Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Inspiration of Culture

Aiya!

Cultures have been coming up a lot in different place around me lately. It’s started me thinking about why we cling to our different beliefs and ways of  living. Religions, music, customs, mythology, laws, etiquette, language and superstition.

I’ve always been a bit of a history geek, particularly when it comes to ancient societies and places, and now I’ve taken Ancient History as a subject in school. It’s such a fascinating thing to study—How people have lived, why they did these things, the rumours surrounding them, the evidence for their lifestyle…all of it! We can look at so much about these people’s lives and I think that we all find this interesting to some degree. Sure, maybe you don’t all go and look up different tribes in your spare time for no purpose other than fascination, but there is so much out there just waiting for us to discover. And after all, if you are reading this right now you can most certainly discover more seeing that you have near endless knowledge at your fingertips.

Lately I have looked at the ancient Egyptians, the Spartans, the Zulu, the Greeks and Romans, the Aboriginals, the Babylonians, and heaps of other groups in our world’s rich history. And, as always, it gave me some cool ideas for writing.


Having had studied different cultures for their music, myths, art, superstitions, traditions, and even their skin pigments and hair colour (let’s ignore the randomness there) I began to look back on Chosen by Fire and feel somewhat discouraged. Waaaay back in NaNovember I had created a fantasy world with different races and customs. It seemed very complex at the time that I had created it. After all, I had the unusual set up of the cities and country as it had been made by magic, and I had each sector containing a slightly different race of people, but that was only obvious by their appearance. Fifth Sector People tended to be smaller in stature whilst Sixth Sector People were taller with a more square face. Oh, and they had faint accent changes.

That was the end of the racial differences. 

Those liiiiittle points. Sure, I had different weird magical creatures in different areas to correspond with the area’s old magic, but it was all very much a surface thing.

To make a fantasy culture effective, you need to go deeper. Often it helps to study other past cultures to gain inspiration and to look at things in a different way. It then allows you to ask the questions of how the government is run, what places eat what food, what different types of music people listen to, different traditions that have been around since ancient times but have lost relevance, what superstitions they have, how their currency works and what their ethical beliefs are.

There have been a few texts that I have looked at recently that really made it obvious how much these little details help in world building and how much people depend off traditions to run their lives.

One of the most notable of these has been The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.


You must read this. It is probably the most epic fantasy book I have ever read. (Pun intended.) He has made an amazing world with so much depth and detail, and tied it in super well with the plot. His characters are constantly being affected by the world around them, whether by society or by the actual, physical world. I am absolutely LOVING reading it and seeing how the cultures interact, what they value, fight for, the history, and how that relates to magic and the plot. It is a totally different style to my other favorites, but still equally as amazing, and with theme and characters that also tie in with the culture. Culture is so important in these books, and it is beautifully woven into every part of the story, the world, and the characters. Yes, as it is an epic fantasy, you can’t get all of this intricate detail into a super short book, but I think we all could if we tried, and it just makes the world feel that much more real.

Another one was one I only heard of today: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.


This is a short story that explores the very motivation of humans. It looks at how we can gain a tradition or ritual and refuse to step away from it—no matter to how twisted and totally messed up it is. In this case, it is the tradition of drawing out a piece of paper, and if yours has the black spot on it, you get stoned to death by everyone in the town. When a mother draws it, even her children join in with the stoning. It very bluntly depicts how much we rely off our traditions, and often that is what determines our morality and our capabilities.



Now I want to toss a prompt your way, but hopefully you were able to get some ideas from the rest of this post.


There you go! Have you some ideas? Have you ever written a fantasy or dystopian story that involved different cultures and races? What were your struggles? I love to talk to you!



Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Contagious Life

Aiya!

*coughs awkwardly* Well, first off, I apologise for my absence. I could go into great detail explaining, but to make it short, Year 11 (junior year to Americans) happened, and I have spent the past few weeks adjusting and trying to rearrange my schedule. As it is, I shall be updating my blog on Wednesdays now, as my Bible Study group has moved to Thursdays. Writing is still happening a lot, although, I have to swap writing styles depending on whether it is just my normal writing, or the writing for school.


Apparently, my writing has, “Too many short paragraphs and fragmented sentences.” At first I just shrugged it off and swapped my writing style, but then, as I kept struggling to write in this weird, flowery, long-paragraphed, descriptive way, I started wondering where on earth I had learnt my writing style from.

