Wednesday, August 7, 2013

08/07/2013 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone! I hope the week is treating you well so far. I have felt kind of 'blah' so far, but here's to hoping today is better. I have some training I get to start today, so that'll be interesting considering that it's on a product that kind of raises my stress level simply by existing. Oh well, it'll be a nice change of pace so that'll be neat.

I've been talking a lot lately about writing about what you don't know, what you do know, and the dangers of both. So what happens if it's something you actually have to make up? I'm talking about magic or some kind of metaphysics that aren't actually something that exists in reality (to most people) or things like ridiculously hard science fictiony things. I believe I've touched base on this before, or at least something similar, but there's no harm in bringing it up again.

Rules! You need rules for everything to follow and those rules need to be consistent or else you will have the internet beating you to death with a board with a nail in it. I'm not talking about things like 'these are the rules you need to follow or your story will burst into flames' because frankly you can make up your own rules for your world, as long as the world keeps following them. Or, if there is something that changes or breaks them, make sure you have a reason for it. This is true if you're doing magic, psychic abilities, ridiculous technology, time travel, or something else that is ridiculously complicated like that.

Everyone by now should know my feelings on time travel (I'm not going to do it, so just don't ask) but I wanted to throw it into this mix because it needs to follow a similar internal guideline. If you are having people that can travel through time, make sure it's internally consistent; you can only go forward, never back, or only a limited distance or whatever. If you just have an 'anything goes' version of time travel your life, and your head, are going to get complicated and I'm sorry.

I'm not just talking about the idea of setting moral rules for the world, though they are fun as well. You know the type where there's two kinds of magic, light and dark, but no one uses dark because that's evil and bad. I'm talking about rules like nothing is permanent, or magic can't be used to break a bond of true love, or predicting the future isn't 100% accurate because the future is changing the second you see/know it. Those types of rules are what you need to establish and as long as everything remains within whatever bounds you decide (again, unless there is a very specific reason why something might work differently) you're good.

Science fiction needs to work on a similar basis, and while yes the whole idea about the high technology level is that it has some kind of logical basis in scientific fact, there should still be rules that are followed. Like teleporters exist, but they can only take one person at a time, and there's a weight limit, or they can't transport living matter so they're mostly used to transport goods and services and not people. This is also where the speed of space travel is going to fall, and how advanced weaponry works. While things with magic, psychics, and metaphysics have a bit more 'leeway' regarding having someone break the rules (that's Bob Deus ex Machinawitz, he's special because his brain works differently than everyone else who's ever used magic ever) you are going to have a much more difficult time if your villain picks up a Stun Laser Rifle and disintegrates a dude. There's going to be a lot of questions about how that happened, especially if it's a rifle unnamed goon was using two seconds before.

I don't mean to say the rules your fantasy setting is using aren't going to be as important, but they will likely not be as obvious as the ones in the hard sci-fi setting, since those rules are going to be followed by something very tangible. Magic kind of works in the background even in settings like Harry Potter. You're given rules about how magic works on a moral level, since the students are taught what you do and what you don't do with magic, however the way it actually works is a bit different and is something that's discovered throughout the story. The presentation is what's going to be important in whatever world you use, so make sure that you don't beat your readership over the head with the rules to whatever world you create and make the ride enjoyable for you and for them.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today! I'll be back on Friday, barring any other disasters. I really hope the week is nice to all of you in the meantime, and I'll be back. Until then!

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