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Thread: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

  1. #1
    Cookiegod's Avatar Primicerius
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    Icon1 Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Hello there.
    This thread is devoted to Cookie's failures as a writer. I hope the title is a good start.

    Cookie currently has two contributions to the Writer's study:
    • OWaB - Of Wolves and Blobtits
    • OWaP - Of Wolves and Prey

    Those abbreviations aren't confusing enough as it is. So this thread here shall henceforth be referred to as OWB.

    The Witcher AAR is a flawless masterpiece, so I won't talk much about it here. Also, I'm not planning on posting anything new there for the time being.
    I'm thinking about maybe, maybe doing a quickie AAR about a Rome 2 campaign I did, but even if I do it probably won't need much talking about.
    So this thread will likely be mostly about OWaP. It might look dead and you might have forgotten about it, but it's not, and I haven't.

    Instead I've decided to write ahead so I'll be able to at least post the entire chapter 2 on a strict weekly schedule. I'm ahead now, but I'm not sure when I'll start posting again. It depends on how ambitious I want to be (-> pictures) and currently people seem to be on holidays atm.

    One major change is that I'm no longer going to clog the AAR-threads (or your brains) with semi-related stuff: Historical context, writers struggles, and other things.
    Instead, I'll post those things here!

    So if you're one of the guys who do like that kind of stuff, like this weirdo here:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Can only repeat, this AAR is not only interesting because of the story, but because of all the background details as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    Once again the background information proved to be a bliss.
    Ironic how you always blather about the lenght of your post, making it even longer.

    ... you'll feel right in!

    Seriously though: I think this might be interesting for those of you trying to become better writers, or those of you who care about historical context.

    Also, your feedback is welcome as always. I actually rely on it a lot. Often I'm not sure what I'm doing, so your opinions do matter to me.

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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    I think this might be interesting for those of you trying to become better writers, or those of you who care about historical context.
    I like your humble style.^^

    But seriously:

    Background informations in a separate thread is a a good way to make a AAR more structured and readable.
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    Derc's Avatar Centenarius
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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Why haven't you called this thread 'Of Wolves and Writer's Block (OWaWB)? Here's the wolf already, rummaging through this thread and telling you what a stupid idea that is. I'm talking about putting OWaB on hold, of course. Outsourcing your semi-related stuff into another thread is actually a decent idea.

    OWaWB for MCWC!

    Quote Originally Posted by C-God
    This thread is devoted to Cookie's failures as a writer.
    You just need a vacation. One where you don't build garden houses. Concrete was the wrong inspiration. No wonder you seem stuck.

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    Default OWB: Historicalities 1

    Some clarifications before we descend into the rabbit hole:
    1. I’ll do different types of posts on this blocg. You’ll see which it is in the title colour. This is about some historical context. Hence the green in the title below.
    2. It is not necessary at all to read this for OWaP. All necessary information will be given in the “AAR” itself. Any further insight you might gain here is only semirelevant. I do not intend to spoil things. Do not feel obligated to read unless the topic interests you.

    Historicalities 1
    One of my struggles regarding OWaP is realism and historical authenticity. Since the AAR is not only based on a game, but a multiplayer campaign with many human players acting without me having any control over it, the story isn’t a retelling of actual events. What I try to do, however, is to have the campaign as some sort of an alternate history, one which could actually have happened in real life, and include as many wtf historical events as possible without having the story itself suffer from it. Since Medieval II isn’t particularly historically accurate, some of those changes had to happen pregame, which is part of the reason why Chapter II of OWaP has been rather weird so far. But those weren’t particularly many (and obviously I try to not fret over every single detail, and stick to only what’s relevant for the story). So here’s some historical background for you below. This time it's not that mind blowing, more like historical technicalities (hence the title), don't judge me. Future historical context posts in this thread might be more interesting. Wanna hear about the gay caliph and his lover traitor vizier? Well, you might in a future post.

    Small ingame change 1: Ingame rulers/character names had to be sometimes changed to their historical counter parts. E.g. “Duke Giorgio Rossi”, the ingame faction leader of Milan who I have to assume carries the name of one of the game developers, thus became Albert Azzo II, and his children changed names accordingly.

