Writing What You Don't Know: The Assistants

Discussion in 'Make It So' started by jacktrash, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. turtleDove

    turtleDove Well-Known Member

    I usually just go to a baby names site and trawl through the names that are of the correct ethnicity. It might not help as much with the era, but it'll at least mean that you're not getting something that's deeply offensive or too ridiculous (especially if you double-check the meanings first).
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  2. theprettiestboy

    theprettiestboy wombatman

    I'm leaning towards Reo, at least as a working preliminary. It's nice sounding and has an appropriate meaning, and tbh I'm probably overthinking this whole aspect of things.
    • Like x 2
  3. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    I'd like to revamp my old PPC characters for something else, and I need to more clearly differentiate the personalities of the main two girls. They were both kind of snark-and-violence machines, and I'm not sure how best to define characters strongly, or do good character voices. Like, Homestuck is good at that - even without the quirks one can tell who a sentence was spoken by. Tips?
  4. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    With the example of Homestuck specifically, one of the things Hussie does that makes the characters so distinctive is that he sets a bunch of traits and rules down for each character and sticks to them rigorously. Quirks and typing styles are part of that, but it ranges from the level of big plot roles down to things like word choice and sentence construction. His characters are pretty easy to "get" from early on because he gives you a handful of themes written in great big letters up front and keeps those important and central, even if the exact context/interpretation/meaning/relationship with those themes changes.

    Anyway, what I'd suggest you do, at least to start with, is make them want very different things from each other. Both big plot motivations and stuff like "what would I like to do with my free time." That should at least start them pulling away from each other enough that you can begin disentangling them more.
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  5. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    I guess classpecting them for fun could be a start. (Molly is probably Light.)
  6. sirsparklepants

    sirsparklepants *cries in sports*

    When I think about character voices, I think about factors that can influence the way a person talks. I have a couple of characters who could have very similar voices, on the surface, since they're both strongly influenced by the giggly party girl stereotype and both from the southwest. But their voices are very distinct in my head because their backgrounds are different - for example, one of them is a vampire who picks up modern slang from teenagers, so she doesn't use it quite right sometimes and is prone to mixing in older slang too. The other character is nonbinary and grew up bilingual, so they tend to avoid any gender markers in their speech and while they have a very slang heavy dialect, it's very easy for them to explain things in simpler terms. So I'd think about the backgrounds of your characters to start with. When they were learning to speak, who influenced them? What environment did they learn most of their vocabulary in? How comfortable are they with peer group slang? Are there any words or phrases they'd avoid, given their backgrounds? Do they have a close friend they could pick up vocab and turns of phrase from? What TV or movies do they like to watch or what books do they like to read? That's all stuff that influences how a person speaks, and how someone speaks is usually a reflection of how they think. The answers to at least a couple of those should be different for the characters in question, and you can develop differences in voice from there.
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  7. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    That's very useful! Thanks, everyone. Deciding what they want, um... I guess I need a plot for them to be in first?

    Drop-Out is another comic which does this pretty well. The characters have some important shared traits but very different experiences with them...
  8. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    Another question. My novel idea is fantasy, but I don't know whether to go with building a whole world from scratch or going with a fantastical version of the real world. Worldbuilding would give me a lot more freedom, but I HAAAATE coming up with place names and geography. I'm also dubious on whether building ethnic and religious groups similar but not directly analogous to real-world ones for a fantasy 'verse is a good idea, and race/religious differences play a part in the story so I would have to work that in detail. What are the pros and cons here, and what would you do?
  9. IvyLB

    IvyLB Hardcore Vigilante Gay Chicken Facilitator

  10. Mercury

    Mercury 17 Quicksilver Scribe Tramples The Unrepentant

    I've been going for worlds that bear some surface similarities to ours is currently but yolo on the fantastical elements. I just wodge them in wherever I like. Ultimately I've had the most success with "does the juxtaposition of these real world elements and these fantastical elements please me?" and the justifications/backstory sort themselves out from there. Eventually I flesh out its history further once I've jammed together enough stuff. And as for naming places, sometimes I borrow from real life, and sometimes I just put in something I like and who cares if it sounds too 'fantasyish' or whatever? Lots of real places have weird or interesting or very literal place names.

    The ethnicity/culture thing takes thoughtful worldbuilding. In the case of one of my worlds, it's kind of weird/difficult as it's meant to be a surreal, dreamworld-like mirror to our own but with it's own (very fractured) history, so I can't just drop in real world history and mythology wholesale. I have to go more archetypal, but be thoughtful in doing so since a lot of real world perspective on archetypes is distorted by prejudice and colonialism. Researching real world stuff that's similar to what I'm going for from a variety of sources/perspectives and then building on that has been key.

