Topic: Welcome to PSL: Hatate's Writer's Lounge ~ Rules, info and general discussion!  (Read 28155 times)

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hungrybookworm

  • Shipper On Board
  • Gender: Female
So I just wrote something where the characters talk frankly about sex, but there's no actual explicit sex. It's nothing worse than what you'd get in a sex ed class or a woman's magazine advice column, and I plan to mark it as 'mature' on AO3. Should I treat it as NSFW here just to be safe?

Joveus Molai

  • Bear the Word, and the Word will bear you.
  • *
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Blood Spider
While I was reading through the New World trilogy by Iced Fairy for the Library Catalog project, I came across something that I thought was particularly interesting: in particular, the way Iced chose to write a particular bit of exposition. Figuring out how to write exposition can be a tricky thing, since anyone can slap a stream of facts down on some paper, but presenting what cold hard facts the audience needs to know in a palatable way takes finesse.  The scene in question is found on this post, a part of which I will include spoilered below, alongside a bit of commentary provided for context:


To recap what had gone on in the story thus far: Maribel and Renko end up teleporting to the moon under unknown circumstances, and from there get sent by the Watatsuki sisters to Gensokyo. This Gensokyo is set about 500 years from the time of the main Touhou games, and among other things Yukari Yakumo had died some 300 years ago.

It turns out that Maribel is the reincarnation of Yukari, and has inherited Yukari's power over boundaries and borders--indeed, this is how Maribel and Renko ended up on the Moon in the first place, when Maribel's slumbering power awoke. After stumbling about Gensokyo for a bit, Maribel and Renko are taken to Myouren temple, where Byakuren, among other things, attempts to give Maribel some direction by explaining what exactly her newly found powers entail.

Quote from: New World 1
Byakuren shook her head.  “But that's for later.  First let's handle your own power.”

“You can do that?  That would be great!” Maribel shifted a bit in her seat.  “I've been troubling Keine and Mokou for the past week, not to mention the pain it causes me.  Anything that can help would be good.”

“Very well, let me explain your power first,” Byakuren set her tea cup to the side and closed her eyes.  “The power that both Yukari Yakumo and you wield is the power of boundaries.  Within the world of illusions boundaries are the most important power.  The Boundary of Death defines Life, and even outside of Gensoukyo, the Boundary of Dreams defines Reality.”

“Without limits and boundaries there is nothing, as you see whenever you look at Fujiwara no Moukou.    She is neither alive nor dead, but a unique existence.  Not fully allowed to live in either realm.”  Byakuren opened her eyes again.  “So all we need to do is change the limit of your powers so that you choose when to see boundaries and when not to.”

The two women looked at each other for a minute.

“Um, that's nice and all... but how do I do that?”  Maribel asked.

“By having you read this aloud.”  Byakuren raised her arms over her head, then pulled them apart in an arc.  As she did so a rainbow colored scroll formed in the air, shining brightly throughout the dim room.

Maribel tried to look at the scroll, but the glare caused her eyes to water.  “Is there any way to turn that down?”

“You have to endure the light.  Don't worry, it's not long.”

Maribel gritted her teeth and tried to look at the scroll once again.  She tried shielding the light with her hands, but that only made it worse.  She tried closing her eyes and reading the red splotches on her retina, but that didn't work either.  So in the end she just kept staring and blinking the tears away, until finally she thought she could see the kanji printed on it.

“Namusan!”

Maribel sighed with relief as Byakuren closed the scroll, returning it to where ever it had come from.  “Very good.”

Maribel rubbed her eyes vigorously.  Then took a look around the room.  “Um...  Did it work?”

Byakuren nodded and waved her hands.  This time a window appeared in the air, showing Renko, Ran and Shou chatting about something.  “You should now have to concentrate to see the border.”

Maribel frowned, then did try to focus her eyes.  As she did so the abnormality in the border of space quickly became evident.  In fact Maribel thought she saw better then before.  Instead of simply seeing the presence of power she saw threads of power forming the alteration in the boundary.  Of course that might just be Byakuren's magic.

