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Nemish (July 17th, 2002, 11:03 pm)

The old addage: Write what you know.

It is an interesting addage, often used to cliché, but it is very important. If you want to write about something you do not know about, then get to know it. Otherwise, you risk integrity of the story. Plus, you will lack that muchly-needed personal touch.


Eldritch (July 18th, 2002, 12:32 am)

Sorry, but I believe thst's no good. How are you gonna write Sci-fi if you "write what you know"? Then it's not creative.


cruise (July 18th, 2002, 11:03 am)

We can write sci-fi, because we (hopefully) know the science part...

And there's much in even fantasy stories that we find mimics of in current life. The medieval technology of much fantasy work, for example, can be lent additional authority if we know more about how such lives were lived in our reality...

Obviosuly, much must come from our imagination...but that which doesn't need to, shouldn't. That which does, we should know as well as that which doesn't.

true, that.

Narainsbrain (July 29th, 2002, 1:18 pm)

btw nemish, it's spelt 'adage'.

anyway, eldritch, by writing 'what you know', what is meant is to choose a setting or basis which you know about - 'know' perhaps not by personal experience, but at least having some degree of confidence in figuring out what it would be like.

for example, once i wanted to write a story with a twist to the area-51 idea. i still want to write it. i tried, but never could do it properly, because i had no conception of how a classified, or for that matter unclassified, military operation worked, how the people acted, what the divisions of power were, and would they tell the president? i'll have to ask these questions later when i pick the story up again.

the point is, if you try to write about something you're not sure about, you're going to run into big trouble. and if you know much about the subject, you can throw in insights that the average person with the just a vague idea wouldnt have realised, and on reading your story will go 'hey, that's right! i never thought of that!' ...and that will doubtless magnify the coolness factor of the story, whether it's sci-fi or general fiction.


Semirrahge (August 1st, 2002, 2:21 pm)

This is one reason why I spend so much time creating my worlds - it's what I know. My hobbies are psychology, political science, and economics - but it's really broader than that. You have to have a grasp of strategy and knowledge of nearly everything in order to create the proper chains of events that leads to a governmental structure.

For instance, you can't outlaw war, because that's human nature. It'd be about as effective as outlawing breathing. I mention this one because its a common trick used by game story writers.

And, like Narain, I too have a story that I can't write properly, Ocean Wild. Everyone complains about the scientist jumping to conclusions, but I don't know how those kind of people think, so I can't make them act right.

When I read that a few weeks ago (days? how long ago was that?), I thought, "Yeah! What do I know?" The answer was strategy. The only games I can play, and win - with any consistency - are strategy games. FPS, Arcade, etc... I suck at those. I don't know why, maybe my coordination is not up to spec. But I can, once familiarized with the gameplay, whup up in nearly any RTS.

So. Write military fiction. Good point, subconscious. You give me a storyline, I'll write it.

if you don't know how scientists think...

Narainsbrain (August 2nd, 2002, 2:15 pm)

...then what are you doing writing science fiction? ;)

no no, i'm not serious. people write a lot of good scifi that doesn't involve science. you already do, don't you? military fiction, yeah, that's the majority of your work, as far as i've seen. so the 'good point' your 'subconscious' raised isn't much of a new point anyway. ;)

btw, i find it really cool that you're interested in 'human' sciences - psychology (how one human behaves) and political science (how a whole herd of humans behaves). since i'm more of a physicist/mathematician/nerd myself, i'll probably want any insights on them strange, chaotic, non-deterministic entities you're willing to spare. heck, i could use 'em right now.

say, is war necessarily human nature? suppose you took all the pacifists, all the sensible people, and the poets, and the scientists, and put them all together in an isolated place where there are no warmongering fools around. would they still start slicing, maiming and frying each other? i like to think not, but i could be wrong. after all, though i'm not proud of it, i'm only human.


Semirrahge (August 9th, 2002, 12:40 am)

A very simple yet highly accurate way of describing (and therfore understanding and possibly predicting) human behavior, is that adults are simply children with complex neuroses. Really.

For instance, this week I worked out on a farm for a friend who I used to work for all the time. Since I've stopped going out there, he's hired two grown men to take my place. (Hmm, what does this say about my usefulness? Just kidding!)

You have to understand that my friend, we'll call him Joe, is a very fussy and particular person, as well as being a perfectionist. When you get done using something, you put it back EXACTLY where you had it. If, for instance, you put oil in a mower using a funnel, you wipe the oil off the mower (And take off whatever dirt may be there), off the funnel itself, and then put the funnel in a ziploc bag and the whole thing in its spot. Logical, yes - but to my mind much too much work .