    Small ingame change 2: Albert Azzo did rule both Milan and Genoa (at least nominally), but his borders didn’t exactly fit those ingame. I have made this map for you:
    The large red circle is basically the ingame start domain of Milan. The dashed line represents Alberts approximate holdings in the west. The crossed out red circle in the east represents his approximate holdings there. They were rather substantial, and as time progressed, he and his descendants lost their control over the lands in the west while enlargening those in the east. Obviously they were soon outshined by the city states that once used to be their subjects, such as Milan and Genoa, but they remained one of the most prominent, powerful and oldest ruling dynasties in Italy for centuries.

    Venice on the other hand didn’t hold much land in Italy itself at that time, other than the lagoon (the cyan dashed line on the map). The borders it holds ingame however weren’t achieved until the Italian wars in the 15th and 16th centuries.

    So this is where alternate history change 1 comes in:
    Instead of his descendants losing all lands in the west whilst holding on to those in the east, Albert sells the lands in the east to Venice and regains total control over those in the West.
    This is the historical backdrop to what happened in Chapter 2 so far.
    Now this might seem insignificant enough for me to omit it, but I did use these historical facts in the actual game to justify my actions there.

    Alright. Let’s move on.
    Albert/Alberto had three sons: Welf/Guelf, Hugh/Hugo/Ugo, Fulk/Fulco.
    Welf was his son by his first marriage. Welf received through his mother’s family vast landholdings in Germany and became one of the most powerful men in the HRE. Second only to the kings/emperors of the HRE, for whom he and his descendants were a source of constant headache. How significant that was would especially be felt in Italy. In the pope vs emperor struggles (Guelfs vs Ghibellines) throughout northern Italy, the pro pope faction Guelfs were named after him and his descendants.
    Hugh was the first son by Albert’s second marriage, and he was initially just as lucky as Welf, went to France, inherited the county of Maine. Problem: He really didn’t have an easy job and wasn’t up to the task. Generally seen as inept and lazy, he ended up selling his county to his cousin and went home, coruling with his younger brother for a while until dying childless.
    Whereas his older brothers inherited from their mothers families, Fulk/Fulco and his descendants continued to rule his father’s domains. Welf and his descendants weren’t happy about that, but couldn’t do much about it, even though they continued to press their claim for roughly a century.

    Anyway: Obviously Hugh will play only a small role in the story (the fewer characters, the better). But the rivalry between Welf and Fulk and their descendants will play out in the story as well.

    So to give you an idea about how powerful Welf actually was: He participated in the uprising against the king (later emperor). Even though the anti-king died in 1080 and the revolt overall started to fall apart after that, Welf himself kept fighting on for a looooooong time. He and the emperor settled their differences in 1096. Almost 20 years after the civil war had started.
    The beginning of that war didn't go particularly well for Welf, however. He did have to flee to Hungary in 1077 for a short while. I did read something about him then going to his father for support and then returning home to fight on. It would make sense, and my story builds on this.

    However, this is where alternate history change 2 comes in:
    So I obviously needed him to lose his possessions in Germany (and his father to lose those in the east), and I needed Venice to expand. Easy solution: Have Venice kidnap Welf en route.
    Didn’t happen, but could have, and does in the story.

    Some things that he did do after 1077 will still happen in the story. Just the circumstances and outcomes will change. Best example for that: Marrying his son off to the famous Mathilda of Tuscany. Hugely important historically, and also quite important in OWaP. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.





    Closing remarks:
    Obviously the historical context provided in this post wasn’t particularly mindblowing. Those were technicalities. I had to get them out of the way for my story. The bigger the house, the more groundwork needs to be done. Obviously not every historical detail needs mentioning, and if necessary, I’ll always sacrifice historical accuracy in order to make a better story.

    The historical context was only part of the reason why chapter II starts out in such a weird way. Much more important was laying the groundwork for character development. I’ll talk about that in a different post in this thread. Possibly soon.

    Anyway, I might do more of those historicalities posts as well. The details in future ones will hopefully be more wtf-moments in history focused – just like the story itself.

    So here are two questions for you, dear reader, who made it this far:
    1: Would you want to read more posts in the future about historical things that happen or are mentioned in the story?
    2: What are your thoughts on historical accuracy in creative writing? Is that something you like authors to get right or is it more important for you to get to the story quicker?

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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Random ramble-blog-like hijacking inbound, apologies in advance for the inevitable mess.