    I play fast and loose with geography and am very vague about it with intentions to clean it up later, which probably isn't the best thing to do. Sometimes when I need something I can't be vague about, though, I use a trick I learned a long time ago - find something like an interesting bit of coastline and then blow it up huge. Streams become gorges, ditches become canyons, tiny inlets become huge bays. That way you have the solidity of Actual Geography (and don't end up with rivers running uphill or other such nonsense), but since it's a tiny bit of ours transformed into a large bit of somewhere else it can become its own thing.
    • Like x 3
  11. Wingyl

    Wingyl Allegedly Magic

    I've also seen map generators! Like, you can google them, and get a computer-generated map.
  12. Musarex

    Musarex Active Member

    Someone needs to make a map generator plus climate simulator...
  13. Snitchanon

    Snitchanon What's a mod to a nonbeliever.

    Through dark and eldritch maths, World Machine might work for that.
  14. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    I don't have to get too specific with geography because I can just kind of go loosely with the real world there, I did want a fantasy analogue to England from the start. My big two issues are these:
    1) I hate hate hate coming up with place names. I feel like they all sound stupid.
    2) I'm not sure what to do about human racial/religious groups and how closely to base them on real ones. That could go offensive really quickly either way, and the story I have requires there to be clash over them; the heroine is roughly analogous to a Jewish person in Victorian England, the issues of which result in the locals not looking too hard into it when she's accused of axe-murdering someone.
  15. sirsparklepants

    sirsparklepants *cries in sports*

    I also hate coming up with place names, so I mostly use this generator. (If you want names specifically influenced by the real world, there's a huge list of place name generators below on the same page.)
  16. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    I think my better option is to look up what existing place names mean and assemble things from that, so I don't end up with something that's a curse word in Latvian or something, and for the geography for now I think I'll go with "approximately Earth with different names" and worry about the details later. It's the ethnic groups thing that's giving me a real problem. I know some people are going to be offended no matter what option I take but I want to take the one which will hurt the fewest people's feelings, and which will make me look least like I actually think that, say, all the Abrahamic faiths are actually the same thing.
  17. bornofthesea670

    bornofthesea670 Well-Known Member

    O don't know what the right thread for this is and I'm not looking cause I'm on mobile.

    My character named her son Francisco after the Spanish painter de Goya, what is a good nickname or simplification? I don't like the name Frank for him. He's poetic and optimistic in nature, a smidge of a dreamer (as much as anyone has time to be a dreamer when they're raised to be a politician).
  18. sirsparklepants

    sirsparklepants *cries in sports*

    My first instinct is Cici, but I'm not sure if that fits the vibe you're going for.
  19. bornofthesea670

    bornofthesea670 Well-Known Member

    Only shortening I like is Cisco so i might go with that or Frisk but Frisk has a lot of potential joking possibilities which isn't great for a prince.

    Why couldn't Clover have done the smart thing and named her son after a common plant like her and her twin Daisy.

    But no, Clove's gotta be an artist about it.

    Clover and Daisy are the only daughters of the last Queen, and Daisy is absolutely not about that royal shit, she'd rather enlist and melt into the general navy until the reporting about whom was going to inherit the throne died down. Clover is a gothy quiet person who just wants a garden and to paint in peace, but someone's gotta bite the bullet and rule. She is aromantic and had her son because she respects her sister's desire to keep herself and her children out of the limelight. It's a bit selfish on Daisy's part but not really great for anyone.

    I like Francisco de Goya for his painting The Third of May 1808. I feel he and his works would resonate with the character. Like, even Saturn Eating His Son, like.. I'd have to pull out seven pages of world building on why that's relevant to this family line but I haven't written it yet lol.


    I like Frisk more than Cisco but... I might smash together more stuff with the name. I googled what some nicknames are IRL and Pancho and Paco came up but since it's not a hispanic character I feel odd about it (also i CANT with pancho I'm sorry. and paco reminds me of the salsa brand pace ahhhh)

    Kiko reminds me of the printing store.. Coco is cute but not very masculine. Apparently Trey is a common nickname for it though? No idea how. I don't see him as much of a Trey though.

    Another option is to have him go by a middle name, one more common in their culture, like Flint or Cole or Micah.

    Their main export is minerals and gems so a LOT of kids are named after gems and minerals. Flint works somewhat with Francisco, it...at least starts with an F lol. And I like it for the character. Maybe I'll go with that.
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  20. theprettiestboy

    theprettiestboy wombatman

    I really like cisco but frisk is cute too
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
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