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Rosemary Jones
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
148 Posts

Posted - 15 Apr 2008 :  16:40:23  Show Profile  Visit Rosemary Jones's Homepage Send Rosemary Jones a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steven Schend

[quote]

Now, having just finished another prologue for a spec novel today, I've identified one thing in my writer's "voice" that's carried through in all my works--I apparently must kill someone in the prologue to get things rolling.

Does this mean I'm doomed to write James Bond stories in the future with the obligatory pre-credits death?

Steven
whose going to get Rosemary's book out of the to-read pile soon...right after these next 3 books of research for the spec novel in progress.....



So, being halfway through Blackstaff, you're telling me NOW not to get too attached to any of the characters!? Really enjoying the book and the absolute plethora of well-used magical items.

I have a hard time keeping track of items (in real life as well as fiction), which is why I tend to keep my characters quite poor or have all their gear destroyed as soon as possible.


Rosemary Jones
www.rosemaryjones.com
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1632 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2008 :  15:55:22  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage  Send Steven Schend a Yahoo! Message Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rosemary Jones

quote:
Originally posted by Steven Schend

[quote]

Now, having just finished another prologue for a spec novel today, I've identified one thing in my writer's "voice" that's carried through in all my works--I apparently must kill someone in the prologue to get things rolling.



So, being halfway through Blackstaff, you're telling me NOW not to get too attached to any of the characters!? Really enjoying the book and the absolute plethora of well-used magical items.

I have a hard time keeping track of items (in real life as well as fiction), which is why I tend to keep my characters quite poor or have all their gear destroyed as soon as possible.



Thanks very much, Rosemary. Glad you're enjoying it.

SES

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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Jamallo Kreen
Master of Realmslore

USA
1537 Posts

Posted - 16 Apr 2008 :  19:12:43  Show Profile  Visit Jamallo Kreen's Homepage Send Jamallo Kreen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KnightErrantJR

A General Message I Wanted to Convey



It occurs to me that while I'm not a big fan of the changes that we know are coming from the 4th edition incarnation of the Realms, that it could be easily extrapolated that my enthusiasm for some of the novel series, especially those that touch on the events that are related to the changes in the Realm, might have abated.

I'd just like to say that I'm actually still very much looking forward to reading Paul Kemp, Richard Lee Byers, Thomas Reid, and other author's books, even if those books move into a different time frame. These are proven authors and ones that have a feel for the Realms, and I'm going to keep reading them as long as I enjoy them, even if my Realms grow more and more distant from the one portrayed in the novels.

(snip)




I would like to clarify my own position, too. I have enjoyed reading the works of many of the Realms novelists and short story writers, and have enjoyed many of the game books written even by those designers who are being reviled for "selling out" because they chosen to pay their bills by going to work on the Forgotten Realms 4.New.Coke.

From what I have seen in the previews, Realms 4.New.Coke is a knock-off of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying, a game which I don't actively play, but whose fiction I do read. While up to now my policy with the Realms has been, "BUY EVERYTHING!!!!" my future policy will be more like my attitude towards WFRP, World of Darkness, etc.: produce a good product and I will give it a chance. I will neither run nor play in Realms 4.New.Coke, but there's still a lot of undisclosed lore out there (such as, what the heck is it with that sword in the wilderness about which Ed wrote in Dragon?), and insofar as new products answer those Realmslore questions, I will also be interested in them.

I am afraid, however, that Realms 4.New.Coke bears no relationship to the Realms created forty years ago by the Master of the Green Wood, the Realms in which I have invested (literally) thousands of dollars and (literally) tens of thousands of hours. Future (so-called) "Forgotten Realms" products are now going to have to compete for my money just as the works of every other publisher do now.

Many of the Realms writers of the past, whose Realms works I have faithfully read, have also written other fantasy novels and science fiction novels in which I have little or no interest because they are not set in the Realms or because I have no interest in the product line (Star Wars, for instance). I therefore view the Realms 4.New.Coke catastrophe as a great challenge to the writers and designers: produce something which makes me want to buy your book instead of one written for Warhammer, or Mage: the Ascension, or Conan RPG, or, for that matter, Call of Cthulhu. From now on, quality will count more than ever, because in a few months the (so-called) "Forgotten Realms" logo will be meaningless.

A couple of years ago I bought a novel which ties in to a Realms-oriented computer game (supposedly the best of a horribly-written trilogy), and it was the worst novel which I have ever read. It's still on the shelf, though, because it is genuine (if horribly written) Realmslore. In the future, books like that won't grab a single cent of my money because Hasbro has destroyed my sense of "brand loyalty" -- the Forgotten Realms 4.New.Coke logo will be an obstacle for the writers and designers to overcome, not a guarantee that I must, at some point, buy the product.