    I may have some investment in writing, even though I've always struggled to get a foothold here. My style of operation is so fundamentally different that the site isn't especially compatible for me. But, I can always go on about various topics, so here we go, but first, a tad more background. My origins leave me with an immense regard for character development and narrative cohesion, much more so than even my peers in the background sometimes hold. The two words have very particular executions; character development specifically relates to creating a solid individual (in logic, not necessarily in historical roots) and then developing them, again, not by what history demands, but by what their very nature demands. History is a series of building blocks, each thing occurring depending on the successful occurrence of the prior thing. Think about it. The amount of changes you have to make for Medieval 2 to be historically viable while reflecting its gameplay results in a world fundamentally built and advanced on different variables, particularly when you let the AI do whatever it wants. Each successive change utterly throws the balance of what will be, and technical advancements, prominence of factions, interfaction/cultural rivalries, and so much more are permanently influenced because Spain's AI decided it wanted to take over Ireland, and countless more examples. This is why I first gave up on the idea of making a truly historical AAR, and then the idea of making a historically accurate AAR at all - aside for one factor, which I'll get into below. In any case, it's why I do best in worlds of fantasy - the amount of shifted variables are not quite so extreme and more writer's liberty can be taken without a second thought for someone who has high regard for the context source, real life when historically speaking. Narrative cohesion, rather than being the true order of future events (we've established that is long out the window), is simply the logical procession of the story at hand. In this regard I think OWaP does well.

    I do think the struggle involved need not be difficult. Realism does not entail accuracy in events, only accuracy in context presentation and in the handling of the context. What people have to work with does not change (much, anytime soon) when characters are entirely on their own paths. They work with the same technology, behaviors established by their history and upbringings, and social factors, though historical rivalries will deeply take massive turns on, say, a grand campaign map unless you straight up ignore the time Milan invades the Papal States. I don't, so in this respect, it could be a massive struggle - or I could, you could, focus on accurately presenting the scenario, the technologies, behaviors, and so on, while not playing your hand to history in the sense of procession of events and characters as they were outside of their basic context. I believe a story in medieval 2 is so much more authentic when you explain the events that uniquely take place, rather than shoehorn in an effort to reproduce a historical scenario. This speaks in general and isn't an accusation.

    In this respect there may be some disparity between the terms "historical authenticity" and "historical accuracy", although I'd just decapitate the issue and say they're the same bloody word. Still, you can derive different implications from them. The former implies you will get more from what I detail above, while the latter, pins you to the advancement of history. Your questions seem to refer to the latter, where 'historical things that happen' seem to be implied. This, in my view, is a judgement call; certain things may occur even if the world is thrown upside down, but if an event seems dubious in relation to what you or the AI has done on the campaign map (that can reasonably influence said events you want to include), then it would be prudent to change it or even straight up remove it, possibly conceive new events and conditions resulting from how the map has played out. Speaking purely on my background and style of gameplay, I believe it is far, far, far far more interesting to see the world as it has been influenced by the new scenario and take on events accordingly, rather than bind myself to the historical order of things. This is not at the exclusion of portraying technology, traditions (where sensible), behaviors and context - you can make an absolutely historical context while playing through different events. Game of Thrones the TV show managed to do this to an extent. You saw many medieval things, historically authentic things, even if nothing at all was in historical procession. This is what I mean, as compared to attempting to follow historical events with a three legged, one eyed, senile dog.

    I am wholly devoted to the story, the proceedings, rather than an attempt to preach history I can find from wikipedia through a critically flawed medium of reproducing historical events. After all, this is fundamentally against what total war is about. "Here's the context, what if [all this] happened". This, I believe, is the very essence of the total war experience. Others might likely disagree, and as a relative outsider, I cannot speak at all for the TWC base. I can speak for what I respect the most - a rendition of history as the game has allowed it to be, with the changes and new faces that all come along the way. So many authentic events and details can occur through the medium, even if they have no relation to real life. Done well, everything is connected, and you are ultimately presenting alternative history. Again, I enjoy this more on a creative level than the admittedly impressive act of trudging through true events through a medium that struggles against them and only haphazardly incorporates them.

