Writing What You Don't Know: The Assistants

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

  1. Sethrial MacCoill

    Sethrial MacCoill Attempts were made

    Grammatical question that i didn't know where else to put. Can an oxford comma be used to link together three independent clauses that are all part of the same idea? Or would I have to use a semi colon between each one?

    example: [independent clause], [independent clause], and [independent clause].
  2. TheSeer

    TheSeer 37 Bright Visionary Crushes The Doubtful

    Sounds like a job for commas, unless the clauses already contain commas of their own and that would be confusing. Hard to be totally sure without the sentence in front of me, though.
  3. hyrax

    hyrax if my heart could beat it would break my chest

    ^ yup this! the commas are typically fine, unless the clauses are more complicated to the point it would get confusing.

    "before i go on my trip, i need to pack my suitcases, i need to go to the bank, and i need to get an oil change." <-- fine with commas

    "before i go on my trip, i need to pack my suitcases, though i'm not looking forward to this because it always stresses me out; i need to go to the bank because i need to get some money changed to Canadian dollars, and i heard they've got a good exchange rate; i need to get an oil change, which, in defiance of my friend who's a mechanic, i've been putting off for awhile anyway." <-- needs some semicolons to break things up to maintain clarity
    • Agree x 2
  4. latitans

    latitans fake fan

    The Rule (for "standard" [ugh] American English, anyway) is that semicolons are used to separate closely related independent clauses in the absence of coordinating conjunctions in the sentence or to separate items of a list when each item is long or contains commas.


    It was terribly cold outside, so I wore several layers under my jacket.

    I would like coffee, my girlfriend would like tea, and Alaizabel would like water.
    • the coordinating conjunctions "and" and "so" mean that we use commas to separate the independent clauses.
    I'll have coffee; my girlfriend will have tea.
    • in the absence of coordinating conjunctions, we use semicolons to separate independent clauses.
    These are the cities I've lived in: Chicago, IL, where I lived for three years; Gary, Indiana, where I was born; Modesto, California, where I spent most of my life; and Reno, where I died.
    • each item in the list is long and includes commas; therefore, we use a semicolon.
    • this was a weird sentence, but I couldn't think of a good thing to list.
    Stylistically, I've heard semicolons be described as in between a comma and a full stop. If your independent clauses aren't closely related, semicolons can be jarring--the reader expects a full stop, and instead they get something that's more like a leading pause.

    edited a few times to add more examples and fix weird formatting, and once because i hit 'post' too soon
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
    • Agree x 1
  5. Misty Pond

    Misty Pond we're all ourselves in this world

    not really a writing question per se but kind of adjacent--does anyone have any ideas as to how to order a timeline by date without specifying any actual dates? like, I've got a story set in what is basically the irl present, but I don't want to set anything in stone to a fixed date or anything. (not sure if that makes any sense, bluh.)
  6. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    How do you write a character who's smarter than you are without doing a Doctor Selenium?
  7. Jean

    Jean Let’s stop procrastinating -- tomorrow!

    So I'm doing my best to queer the scifi/fantasy binary (specifically in the context of my wizards IN SPACE fanfanfic) and I'm trying to research probably too many things at once, including both scientific knowledge and mythology on the subject of the planets, so as to assign them magical properties similar to those credited to earth. I'm not really sure what I should be asking for help with specifically. I guess organization? I'm a tad overwhelmed.
  8. KarrinBlue

    KarrinBlue Magical Girl Intern

    honestly mixing magic and scifi is always super fun so

    what does magic do in your universe? what are the different ways of doing magic? is it possible for different schools to coexist, or be used together? how is it taught to new students?
  9. Jean

    Jean Let’s stop procrastinating -- tomorrow!

    Mostly the Harry Potter universe, plus like, actually acknowledging that other cultures would do magic differently (another thing I'm researching). So the way magic works is pretty much the intersection between intent, belief, dedicated study of what is and is not effective, and tradition. Plus the da kids have access to advanced alien technology which they are learning their way around and integrating with magic. And space travel! A vital question: does outer space hold a magic of its own?
  10. LumiLapin

    LumiLapin Bad Bad Bun

    ok so I have no idea what money is or how it works so, uh
    About how much cash would a fairly small little corner grocery store have in the bank? About how much would their monthly costs be? How much would a store remodel cost? I think the rest I can kinda....muddle along but. Those I have no clue.
  11. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    If a child was malnourished badly, and also had genes for being short to begin with, would they be likely to have stunted growth into adulthood, and if so, what would be the exact biological causes? Does it affect the growth hormone production, or is that produced fine but has nothing to use to build with?
  12. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    ok i know you asked this a while back but hopefully an answer will still be helpful.