Now, if wishes were fishes, so that Catholics could eat meat on Fridays, I would be able to buy all game material of every sort, for every product line, regardless of quality. But wishes ain't fishes, and the world economy is collapsing. The only new game material I'll buy henceforth is the very best of the best, regardless of its product line, and although many Realms writers of the past have been among the best, they are not the only good writers out there, so let this fiasco be a challenge to all writers and game designers, of whatever product line, to produce your very, very best work, because now you're all competing against each other for my increasingly limited disposable income in a rapidly shrinking economy headed for either a major Depression and/or runaway inflation. You've got your work cut out for you!






I have a mouth, but I am in a library and must not scream.


Feed the poor and stroke your ego, too: http://www.freerice.com/index.php.

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Jamallo Kreen
Master of Realmslore

USA
1537 Posts

Posted - 17 Apr 2008 :  03:14:31  Show Profile  Visit Jamallo Kreen's Homepage Send Jamallo Kreen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers

Markustay: It depends on what kind of "knowledgeable person" you are.
In my experience, there's a kind of KP with an essentially positive attitude who gets a big kick out of it when, in his opinion, a story evokes the authentic feel of a shared universe, or when it employs interesting elements of the shared setting. If a writer is making an honest effort, such readers are often very enthusiastic about his work.
Then there's a kind of KP with an essentially negative attitude. Even small inconsistencies annoy him to the point where he has difficulty recognizing the dramatic merits of the story. And he's likely to spot such inconsistencies with some regularity, because they're inevitable in any long-running series, particularly one written by multiple authors, and particularly one that periodically gets retconned.
Such KPs also tend to dislike a story just because the style differs from the style of the stories that originally attracted him to the series.
If you manage to please a reader like that, well, you're lucky. And so, everything else being equal, I'd rather hear from the first kind of KP.



I'd add that one may react one way to some misinterpretations, and the other way to other sorts. I have some slight knowledge of the Buffyverse, for example, and I know that two of the Nefarious Three (or whatever they are being called this week), appeared as extras or bit players earlier in the series. I find that a delightful bit of lore and try to find them when I know that "their" episodes are airing. I DO NOT rant, "No! No! Tom Lenk was a vampire and already killed! He can't be alive and be Chris's younger brother, Whatshisname!"

On the other hand, having grown up with the "Rat Patrol" and seen Tobruk and been taught the history of 20th century North Africa, I cannot abide that Indiana Jones movie (I don't even name it!) in which there is a "secret Nazi base" in Egypt. Brave men died to keep the Germans out of Egypt, so who the Hell does Steven Spielberg think he is to place hundreds of them there, undetected. Grrr.... And then there's The Mummy (the one with George of the Jungle). Look at his collar! He's in the French Foreign Legion! How the Hell did he manage to cross Italian-occupied Libya with an armed company and then pop up in British-occupied Egypt unchallenged by anyone until his men reached the ruins?! Grrr....

Then there's "Roar." MANY scholars of Irish history (myself among them) volunteered to fact-check the scripts, oversee costume design, armor and weapons, etc. Ronnie Howard and Brian Glazer ignored all of that FREE advice (including some from a very highly-placed Universal executive) and created a show that Rupert Murdoch was probably crying over every week as he realized that he had a contractual obligation to air all of the episodes made to date, no matter that they all stank like rancid puke.

Realms readers are no different. I'm just guessing, but I suppose that Mel Odom sighs in disbelief when he sees glaring errors about sailing ships in Realms books, and Ed probably cringes whenever he reads some other writer's "impression" of what a librarian actually does and how they behave. (Let me quote Ed Begley from The Dunwich Horror (1970): "Why don’t you take this copy of The Necronomicon and return it to the library?" Nothing says "Professional Librarian" more than allowing a junior associate to stroll around unescorted with a book of which there are less than a dozen known copies! Rupert Giles would have staked him for even thinking of taking the book out of the library in the first place!)

Ah, well, to quote Prince Orlofsky, "Chacun à Son Gout!"




I have a mouth, but I am in a library and must not scream.


Feed the poor and stroke your ego, too: http://www.freerice.com/index.php.

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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4586 Posts

Posted - 21 Apr 2008 :  17:12:48  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage  Send Erik Scott de Bie an AOL message Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers

Markustay: It depends on what kind of "knowledgeable person" you are.
...[snip]...
If you manage to please a reader like that, well, you're lucky. And so, everything else being equal, I'd rather hear from the first kind of KP.

Well put, RLB--I'd echo those sentiments very closely.

For me, not just as a *writer* of Realms fiction but also as a *reader* (of FR and fantasy in general)--I find myself sometimes straying over into the second category as well. Inconsistencies kind of bug out at me at random and unpleasant times, and often shove me out of the story. I have the added curse of reading passages and saying, "well, the author did it THAT way? Man, I wouldn't have done that--I'd have done it THIS way." So it's not only factual problems, but also stylistic problems that sometimes get in my way.