I turned to my bookshelves and flicked through different books, then on my Kindle, then I moved to looking onto the other bookshelves in the house, then I looked at the different draft that I was critiquing for people.

But I could not find this weird writing style anywhere. (Please note, I was also at home sick and prooooobably not thinking too straight as normally I would have worked this out much faster than this. Plus, I have noticed this many times before. :P) Eventually, my awesome cousin Jane, (who had no idea of what I was doing) sent me a snippet of an idea she’s been working on. After a few minutes of reading through it, I remembered where else I had seen my writing style.

In my cousin.

It explained a lot.

But seriously, how often do we unintentionally start copying people? As the youngest of three in my family, I can certainly look back and say that I copied my siblings. And it was totally unplanned. I’ve grown up with my sense of humour being dry wit, because that is what my brother was like. I also went through a phase where I would use the word, ‘devastating’ (I was about seven) purely because that was a word that my sister used all of the time. I started to write film music style music because my brother did. (Seriously though, I couldn’t just write a normal composition, no matter what I did it sounded like I was trying to imitate John Williams… and most of the time failing epically.)

And, even in other people’s lives I see how I am affected, or how they are. My cousin Jane had a pastor who would always say, ‘indeed.’ It made her say it more often than normal and, well… *tilts head, thinking* I don’t think I actually just say, ‘yes’ anymore.

Only last weekend, I went to my cousin’s place. I was quite startled to realise that my nine year old cousin had developed a serious case of sarcasm. I mean, in a teenager it would be perfectly normal and not seem crazy, but in a nine year old? Well, it had me really confused. I asked one of his older sisters and she told me that he’d been getting it from one of their friends… Along with a lot of his random phrases and word choices. Not only that, but she informed me that he has also been saying, ‘that’s new’ a lot. And that that definitely came from me.

Even siblings are known for using similar hand gestures, and walking in similar ways… Even the ones who don’t get on brilliantly.

Why do we always seem to mimic each other in some way? I actually sent out an email to a few friends asking some questions about random habit of people and if they mimic them, and I got a fair few in reply…


  • Ducking when walking through conversations/in front of class
  • Looking at wrist when trying to think
  • Saying, ‘indeed’ all of the time
  • Saying ‘cool’ when you don’t say indeed
  • Startling when someone speaks
  • Shaking of hands when getting excited
  • Making gestures with hands at around shoulder height


I also asked if they found themselves mimicking these things and here are some of those answers…


  • Generally picking up the traits of people they spend time around
  • Mimicking other people’s voices
  • Acting like people when referring to them. (Posture, voice, hand actions)
  • Often keywords or phrases
  • Sarcastic remarks



So, people mimic each other. How weird is that? To be honest, it really makes me frantically check everything I do around people. I don’t want to risk having people pick up a bad habit from me, particularly not younger people.

Humans are immensely complex beings. We are individual, but all share a longing for connection and community. Not only that, but we look up to people as well and set them as role models. Most of the time we probably aren’t even aware of it. But we do admire different traits of people and try to copy them. Sometimes we just pick up on random habits from people we are around.

But whether these are intentional or not, they do shape you and change you. They make you who you are. Crazy, right?

Well, this brings me to the prompt.


Any thoughts? Do you have weird habits? Do you mimic other people? Do feel free to chat!






Thursday, 25 January 2018

Inspirational Friends

Aiya!

Today's post will be, well, random, and I shall give you a bit of background story...

After a reasonably tiring day of saving Australia from certain destruction, (I deal with the rest of the world on Mondays. :P) I came back home to relax. Then, it dawned upon me.

Blog Post Day.

Frantic, I asked some friends to say something random, hoping to glean some Inspiration from them. The responses were as follows:

"Something random."

"Penguins have knees."

"Tubas can make weird sounds sometimes."

"What if the sky was yellow?"

"Glitter."

So, as you can see I have very useful and Inspirational friends. Thanks guys!

Erhem, so, I sat down to write my post. And realised that maybe all they said wasn't that useless. Maybe it could be used in writing. Not the words themselves, but the huge range of answers. Thinking a bit back on what has randomly been my latest tangent (characters) this also fits weirdly well.

There are a few different things that are worth thinking about...

1. How does your character view a question?
2. Do they give a sarcastic come back?
3. Are they suspicious?
4. Do they answer vaguely?
5. Do they reveal much about their past?
6. Do they think hard about the question, or just go off the top of their head?