    what you do is, you take your time thinking through their problems and solutions, then let them do it faster than you did. you can also brainstorm with someone else, to widen your problem-solving field.

    don't let them just magically know things without having been given the necessary clues, but if they're particularly intuitive or good at pattern recognition, you can have them make real good guesses from not a lot of information. seebs, for instance, drives me up the wall when i'm running d&d games, because i give them the first clue and they go :mpsa: and instantly solve the mystery. so maybe only let the character do THAT if they're a genius and a little bit annoying :D
    • Like x 3
    • Informative x 3
  13. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    Any tips in how to write personality differences between an actual child and a naive and slightly dim adult? There's a character my it's-complicated-guy and I share who is kind of an airhead but I want to make it clear he's still capable of meaningful consent.
  14. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    i'd say, demonstrate him using his agency on decisions of a nonsexual nature first. things like where to live, where to work, whether to associate with people he likes or dislikes. he can be the world's biggest airhead and still make meaningful choices about his life. so then when it comes to sexual consent it's a non-question. we've already seen him sign a lease or whatever. obviously he's an adult.
    • Agree x 3
    • Like x 1
  15. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    ok so this is a request i'm not sure how to phrase, and it could go into some really dodgy territory, and what i need is advice on how to keep it from getting ugly and triggery. it has to do with child neglect and emotional abuse, and the weird sexualizing-not-sexualizing thing that was done to highborn girls once upon a time, where they were raised to be marriage tokens.

    in 'stalemate', the project seebs and i are working on, our friendly neighborhood antihero casimir has taken over the country of czinsistan by the time-honored tradition of defeating the old overlord in a bloody coup. only afterwards does he find out that the overlord had a daughter. (actually, he had a whole stash of time-frozen babies in stasis spells, in case he needed a spare body to move into, but decided to go the lich route instead, so he just had one of them brought out to be raised.) her entire purpose in existing -- and the overlord made no secret of this -- was to be the Beautiful Daughter that would ensnare and betray would-be heroes. (the kingdom runs on fairytale tropes, it's a Thing.) she didn't get to try out her Wiles on casimir, though, because a) military coup, not a lone hero, and b) she's twelve.

    anyhow, casimir's reaction to all of this is like, "well, if we hand her off to someone else she'll end up being a pawn for dissidents, and that's no life for a kid, so she might as well stick around." and basically acts like a distracted but mostly benevolent camp counselor or something, and occasionally shows her Weird Tricks You Can Do With Fire and Gross Raven Facts. i reckon this is a good thing, and pretty much what the kid needs -- hands-off support with no expectations. at least for a while.

    but the court culture she grew up in was all about assuring her she would be (or already was) The Most Beautiful and A Siren and so on, with probably a healthy dose of humbert humbert from some quarters. no doubt she embraced this identity because that's what kids do. she had a beauty team. every day was the Miss Evil Overlord pageant. and now she's just a tagger-along to some gopnik who doesn't even notice if she shows up in pyjamas with bed hair, when she used to be treated like a work of art.

    basically, what i want, from anyone who's got the sort of life experiences that can help me make sense of this, is how to write princess svetlana in all her abuse-survivor preteen dumpster fire glory, without making it either mocking or grimdark.

    her purpose in the plot is to eventually be kind of a sarcastic sidekick, and grow up to be a suitable sucessor for the very first non-violent handover of power in czinsistan's history, toward the end. but i don't want to just shrug off how sincerely messed up her life has been, or how there are going to be some deeply uncomfortable moments resulting from her upbringing. like... would she think it was her duty to seduce casimir and avenge her father? would she think she wants to? and how the hell do you keep that light without being in terribly poor taste?? the tone of the story is occasionally gory or spooky, but on the whole leaning toward hopefulness and wry comedy. i don't want to do a deep dissection of abuse recovery. but i also don't want to make her the butt of a joke.

    edit: to clarify, in case it matters, casimir is 32 and is openly in datefriends with someone already, there is no reason for anyone to think he would consider a 12-year-old to be a sexual prospect. but there's also the culture of the nobility, where 'predecessor's unmarried daughter' is a major piece in play and there'll be people thinking how to get their hands on that bit of power.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
    • Like x 2
  16. sirsparklepants

    sirsparklepants *cries in sports*

    A couple of my sisters were raised in Pageant Culture and it was made clear to them when they were kids implicitly that their only job was to marry rich so their mother could be taken care of, which is I think probably the closest modern equivalent? And one of them is a lesbian and essentially got cut loose from the whole deal when she came out, so I'm basing my answers on her, although she was a little older when this happened.

