Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Workshop: Where to go next

I've really been enjoying the discussions about all of your stories and languages. I also really appreciate all the effort you've put in to quick replies and extensive explanations; these have helped me to understand what's going on, and I hope they've enabled me to be of some use to your projects.

My last workshop (worldbuilding) began and ended with a writing sample. Because this workshop began with a description rather than an excerpt, I've been wondering how best to bring it to a meaningful close. What I'd like to do is this: first, ask you if there are any areas of your project that need desperately to be addressed but which I either haven't touched on or haven't understood; second, ask you to give me something that you feel uses and demonstrates something you've benefited from in our discussion.

So, first off, consider yourselves asked. I'd appreciate it if you could comment on this blog post with any last-round questions you might have.

Once I've had a chance to address those concerns, I'm going to ask you to push yourself and do a little experiment. What this is will depend on where you think the workshop has been of most benefit, and we can discuss what you would like it to be. It could be to create a timeline of language development. Or it could be to describe a section of your plot showing how language will take on a new influence. Or it could be to describe culture and world details and how you think they will be relevant to either plot or character. Or if you're working on dialogue and voice, it could be to write an experimental conversation (250 words or so) between two characters where you can dig into the questions you've addressed.

I'll then comment on (and invite comments on) those experimental results and we'll bring the workshop to a close.

I look forward to hearing from you...


  1. I jumped the gun a little... I've been experimenting with another excerpt, this time directly from the rsakk. (Forgive me the name changes, wordjinn, I'm trying it without most of the labials.) I edited it and played with cultural references, so I'm curious to hear how it feels: whether it gives an interesting flavor, whether it overloads the reader, how the dialog flows.

    As for things I got from the workshop – your examples of dialog and voice were good, especially the one with the Aurrel. It was useful to know, of the six areas in your Feb 13 post, how you saw them applied to each different culture. The tip about labials was cool, and just participating in the workshop at all, and listening to everyone talk about culture and language.

    Hsobi appeared over the ridge, out of breath, straggles of hair plastered to her forehead. "Heseti. Narek. We have to go."
    "Huh?" Narek glanced up from his carving.
    Heseti was closer - close enough to see her sister's grey face and trembling legs. "What did you do?" she asked sharply.
    "I killed the bastard."
    "Gahsta, the Decan. The one who buys our blades."
    Heseti grabbed her by the shoulders and shook hard. "Why by the Mother's bloody heartfire did you do that?"
    "Shut up! The Decani are coming."
    "They saw you?"
    "Tuklos is crackling anyway since that boy disappeared. They think it was demons. But they saw me run away through the dead world. They saw which way I went. Won't be long before the reckoners find this place."
    "You stupid, stupid - paka! Why can't you leave well enough alone?"
    "We have to get out of here before they call the hunt,” said Hsobi between breaths. “Come on, we need to grab everything we can."
    Narek was his feet now. "What about my brother? And what about Hsien?"
    "Carry them if you have to. If Hsien's so scared of the sun, she can cover her face with leather. Or go to the dead world. I don't care. But if we don't get them out, they're going to die by the Decani."
    "Hsobi. Hsobi. Hsobi. Stop yelling." Heseti pushed her down; she stumbled back against a rock and sat down hard.
    "Why don't we hide?" Narek said. "If we go in the dead world they'll never get to us."
    "They'll still find all our things. They'll know we were here and they'll wait. And what would we do with Tyah?" Heseti gestured to the spotted taralk.
    "We'd have to leave her behind anyway if we ran.” Narek shoved past Heseti. "Did you run all the way here?"
    "No. I came through the dead world."
    "Then we have a little time. Now be quiet, both of you, and let me think."
    Heseti crouched down next to Hsobi. "Why in the hells did you do it, sister?"

  2. Pyraxis, this is interesting. I'm assuming it comes in the middle of something, rather than at the start, since I see all kinds of unfamiliar terms and names (I'm hoping you've introduced them gradually at an earlier point). A couple of questions/comments:

    Do these people care about legitimacy? I'd think with their reptilian social tendencies they wouldn't, so you might want to avoid the word "bastard" in favor of something else.

    I notice "hells" and so I'm assuming they have a fleshed-out concept for them.

    I think you could do a little more to clarify the function of the "taralk," but you may not need to if it's been introduced before. A word or a short phrase could identify it by specifying its function (housepet, trained hunting animal, etc.).

    Thanks for submitting this!

  3. Juliette,

    I enjoyed the workshop. Thing is, I have absolutely no idea what to tell you with regard to an area of emphasis or an excerpt in which language/culture is important.

    Sorry to be so vague, but I'm in a bit of a crisis. It occurred to me last night that the entire premis on which the superstructure of the plot, the entire story is built is unnecessary. The problem could be solved in Chapter Two, in which case the story, if it exists at all after that point, would take a radically different direction. Worse than that, I see three alternatives for how to solve the initial problem, each of which would take the story in a very differet direction. One does look vaguely like what I've currently got, but it still opens up all sorts of new problems and questions... So, I'm really not feeling all that kindly towards the story at the moment. I've put in so much time and effort and emotional investment...for what?

  4. Your workshops are great, Juliette. I love the chance to see behind the scenes in everyone else's world,and get great ideas for my own. That said, I have to confess that I feel a little over my head. There has been so much great info here, that I'm having a hard time assimilating it, or figuring out how exactly to apply it. I feel a little like I'm letting everyone down, but I have no idea what to do that isn't bigger scale than I think you're looking for. Hopefully I'll get some time tomorrow with my manuscript to try and find some doable task.


  5. Thanks, K. I'll try to address some of your concerns in my next post.

  6. (As we join our characters, Talioth has just sunk her teeth into what she thought was an attacking predator. Unfortunately, it was her mother's arm that she has just bitten.)

    Her mother grabbed her by the gills once more, and Talioth saw that a thin trickle of blood was leaking from her mother's arm.
    'Mother, you bleed.'
    The sour taste of her mother's scorn washed across Talioth's gills, and her mother's natural green and black mottling disappeared under bright skinflashes of orange-red demand-for-submission. 'Remind me not that a feckless spratling managed to draw first blood. I am a Warrior Primary, and you are yet unsworn to the Guild.' Talioth knew that when her mother spoke so, she was using all of the complexities of the formal tongue to contain a temper as ferocious as that of a snaptrap shell. And only a fool would argue with either one.
    And when her mother spoke of the Guild, she always meant the Warrior's Guild, for to her none other mattered.
    'I will bear my shame in silence. As shall you,' her mother snarled, shaking Talioth by her gills so hard that she squealed.
    Talioth did not believe herself to be a fool. She was certain that this was not the right moment to mention that she was an almost-adult, and thus in a place technically beyond all punishment. Her mother was angry enough to consider that as nothing but a challenge.
    Talioth skinflashed the ghostly white of submission-to-authority, and vented the unpleasantly familiar scent of withdrawal-of-all-challenge. 'I will bear my shame in silence,' Talioth gasped, promising never to speak of how she made her mother bleed.