Just asking the same question to different characters and analysing their responses should give you a fair idea if your characters are all the same. You don't actually want every character to be sarcastic more often than serious. It actually takes away from the characters. (I know, I know. Shocking, right? xP)

So, I suppose my prompt is pretty obvious. Ask your characters a few questions and see how they answer them. Oh, and remember that friends can also have some good ideas or traits to go off.


Say something random below! Or just chat. That's cool too. :P (Sorry for the shortness guys! Saving Australia is pretty tiring...)

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Spice Up Your Characters... And Have a Cuppa While You're at it.

Aiya!

Raise your hand if you've suffered as a writer with cold cups of tea or coffee? *Smiles sadly at all of the raised hands* Well I have a solution for you! Add some chilli or Cayenne Pepper to your tea while you brew it. Then even after a few hours, it still has heat!

(Nope, I'm not joking, I've been doing this for the past few days and it's really nice!)

~Spice Up Your Character... And Have a Cuppa While You're at It.~

Eh, aaaaanyways.

Last week I did a post that mentioned ways of giving your characters some more depth. Added quirks. Now, for next Camp NaNo, (shush, I know it isn't for ages but year 11 won't give me time to do prep during school!) I'll be re-writing the Survivor Trilogy. And turning it into a standalone book of about 80k. But it has sooooo much more plot and theme and character developments and, and, AUGH! It's just heaps better.

I also have a character who is an Experiment. She has a few 'blights' due to the government trying to create a world of superhumans, the everyday people. But to work this out, they do tests on people. Ashley was a failed test and has a few, 'blights'.

I've found that these are interesting to work with. For one, she's stuck in her fourteen year old form. She is also colour blind and has an unexplainable fear of water.

Giving characters 'blights' can be interesting. [Please note that I do not think badly in anyone who has what I am for the sake of this post, calling a 'blight.'] Everyone has something about them which people think is unusual. And it makes for some interesting problems.

So, what if you do something like this to your character?

Here is my Inspiration for you today...

"Colour... I miss seeing it."

Any ideas? Happy writing!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Inspiration with a Side of Habitual Laughter

Aiya!

Happy New Year guys! Even though New Year was four days ago, I'll still say it!

I have a confession- I have not done much writing these holidays. Admittedly, that's due mainly to the fact that I don't have a computer at the moment, only an iPod of evilness. All that I have written has been in notebooks, which is cool, but takes a lot longer. However, lots has been happening which makes up for my inability to write regularly.

***
~Inspiration with a Side of Habitual Laughter~
***

For one, we had an AWESOME Christmas. Family over, our own service, and a lot of laughter. Carols, skits, food, prayer, family, laughter, and different traditions. It's always an awesome time of the year.

Then, my cousins kidnapped me.

Don't worry, it happens a lot.

Although, at least this time I had the comfort that someone from a town that's my kinda home with the distinctive number plate of LACE.96 was following me all of the way... Ish. No idea who they were, but hey! It's something.

Lots happened while I was there, including reading, going to a New Year's Eve party, laughing, watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi, theorising, reading, martial-arts-story-research, water fights, playing with the kids, witnessing the adoption of a fish called Henry, reading, staying up past midnight being insulted, staying up past midnight on a SEPERATE occasion for New Year's Eve, making D&D characters, eating pizza, being thrown in a bin and having water poured over my head, and many other things.

What can I say? I have cool cousins.


One of the things that is totally random that I do at my cousins' house is, after dinner, I clean their stove. It's PURELY because after dinner they all gravitate to their assigned jobs, so I've adopted that one as my own. But it's made me think about how characters really become more realistic if they have habits, or patterns. Personal resolutions. These are things we discuss at the start of the year, but they apply to our characters as well. We need to give them habits and routines. Cleaning the stove. Nodding when standing about awkwardly. Having a corner that they gravitate to. Tapping their fingers or feet. Humming. There are so many things that just make characters more realistic and relatable. And it's easy to do. Just observe.


On a totally different topic, when doing story research, having first hand experience is the best. My cousin Jane and I were doing some different martial art throws and holds for some research. Now, I had watched this video so many times to get how to do it. I tried it on Jane and flipped her easily... When she stood still.