For me, the solution to this (ah! the good news!) is generally to accept two things: 1) inconsistencies happen, particularly (as RLB points out) in long-running, multi-author, occasionally retconned series, and 2) as much as I want something to happen a certain way, that doesn't mean it will.

If I can accept these two things, I can appreciate a story for what it is, and let it entertain me (or not) on its own merits.

And on the point of inconsistencies: I think it's not only reasonable to expect inconsistencies in such a series, but that it is REALISTIC. Yes, it makes the world *MORE* believeable to me, not less.

As Ed has said, over and over, there are lots of things that either aren't understood about the Realms or are understood in *different ways* about the realms. One person's interpretation of how a power worked or how a spell functioned or who was the king of when at what time . . . *isn't always correct*, if it even CAN be correct.

I don't know or understand everything about our own world, and we have far better and clearer ways of communicating facts about events and whatnot, plus we have thousands upon millions of textbooks about our world, not to mention essays, interviews, newsreports, speeches, posters, archives, and about a billion youtube videos. Most of which are exceedingly contradictory in thousands of different ways.

The realms? Well, we have a hundred or so sourcebooks (maybe that many) and a couple hundred novels, all of which have their little contradictions and inconsistencies inherent. There is absolutely no way we have *all the facts* about anything.

So there are conflicting accounts about who the coronal of Cormanthyr was between such and such dates. Of course there are!

So someone in a novel believes such and such about another someone, even though most of the fanbase believes the opposite based on such-and-such article. No surprise here!

For me, I'm more than happy--indeed, quite pleased--to have a little inconsistency.

Cheers


P.S. Onto what is already a long post: That's one of the great things about writing--you bring your own understanding of things to what you read. You read RLB's Thay trilogy with your own knowledge of red wizards and their ways in your head, and get to see how it *meshes* with your impression (does it contradict your theories? does it validate them?). Everyone understands the Realms a little bit differently, and I think we should celebrate that. It's what keeps the world alive.

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Signature of Shameless Self-Promotion +6: Order my sixth novel, Shadow of the Winter King (Amazon, e-signing, Dragonmoon Press)

Also check out my Realms work, most recently Shadowbane: Eye of Justice, out now on e-readers everywhere! (Kindle, Nook)
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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4586 Posts

Posted - 21 Apr 2008 :  17:32:19  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage  Send Erik Scott de Bie an AOL message Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@Jamallo:

Those are some excellent points you raise about 1) the historical inaccuracy of movies and 2) the occasional sheer stupidity of some characters' actions. I would also note that you're mentioning 3) functional inaccuracies (how boats work, etc).

As to the first, I myself don't have a problem with fiction that stretches the bounds of belief like that. In a sense, that's what fiction does--it's all something that *didn't actually happen.* In the alternate world of Indiana Jones, the nazis *did* manage to build a secret base in Egypt. In the alternate world of the Mummy, things don't follow the actual threads of causality in history. No one's trying to make an actual historical epic out of these things (or if they are, they didn't do AT ALL well).

Of course everyone has a line that defines the suspension of disbelief, and I totally respect that. If you don't like how a movie skewers history or plays silly with that little thing we call "logic," well, I'm totally behind you on that.

As to the second--yeah, that's pretty dumb, when you have your stoned TA carting around the one book in existence with all the spells that can save the world from the vampires. And again, there's that suspension of disbelief line, which we all draw somewhere (I mean, y'hafta, when you're watching Buffy).

As to the third, about functional inaccuracies (sailing, etc.): those are the responsibility of the author/editor bringing you the story. And--speaking for myself--no one's perfect. None of us, after all, are professionals at everything--we all have some things we know more about than others, and research can only float you so far. (Some authors, of course, being better at it than others.)

For instance, I feel like I know a bit about fencing, and what is possible with a certain type of sword and what isn't, and when I run across certain passages that don't fit my understanding, it takes me out of the narrative. Maybe it would be different for RLB, however, who might have a broader understanding of the sword (me=novice fencer, him=competitive champion). Also the rules are far different in fantasy.

I for one try to ignore little inconsistencies and nonsensical occurances in fields I know pretty well, just thinking that it's not really that relevant to the book as a whole. Not because I'm being kind or generous to the author, but because I want to enjoy reading, and that's how I do it. It's not always possible, but that's my goal, anyway.

All that said, I totally sympathize with things that grate.

Cheers

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Signature of Shameless Self-Promotion +6: Order my sixth novel, Shadow of the Winter King (Amazon, e-signing, Dragonmoon Press)

Also check out my Realms work, most recently Shadowbane: Eye of Justice, out now on e-readers everywhere! (Kindle, Nook)
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
Great Reader

USA
7106 Posts

Posted - 21 Apr 2008 :  18:40:04  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Erik Scott de Bie
And on the point of inconsistencies: I think it's not only reasonable to expect inconsistencies in such a series, but that it is REALISTIC. Yes, it makes the world *MORE* believeable to me, not less.

