Notes for 5-13-09

  • Posted on: 13 May 2009
  • By: MeiLin

--OK, who sent me the box of Green & Black chocolate? Biggrin Thanks!

--Retconning: There will be some semi-massive retconning in the finished books, as you might expect. One of them, which I announced at the beginning of chapter 28, is that historical Tremontine speech will not contain "thou" as a second-person informal pronoun. I realized that I would have to go through and rewrite huge chunks of books 1 and 2 to use "thou," which will make the damn thing nearly unreadable. So officially, one of the differences between Sairish speech and Tremontine speech is that the Sairish have "thou" and the Tremontines do not.

--Map: I'm closer to a map. The main delay has been in believable distances. It takes close to a week to get from Belleth to Apecto. How many miles is that? What does it look like on a map? Etc. I am a picky author. I expect some suspension of disbelief, but I want you guys to know I respect you, and that means researching stuff like that.

--"On Writing": I'm reading Stephen King's "On Writing" (on my Kindle! eee!). I am not a horror fan. I've only read a couple of King's books ("The Stand," "The Dead Zone"), but I highly recommend "On Writing" to anyone who's serious about the craft. I am not a good writer--yet. I am what King would call a competent writer, and always have been. I hope to become a good writer given time, and he says that's completely possible. I'll never be a great writer, but as Mark Twain says at the bottom of this very page, "My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine -- everybody drinks water." I'm aiming for really good water.

More than ever, as I read it, I feel I'm on the right track with this story, and with my process. I am trying to write the truth as I know it, regardless whether it's correct ("ZOMG how can you write such a sexist society!") or socially acceptable ("ZOMG I can't let anyone know I read a story with so much sex in it!" when you can pick up books with at least as much sex in any supermarket). They say "Write what you know," but King points out that it's more "write what you love." He loves horror, fantasy and science fiction in a deep way that's been with him since childhood. I have loved fantasy, science fiction and 19th century literature for as long as I can remember, so that's what I'm going to write.

Along with that is an abiding fascination with sexual experience--not just stroke literature but sexual dynamics between people and among peoples. It's one of the reasons Sir and I are so compatible; he's a walking encyclopedia of sexual history and knowledge that, again, transcends the simple urge to get off. For better or worse, I start with the sexual dynamic between and among my characters and their societies--obvious, latent, or non-existent--and work out from there. It's just where I start, and there's no point in my fighting it.

One area where I differ from King is that his advice is to never under any circumstances show your first draft to anyone. He follows that up with "do what works for you, but that's what works for me," or words to that effect. What works for me is talking with all of you, about that very first draft. You are like my writing group. Thank you always for being honest with me.

--Coming up: We're wrapping up "The Last Royal Mistress," which means we're drawing ever-closer to the Editing Hiatus. (And Netta sent me a couple more chapters today; she's coming to the end of book one.) I will tell folks now that I would LOVE to see sillyfic (like "Three Quests") and fan art to help me during hiatus. I'm going to try to have bonus stories up for you at least twice a week during editing. I don't know how long editing is going to take. I'm hoping to have book one done within 3 months. Yeah, I know, that's a long time. But I can't finish one book while I'm writing the draft of another in the series. Though I might start work on Scryer's Valley, because it's different.

We'll see.

Comments

MeiLin's picture

Most High

...as long as I'm at it, that "ZOMG I can't let anyone know I read a story with so much sex in it!" goes both ways. One of the things King says is don't be ashamed of what you write. He was for most of his writing career, since he wrote his first "best seller" in grade school and was shamed by his teachers for it. I am no longer ashamed of what I'm writing, either because it's old-fashioned in its style or because it has sex in it.

So there.

Biggrin

rog's picture

Petitioner

Good to hear that Mei. Smile

Seth Gray's picture

Devotee

There's entirely too much society tells us to feel shame for to be ashamed about something we enjoy.

Three months is a long time, but it's almost guaranteed that your book three will be really good (even the first draft) after spending so much tweaking your process.

fairnymph's picture

Embodiment

-What chocolates did you get, specifically? Don't skimp on details, plz. Biggrin

-We could all benefit from learning to be more comfortable with 'thou' etc, imo, so I think more of such speech is a bonus. Or that's how I look at it.

