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Because so much of fantasy takes place in settings that in no way resemble the real world, featuring species that in no way resemble human, fantasy writers often have trouble dealing with regular people. This is something that, I think, isn’t as much of a problem for mainstream writers, because they can simply describe the world around them and come up with a reasonably accurate representation of humanity. They can also fall back on the plethora of real-world terms used to describe human beings, racially and otherwise. But using these terms makes no sense if you’re dealing with a world that doesn’t share our political/cultural context. You can’t call someone “African American” if your world has no Africa, no America, and has never gone through a colonial phase in which people of disparate cultures were forcibly brought together, thus necessitating the term in the first place.

That said, it’s equally illogical to populate your fantasy world with only one flavor of human being, which is what far too many fantasy stories default to. Granted, many fantasies take place in confined cultural spaces — a single small kingdom in a Europeanish milieu, maybe a single city or castle within that city. (But how did that castle get its spices for the royal table, or that lady her silks? What enemy are the knights training to fight? Even in the most monochromatic parts of the real Ye Olde Englande, I can guarantee you there were some Asian traders, Sephardic or Ashkenazic Jewish merchants, Spanish diplomats or nobles partly descended from black Moors, and so on.) I get that lots of countries on Earth are racially homogeneous, so it makes perfect sense that some fantasy settings would be too. But whiteness is the default in our thinking for Earth-specific cultural/political reasons. So while it’s logical for fantasy realms to be homogeneous, it’s not logical for so many of them to be homogeneously white. Something besides logic is causing that.

So. It’s a good idea for all fantasy writers to learn how to describe characters of color. And I think it’s a good idea to learn how to describe those characters in subtle ways, since they can’t always rely on Earth terminology. Now, doing subtle description increases the chance that the reader might misidentify the character racially — and to a degree, I think there’s nothing you can do about that. You’re working against a lifetime of baggage in the reader’s mind. But you can still insert enough cues so that when combined, they’ll get the idea across.

N.K. Jemisin, blogging on Describing Characters of Color for Magic District.  (via audreymgonzalez)
Anonymous said: Hi! I want to create some fictional (perhaps even fantasy-esque) drugs, but I don't even know where to start. Any help would be greatly appreciated! 

clevergirlhelps:

Firstly, the drugs need to do something good that “hooks” people. No one’s going to keep taking a drug that sends them to the twelfth plane of torment or one that makes them totally colorblind. You can sort most drug effects into four categories:

  • Happy (MDMA, heroin). The user experiences extreme euphoria and contentment. This may be accompanied by feelings of kinship with those around them and diminished anxiety. Users may achieve a transcendental state. It may also reduce inhibitions.
  • High (cocaine, alcohol). Users experience a burst of energy, confidence, and feelings of sexual prowess. Inhibitions are reduced. Users sometimes become more aggressive.
  • Mellow (marijuana). User feels calm and relaxed. Everything feels “taken care of”. Again, may induce transcendental state. The user will also experience mild euphoria and anxiety will diminish.
  • Trippy (LSD, shrooms). Significant alteration of sensory perception. People may see halos around objects or believe solid surfaces are wobbling. Shrooms reportedly increase one’s sensitivity to sound. Time loses meaning. Users lose sense of self.

Theoretically, you could make fantasy drugs for any desirable human emotion, like the feeling of being full, orgasm, confidence, love, and satisfaction.

Secondly, where does the drug come from?

  • Natural. Like shrooms, opium, or cannabis, it must be grown and harvested. Who farms it? Is it illegal to farm? What kind of plant is it? Where does it grow best? 
  • Manufactured. Like MDMA and LSD, it’s made in a lab. Who makes it? What ingredients is it made of? Does an organization control its manufacture?
  • Magic. The drug is actually a spell and someone has to cast it on you.

Related is how the drug gets from the lab/farm to you. Who controls the trade? How far away is it? All of this will affect the price.

Thirdly, how do you take it?

  • Inhaling. Includes methods like smoking, where the drug is rolled into a thin cylinder and placed between the lips; you inhale to feel the effects. Also included are practices like huffing, where you inhale noxious chemicals from a container.
  • Drinking. Self-explanatory. You can also anally imbibe drinks to hasten the effects.
  • Injecting. Put it in a needle and stick it in a blood vessel. The drug goes right into the blood stream.
  • Swallowing. The drug comes in a pill, like ecstasy. You swallow it and digesting it will give you the full effects. You could also eat it, like most psychedelic mushrooms. 
  • Absorbing. The body has several areas where blood vessels lie close to the surface of the skin. Applying the drug to the area will allow it to diffuse into the bloodstream. These areas are: the nose (snorting), the mouth (chewing/dipping tobacco), and the rectum (anally imbibing alcohol). 