As Ed has said, over and over, there are lots of things that either aren't understood about the Realms or are understood in *different ways* about the realms. One person's interpretation of how a power worked or how a spell functioned or who was the king of when at what time . . . *isn't always correct*, if it even CAN be correct.



I entirely agree with you on the point that characters are unreliable narrators, but the problem is (and this isn't so much a problem for the writer, I think, as it is for the active fan) that a lot of people tend to FORGET about that. It's all too easy, it seems, for a lot of readers (perhaps even the most savvy reader) to take for granted whatever is said, and that is exactly how misperceptions about the setting start. Or, as Zanan has put it, a misconception will "grow arms and legs and come into a life of it's own", and like a rapidly multiplying weed it becomes hard to "kill off".

So, if there's a misconception in a novel by a character (let's say, done on purpose), someone out there is bound to exclaim, "Looks like the lore has changed with this novel!" It's probably not a big deal in the long run, but as someone who has consistently tried to address stuff like this on various forums (though I'm certainly not the only one), I hope you'll understand why I'm not as quick to say inconsistencies are a good thing--all too often, they can become annoying, and a starting point for myths about the setting.

I'm not saying this is all the fault of writers, though, because even if there are no lore inconsistencies involved, people take in-character statements as a fact pretty anyway. For example, when Shakti told Liriel that Eilistraee had abandoned her, people took that as a fact, even though Shakti was Liriel's enemy and had no reason to be careful or truthful with her. Elaine Cunningham was just writing the characters as they were supposed to be written, but even today, several years after Wildwalker was published, we still get people saying that Eilistraee abandoned Liriel, even though that was never stated for a fact.

I hope that all made some sense.

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
--Richard Greene (letter to Time)

Edited by - Rinonalyrna Fathomlin on 21 Apr 2008 18:42:10
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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4586 Posts

Posted - 21 Apr 2008 :  22:30:54  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage  Send Erik Scott de Bie an AOL message Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rinonalyrna Fathomlin

I hope that all made some sense.

I think that made great sense, 'Lyrna. Let me paraphrase what I hear you saying, and let me know if I've got it:

Characters lie, purposefully or accidentally, all the time. And sometimes there's nothing printed in the book itself to contradict the lie.

Thus, the temptation is there to accept it strictly as truth, and you can't always do that.

Which sometimes leads to some problems as to establishing the actual, lore/mechanical truth about an issue (like the Liriel/Eilistraee thing).

Fair enough interpretation?

While I see how that can lead to problems in fandom, I think that it's good to be able to have characters lie or be mistaken like that (for instance, when Twilight says . . . but I digress). It keeps readers on their toes and keeps the lore a living, breathing thing that gives rise to all sorts of theories and speculation.

To my mind, trying to document each and every thing, even if it is possible (and I don't think it is), isn't the best way to handle a setting as rich and diverse as the Realms (or any fantasy setting). I'd rather keep the wonder and mystery and debate alive . . . which leaves lots of room for speculation and DM-tomfoolery (because, let's face it, this *is* at least in part a game setting).

Then again, I'm not one of those KP-fans who isn't usually bothered by alternate theories and interpretations to my own--only when I'm DMing, and then it doesn't matter what the players think.

Cheers


P.S. I think part of the problem might be mistaken/lying narrators not being very common?

When characters express an opinion or thought that isn't central to the plot, the default setting is for them to be *right* about it. At least this is what I've noticed in the Realms. Some other fantasy writing makes great use of opinion and rumor and speculation--characters arguing about what happened in what battle and who was on which side and who should win what war and why, etc.

It's kind of a hallmark of less morally black-and-white fantasy, where who the reader "roots for" is determined more by their own choice than the author trying to steer them toward a particular sympathy. I'm thinking here of Martin's aSoIaF series, which examines issues from all different perspectives, which have a notably different take on it.

Just a thought.

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Signature of Shameless Self-Promotion +6: Order my sixth novel, Shadow of the Winter King (Amazon, e-signing, Dragonmoon Press)

Also check out my Realms work, most recently Shadowbane: Eye of Justice, out now on e-readers everywhere! (Kindle, Nook)
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
Great Reader

USA
7106 Posts

Posted - 22 Apr 2008 :  16:27:32  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Erik Scott de Bie

I think that made great sense, 'Lyrna. Let me paraphrase what I hear you saying, and let me know if I've got it:

Characters lie, purposefully or accidentally, all the time. And sometimes there's nothing printed in the book itself to contradict the lie.

Thus, the temptation is there to accept it strictly as truth, and you can't always do that.

Which sometimes leads to some problems as to establishing the actual, lore/mechanical truth about an issue (like the Liriel/Eilistraee thing).

Fair enough interpretation?


Yes, mostly--perhaps not the concluding sentence though. I'm not as concerned with "establishing the canonical truth" as much as I'm concerned with people passing off their own interpretations (whether thoughtful or not particularly thoughtful) as truth. In my experience, that is how myths come into being.