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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Thanks for the in-depth reply, Commodus. I get your point, but you seem to build your case on some misunderstandings:
    1) There was no AI, it was a multiplayer campaign with all factions except the very passive rebels (and yes, including the mongols) having been played by humans. And that game is long over, so I know exactly how it played out.
    2) It was supposed to be a simple casual game, but at the insistence of others it became partly role player oriented. Which is why some historical context did matter slightly in the course of the in game events, as I and others tried to justify our actions with real history. So the Este thing isn't simply over. It will come back. I do not include some historical details unless they either further the plot or at least have some entertainment value themselves.
    3) What I mean by historical authenticity is exactly realism. It doesn't have to be the same timeline, it just means that their actions make sense given the circumstances.
    4) I'm not shoehorning historical accuracy into a medieval 2 game. Quite ironically some distant factions did go for distant Ireland, and I play along with it. What I am doing, however, is portraying the in-game events as a logical progression from an actual historical start point. Kinda like an alternate dimension. If X & Y played out differently, how would that have changed the world? That's what I'm going for.

    Other changes are easy and simple. Just because a province belongs to some bland faceless "rebels" ingame, doesn't mean that I have to call them that in the story. Just because a character is named "Derp" in game doesn't mean I have to call him that in the story. I can have some historical character embody his part. The point isn't to haphazardly shoehorn anything into anywhere. And not everything that happens in the story needs to have happened historically or even in game. Basically the story builds on the game, which in turn builds on history. Story takes precedence always, historical accuracy never. It serves a function.

    The point is to enrich the story where appropriate and give the world some more depth, or to quote your own words: "A rendition of history as the game has allowed it to be".
    From Socrates to Jesus to me it has always been the lot of any true visionary to be rejected and oppressed by the reactionary bourgeoisie
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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Thanks for the in-depth reply, Commodus. I get your point, but you seem to build your case on some misunderstandings:
    And yours, on the concept that I was specifically tailoring each line to what you were doing. I disclaimed, as I do now, that I'm not necessarily attributing things to you, rather speaking in a more general AAR sense on the site. If that was unclear from the start, I apologize.

    An in depth reply from here is not necessary (unless you desire it) given the simple 'shooting past' of points and arguments between us. Good on you for doing as you describe through the four points and subsequent section.

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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Quote Originally Posted by CommodusIV View Post
    And yours, on the concept that I was specifically tailoring each line to what you were doing. I disclaimed, as I do now, that I'm not necessarily attributing things to you, rather speaking in a more general AAR sense on the site. If that was unclear from the start, I apologize.

    An in depth reply from here is not necessary (unless you desire it) given the simple 'shooting past' of points and arguments between us. Good on you for doing as you describe through the four points and subsequent section.
    My bad. I did read the "speaking in general and isn't an accusation" line, but I still misunderstood it as also being criticism with regards to the AAR.

    And it's not like I disagree so much with you fundamentally on this one, generally speaking. I just don't think that criticism applies this well to the OWaP (not that I'd be offended if it did, I like being pointed out to be wrong).

    But yeah. I do have my problems with AARs and historical novels as well. AARs have that problem that their outcome is a foregone conclusion, and after a somewhat difficult beginning they tend to become rather easy but tedious. Alwyn actually has a creative way of dealing with this in his New Town AAR, where he also tells the stories from those who are being defeated.

    Historical novels and movies honestly mostly suck. As stories they tend to be weak and bad. As for realism/accuracy they tend to get too much wrong.

    I can see how that drives writers to fantasy. But at the same time I don't see much reason to get into stuff that isn't real.

    Anyway: Next one or two posts coming very soon will deal with what you and I both cherish far more: Character development.
    From Socrates to Jesus to me it has always been the lot of any true visionary to be rejected and oppressed by the reactionary bourgeoisie
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    Default Story Structure 1: Chapters, arcs, circles, storylines, and much bla bla

    Story Structure 1: Chapters, arcs, circles, storylines, and much bla bla
    Disclaimers:
    1. This is based on OWaP, my AAR. You don't have to read it beforehand to read this essay (though it could help), and I don't expect this to have any significant spoilers (meaning: You should still be able to enjoy the story if you decide to read it afterwards).
    2. Deep down I kinda expect Derc to pop up at any moment and tell me not to be so hard on myself , but honestly, I like failure. Recognising one is an opportunity to learn from. Not recognising one means you either missed out on some opportunity to grow, or that there's no more room to become better at whatever you are doing. I think this here might be of special interest those who like to write, and maybe mildly interesting also to those who don't.


    There are a great number of ways one can structure their stories. You can find them on the internet. Three act structure, 4 act structure, etc. etc.