Fourthly, what are the side effects? There will be side effects unless your magic or technology is advanced to the point at which you can reverse severe neurological damage. 

  • Mild. Reddened eyes, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, nausea, sweating, hunger, loss of appetite
  • Moderate. Memory loss, insomnia, diarrhea, vertigo, suggestibility, vomiting, hearing loss
  • Severe. Necrosis, muscle rigidity, convulsions, bad trips, physical disfigurement (eg “meth mouth”), psychosis, HPPD
  • Chronic. Depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, dependence on the drug, irritability, fatigue, rage
  • Way down the road. Cancer, emphysema, COPD, heart problems, lung problems, liver problems, kidney problems, Parkinson’s, stroke, high blood pressure

If your drug is fantastical, then it has more variety as to the side effects. For example, it turns green-eyed people into rabbits, slowly turns one’s stomach to stone, causes users to go back in time, and has a 2% chance of exploding your head.

Fifthly, how does the culture view it?

  • Illegal. No one can use it for any reason. In which case, the drugs will be controlled by an illegal group like a gang or cartel. There will be harsh laws against its manufacture and spread. People who don’t take the drug will look down on people who do.
  • Illegal with exceptions. It’s been shown to aid things like concentration or alleviate the symptoms of that disease. People who can use this drug must obtain it from special makers and carry permission with them at all times.
  • Legal with exceptions. Like alcohol and tobacco in the US, you can buy it and use it in most areas. However, you can’t buy it if you’re under a certain age, can’t use it in buildings, and you can get in trouble if you use it at the wrong time (drinking and driving).
  • Legal. Everyone can use it. There are no restricts on when, where, how, or who.
  • Spiritual. The drug is used as part if a religious experience. Only those undergoing such an experience can take it. The drug is a gateway to another world, frees the conscience, or some other esoteric thing.

Finally, how does that affect society? You should consider,

  • How much it costs. Illegality and the amount of time/money it takes to manufacture will affect pricing. It may also vary by the time of year. For example, if it’s natural, then maybe the drug is cheapest immediately after the harvesting season and really expensive during the winter, when it’s impossible to grow. You also need to factor in how people will get the money to buy the drug, such as stealing or prostitution.
  • Support groups. People will get hooked. How can they get off? Family and friends will certainly try their best, as most drugs do not improve your working or home life. Are they the only methods of support or are there rehab organizations as well?
  • Laws and their enforcement. (Don’t look at this is if your drug is totally legal or legal with exceptions.) There will be laws against its use. How are they enforced? Do the laws go after distributers as well as consumers? How are the consumers treated in court - as criminals or as victims? 
  • Who takes it. In our world, most illegal drug users are lower-income. It’s “shocking” when someone of the middle or upper class is addicted to drugs. The lower-class reputation has led to other classes looking down on drug users as poor, filthy, and needy; and on the lower-class as drug-addicted degenerates. If the upper class took it, then perhaps taking the drug would be the cool thing to do and being high/stoned/buzzed would be a status symbol. Only peasants have lucid thoughts; true nobles don’t know what they’re doing 90% of the time. 
  • Media. The US government banned smoking ads featuring Camel Cigarettes’ mascot, Joe the Camel, in 1997 because he appealed to children and people don’t like their kids lighting up. You don’t see too many cigarette ads in the US anymore. On the other hand, the media glorifies alcohol. Drinking makes you a man. Drinking makes you sexy. Many can’t wait (or don’t wait) to turn 21 and engage in this manly, sexy world of alcohol. So please, please remember that how the drug is presented will affect who consumes it.

clevergirlhelps:

valkyriewrote:

                                              a masterlist of habits for you characters                           because chewing on nails and lip biting are way too overused 
Read More

Updated link

clevergirlhelps:

valkyriewrote:

                                              a masterlist of habits for you characters 
                          because chewing on nails and lip biting are way too overused 

Read More

Updated link

uneditededit:

Character Motivation and Consistency:  
So lets take a moment to talk about character consistency.  This is something that I find a lot of people have a hard time with and a lot of it has to do with the actual development of the character in itself.  When making a character, we pick out traits and experiences that define our character.  All of these things including flaws and talents are important but something that people tend to forget with picking out a character is what their motivation is.  