With regards to the actual truth of things, I'm the type of reader who is usually satisfied even if the answer happens to be "We just don't know the truth."

Does that make sense?

quote:
P.S. I think part of the problem might be mistaken/lying narrators not being very common?

When characters express an opinion or thought that isn't central to the plot, the default setting is for them to be *right* about it. At least this is what I've noticed in the Realms.


I agree with that. I think it might also have to do with how people act in real life, too. I realize there are some really suspicious and not-very-trusting people out there, but I think generally, when someone tells us something, we usually take it at face value. My personal guess is that we tend not to question fictional characters, either--we figure that if they tell us something, it must be truthful and important, and the author's method of conveying (truthful!) information to the reader.

Although again, that's just my take on things.

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
--Richard Greene (letter to Time)

Edited by - Rinonalyrna Fathomlin on 22 Apr 2008 16:31:59
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lowtech
Learned Scribe

USA
315 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2008 :  03:27:56  Show Profile  Visit lowtech's Homepage Send lowtech a Private Message  Reply with Quote

[/quote]
I would like to clarify my own position, too...
[/quote]

Thank you, Jamallo Kreen, for giving voice to my own thoughts on this matter. I have no ill-feelings toward Realmsian authors that have no connection with WOTC decision-making ...but through no fault of your own, I am now much less likely to buy your books. Not only will they now take place within a setting that I don't like, but they would have to be good enough to overcome the feelings of bitterness and frustrated rage that will accompany any fourth edition product.

To avoid ending this on a sour note, I would like to now thank the free-lance Realmsian authors for providing my favorite "living world" in the fantasy genre with novels that made the setting truly come alive. I can honestly say that my life has been better off for having read your books.
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Jamallo Kreen
Master of Realmslore

USA
1537 Posts

Posted - 23 Apr 2008 :  18:49:40  Show Profile  Visit Jamallo Kreen's Homepage Send Jamallo Kreen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There's also the anthology Other Worlds or In Their Own Worlds (someone correct me there, please!) coming out soon, so we will be able to see what the personal creations of Realms-published novels are like.

Sometimes, too, to address a little of what ESdB said, some authors just "know their stuff" regarding a particular genre or event or milieu. I certainly wouldn't read Eric Flint (1632, 1633, 1634 ___, 1812, etc.) for actual history, but when he (plus his co-author de jour) write an alternative history, I trust them to not cross the line of "willing suspension of disbelief" (Olympic hopeful sniper-level high school cheerleader -- sure, why not? Sniper-level cheerleader who kills Wallenstein half-way through the Thirty Years War, no).

(I'm running out of useful things to write at this point in the conversation, so if I suddenly disappear, it's because I'm lurking, not because anyone here's hurt my feelings by not agreeing with me 100%)

Ciao.



I have a mouth, but I am in a library and must not scream.


Feed the poor and stroke your ego, too: http://www.freerice.com/index.php.

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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4586 Posts

Posted - 24 Apr 2008 :  18:47:16  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage  Send Erik Scott de Bie an AOL message Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rinonalyrna Fathomlin

Does that make sense?

I think it does. We seem to agree in most respects.

People do have a tendency to dig in and entrench themselves in 180 degree wrong interpretations (er, at least, not what the author seems clearly to have intended).

I don't mean the natural ambiguities that arise, I mean things like the "Eilistraee abandoning Liriel" example, which is (in my opinion) clearly not the case. Then again . . . I'd prefer to go with whatever Elaine intended, and since I've never asked her about it, I'll reserve judgment for those more knowledgeable about that particular matter than I.

Interpretations based on false evidence (e.g., Shakti lying to Liriel) are just as dangerous and divisive as interpretations based on *no* evidence, except that they're harder to refute with stubborn readers who haven't got the answer from the horse's mouth.

In general, though, I'm fine with people holding contradictory opinions about something, so long as it allows for spirited debate in a fun and engaging manner.

Cheers

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Signature of Shameless Self-Promotion +6: Order my sixth novel, Shadow of the Winter King (Amazon, e-signing, Dragonmoon Press)

Also check out my Realms work, most recently Shadowbane: Eye of Justice, out now on e-readers everywhere! (Kindle, Nook)
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
Great Reader

USA
7106 Posts

Posted - 24 Apr 2008 :  21:01:57  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Erik Scott de Bie

In general, though, I'm fine with people holding contradictory opinions about something, so long as it allows for spirited debate in a fun and engaging manner.