    Honestly, I have never understood what most of them are there for, nor how to use them. How is being informed that X needs to happen at Y% of your story going to help you, when you don't know how long your story is going to be? So I ignore most of them. My approach is mostly based on my experiences in real life. Any plan needs only to serve a function: Mostly to save time and tell me what direction I roughly need to go. It shouldn't be too complicated and be flexible enough for me to change things. As I'm more the gardener than architect type of writer (meaning that I don't plan the story and then write the bricks so they fit in, but make it grow naturally even if it's a bit disorderly), "plan" might be the wrong word here. "Expectations" is perhaps the better one.

    There are, however, a few concepts I personally find useful.
    One is the narrative arc, which depicts how the tension in the story increases and decreases over time:
    Narrative arc
    1. First you have the exposition, where the reader is introduced into the world, the characters and the situation/problem the protagonist will face. It's best to keep the exposition to a minimum, so that the reader doesn't get bored, but you won't get completely around it, as this is where he knows nothing and where you have to explain things (as they come up), and as the story progresses, less and less needs to be explained, as the reader is already familiar with what's going on.
      It's also good to start with some tension to incite people's interest, so they don't throw the book after the first few pages. In that case the tension will take a dip before rising later.
    2. Secondly you have that rising conflict (often beginning with an inciting incident forcing the character to go on that adventure in the first place). This rising tension could for example be where your protagonist battles his way through the evil minions, and the stakes get higher and higher. This is where the majority of the story takes place.
    3. Third would be the climax. The final battle, for example. This is where the principal problem/enemy/mystery faced by the protagonist is confronted.
    4. And finally you have the dénuement. This is basically where you give the reader about how the protagonist has changed and what his life will be.


    Another good concept that ties to the first one is that of the story circle. Of which you again can find numerous good examples on the internet, be it Campbells monomyth or Dan Harmon's circle.

    Here the narrative arc we talked about before becomes a circle (in a spatial sense), as the protagonist/hero often returns home after the adventure, which can be a super nice way to show the reader how he and/or the world have changed in the course of the story. In a weird way, having the guy return to the exact spot where he started is a nice way to show the reader how the story actually went from A to B, as things have changed. Maybe your person was an outsider at the beginning or a clown people laughed at, and when he comes back he's wisened up and also gained some authority that comes with it.

    Which is why I wanted to have such a thing and made a story circle for OWaP early on.
    The redacted version of OWaP story circle, so it doesn't have spoilers


    The story circle shown above isn't fully accurate anymore. The 10 chapters I split it up into already don't hold (so the ingame events are supposed to start soon™), and probably won't in the future either. But the basic principle is still holding up, which is that the story starts in a confined space (the valley), then the world traversed by the characters becomes larger and larger, before returning to where it began, but with things having changed. So they are basically 10 waypoints now.

    Chapter 1 in OWaP starts out with an old man trying to write his story, and we have a priest travel through a desolated valley and destroyed town, before the two meet. So basically we're starting in the future. The story has in part already happened. Later in the same chapter we start getting flash backs to the old man's early days as a little child. Some things have remained the same (the tower, the ravine, the bridge, the general outline of the valley), thereby making it clear to the reader it's the same place. Other things have changed. The town is still populated at the beginning. And a somewhat innocent child went to become a scarred, vicious, but also traumatised old man. So stuff must have happened in between.

    But back to the overarching principles. Given that, as I already said, the original chapter split doesn't hold up anymore, it's perhaps time to talk about what a chapter actually is.
    The answer: Anything the writer wants it to be. A story can have zero chapters or a million. It's up to the writer how he wants to structure it.

    Obviously everyone will have a different answer for this:
    • Skotos with his AAR (The last Chariot of the Tarquins) is structurally perhaps the most similar to mine. He has a prologue, where the story is told from a point in the future. Both of us start with an ominous appetiser (reader: "oh no, what went wrong?!"). Skotos then has only a handful of books planned, each dealing with a different main enemy, unlike the 10 I had planned myself, but each of them form a subunit with a different main enemy.
    • Kilo's division of chapters in his AAR (Written in Sand) seems less clear to me. I suspect it's more tied to the physical travel from A to B (each province one chapter), whereas it's only loosely tied to the story progression itself.

    Both AARs are great and deserve a read. The two might hopefully also be willing to share how they structured their AARs in this thread. But the main point is that, if you want to write a story, you can do it however you want.