Author Orson Scott Card reminds us “We never fully understand other people’s motivations in real life.  In fiction, however, we can help our readers understand our characters’ motivations with clarity, sometimes even certainty. This is one of the reasons why people read fiction—to come to some understanding of why other people act the way they do.”

Why is Knowing Motivation Important in Writing?:
This essentially, explains to us why characters act the way they do.  Choices are determined by the motivation of the character.  They are a guide in the choices they make because where they want to go or what they want determines what choices they are going to make.  Very very VERY seldom does anyone make a choice at random. By knowing your characters primary motivation, the choices that they make will remain consistent (Even if they are not the ‘right’ choices.  
Basic External and Internal Motivations:  

EXTERNAL: Bold-face is obverse aspect (stuff in parens = goals, effects, or other association)
Survival/safety; Fear of the world (food, water, escape from danger)
Physical comfort; gluttony (shelter, warmth, good food, health)
Pleasure; hedonism (sex, great food, culture, games)
Dominance; tyranny (power, social standing, competition, respect)
Acquisitiveness; greed (wealth, materialism, collecting, excellence)
Curiosity; voyeurism (learning, searching, investigating)
Mastery; perfectionism (excellence, conquest, discipline, achievement)
Reproduction; profligacy (children, creativity, family-building)
INTERNAL:
Autonomy; isolation (self-sufficiency, freedom, non-confinement)
Affiliation; conformity (security, cooperation, loyalty, clan)
Love; lust/ownership (connection, passion, sex, mirroring, approval, giving)
Revenge; justice (righting wrongs, recognition of grievance, vengeance)
Guilt; denial of guilt (responsibility, shame, punishment, redemption, forgiveness)
Identity; self-centeredness (self-esteem, self-knowledge, self-protection)
Surcease; conflict avoidance (peace, escape from anxiety, death)
Spirituality; fetishism (religion, transcendence, transformation)
Growth; decay, aging (learning, maturation, wisdom)
Ambition; insecurity/anxiety (fear of failure, inferiority, stress)
Vindication; rationalization (success, proving self, apology)

The Difference in between a Goal and Motivation:

The goal is like the flower… the motivation is the roots.
The goal is the outward manifestation of the motivation. It is concrete, measurable, and specific. You don’t know when you’ve fulfilled the motivation: “I want success” isn’t measurable– what’s success?  But you know when you’ve achieved a goal:  ”I want to be on the New York Times bestseller list–” That’s measurable. You’ll know when you reach it.
Just keep in mind that while the goal is the external manifestation of the motivation, the connection is not always a straight or clear one.  You can have a goal that is destructive and against your true motivation– “looking for love in all the wrong places” is an example. Or you can have a laudatory goal for a selfish or twisted motivation– “I want to be first in my class to show my father up!”
Motivation is the past; Goal is the future; Conflict is the present.

Distinguish between MOTIVATION and ACTION:

Remember that motivation exists to inspire the character to make choices and take actions.  If you’ve been told your protagonist is “too passive”, it’s likely what’s lacking is motivation that leads to action. 
Every action, however small, should be motivated.  If the motivation is obvious, then you might not have to show it (we assume that she’s running from that tiger for survival). 
Compare the external (obvious) motivation to the goal and/or actions.  If they don’t match, an internal motivation is probably in force. What hidden desire or fear is influencing actions? An alternative reason for motivation/action mismatch: You’re trying to make an original character act in stereotypical ways.
And keep this in mind: Heroism and villainy are in the action, not the motivation.  Heroes do heroic things, they don’t just intend to do them.  And villains do bad things even if they have the best of intentions.

Taking all of these things into account, here are three exercises that I found a while back and use to help figure out character motivations:

1. Real People as a template: 
Make a list of 5 people you know really well. Beside each, make notes about how they:
react to stress
experience happiness,
treat other people.
After that, list what motivates each of these behaviors. Try to be as factual as possible, drawing from things you know; for things you’re unsure of, use common sense to hypothesize.
A person might make it their goal to treat others with respect because of religious beliefs, or maybe because they were disrespected in the past. Someone might react poorly to stressful situations because they have a deep-seated fear of failure, stemming from a past experience.
2. Characters from Literature:
List 5 characters from literature and what motivated their actions throughout their respective stories.
For example, Shakespeare’sHamlet. His thoughts are motivated by revenge (because his uncle secretly killed his father), along with anger, sadness and confusion (because his mother married his uncle so soon after his father’s death).
Add to this a host of other factors, and you have a well-developed character you can understand.
3. Self reflection: 
Write paragraphs to describe
 your most frightening experience
 your happiest experience,
your most stressful experience, and how you reacted to each situation.
After, list all the factors that motivated your behavior. How is your personality shaped by your motivations?