Heh, you have a point there. It's easy for me to get curmudgeonly about it, though. :-p

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
--Richard Greene (letter to Time)
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Afetbinttuzani
Senior Scribe

Canada
434 Posts

Posted - 24 Apr 2008 :  21:08:05  Show Profile  Visit Afetbinttuzani's Homepage Send Afetbinttuzani a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Erik Scott de Bie
Those are some excellent points you raise about 1) the historical inaccuracy of movies and 2) the occasional sheer stupidity of some characters' actions. I would also note that you're mentioning 3) functional inaccuracies (how boats work, etc). [...]
...about functional inaccuracies (sailing, etc.): those are the responsibility of the author/editor bringing you the story. And--speaking for myself--no one's perfect. None of us, after all, are professionals at everything--we all have some things we know more about than others, and research can only float you so far. (Some authors, of course, being better at it than others.) [...]
I for one try to ignore little inconsistencies and nonsensical occurances in fields I know pretty well, just thinking that it's not really that relevant to the book as a whole. Not because I'm being kind or generous to the author, but because I want to enjoy reading, and that's how I do it. It's not always possible, but that's my goal, anyway.

All that said, I totally sympathize with things that grate.


I would place under the topic of grating technical innacuracies the often failed attempts at imitating early modern or Elizabethan English in the Realms novels. I realize that the idea is not to perfectly reproduce early modern English but rather to lend a kind of psuedo-medieval flavor to the narrative, but it has exactly the opposite effect on me when it is done badly. When I read things like "If thee take notice" and "haveth another" and "thou don't take", it destroys my otherwise willing suspension of disbelief by reminding me of the fumbling presence of an anachronistic 20th century narrator.

It goes without saying that some FR authors are better at it than others. For those who struggle with this, there are a number of ways to improve. The first and most enjoyable is to read Shakespeare or the King James Version of the Bible (1611) in order to get an authentic sense for verb usage and sentence structure. I suggest reading the blood soaked stories from the old testament because --filled as they are with intrigue, betrayal, battles, human pathos and divine intervention-- they are closest to the Realms novels. The KJV is particularly helpful because it preserves older forms of English. If authors prefer a more structured approach, they might pick up a copy of "Early Modern English" by Charles Barber (1997).

On a lighter note, here is a fun website devoted to helping you reproduce the flavor of Elizabethan English: http://members.cox.net/hapnueby/language.html

Here's another site that includes an Elizabethen English dictionary and, best of all, a Shakespearean insults generator: http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-insults.htm

I would rather that authors avoid attempting the "old-fashioned" English entirely, unless they are willing to do a bit of homework and get it right. Thoughts?
Cheers,
Afet

Afet bint Tuzaní

"As the good Archmage often admonishes me, I ought not to let my mind wander, as it's too small to go off by itself."
- Danilo Thann in Elfsong by Elaine Cunningham
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Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1776 Posts

Posted - 24 Apr 2008 :  21:52:09  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I think there are two potential problems with archaic language. One is that you can get it wrong, to the annoyance of knowledgeable readers like Afet. The other is that even when you get it technically correct, it can give the story a stilted, corny quality. So I tend not to go that route.
On the other hand, there's language that smacks you in the face with being contemporary and reflecting our culture, and that's no good, either. When I read a medieval fantasy and a character says, "Okay," or alludes to "the point of no return" (an expression derived from aviation), it knocks me right out of the story.
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
3352 Posts

Posted - 24 Apr 2008 :  22:41:10  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Even reading the King James hasn't been the best help to me...and I've been reading scripture for so long that I have memories of reading scripture before I have memory of riding a bike!

I've come to a point where I can write somewhat "old fashioned" but it isn't really "medieval" in feeling. I've come to the conclusion for myself that if I were to write that way, people wouldn't understand what I was saying anyway! I mean, how many people are substituting the King James for the New International Version anyway.

I agree with RLB though about using strictly modern terminology when writing...but I'll disagree slightly with the "point of no return"...especially when I've killed dragons playing D&D by using their own point of no return...because their dive has made it impossible for them to avoid my Prismatic Wall!
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Afetbinttuzani
Senior Scribe

Canada
434 Posts

Posted - 24 Apr 2008 :  23:31:55  Show Profile  Visit Afetbinttuzani's Homepage Send Afetbinttuzani a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers

I think there are two potential problems with archaic language. One is that you can get it wrong, to the annoyance of knowledgeable readers like Afet. The other is that even when you get it technically correct, it can give the story a stilted, corny quality. So I tend not to go that route.
On the other hand, there's language that smacks you in the face with being contemporary and reflecting our culture, and that's no good, either. When I read a medieval fantasy and a character says, "Okay," or alludes to "the point of no return" (an expression derived from aviation), it knocks me right out of the story.


On the question of using archaic language, I don't think it has to be all or nothing. It can be done well. It just needs to be consistent and grammatically sound. With a simple manipulation of word order, the use of the auxiliary verb "do" and the insertion a few archaisms, the effect can be produced. Ed Greenwood does a fairly good job of it, for example, at the beginning of "Swords of DragonFire":
quote:
Then did I ask him: What, if it pains you not too much to tell it, happened next? And Azoun of Cormyr smiled, and shook his head, and spake thus: "They make not heroes like those, any more, in these latter days." (Epigraph to Prologue)

If you add to this the use of archaic contractions like "tis" and "daren´t" and avoid modern contractions like "it´s" and "don´t" the right "feel" can be created.