-On Writing is pretty much at the top of my book wishlist - it keeps getting snapped up on BookMooch, SIGH. I enjoy King's writing style, and I have much respect for him, though I am just not into horror as a genre so he will never be a favourite author. Although, I haven't read the Dark Tower stuff, so that could change my mind. I wrote in my LJ a bit about King, and how I really enjoy his character creation and perspective.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

...and now that I've read "On Writing" (almost done), I know a little bit more about why.

--Chocolates: Green & Black milk chocolate bars filled with caramel, about the worst-for-you G&B on the planet, but delicious nonetheless. There will be chocolate during Lost tonight. Oh yes. There will be chocolate.

Also Naveen Andrews, homina-homina.

--"Thou": I LOVE second-person informal, and I sincerely wish we still had it. I don't understand why we dropped it.

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

having "thou" in old Tremontine text. Why did you drop it, again?

MeiLin's picture

Most High

it would make books one and two unreadable.

judisheshok's picture

Postulant

Of most of his stuff, I highly reccomend the Dark Tower Series. I love most of his books...but I also shy away from the horror...I can't read the Stand, or Rose Madder. I never thought meself squeamish, but I've shown myself that I am indeed Smile . The Talisman and it's sequel Black House, are also reeeeeeaaally good.

blwinteler's picture

Supplicant

I actually got to participate in an online chat with Peter Straub in college. Don't remember much about it, but it was enjoyable. It was great to chat with one of the authors of a couple of my favorite books. I actually read The Talisman when I was in 6th grade. I got funny looks on the school bus for reading such a long book. But I didn't care. I was too engrossed in my reading Smile

Shinjinarenai's picture

Postulant

Is AWESOME. And I am nowhere near the end of the series, just up to book four. But it's absolutely amazing, even for those of thus who cannot abide horror.

april.raines's picture

Petitioner

Sadly, Book Four is the last totally awesome one. Book 5 is pretty awesome, but it starts the quite literal Deus Ex Machina which only gets worse with Books 6 & 7. That said, I'm one of my few friends whose read it all that actually likes the ending.

My fave King's are 'The Stand' and 'Eyes of the Dragon'.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

I read it all the way to the end and I must say that it was definitely an interesting story. The extent to which his own universe links to it is an amazing thing. And the ending has to be the singularly most unique (is that superlative enough?) sense of closure I have ever read. I used to not like the ending, but as I've aged and thought about it, it almost makes the most sense. No spoilers, I think. I hope.

Stormy's picture

Supplicant

is another favorite of mine. I have nearly everything King has ever written...most in hardback AND paperback. I even have a book that he used to own (one of his extra author copies--he was selling them off a while back) Yeah, I'm a dork.

So...as far as the Dark Tower series...the ending wasn't what I had hoped. But I can't think of an ending that would have wrapped it up better and actually fit the story. And what epic story doesn't have a bit of a disappointing ending? If nothing else, it's over. After so long of having that expectation of more, you're naturally going to feel a bit empty.

raecchi's picture

Devotee

Three months is great for editing an entire book, even with help! Editing is so much harder than writing (at least for me), and it takes a slightly different set of skills, too. Best of luck with it!

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

I suck at writing, but editing is pretty easy for me...

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

but I suck at storytelling, and editing comes naturally to me. I explain it as having a firm grasp of the mechanics but not the theory, just like with math and science. I know the rules and I understand how to convey something precisely to a given audience, and my vocabulary is extensive, and I'm a diligent researcher, but I can't finish my own creative ideas, and while I love building characters and fleshing out small details, I can't do anything interesting with them once they're there.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

seconded, ditto, and amen.

Sonja's picture

On Writing was so amazing! It was the very first book I read of Stephen King's. Which sounds backwards, but I've never been really able to get into anything else...which is kind of weird, now that I think about it...

rog's picture

Petitioner

It is a great book to read, and even people who do not want to write should read it because it is an interesting book. I recommend it to anyone who like King or just wants to get an insight on the craft a little.

Davik's picture

Embodiment

As far as distance vs. time in the map, are you talking about velocity on foot or on horse? I can tell you from experience that 15-20 miles a day on foot in moderate terrain (medium hills, some established trails or roads) with full kit is reasonable for someone in good shape who knows what they're doing (military scouts' pace is about 4 miles an hour on said terrain, typical is 3 mph). You can push that to 40 or 50 miles in a day for one or two days (I've done about 45 a day with full pack, but was hallucinating by the end of a day and a half), but you're completely shot by the end. If you're talking about an army, expect a slight increase in time due to breaking camp, organizing, spreading out on the trail, and fortifying at the end. I don't know if this helps, but...
As far as travel on horse, I don't have a clue, never been on one, so you'd better look for other people.

