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Hereford Eye
August 13th, 2005, 11:17 AM
It seems like frequently when a "Holy War" (Jihad) plotline is involved in a fantasy novel there is usually a desert that plays a significant role. The three that sprang to mind were The Warrior Prophet, Deadhouse Gates, and Dune.

The question of where inspiration comes from continues to intrigue me. Had planned to engage Radthorne in the topic of where the idea for his back story came from - still planning on doing so - but discovered clockwirk's observation and question in the fantasy thread and thought it might do as a general topic.

I know that whatever I read and quite a bit of what I have lived through comes into my stories. In fact, without both sources, I doubt that I would have any stories. Clockwirk's question points out that some authors besides me have used the real world to provide the framework for a story they wanted to tell. In some ways, it is a time saver: rather than plotting why people are acting the way they are in the story, simply go back and find the way people have acted in the past and use that. That way you acheive a verisimilitude that readers can relate to. The question, then, is on the oder of "is it possible to create an entirely new world" that has no correlation to anything that author has ever read or experienced? Can someone "make something up" that did not have a predecessor?

kater
August 13th, 2005, 06:22 PM
I'd say no, I don't believe that as human beings we can conceive of something that we don't have some experience with. There will be fragments of whatever we create in some part of our lives that didn't really trigger at the time, but is there nonetheless. I think that all our writings are a progressions of learning, contact and interest.

Monty Mike
August 13th, 2005, 07:19 PM
As time progresses it's becoming harder and harder to come up with entirely new worlds and ideas as well as avoid cliches. When Tolkien released LotR was it completely original? - I don't know. Either way, I'd agree with Kater on this one. Though I do think it's still possible to create completely original characters, not in the sense of race or physical features, but in the sense of personality and background.

Quite a hard question to answer well....

MrBF1V3
August 14th, 2005, 01:56 AM
...and if it were possible to create a completely new setting, would anyone understand it?

I think a majority of the time the creativity involved is in the synthesis of ideas, knowledge and experiences in a way which accomplishes 'that which has not yet been done'.

Writing music is worse, there are only 8 notes. They only fit together in certain ways. Every combination which works has been done.

But--there must be some true creativity somewhere. Someone has to come up with the ideas which the rest of us synthesise.

B5

Ward
August 14th, 2005, 12:17 PM
MrBF raises a good point, without the undertones of real world associations I think the invented worlds of fiction would lose a lot of their depth. Look at Tolkien for example, his world doesn't just feel real because its painstakingly detailed, but because its tied to elements of literary and philological history: he didn't just 'make up words,' he adapted real world models to fiction. Even when a person is conciously unaware of all the elements in a book (and who really ever is?) culturally we all have a lot of the same buttons in common, and writers of fantsy fiction and world-builders of all sorts know that they have to hit some of those buttons to make their fiction seem real.

choppy
August 14th, 2005, 01:27 PM
Ultimately, stories are a vehicle through which we can interact with and understand our our world. They teach lessons, reiforce ideas, and generally enhance the experience of being human.

While it may be possible to create something completely original and utterly unrelated to the human experience, I'm not sure what the point would be - other than possibly an exercise in creativity.

But then again, you never know. I was just thinking about that story Flatland, which I never actually read, but am familiar with the idea - the triangle who saw a sphere. A little "out there" but it provides us with a vehicle for understanding some otherwise abstract mathematical concepts.

Radthorne
August 14th, 2005, 01:35 PM
The question of where inspiration comes from continues to intrigue me. Had planned to engage Radthorne in the topic of where the idea for his back story came from - still planning on doing so - but discovered clockwirk's observation and question in the fantasy thread and thought it might do as a general topic.
Aha! So this is that conversation we're supposed to have... :D

Well, as your thread here is on a slightly broader topic, I'll stick with that.


I think that all our writings are a progressions of learning, contact and interest.
I think Kater sums it up quite succinctly. I do subscribe to that theory that we're all basically retelling many of the same tales, with the same characters. Part of that has to do with the human condition: people are people and have behaved (usually badly) in much the same ways throughout the millennia; and the things that make for good drama tend to be tried and true, and thus generally always work. What we bring to the table is ways of recombining all those same bits into something that is our vision of a good tale (and which hopefully others will think is one too...). Where we get those ideas is, as Kater said, from everything that makes us - us. What we've read, what we've watched, the people we've observed, our take on what things we've liked, etc. As a certain other (very prolific) thread in the Fantasy forum has pointed out, people have very different tastes in what they like to read in Fantasy. What we write is very similar: if you don't like reading about heads being chopped off and blood gushing everywhere, you probably won't write books with that either. If you like uplifting tales that re-affirm human morality, you're less likely to write a post-apocalyptic treatise along the lines of "Where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?" ;)

pcarney
August 15th, 2005, 12:57 PM
Along these same lines, that's why I think its impossible to create a truely alien race. No matter what, our imagination is still tied to the conventions (limits?) of the human imagination. The best I can think of was one race (in a book about the Earth being invaded), which had seven digits, so their entire civilization was based on 7, not ten. Pretty neat, and well thought out. Even then, these aliens had human emotions (anger, jealousy, love).

However, I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. In order to relate to anything, anyone, anyplace, you've got to start with common ground.

Michael B
August 15th, 2005, 02:18 PM
However, I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. In order to relate to anything, anyone, anyplace, you've got to start with common ground.
I guess that it is because readers if not authors tend to anthropomorise characters. That even includes non-humanoid creatures like R2D2 from Star Wars.

Hereford Eye
August 15th, 2005, 02:37 PM
The best I can think of was one race (in a book about the Earth being invaded), which had seven digits, so their entire civilization was based on 7, not ten.
For originality of thought, maybe not. I remember looking at a friend in grammar school who had held a cherry bomb one second too long and was now equipped with just two fingers on that hand and thinking "What would it be like if we all had just seven fingers?" And then there are the ancients of Mu whose number system had a base 64. Knowing that a different number system existed, postulating a new number system would then be derivative.