“This is great!  Thank you so much!”  Maribel smiled at the magician.  “So what kind of spell was that?  Can you use it to teach me how to use my abilities in other ways?”

Byakuren coughed lightly.  “I'm sorry.  I'm afraid that there wasn't a spell at all.  If I were to compare it to something I suppose it would be a placebo effect.”

“What?”  Maribel stared at Byakuren incredulously.  “But, you're saying that wasn't a spell?  Then how...?”

Byakuren took a sip of her tea.  “Explaining it will be both simple and difficult I'm afraid.  To start with, I performed no spell.  However you altered your own abilities in response to my suggestion.”

Maribel thought on that for a moment.  “You're saying I could do that all along, I just didn't try hard enough?”

“It's not that simple.”  Byakuren sighed.  “It has to do with your power.  All powers are defined by their limits.  For example, one's strength is defined by the limit of their lifting capacity.  Do you understand?”

Maribel nodded slowly.  “I think so.”

Byakuren returned the nod and continued.  “Your power is the alteration of limits.  In short, it was impossible for you to control your powers, but you changed that.  Now controlling your power is within your limits.”

Maribel, thought about the matter.  Then thought about it some more.  “Wait.  Did I really just give myself the power to control my powers?”

“Yes.”

“Isn't that a paradox?”

“Somewhat.”

Maribel's head was spinning.  “Wait.  So my power can do whatever I want it to do?”

Byakuren nodded again.  “Indeed.  You can alter the boundaries of your abilities to do almost anything.”

Maribel considered that for a while.  “Doesn't that make me omnipotent?”

Byakuren sighed.  “No.  You see this is where it gets complicated.”

Maribel sipped her tea and listened.

“As I said before, power is defined by boundaries.  Without limitations on your power you actually can't do anything.”  Byakuren held out her hands.  “This is true for most magic.  I can summon a ball with pure willpower.”  A ball appeared in the magicians hands.  “But if I don't limit the spell to summoning a ball nothing would happen.  I can't summon 'something.'  I must limit the spell so I'm not just wasting energy.”

That made sense, Maribel thought.  “So I have to know what I'm doing, and limit myself to a certain level of power?”

Byakuren smiled happily.  “Yes.  Exactly.”

Maribel considered the matter a little more.  “So what keeps me from making myself effectively omnipotent?”

“Two things.”  Byakuren held up two fingers to emphasize the points.  “One, you must believe the action is possible.  That's why I tricked you into thinking you were casting a spell.  Now that you've accessed your abilities voluntarily you believe you can, but before you would have doubted.  And that would have prevented you from making the alterations.”

“Two, you can only perform actions you comprehend, obviously.”  Byakuren shrugged.  “If you don't know something exists you can't alter its boundaries.”

“Hm...”  Maribel nodded.  “But it's got to be hard to believe you can change something that you understand very well just by thinking about it.”

“Very good.”  Byakuren rewarded Maribel's insight with another smile.  “That's one of the reasons magic is difficult.  The other reason is that with magic other people's disbelief actively hampers a spell.  That at least is something you don't have to worry about.”

Maribel happily took another sip of the tea.  She liked Byakuren.  In fact the temple just seemed like a friendly place in general.  This seemed like a good place to study her power.  Especially, she remembered with sudden distaste, since going to the Hakurei Shrine would mean dealing with that fox woman.

In this case to think was to act.  “Thank you for the instruction Miss Hijiri.  You seem very knowledgeable about my abilities, would it be possible to study with you?”

