reading my stuff - I'd rather my world be built more naturally - but I guess it's not the worst thing ever, either.

Old Posted 04-19-2017, 12:32 PM Reply With Quote  
Default   #22   NekoAthena NekoAthena is offline
Harmless
This is quite a conundrum for me as well. I'm writing a sci-fi setting that has ancient civilizations and empires reimagined as star systems in the same galaxy. The main system is based on the ancient Greeks. Since the species is human, it's not too much of a stretch to say that the language is a renaissance from the actual period on Earth, which may or may not be part of the very distant past of these same people. But if you want it to be utterly divorced of Earth history, then it gets muddier to me. The solution may just be that these people are speaking their own alien language, and those particular words and the best English (or whatever language you are writing in) can translate? I mean you can use more generalized descriptive words instead of specific jargon (like "keyboard" instead of "pianoforte"), but I wouldn't get overly literal, cause then it will sound like Homestuck troll names lol (not that that is bad, but that had a much different intention).


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Old Posted 04-19-2017, 02:54 PM Reply With Quote  
Suzerain of Sheol Suzerain of Sheol is offline
Desolation Denizen
Default   #23  
I was trying to think of why I don't really wrestle with this particular issue very much last night, because it's actually taken a fair bit of reflection to even come up with comments here, and it ultimately comes back to, I'd guess, my tendency to eschew world-building details wherever possible. I pretty much only invent setting information as I need it for my story to progress and leave everything outside of that vague and undefined, which contributes to the overall sparse/concise nature of my prose, I think.

Does that strike anyone as a problematic way to approach secondary-world fiction? I think, rather than obviate the anachronism/extra-universal references concern of this thread, it just shoves them out of the spotlight, which, it occurs to me at this moment, may not be a net-positive.
Cold silence has a tendency
to atrophy any sense of compassion
between supposed lovers.
Between supposed brothers.
Old Posted 04-19-2017, 04:26 PM Reply With Quote  
Default   #24   Espy Espy is offline
Wanderer
Suze -- Not sure if I mentioned this back when we were talking about that particular tendency sometime over Skype, but IMO only having setting information where it's relevant to the plot, and eschewing most other world-building, lends itself to the writer having to pull deus ex machinas if they manage to write themselves into a corner.
Old Posted 04-19-2017, 04:54 PM Reply With Quote  
Suzerain of Sheol Suzerain of Sheol is offline
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Default   #25  
I suppose that's why I tend to plan my plots in detail before I start actually writing. (And also why I never get around to actually writing anything...)
Cold silence has a tendency
to atrophy any sense of compassion
between supposed lovers.
Between supposed brothers.
Old Posted 04-19-2017, 05:06 PM Reply With Quote  
Default   #26   johnny johnny is offline
writing machine in bad repair
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzerain of Sheol View Post
Does that strike anyone as a problematic way to approach secondary-world fiction? I think, rather than obviate the anachronism/extra-universal references concern of this thread, it just shoves them out of the spotlight, which, it occurs to me at this moment, may not be a net-positive.
I don't believe it's problematic, necessarily. In certain kinds of story, I think limiting the background data and world-building can be beneficial, though I think it's probably something that's difficult to maintain in longer fiction. If it's a novel, I can see it being hard for readers to invest themselves in 50,000+ words of a world with rules they don't know or understand, and a layout they can't mentally map.

Like the suggestion to keep the whole fictional universe vs. alternate-Earth setting vague, it's something I think could confuse readers and take them out of enjoying the story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NekoAthena View Post
The solution may just be that these people are speaking their own alien language, and those particular words and the best English (or whatever language you are writing in) can translate? I mean you can use more generalized descriptive words instead of specific jargon (like "keyboard" instead of "pianoforte")
I think this is how people hand-wave most stories written about -- or set within -- fictional, wholly made up universes and realities. But that last bit -- that's where I get held up, because the language chosen can help build the universe. "Pianoforte" has different connotations than "keyboard" and inspire different immediate mental images. Someone reading "keyboard" is more likely to picture either an electric musical keyboard, or a computer keyboard (or similar, perhaps futuristic console) but "pianoforte" is more likely to bring to mind not only a piano, but an old-fashioned piano.

It basically boils down to whether or not logic (the fact that there should be no "pianoforte" in a world without Italy) beats the world-building shorthand of using existing terminology to ensure that readers picture exactly what you want them to picture.

Again, for me, it just comes down worrying over reader confusion.

Old Posted 04-19-2017, 07:02 PM Reply With Quote  
Quiet Man Cometh Quiet Man Cometh is offline
We're all mad here.
Default   #27  
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzerain of Sheol View Post
Does that strike anyone as a problematic way to approach secondary-world fiction? I think, rather than obviate the anachronism/extra-universal references concern of this thread, it just shoves them out of the spotlight, which, it occurs to me at this moment, may not be a net-positive.
I'd say no, because so long as there is enough to maintain flow and consistency (things that are west stay to the west unless the characters have moved to the other side) then I don't think it's an issue, because language and flavour adds to the setting's feel (hence the topic here in the first place) and if the reader can fill in the details without issue, not a problem.
Old Posted 04-20-2017, 12:25 AM Reply With Quote  
Default   #28   Quiet Man Cometh Quiet Man Cometh is offline
We're all mad here.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnny View Post
I think this is how people hand-wave most stories written about -- or set within -- fictional, wholly made up universes and realities. But that last bit -- that's where I get held up, because the language chosen can help build the universe. "Pianoforte" has different connotations than "keyboard" and inspire different immediate mental images. Someone reading "keyboard" is more likely to picture either an electric musical keyboard, or a computer keyboard (or similar, perhaps futuristic console) but "pianoforte" is more likely to bring to mind not only a piano, but an old-fashioned piano...
To clarify, "keyboard" would be a more general term in the way that 'pipe' is more generic for flute or panpipes, etc. but that doesn't make it equal to something more specific like 'pianoforte.' It is a generic word, so you would have to put more effort into describing the object as you want it to appear. Sometimes you need a sentence to equal a word, and I can spend a lot of time in my writing deciding which route to take.

Ultimately, everything been to boil down to how well we can pull something off, rather when whether we should try in the first place.
Old Posted 04-20-2017, 12:30 AM Reply With Quote  
Suzerain of Sheol Suzerain of Sheol is offline
Desolation Denizen
Default   #29  
Personally, I think you should just go all-in with how you'd like to do it, and see how beta readers react. You can always dial it back if it seems like a consistent complaint, but there's every chance you'll pull it off. :)

...or you can be like me and ignore what they say!
Cold silence has a tendency
to atrophy any sense of compassion
between supposed lovers.
Between supposed brothers.
Old Posted 04-20-2017, 02:13 AM Reply With Quote  
Default   #30   NekoAthena NekoAthena is offline
Harmless
Good points. I think I'll be using ancient terms so that I can be more specific as well about setting a scene. I can't say for certain being as I'm not completely familiar with your story, but in my case I think the jargon will work for me not against me.


I make pixel things
PWYW for Aurum?



^o,o^
Old Posted 04-20-2017, 02:17 AM Reply With Quote  
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