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

that travel on a horse would be easy enough to find out. Horse speeds should be easy to figure and then reduce it a little for carrying a load.

Of course, determining distances as the crow flies is the easy part. What if it takes you a week by boat, because you're sailing around a large land mass, but would be much faster on foot if there weren't impassable terrain in the way?

V's picture

Embodiment

That is, if you're talking "This is my horse and I keep him" instead of a Pony Express style tired-for-fresh handoff. I'm quite certain one of Tom Clancy's nonfiction works (Armored Cav?) mentioned that an 1800s cavalry regiment travelled slower than a comparable infantry regiment. Horses are great for reconnaissance and and burst speed but the baggage train and extra supplies (fodder, etc) plus the need to keep a sustainable pace pulled them down.

Edit: Found it. It's in the introduction.

Tom Clancy wrote:
And so it was a rule of the American West that on any long-distance trip of more than five days, an infantry company could outmarch a cavalry troop.
He also points out their lower combat density...2-3 infantry have the same frontage as a single horse. That's a lot more pointy bits. Horses also don't go crashing into things they can't see a way through.
Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... is long distance/endurance running. We're built for it. So, given enough time, humans can outpace just about any other land animal, including horses.

Which, incidentally, means that the most sure-fire way to catch a bolted horse, provided you have the time, is not to jump on another horse and ride full bore after the bolted one, but to find a good tracker and hike it on foot. Average time to catch a horse that way, if I remember correctly, is about 2 days.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

It's been estimations based on:

--horseback

--carriage (different)

--foot (military pace and civilian pace)

--sail (military and merchant)

--steamer (military and merchant)

Once I figured out what I needed to do to figure distances, I've been working it out gradually.

kawaiikune's picture

Embodiment

but just in case, there are a lot of historical records of military marches, like Napoleon's. They have things like distances and time recorded. Granted, depending on the size of the military, moving might take different amounts of time for different distances, but you could get a general idea using information like that.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

but I will in the coming chapter. Mostly working on civilian movements so far--Brinnid's ocean voyage home, the trip across the country his double is taking by train, how far Fredrik in book one went from his capital to Tremont's, and so on.

Laureril's picture

Supplicant

I have a copy of 'The Atlas of Middle Earth' which happens to include the average travel speeds worked out from each leg of the story. I don't know if that's particularly accurate, but it's a start. I think according to him, it was around 2mph by foot, 4mph by pony, and 5 mph by horse - 10-11 by the Rohirim over short distances.

Another not-quite-reliable source which I do have on hand (Namely, the 3.5 Player's Handbook) quotes you at...
foot: 2-3 mph (Hustle - 6mph)
horseback: 5-6 mph
carriage: 2 mph
Sail:
-- Military 3mph
-- Merchant 2mph

After googling for some historical sources, I have...
-Roman army: 3.5 mph (18.4 miles in 5 hours - in the summer)
-Mongolian horses: full gallop (30-40 mph) over 35 miles - possibly more, could travel up to 100 miles in a day (Rotating between 3-4 horses)
-Pony Express: Full gallop (30-40 mph) over 70-100 miles each.
-Oregon Trail: 120-170 days, about 2000 miles. (11-16 miles/day)
-Clippers: 16 knots (Fastest recorded, 18 mph)

Hope that's a good starting point.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I was soooo going to be all brainy with that one... I remember it from elementary school. Between all the class time, and reading the little house books at home, I feel like I spent half my childhood making conestoga wagons :P. (Anyone else learn to use a computer playing by Oregon Trail?)

seia's picture

Devotee

What causes the difference in speed between the military and a merchant? Is it because of the weight/ type of ship or because of something entirely different?

MeiLin's picture

Most High

...are built for speed. Merchant class are built for cargo size. It's been true since we took to the water. I am probably stating this wrong, but higher displacement = slower speed.

Laureril's picture

Supplicant

I know that certain goods like tea were loaded onto faster ships since they were not improved by the briny air. There were also certain merchant ships which were intentionally fast to take advantage of seasonal trading (i.e. Clippers, prior to the widespread use of steam).

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Our world has a mixture of steam and sail ships, including triremes and the like.

Samaris's picture

Supplicant

Mei, it's our pleasure to be around! Smile I personally think it's going to be fascinating to see how the books differ from the drafts! Smile

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