    For me, chapters, and parts, are simply subunits of the larger story. As such, they should have a beginning, an end, and deal with a purpose/problem.
    So basically they should be a miniversion of that same narrative arc as before.
    So if your story has, say, 6 chapters, their arcs plotted on the main one could look something like this
    Chapter 1 already happened in a very different way than I had planned. But I am very happy with the result (apart of some drawbacks I will talk about later):
    • The chapter forms a circle on its own, and does so on multiple levels, and the physical surroundings often mirror the development:
      • The moment the priest crosses the bridge, he's also crossing the point of no return. This is also where he's spotted by the old man.
      • When the child is in the deep ravine, he's also at his lowest point in the chapter.

      Those things might seem a tad superstitious, but I believe the reader notices this on a subliminal level, and thereby certain narrative aspects get emphasised, which is good, as long as it doesn't get too crass, at which point the reader might lose his willingness suspend disbelief.
    • The chapter implements both parallels and stark contrasts, highlighting certain aspects:
      • The old cynical, somewhat evil man and the young priest are such total opposites, that any description of one of them automatically highlights the corresponding feature of the other as well. Old man is depicted as cynical? Young priest is also depicted as naive.
      • The old man and whichever child of the three he was are also complete opposites, thereby clearly defining start and end point of the emotional journey.
      • The tower and the bridge are described as ancient, and they remain unchanged. The impression of the rest, on the other hand, is in clear contrast. The town is described as an empty ruin in the future, whereas it was seemingly doing fine in the past one. Again: A to B. The reader is shown the consequences of the story, before he is told the story itself.
    • The chapter has a theme: The valley, and both storylines are tied to it in the same way, yet they contrast each other again:
      1. In the first "future" one, it's about one person going INTO the valley.
      2. In the second "past" one, it's about people being forced OUT of the valley.
      • In both storylines this is tied to the loss of freedom, but they are contrasted. In one, that character CANNOT LEAVE, in the other, they are FORCED TO LEAVE and CANNOT RETURN.
    • The whole chapter fits the narrative arc explained earlier (intro,rising conflict, climax, outro) perfectly. It didn't happen because I planned it, but rather by accident. I'm still happy about it.


    Alright, enough of the patting on the back. The point here is to make you understand what I was going for, so that you can understand what didn't work out.
    Unfortunately, this is where we'll make a cut for now, as this text has grown far too long and Cookie weary.

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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    Well, yeah. Go. Go ahead and do it. Pursue constant improvement. You may not seek perfection, because, you know, perfection is impossible to reach. But you will still do so secretly, or subconsciously, because, you know, that is the ultimate goal of improvement, isn't it?

    This pursuit for improvement is something that is deeply respectable, and it should also be something to be completely normal, on a balanced scale, that is.
    It is great! Today you can learn so much with such ease it would not be comprehendable for people a hundred, nay, for people 50 years ago. All factors considering, the learning curve of whatever you're learning will look weird, being something exponential and something logarithmic at the same time, with many ups and downs in between.

    Improvement Adaption is something that happens all the time, every day, no matter if we want it or not. And yet...! Yet I've seen the people caring the most to get completely wrecked while the ones that keep "just doing their things" are the ones that thrive in this world.

    Improvement is something that needs to be, but it will come from itself. Your ten year younger self can never know and utilize what is going on in your brain nowadays, because, yeah, these ten years were quite a journey, and no matter how hard you try, you can always only give your best, pending on all the factors that influence who you are today. Some of these factors are variable, yes, and that is the pursuit for improvement, but some are not, and that is the fact of you being a human. Humans have faults. Humans can't "see it all". It would destroy them if they could.

    The constant pursuit of improvement will ultimately make you either come crashing down (take Skotos for example, sorry) or it will make you stop giving a flying anymore (hey, that's me!).

    You have implemented much of this internal struggle in your own story, which speaks for itself, and you, deep within, know already too much. Because, as you already guessed right, in the end all that matters is, indeed, that you please stop being too hard on yourself.
    Last edited by Derc; November 03, 2019 at 02:48 PM. Reason: Having spotted two typos? Impossible!

  11. #11
    Cookiegod's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    I get your point C and most of the time I'd agree. And hear hear people, take not of it! It's good advice!

    However, perfectionism isn't my goal, and I'm not fretting about it. Becoming a better writer is, so for me it's not about avoiding or fixing mistakes, it's only about learning from them (which I think others can as well). So identifying them doesn't take from the joy for me, since I'm an engineer at heart, so finding and solving problems is part of the fun. And I don't think that makes me necessarily hard on myself.