[/spoiler]

And now I will explain why I thought this was particularly well done, spoilered in case there are those who haven't read New World yet:

The reason why I thought this bit of exposition was cleverly handled was because the exposition, by this point in the story, is something the audience desperately wants. A lot of exposition in stories--mostly setting details--may enhance the reader's experience of the story when known, but getting the audience to absorb and digest that info is the hard part, since not everyone feels like getting a history/geography/culture lesson in the middle of an exciting tale. In this case, however, the audience is just as curious as Maribel is about what exactly the power over boundaries entails--we've heard from various characters that Maribel has such a power, and some vague descriptions on what it can do, but Byakuren is the first to offer concrete, easy-to-understand information about the nature and limits of Maribel's power.

Given that the story is basically all about Maribel's new power and the effect it has on Gensokyo, it was vital for Iced to convey to the reader its precise limits (har har) such that the audience goes into the rest of the story with an understanding of what Maribel can and cannot do. But Iced couldn't just force it down everyone's throats at first opportunity--that would be painful and boring. So what he opted to do was entice the audience into greatly desiring to know about Maribel's power by teasing the audience, dropping bits of info here and there to keep the audience interested while he goes about setting the rest of the story and the setting up. Then, once the audience is hooked and desperate to know, he drops the exposition in a way that is clear, precise, and sensible. By doing this, the audience is never forced to sit there and listen to how Maribel's powers work; instead, the audience learns along with the baffled Maribel. So rather than a boring, dry lesson on metaphysics, we got an answer to a mystery we've been desperate to solve. (The fact that the scene also neatly conveys Byakuren's warm, patient, and guiding nature is merely icing on the cake.)


So that is how Iced skillfully conveyed what could have been boring exposition in an interesting way--by enticing the audience into desiring that exposition. This was beyond mere feeding the audience bits and pieces of exposition interjected amongst characterization and dialogue, this was a giant block of exposition text that nonetheless ended up being interesting to read, thanks to the efforts of the author.

Rice Mistakes

  • Higher than heat
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Patsy
Question; if a story is written in a choose-your-own adventure format, but is still a definite story with plot and canon characters, does it belong in PSL or in another forum?
Weather so extreme I can become a prokaryote

Iced Fairy

  • So like if you try to hurt alkaza
  • *
  • I will set you on fire k'?
  • LOOK AT ME
If the audience chooses the path and determines the story flow then it should go into RPG.  If you're just writing a CYOA that readers can follow along then PSL should be fine
If the audience chooses the path and determines the story flow then it should go into RPG.  If you're just writing a CYOA that readers can follow along then PSL should be fine
For an example of the latter, look at Tengukami's Guest of the Moon Princess. For an example of the former, look at any of the Quests in RPG or on the Touhou Project imageboard.

Rice Mistakes

  • Higher than heat
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Patsy
Right, got it! So basically, fiction in which the audience gives commands goes into RPG, but a fully-written CYOA, in which definite choices and outcomes have already been determined and options are listed by the author, can be filed in PSL?
« Last Edit: April 30, 2014, 05:06:54 am by Prime Minister Pantsu »
Weather so extreme I can become a prokaryote

Joveus Molai

  • Bear the Word, and the Word will bear you.
  • *
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Blood Spider
Right, got it! So basically, fiction in which the audience gives commands goes into RPG, but a fully-written CYOA, in which definite choices and outcomes have already been determined and options are listed by the author, can be filed in PSL?

Yes, that sounds about right.

Achariyth

  • Nickname: Tonomi
Two quick questions:

What's the word limit per post?  I thought I remembered 10k, but I'm not sure if that is correct.

At what point does a complete story move from Patchy to Kosuzu's neck of the woods?

Joveus Molai

  • Bear the Word, and the Word will bear you.
  • *
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Blood Spider
At what point does a complete story move from Patchy to Kosuzu's neck of the woods?