During the story (Or role play) it is important to remember these character motivations when your character makes choices.  That is really what this is about; identifying the motivations that make your character act the way that they do.  
During the plot, motivations may change, and should actually shift for the character to develop, but never all at once and never out of the blue.  Still the back story that drives your characters motivations will always be part of them.  
For instance; I write a character whose past has made her a survivalist but over the course of a year she shifts to protection of the family that she has developed.  However this took a full year to happen and her motivation of survival was never put on the back burner.  Instead it just expanded to protection of the group and not just herself.  Her fear of lose over this new family is what really drives her.
And there you have it: Keeping your character consistent through their motivation.

uneditededit:

Character Motivation and Consistency:  

So lets take a moment to talk about character consistency.  This is something that I find a lot of people have a hard time with and a lot of it has to do with the actual development of the character in itself.  When making a character, we pick out traits and experiences that define our character.  All of these things including flaws and talents are important but something that people tend to forget with picking out a character is what their motivation is.  

Author Orson Scott Card reminds us “We never fully understand other people’s motivations in real life.  In fiction, however, we can help our readers understand our characters’ motivations with clarity, sometimes even certainty. This is one of the reasons why people read fiction—to come to some understanding of why other people act the way they do.”

Why is Knowing Motivation Important in Writing?:

This essentially, explains to us why characters act the way they do.  Choices are determined by the motivation of the character.  They are a guide in the choices they make because where they want to go or what they want determines what choices they are going to make.  Very very VERY seldom does anyone make a choice at random. By knowing your characters primary motivation, the choices that they make will remain consistent (Even if they are not the ‘right’ choices.  

Basic External and Internal Motivations:  

EXTERNAL: 
Bold-face is obverse aspect (stuff in parens = goals, effects, or other association)

  • Survival/safety; Fear of the world (food, water, escape from danger)
  • Physical comfort; gluttony (shelter, warmth, good food, health)
  • Pleasure; hedonism (sex, great food, culture, games)
  • Dominance; tyranny (power, social standing, competition, respect)
  • Acquisitiveness; greed (wealth, materialism, collecting, excellence)
  • Curiosity; voyeurism (learning, searching, investigating)
  • Mastery; perfectionism (excellence, conquest, discipline, achievement)
  • Reproduction; profligacy (children, creativity, family-building)


INTERNAL:

  • Autonomy; isolation (self-sufficiency, freedom, non-confinement)
  • Affiliation; conformity (security, cooperation, loyalty, clan)
  • Love; lust/ownership (connection, passion, sex, mirroring, approval, giving)
  • Revenge; justice (righting wrongs, recognition of grievance, vengeance)
  • Guilt; denial of guilt (responsibility, shame, punishment, redemption, forgiveness)
  • Identity; self-centeredness (self-esteem, self-knowledge, self-protection)
  • Surcease; conflict avoidance (peace, escape from anxiety, death)
  • Spirituality; fetishism (religion, transcendence, transformation)
  • Growth; decay, aging (learning, maturation, wisdom)
  • Ambition; insecurity/anxiety (fear of failure, inferiority, stress)
  • Vindication; rationalization (success, proving self, apology)

The Difference in between a Goal and Motivation:

The goal is like the flower… the motivation is the roots.

The goal is the outward manifestation of the motivation. It is concrete, measurable, and specific. 
You don’t know when you’ve fulfilled the motivation: “I want success” isn’t measurable– what’s success?  But you know when you’ve achieved a goal:  ”I want to be on the New York Times bestseller list–” That’s measurable. You’ll know when you reach it.

Just keep in mind that while the goal is the external manifestation of the motivation, the connection is not always a straight or clear one.  You can have a goal that is destructive and against your true motivation– “looking for love in all the wrong places” is an example. 
Or you can have a laudatory goal for a selfish or twisted motivation– “I want to be first in my class to show my father up!”

Motivation is the past; Goal is the future; Conflict is the present.

Distinguish between MOTIVATION and ACTION:

Remember that motivation exists to inspire the character to make choices and take actions.  If you’ve been told your protagonist is “too passive”, it’s likely what’s lacking is motivation that leads to action. 