    I also agree that knowing too much can cause a lot of problems, it can freeze you and make it hard for you to start. However, I'm honestly most of the time clueless, so I find out about my story while I'm writing. For example, the reason why I had to take another pause is very simple actually, but I'll talk about that in another update in this blocg here.

    The one thing I agree with you 100% on, is that this shouldn't take 100 years. I need to get stuff done quicker.
    From Socrates to Jesus to me it has always been the lot of any true visionary to be rejected and oppressed by the reactionary bourgeoisie
    Qualis noncives pereo! #justiceforcookie #egalitéfraternitécookié #CLM
    Cope's a shill

  12. #12
    Skotos of Sinope's Avatar Macstre Gaposal
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    Default Re: Story Structure 1: Chapters, arcs, circles, storylines, and much bla bla

    CG, I love that you described yourself as more of a gardener...right before you posted the most detailed graph of a story I've seen by an author. Even when you're somewhat winging it, you're still systematic about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    The two might hopefully also be willing to share how they structured their AARs in this thread. But the main point is that, if you want to write a story, you can do it however you want.
    Okay, I'll bite. I also don't know what a chapter is. My writing began with playwriting so I think in acts. The way I was taught (I think I mentioned this before) was to structure along Aristotle's Poetics, and in a fractal way. Example: A play has an inciting incident, rising action, crisis decision, etc. (God, it's been so long since I've read the Poetics you should probably ignore whatever I say on it.) The driver of all of it is conflict. The crucial bit of a play is the “event”. Basically Aristotle defined the event as something that happens such that a point of no return has been reached. Things are changed for good. Well, every act has that same structure repeated with its own "event", and every scene has the same structure, and every french scene too (a french scene is demarcated by someone entering or exiting the stage), and then every exchange of dialogue also has that. Now what happens when you have that structure is you have a tension that never fully resolves itself and a sense of forward inertia that never lets up. I don't recommend you plan a story that way, but to steal an analogy from Brandon Sanderson, it's like memorizing how to play the trumpet so that you can then play a jazz riff, improvising without thinking, forgetting all the rules you've learned because you've internalized them.

    So the biggest shaper of the structure of my AAR has been this “conflict within conflict”. Kurt Vonnegut said that you must begin each story with one character wanting something, even if it's just a glass of water. Well, in drama it would be one character wanting that glass of water that someone else also wants. So within the overall conflict between the Etruscans and the invading Gauls in the AAR you have conflict within the ranks, where every single meeting, every single conversation and every single exchange of dialogue in LCoT features Avle Spurinna wanting one thing and someone wanting something else. They're both trying to convince each other. (I gave myself a challenge there by having Avle constantly at odds with a man, Velthur, who combats him at every turn without the ability to speak.)

    (I did follow a kind of circle structure similar to the one you mentioned, starting at the future and circling back again on itself...but I think I might have overdid it in some places, so no one follow my example. I can't remember who it was who remarked that in one chapter I had something like three layers of flashbacks going on. (flashception) It was like the urinal scene in Reservoir Dogs.

    Now, luckily in prose fiction, you don't need to rely solely on external conflict per se, because you have access to a character's inner life. In fact, one thing I'm learning from a book called Story Genius by Lisa Cron is that story itself is simply a character's internal conflict, that is to say it is how the events of the plot effect the character and force them to change. It seems obvious but I had never heard it put so simply and elegantly. Well, perhaps you'd have to read the book.

    Either that, or as CG says...do it however you want.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Of Writers Blocg (gettit? gettit?)

    I'm glad I have finally taken the time to read this carefully and think about the points you're making. First things first, you make interesting points, and ones that can certainly be relevant for many people writing, be their work on AARs or something else. But that being said, I think it is also important to stress (as you rightfully do above) that the structure has to be your structure. Each writer has their own way of doing things, and while tricks and tips can be of use sometimes, the biggest challenge is finding what works for you. For you, Cookiegod, I think the biggest thing will always be getting yourself to simply write more, and then polishing it up, as I sometimes fear that you get bogged down in "figuring things out", and then once you've finally understood how it all fits together, you've lost the energy to continue. But then again, maybe I'm wrong there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod
    The two might hopefully also be willing to share how they structured their AARs in this thread. But the main point is that, if you want to write a story, you can do it however you want.
    For me, I have been trying to focus each chapter around some core plot development for the Nabati. This development is often reflected in the chapter title, and it is the backbone, so to say, of how I plan the rest of the chapter. I also fit the Saba' plot(s) in there as well, and I make an effort to be sure that there is a reasonable development and resolution of some arc for them in each chapter, but the core thing is the motion of the Nabati.