Anyhow. So one of the guys (whom I had not met before, and who I had already felt did not like me - When I got there and started work Tues. morning, he looked at my Stihl Brushcutter, which has one of the saw blades attached, and said "It's not real nice when you hit rocks or fence." Not bad on the surface, but the way he said it implied that he thought it was a dumb thing.), we'll call him Jim, griped at me for leaving the trimmers on the driveway in front of the barn (he had to move them to drive in), and griped at me for leaving the string tailings there (do I have to through them away RIGHT now? Isn't it good enough that I through them away?), and then when and griped about me to Joe! So I got a talking-to from him.

I'm pretty easy-going and all, but it rankles me when people just gripe for the sake of griping, when they could have just as easily asked or reminded me about it. And, too, I have this stubborn streak in me that I have a hard time controlling... When people start ordering me around that have no place doing so it comes out... :) I left MY trimmer out all day, just because he could not tell me how to take care of MY things. >:)

Anyhow, (this is getting LOONG) he comes to me later, barking "Hey! Hey! Did you mix up the fuel yesterday?" I had to make up a fuel oil mixture for the trimmers (2-Cycle engines, and all that), and had left the measuring cup (used for the oil) out beside the baggie. I did not have a paper towel to wipe it out, etc. He was mad at me (he said) because when Joe comes along and see's it out he'll "jump on my butt and I'll have to tell 'im [that you left it out]".

So. I did not appreciate him talking to me like I was some pipsqueak kid with no concept of respect or responsibility (besides, I've known Joe for over five years, and worked for him about that long)... I told him that my name was not "hey". "My name is Semi." (no, I did not say that, but... Names have been changed to protect the innocent) And that I'd appreciate if he'd use my REAL name. It threw him for a loop, and he stood there a second. Then he goes, "Well, I'm Jim, and I'm in charge around here..." yada yada. I don't remember what all he said.

Joe had gone to town that morning, so when I come in for my final break, he tells me that Jim had told on me as soon as he got in... Turns out that when Jim and the other guy started working for Joe, he had the hardest time making them put stuff back.

So, here is the point to this rambling diatribe: Jim was upset at me because he saw that I was going to get away with something he could not. He did not appreciate the stiff rules that Joe had about the tools and things, and deep inside hid a mild resentment that smouldered and lay dormant.

When I crossed that sore spot, instead of calmly reminding me that I needed to put things up, he had to react in anger because I was, in effect, rubbing salt in his wound. The litte slip I made (I was in the wrong), spilled just enough fuel on those smouldering embers to rekindle a blaze. If I had reacted in anger (even more than I did), he would have gotten REALLY mad.

Now, if I may be allowed to continue this long rant even further, I'd like to briefly address the "warmongering" issue.

First of all, those "Warmongers" are highly overrated. They do exist, but not for the reasons that "Pacifists" say they do. People are not willfully self-destructive. There is merely a desire to have power, to hold sway over others, to be admired.

If you did gather outspoken "pacifists" together in one place, you'd still have fights. There are many reasons for this, but let me take the simplest one.

First, "pacifism" is an advanced, logical decision. People are not "born" pacifists, any more than they are "born" bank robbers. Logically, a group of people cannot co-exist without some form of leadership. A total democracy is inherently unstable, breaking down over time into either Anarchy or Totalitarianism.

Societal morals do not develop totally naturally. They have to start somewhere. Someone has an idea or two, someone else follows it, expands upon it... Later someone changes something, etc. Creative evolution. Am I talking sense? It makes sense to me, since I know what I'm trying to say...

By the same token, leadership is either taken or given, it never just "is". Logically, a mass of people cannot just "exist". There has to be rules that describe proper and improper behavior. Rules that define "right" and "wrong".

Some of these rules are a given, pretty much the same no matter who does the thinking, but others are not. There must be some leadership force to decide which ideas are rules and which are not. And, actually, "force" is a good term. When you are given leadership, you are given the power to exercise your will over others. It's the same if you take the leadership role, but in the case of the one who is given leadership, often he is a better leader because he chooses the will of others over his own, the good of the common people over his own pleasure.

I feel that I'm totally ranting now... This needs more explanation, but I'm tired, and I'm sure you are tired of reading this never-ending post. :)


cruise (August 9th, 2002, 1:01 pm)

And Semi kidnaps yet another post for his own nefarious ends... :P

I would say that is an oversimplification of adults. Maturity is definately not a neurosis :P

There will always be disagreements between people. Not everybody thinks the same way about everything. That is a given.

How we /react/ to those differences is the key point. Do we chose to react with violence or force, in a vain attempt to make people agree with us (obviously self-defeating, if thought through), or do we accept the difference and live with it?

Force arises for other reasons, however. Well, one, basically. Greed. A desire for something the other person (people) have, be it power, wealth or your ex-girlfriend.

It is perfectly possible for a (large) group of people to co-exist without violence, therefore, given two statements about them are true:

1. They are selfless, not greedy.

2. They either all agree about something, or do not object to a difference of a opinion.


Hmmm...anyone else smell a basis for another sci-fi concept... ? :P

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