    Basically I expect a lot of acting out in her future - throwing tantrums about etiquette not being followed, escalating demands about more expensive and rare fabrics or beauty materials, becoming extremely quiet and worryingly secretive for a while, that kind of thing. It's probably going to take a while to take in that her value is no longer dependent on her looks, and in the meantime she's probably going to have freakouts that she's not valuable at all since casimir visibly doesn't care. I think maybe the best thing to keep her stable without dragging the story down too much would be to give her a slightly older trusted friend - probably one from a different social class so that they'll have a different perspective - to confide in who can help her work through all this.

    imo, I do think it's likely that she'll think she needs to seduce someone to create an alliance to avenge her father, but I don't think it's likely to be casimir unless he's literally her only option. Given that he doesn't care about her appearance, she'll have lost a big part of what she'd consider an important part of the seduction technique. She's unlikely to start with full on seduction, though, just probably get uncomfortably flirty, and you can basically cut it off right there and have... Whoever talk to whoever is her official guardian, at which point she can probably have a crying jag at the failure of her plan and also realizing that she doesn't actually want to do so. I feel like that's... probably the best way to keep it light, or as light as something like this gets? Basically even the flirting can make her unhappy without anything explicitly or even very implicitly sexual happening.
    • Like x 3
    • Agree x 1
    • Useful x 1
  17. TheOwlet

    TheOwlet A feathered pillow filled with salt and science

    Yes. Your body only produced growth hormones up to a certain point within development (often tied with sexual development, too) and there's 'growth gaps' in the long bones that allow modern medicine to give a rough mathematical estimate of how big someone'll get. Once those gaps are closed there's not that much to be done anymore because your bones do need the space to grow into.

    As for the 'Why short', in case of malnourishment the issue is that your body is too busy just keeping what it has to actually add onto it. Growth happens both because the cells themselves get bigger and because there's more cells. Both requires there to be the actual resources to build with.
    Additionally, and Im not sure entirely but it would make sense to me as a biologist, growth hormone production is something that the body can cut down on to conserve resources without missing out on very much (same reason menstruation cuts out below certain percentages of body fat in human females: conserving resources)
    • Informative x 1
  18. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    Thanks to everyone for the replies!

    @TheOwlet That's good. One of the characters I'm remaking from years ago is a kid who went through some really awful stuff, and I always pictured her as ending up never even reaching five feet - I could have found a genetic reason but I wanted to check if malnutrition and trauma would be sufficient for that on their own.

    @jacktrash Okay! The guy in question was denied entry into normal society for a long time, and is still under the wing of his moirail, so I guess to get across that he's definitely functioning on an adult level he needs an opportunity to do something without her input. We do have him holding down a job with relative ease. I need a way to get across that the guy who's occasionally fucking him thinks of him as a simpleton but not as a child, because I don't want it to be creepy.
    • Like x 2
  19. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    huh, that's something i hadn't thought of. i kind of don't want to introduce another child character, partly because i don't have space for one and partly because i want svetlana to be isolated enough to follow casimir around out of sheer boredom. but there are a few adults around who would be interesting for her to sound off to. most likely is the duchess, an elegant vampire, the only undead courtier casimir let live. she's the one who found svetlana and brought her to casimir's attention, which probably felt like a terrifying betrayal at the time, but she's also kept an eye on the situation and hinted that she's willing to defy her new leader if he gets nasty about the child.

    or there's valerian, captain of the palace guard; she's solidly a casimir supporter, and was instrumental in his coup, but she joined it to avenge her husband and has lots of Romantic Tragedy points. i know twelve-year-old me would've been fascinated by her.

    or if svetlana is a bit of a strategic genius, there's zuzu, casimir's boygirlfriend. you'd think that'd be a bad choice of ally, but zuzu has tried to assassinate casimir before. it's kind of a game with them. and zuzu has no allegiances, and goes wherever they want, and is fascinatingly free... and has a real soft spot for kids.
    • Like x 4
  20. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    I'm remaking some old characters I had as a teen, and one of them is based on my view of myself at that age. I'm not sure if I should change her to make her less like me, or if it's okay since she's not as much like how I am now and likely to develop differently. Should I also make her look different? Also, her name is both kind of clunky and a pun on my real name, and I don't really like it anymore; should I change that too?
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice