Literature is all about metaphors–analogies. One thing is like another. Much of literature works by saying, “This thing is like this other thing.” In secondary world stories, how do you handle metaphors?
Archive for the ‘The Craft of Writing’ Category
Interstellar space travel. We dream about it. We write about it. Science fiction writers have come up with all manners of interstellar travel, ranging from multigenerational arks, to wormhole generating warp drives that can spit you across the galaxy in a blink of an eye. As wondrous and amazing as all these approaches may be, most suffer from a very fundamental problem.
When writing there will come a moment when you have to deal with furniture. If it’s historical fantasy, steampunk or timetravel you’ll face the question of finding something that is period correct. What did people sit on in 1650? How long have drop-leaf tables been around? What was the most expensive wood?
If you want to go beyond the level of just assigning different skin tones and heritages to random characters, you’re going to have to do some research. Because yes, all people are the same, but they’re also quite different. For now, we’ll set aside the argument that race is an artificial construct, and concentrate on how someone outside a minority group can gain enough knowledge of the group’s common traits to realistically represent one of its members.
So what is Pragmatics? Basically, it deals with those areas of meaning which aren’t really meaning. What does that mean? It deals with implications (in the lingo, “implicature”), and with presuppositions, and with using language to do things rather than just send messages.
One of the most common pieces of advice for new writers is “Keep your seat in the chair.” The downside is that it becomes all too easy to sit at the desk for hours without moving. This can lead to stiffness and circulation issues even with an ergonomically correct desk and chair. Ergocise.com is a program which pops up a reminder to stretch at pre-set intervals.
As part of her continuing series on How Linguistics Can Help You, Juliette Wad discusses that ubiquitous genre activity making up words.
Neural networks are really amazing things. In my last post I talked about how a word brings up all of its meanings simultaneously; today I’m going to talk about how that’s not all it brings up.
I’m talking about connotations and allusion.
FirstWorldWar.com has a deep archive of WWI pictures, which are clearly labeled and sorted. Whether you are doing a historical fantasy, steampunk, or staging a war in your science-fictional world, this will prove fascinating reading.
Choosing the right word is critical to getting our meaning across as writers. Here are a few initial things to think about:
1. Does this word have the meaning I’m looking for?
2. Does it supply that meaning unambiguously?
3. Does it have the proper positive, negative, mysterious, or other desired connotations?
4. Does it reflect on the attitude or identity of the point of view character?