But still, as you said, there is the question of anachronistic expressions. In the quote from Greenwood, for example, there appears to be an allusion to the expression "they don´t make them like they used to", which is, unless I'm mistaken, an anachronistic turn of phrase reflecting twentieth century dissatisfaction with low quality mass produced products. In this case, a reference to the medieval notion of inborn nobility might have worked better: "No more, in these latter days, are born heroes like those".

In any case, I agree that even if archaic language is completely avoided, an effort has to be made to avoid using anachronistic expressions. Having said that, I realize it is often difficult to recognize them as such, let alone catch them all.
Afet

Afet bint Tuzaní

"As the good Archmage often admonishes me, I ought not to let my mind wander, as it's too small to go off by itself."
- Danilo Thann in Elfsong by Elaine Cunningham

Edited by - Afetbinttuzani on 25 Apr 2008 01:58:02
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Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
Great Reader

USA
7106 Posts

Posted - 25 Apr 2008 :  01:25:28  Show Profile  Visit Rinonalyrna Fathomlin's Homepage Send Rinonalyrna Fathomlin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Afetbinttuzani
In any case, I agree that even if archaic language is completely avoided, an effort has to be made to avoid using anachronistic expressions. Having said that, I realize it is often difficult to recognize them as such, let alone catch them all.



I think it's important to remember, though, that everyone has a different level of tolerance for that. What smacks of the modern world to one person might go unnoticed by another. You can't please everyone, here.

I would consider the fact that no one in the Realms would actually be speaking English--everything has been "translated" for our benefit. Also, the FR is not the real world: the people in the Realms might not have "medieval notions" parallel to the ones people had in the real world.

"Instead of asking why we sleep, it might make sense to ask why we wake. Perchance we live to dream. From that perspective, the sea of troubles we navigate in the workaday world might be the price we pay for admission to another night in the world of dreams."
--Richard Greene (letter to Time)

Edited by - Rinonalyrna Fathomlin on 25 Apr 2008 01:28:21
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Afetbinttuzani
Senior Scribe

Canada
434 Posts

Posted - 25 Apr 2008 :  02:27:07  Show Profile  Visit Afetbinttuzani's Homepage Send Afetbinttuzani a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rinonalyrna Fathomlin
I think it's important to remember, though, that everyone has a different level of tolerance for that. What smacks of the modern world to one person might go unnoticed by another. You can't please everyone, here.

I would consider the fact that no one in the Realms would actually be speaking English--everything has been "translated" for our benefit. Also, the FR is not the real world: the people in the Realms might not have "medieval notions" parallel to the ones people had in the real world.



I agree. Young readers particularly are probably not so quick to notice anachronisms. And the idea in the Realms novels and products is not to closely imitate Medieval Europe. The idea is to believably create the feel, the tone, the look of a world that happens to be at roughly the same state of social and technological development as Earth around around 600 years ago. For that matter the use of Elizabethan English (mid 15th to mid 17th cent.) is also anachronistic. True Medieval English would be pretty much unintelligible.

Still, I think you'll agree that many modern expressions are out of place in the Realms. Even my eleven year old would be bothered if a Realms character were say something like "get outa my grill, yo!"
Afet

Afet bint Tuzaní

"As the good Archmage often admonishes me, I ought not to let my mind wander, as it's too small to go off by itself."
- Danilo Thann in Elfsong by Elaine Cunningham
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Steven Schend
Forgotten Realms Designer & Author

USA
1632 Posts

Posted - 25 Apr 2008 :  03:54:45  Show Profile  Visit Steven Schend's Homepage  Send Steven Schend a Yahoo! Message Send Steven Schend a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers
On the other hand, there's language that smacks you in the face with being contemporary and reflecting our culture, and that's no good, either. When I read a medieval fantasy and a character says, "Okay," or alludes to "the point of no return" (an expression derived from aviation), it knocks me right out of the story.



Do you also have trouble when characters invoke Bigby's Air Guitar, Richard?

Or are you worried more about dialogue (i.e. upon his defeat, when Manshoon said, "Bogus, Blackstaff...totally bogus...") ?



Steven
who would like a Protection vs. Heinous right about now, please....

PS: I am in 110% agreement with Richard on this issue and fully agree that his points are valid. I'm just a raging insomniac and wanted to share the silly....

For current projects and general natter, see www.steveneschend.com
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Afetbinttuzani
Senior Scribe

Canada
434 Posts

Posted - 25 Apr 2008 :  04:07:45  Show Profile  Visit Afetbinttuzani's Homepage Send Afetbinttuzani a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steven Schend
Do you also have trouble when characters invoke Bigby's Air Guitar, Richard?