It was a cool Judo flip, but the problem was that in a fight it was basically useless. Jane was able to prevent the flip simply by turning, and then it put me in a position that was not so great for my safety. Had I only watched the video, I would have totally thought that that was a perfect move. It really is best if you can do these things for yourself.

Not only that, but doing that sort of thing with family and friends is fun, and hilarious. Our greatest injury was laughter. These sort of things are actually really fun and great to do if you have others willing to join in.

My Inspiration for you today? Go and stare at someone you know well. If they ask what you're doing, don't say anything, just observe their body language and how it responds. Then see how your characters may react if someone did that, or give them the reaction your poor victim gave you!


*NOTE: I take no blame in how creeped out some people may be.*

Have fun! You know any weird habits? Cool story research? Feel free to share!


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

CHRISTMAS!!!!! (Nearly)

Aiya!

Eeeeeeep! It's that time of the year guys! All of us Aussies are inside with the air con on full blast or getting scorched in the pool. Not to mention the carols, fairy lights, cooking, presents, and endless music and skit practices.

Christmas.

People who know my family and I, would know that we go slightly crazy around Christmas. Carols 24/7. Tree chopping and decorating at the start of December. House decorating and our lovely nativity set is begun in November. Carols start in October. It's a time full of love, prayers, and light.

We all love Christmas, and the meaning.

When I was about five, I remember asking my mum what made Christmas so special. Since then, I've read so much more of the Bible, and the AWESOMNESS of it all revealed itself. There are over 300 messianic prophecies in the Old Testement. And they started clearly in Genesis 3, when God tells Satan that from Eve will come a man who would crush Satan with his feet. So yeah, God is awesome.

But my favourite thing about Christmas is probably best described as this: the Light of the World Dwelling with Us.

His light in our world of darkness, evil, brokenness and chaos. The ultimate light.

Well, as it is around Christmas, I will admit that this post is short. But anyways! Happy Christmas everyone!

As I am Australian, I figured I should toss this in. (Apologies for the bad spelling.)



What do you like about Christmas?

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Inspiring Myths

Aiya!

Sorry guys for me failing at posting last Thursday! And I'm really sorry, as my pretty images aren't working, so you will have to live until I can update this on something more advanced than an iPod.

Christmas is coming now that NaNo is over! Not sure about everyone else, but our family are very Christmasy at the moment, and are loving the excuse to be listening to music about The Light coming into the world.

Aside from all of the awesome Christmas things, I have been doing more of the history of Miritain and the Mythology.



Since there is a prophecy, there must have been a story behind it, and so I have been working on that.

One of the things I had been worrying about when I started doing it, was that I wouldn't be able to make it connected and realistic to the actual story. But the more I have written, the more perfectly it fits together; from names to events.

Not only that, but I have had more of a chance to look more into the Remnants and other awesome creatures like a Rehtora which is an eagle that can turn into a deer. My main figure in the history of Miritain is Glayde, and he has a pet Rehtora called Travier. (Also important to the story).

The main thing I want to tell you guys is that the myths can be woven into a story later without feeling tacked on. Make sure that it is realistic, and, often it is cool to have people named after some of the prominent figures like they are today. I have one of my characters in Chosen by Fire called Travier, named after Glayde’s pet Rehtora.

Now, I feel in an excerpty mood, so, I will toss in a few snippets!

I'm not the real villain.

The newspaper crunches in my tightening fist and I fling it at the stone wall opposite to the one I lean on. Maybe I am no villain, but the community certainly feels like painting it that way. My fingers creep up to my neck to rub the stone that hangs there on its fine chain. My last memory of her, and the most condemning evidence against my case. Her tears fill my vision, soon morphing into the desperation on Hazac’s face. “I’m sorry Daria.” My mouth moves and still no words escape.

They never can.

***

Travier swoops down to my shoulder with a piercing cry,  as my feet thud over the pavement. She can't get us now. We're so close.

The Rehtora leaps to the ground and his features alter as he hops along; each jerking hop turning 
into a graceful bound. Soon a fully grown stag runs along beside me. I plant my hands on his back and vault up. “Good boy Travier, let’s get out of here.” He tosses his head and gallops faster.

I crane my head to look over my shoulder. No one can catch me. No one can find the Remnant Hunter, Eagle Archer, Magic Tamer.

I am Glayde.


There you are! Some of the excerpts from the legends of Miritain’s past.

And now for the Inspiration.


"I am Real."


You got any cool myths and stories? I love to chat!