As soon as I remember that it's my job to do such things :V

One moment, please... Edit: done. Sorry about that, folks.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 11:47:05 am by Joveus Molai »

Mеа

  • catnapping
  • three dots connect to rectangles
  • Nickname: Next
Is there something more psychologically satisfying about shorter lines? Like 8~12 words per line, as in novels? Or rather--the question I want to ask--is there some way to do that here? I suppose hitting the return key every so often could satisfy, though I'd imagine it would be terribly frustrating to people with smaller screens/browsers.
Naked expression; purple raspberry flavour

Iced Fairy

  • So like if you try to hurt alkaza
  • *
  • I will set you on fire k'?
  • LOOK AT ME
Is there something more psychologically satisfying about shorter lines? Like 8~12 words per line, as in novels? Or rather--the question I want to ask--is there some way to do that here? I suppose hitting the return key every so often could satisfy, though I'd imagine it would be terribly frustrating to people with smaller screens/browsers.
Preferred line length on monitors and preferred line length on print media is different.  People reading online do better with longer lines.  I would advise highly against it.

Mеа

  • catnapping
  • three dots connect to rectangles
  • Nickname: Next
Preferred line length on monitors and preferred line length on print media is different.  People reading online do better with longer lines.  I would advise highly against it.
Hmm ok interesting. Probably wouldn't have, but now I know better. Thanks!
Naked expression; purple raspberry flavour

KennyMan666

  • Viking
  • The Saga
Okay so guess I shall turn to here for a bit. This seemed like the most appropriate topic for itfor it.

So, I'm working on a thing. A One Piece fanfic project, to be precise, and am about to finish up the first set of chapters I want to have ready for when I "launch" it and actually start posting it in places. But I am finding myself in need of one or two additional people who can read these chapters and give me some feedback before I do so, given that the one that I do have is a bit too involved with it, and the other person I did have and who was the reason I started rewriting about half of what I already had finally actually told me that despite his promise he doesn't have the time to give me any more feedback right now. I have one chapter left to finish up and then I'm going to go through everything I have for some touchups, and my current plan is to start "publishing" on May 14th (only because that's my birthday).

So, yeah. Looking for one or two people who want to read and give me feedback on nine chapters (ranging from ~2000 to ~3500 words each, plus a 500 word prologue) of One Piece story, and can do so preferably within a week. While extensive knowledge of One Piece is not required, it's written with the expectation that the reader is familiar with it. So, uh, drop me a PM if you want to help a guy out?
Fly & High!!
  • One Piece: Pure Corruption

Zelinko

  • The Wandering Mind
  • LOOK AT ME
Is it wrong to just be kinda just kinda afraid to edit your work if only for finding how awful it is?  I've been kinda stuck working on an editing for a short story I wrote but every time I look at the prospect of editing it I just get rather depressed. I guess it might be because I just don't have any confidence in my writing.

If I can just get through the first pass I think it'd be cleaned up enough to send to a person who gave major editing help earlier but I just need to get there
This Space For Rent

Iced Fairy

  • So like if you try to hurt alkaza
  • *
  • I will set you on fire k'?
  • LOOK AT ME
Is it wrong to just be kinda just kinda afraid to edit your work if only for finding how awful it is?  I've been kinda stuck working on an editing for a short story I wrote but every time I look at the prospect of editing it I just get rather depressed. I guess it might be because I just don't have any confidence in my writing.

If I can just get through the first pass I think it'd be cleaned up enough to send to a person who gave major editing help earlier but I just need to get there
A lot of writers hate their work during the editing phase.  It's in fact so common that agents consider despair over the rough draft a normal writing phase.

As for getting past it... it's just something you need to do.  Not really sure what mental tricks might work.  Some people just rewrite the thing with the editing advice in mind to feel like they're getting past the old draft.  Most just plow through and grimace through the pain.  Find any old trick that works for you.

Zelinko

  • The Wandering Mind
  • LOOK AT ME
I've got a work where I'm needing an editor/proofreader for a story? 

I'm really unsure if I'm going the right way with the edits and the problem of mental blindspots are really hurting me as it's now into the problems of things Word's grammar checker won't pick up.  Thankfully the story's completed but I'm not sure if to put the entire story here or if there is a dedicated thread or are for finding them?

I searched back about four years in archives and with nothing there so what should I do.

This Space For Rent
 

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