Every action, however small, should be motivated.  If the motivation is obvious, then you might not have to show it (we assume that she’s running from that tiger for survival). 

Compare the external (obvious) motivation to the goal and/or actions.  If they don’t match, an internal motivation is probably in force. What hidden desire or fear is influencing actions? 
An alternative reason for motivation/action mismatch: You’re trying to make an original character act in stereotypical ways.

And keep this in mind: 
Heroism and villainy are in the action, not the motivation.  Heroes do heroic things, they don’t just intend to do them.  And villains do bad things even if they have the best of intentions.

Taking all of these things into account, here are three exercises that I found a while back and use to help figure out character motivations:

1. Real People as a template: 

Make a list of 5 people you know really well. Beside each, make notes about how they:

  1. react to stress
  2. experience happiness,
  3. treat other people.

After that, list what motivates each of these behaviors. Try to be as factual as possible, drawing from things you know; for things you’re unsure of, use common sense to hypothesize.

A person might make it their goal to treat others with respect because of religious beliefs, or maybe because they were disrespected in the past. Someone might react poorly to stressful situations because they have a deep-seated fear of failure, stemming from a past experience.

2. Characters from Literature:

List 5 characters from literature and what motivated their actions throughout their respective stories.

For example, Shakespeare’sHamlet. His thoughts are motivated by revenge (because his uncle secretly killed his father), along with anger, sadness and confusion (because his mother married his uncle so soon after his father’s death).

Add to this a host of other factors, and you have a well-developed character you can understand.

3. Self reflection: 

Write paragraphs to describe

  1.  your most frightening experience
  2.  your happiest experience,
  3. your most stressful experience, and how you reacted to each situation.

After, list all the factors that motivated your behavior. How is your personality shaped by your motivations?

During the story (Or role play) it is important to remember these character motivations when your character makes choices.  That is really what this is about; identifying the motivations that make your character act the way that they do.  

During the plot, motivations may change, and should actually shift for the character to develop, but never all at once and never out of the blue.  Still the back story that drives your characters motivations will always be part of them.  

For instance; I write a character whose past has made her a survivalist but over the course of a year she shifts to protection of the family that she has developed.  However this took a full year to happen and her motivation of survival was never put on the back burner.  Instead it just expanded to protection of the group and not just herself.  Her fear of lose over this new family is what really drives her.

And there you have it: Keeping your character consistent through their motivation.

Writing Research - The Middle Ages

ghostflowerdreams:

Middle Ages (or Medieval period), lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western…

Posted: 1 day ago with 6,560 notes

Writing Pirates - A Resource List

writingandresources:

A helpful list of resources for all your fictional victorian piracy needs, brought to you by writingandresources!

(The sources on this particular list is mostly relevant to European pirates of the 16th and 17th centuries only, not modern or Asian pirates. Some…

Posted: 1 day ago with 2,902 notes
randybrownjr said: Good evening! This may be a dumb question, but I'm going to ask anyway. I want to publish my work under a pen name. How do I protect those works from being copied? Is it possible to protect works under more than one name? 

characterandwritinghelp:

There are no stupid questions, only new information.

Works are copyrighted to creators, not to names. From the U.S. Copyright Office page on pseudonyms:

If you write under a pseudonym but want to be identified by your legal name in the Copyright Office’s records, give your legal name and your pseudonym on your application for copyright registration. Check “pseudonymous” on the application if the author is identified on copies of the work only under a fictitious name and if the work is not made for hire. Give the pseudonym where indicated.

If you write under a pseudonym and do not want to have your identity revealed in the Copyright Office’s records, give your pseudonym and identify it as such on your application. You can leave blank the space for the name of the author. If an author’s name is given, it will become part of the Office’s online public records, which are accessible by Internet.

What all this means (and someone who knows better is always free to correct me) is that you can choose whether or not to make your legal name accessible in attachment to your pseudonym, but in both cases, the work is copyrighted to you.

-Headless

Posted: 1 day ago with 56 notes

Character Development Questions #3

characterdesigninspiration:

  1. How does/would your character react to unwanted sexual advances?
  2. Which does your character value more: loyalty or morality?
  3. Is your character religious? If so, do they follow the (or one of the) major religion(s) of their culture, or a different one? If not,…
Posted: 4 days ago with 677 notes

Clothing references

stuckonwriting:

art-and-sterf:

This is incredibly helpful!