    In terms of general planning, I think I would say that I do it at three levels, with the lowest level least susceptible to changes, but also the least detailed, and with higher levels increasingly specific and increasingly liable to alteration. I started with the lowest level, which for me is the chapter breaking, and the chapter titles. So I decided that with all of the events I think are important, I would need ten chapters. I then considered what the core of each chapter should be, and thought of a title (which could change, but having it there helps me to think my way through things). Beside this huge plan, I have nothing concrete thought through for the later parts of the book. Instead, I then think through each chapter right before I start writing it. This is then my next level.

    I start by considering what scenes are necessary to move things along, and then I think about the timeframing of the events so that everything can be a straight timeline. The next thing (and for me, the real tricky part) is to then determine whether there is a way to organize the scenes such that I a) have all of the things I need included, b) have the scenes following a global chronological order, and c) have a flow to the scenes that ensures no character is left out for too long, and that no character is given a huge run of scenes all together. This is sometimes hard for me, but when I think I have an idea, then I write a bulleted outline for the chapter, with a single bullet per scene.

    First outline of chapter 4, "New Friends, New Enemies"

    • Mun'at in Yathrib
    • Introduce half-Qatabani exile (Far'am Rafshan)
    • Introduce Houthi warlords (Karab & Hasan Athtar Yazi)
    • Introduce Lord of the Northpass (Zaadi Il'Bayyin)
    • Introduce Mar'ib noble (Halik Il'Yakif)
    • Mun'at in Yathrib
    • Mubsamat interrogating noble
    • Mun'at leaving Yathrib
    • Noble dying later that night
    • Mun'at moving toward Bakkah
    • Tharin in Bakkah
    • Preparations for a party
    • Mubsamat before party
    • Mun'at nearing Bakkah
    • Tharin moving outside Bakkah



    Now, if you look at that list, you can see that things are increasingly struck through. That is because as I start writing the chapter I realize the initial plan no longer works. Sometimes that is due to changed events. Sometimes due to changed emphasis. Sometimes because I realize the characters simply wouldn't do this or that, as I had initially thought. The main point is that this first really blunt outline is just there so that I have enough of an idea of where I need to go for me to start moving in the right direction. Once on that road, I then discover forks or detours that need to traversed, and by the time I get to the end, I have made the journey I (roughly) planned, but via a route I could not have anticipated.

    The last level of planning I do is usually when I am 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through the chapter. At that point I know what needs to come next, and I have a fairly solid idea of what each scene needs to do and will do, and then I create a final list just to keep me on track during the writing process. This final list is very simple, and looks like the following:

    Final list for chapter 5, "The Incense Road" (don't worry, there are no spoilers in this)

    • Far'am
    • Halik
    • Mun'at
    • Zaadi
    • Mubsamat
    • Mun'at
    • Zaadi



    The point of this is just to remind me what I had planned, and more importantly, in what order. I know what each of those scenes will include, and I know how they fit together and into the larger whole, and this is just to give me a mental nudge in case I forget what to do in between writing sessions.

    The one thing I never plan though is the rise/fall, or climax type stuff. To me, that is something that needs to come organically, and needs to be demanded by the story. There are times when it might be nice to have a little event to spice things up, but if I don't see that being dictated by circumstances or a reasonable expectable act from some character, then it won't happen. I think that is, for me, something that I take somewhat seriously as a writer. I follow the world and characters to the conclusions they would build toward, and I try not to get in their ways. In fact, I have wholly altered plans in some chapters because I realized there was simply no plausible world where some character would do what I had planned them to do.

    Now, all of that being said, I do still have a fairly good arc for each chapter, and there is rise and fall and climax. But for me, none of that is something that goes into the plan, at least not explicitly. That is something that comes naturally, but only provided I've thought the chapter through well, and done so in advance. That is because I need to have a chapter that has a sensible core event and purpose, and if that's in place, then the action and climax will come whether I want it to or not. But I do not determine some formula for where it will crop up. I just let the characters do their things.

    And now my wall of text rivals Cook's original one, so I will shut my gob! I hope the info and answers are of some interest to someone, and hey, at least you know my process a little more now Cookiegod! I hope it doesn't make your engineer's mind at all itchy
    Last edited by Kilo11; November 08, 2019 at 07:03 AM. Reason: Formatting failures :(
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