Or are you worried more about dialogue (i.e. upon his defeat, when Manshoon said, "Bogus, Blackstaff...totally bogus...") ?


..or would you object to finding the following apparatus outside the Old Skull Tavern in Shadowdale?:
quote:
"Ardraken's Refreshment
Simulacrum
XP Value: — GP Value: 11,500
The Book of Wondrous Inventions
Ardraken, a wizard from Greyhawk adventuring
in another dimension, first discovered the creature
named "Cola." Cola was a rectangular,
human-sized thing. It spoke few words, but was .
very friendly. For just two silver pieces, Cola
gave a total stranger a refreshing elixir. Once
back in Greyhawk, Ardraken resolved to create
his own "cola."
Ardraken 's refreshment simulacrum is a colorful
box standing on one end. Its usual colors are
red, white, and blue. Glowing runes read, "Cola,"
"Drink," "New Generation," "Exact Change
When Lit," and other arcane sayings. A small
opening large enough to accept a coin is located
midway to the top, on the right. One foot from the
bottom is a large aperture, almost as wide as the
box. 1deally, the thing affably greets people, then
offers its elixir for a mere two silver pieces." (Encyclopedia Mágica Vol. I p. 62)

Afet

Afet bint Tuzaní

"As the good Archmage often admonishes me, I ought not to let my mind wander, as it's too small to go off by itself."
- Danilo Thann in Elfsong by Elaine Cunningham

Edited by - Afetbinttuzani on 25 Apr 2008 04:10:13
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Karzak
Learned Scribe

196 Posts

Posted - 25 Apr 2008 :  05:00:57  Show Profile  Visit Karzak's Homepage Send Karzak a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Afetbinttuzani
When I read things like "If thee take notice" and "haveth another" and "thou don't take", it destroys my otherwise willing suspension of disbelief by reminding me of the fumbling presence of an anachronistic 20th century narrator.


AHHHH.

I just threw up a little in my mouth. I've never seen instances of failed "Ye Olde Englishe" that are quite so hideous; were the ones you encountered really this glaring?

quote:
Then did I ask him: What, if it pains you not too much to tell it, happened next? And Azoun of Cormyr smiled, and shook his head, and spake thus: "They make not heroes like those, any more, in these latter days."


That I find painful, stilted and dripping of trying-too-hard sauce. Especially "spake." Do not want. Ia, ia, Cthulhu f'thagn!

Has anyone ever read Katherine Kerr? Daggerspell, the one book of hers I've read, has some pretty bizarre dialogue where it's obvious the author wants it all to be le archaic and authentik. How does she do this? She replaces the word "something" with "somewhat."

Yeah, how about no.

Edited by - Karzak on 25 Apr 2008 05:05:21
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Afetbinttuzani
Senior Scribe

Canada
434 Posts

Posted - 25 Apr 2008 :  05:52:28  Show Profile  Visit Afetbinttuzani's Homepage Send Afetbinttuzani a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Karzak
AHHHH.

I just threw up a little in my mouth. I've never seen instances of failed "Ye Olde Englishe" that are quite so hideous; were the ones you encountered really this glaring?

Yup. Pretty nasty
Afet

Afet bint Tuzaní

"As the good Archmage often admonishes me, I ought not to let my mind wander, as it's too small to go off by itself."
- Danilo Thann in Elfsong by Elaine Cunningham
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James P. Davis
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
244 Posts

Posted - 25 Apr 2008 :  06:10:07  Show Profile  Visit James P. Davis's Homepage Send James P. Davis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Do you also have trouble when characters invoke Bigby's Air Guitar, Richard?

Or are you worried more about dialogue (i.e. upon his defeat, when Manshoon said, "Bogus, Blackstaff...totally bogus...") ?



Steven
who would like a Protection vs. Heinous right about now, please....

PS: I am in 110% agreement with Richard on this issue and fully agree that his points are valid. I'm just a raging insomniac and wanted to share the silly....

Silly to share? I'm in!

I totally agree as well and wonder what about if we combine modern and archaic...

Warrior 1: "Art thou frontin'?"
Warrior 2: "Speaketh thou to my hand."
Warrior 1: "Ah fool, unless mine ears deceive me, I know you just didn't."
Warrior 2: "Fool? Thine momma'!"

Hmmm, maybe the world's just not ready yet...

Cheers!
--James

"Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red."--Clive Barker

FR: RotD2:"Possessions"
Wizards:Bloodwalk
Citadels: The Shield of Weeping Ghosts
Wilds: The Restless Shore
Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep: Circle of Skulls (May 2010)
Book trailers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC-ska7ohVk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfvFdQ8bLp0
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Dalor Darden
Great Reader

USA
3352 Posts

Posted - 25 Apr 2008 :  08:09:18  Show Profile Send Dalor Darden a Private Message  Reply with Quote
LOL...it hurts!

That was awesome!
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