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  1. #31
    Ah,but they don't say that at the start.It just seems like they were being to lazy too come up with their own fictional deities if they do not tell you in even a passing reference. I mean even in Howard's first Conan story he at least had the courtesy to explain this kind of thing by telling you it was an age before human history as we know it. That gives me a logical reason. BSG does not until the end and by then I've decided there is a serious flaw in the social science aspect of the show and I'm not interested.
    Last edited by Riothamus; August 12th, 2012 at 09:57 PM.

  2. #32
    I foreshadow important stuff like that in my own works because I'm old school. I think it is overlooked these days for the video game generation who have short attention spans. All they want.are quick action fixes.

  3. #33
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I appreciate them so long as you don't mention people on another planet in a different universe worshiping Odin when it would make no sense unless you preface it with at least a brief mention of how at some point in the far future humans spread out among the stars and some of the colonies became disconnected and started their own civilizations.
    Well that's what they had for the original Battlestar Galactica television show which used the deity names for the characters. The original show had the voice over intro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHD1uPVkyk0

    When they remade the show, they had to keep the names. But, they played with them, making Starbuck a female, etc. They had somewhat the same premise as the original going in -- that's why they are looking for Earth essentially, but when they got around to the last season and had to decide what they were going to end with, they turned it into a fantasy series instead of science fiction and completely flipped it on its head, which a lot of people were not happy about. Television is stew pot storytelling and doesn't have a great deal to do with words in a written narrative.

    If you are doing a flowery formal tone because it's a pre-industrial setting, it's fine. But a contemporary tone doesn't unmatch a pre-industrial setting in a secondary world because the language of that world did not develop as Earth did. You can't say that it's fine for there to be flying monkeys and 19th century English pubs in that setting, but authors can't have certain grammatical expressions because you want them to sound like the faux medievalism that you heard in an old Errol Flynn movie on Robin Hood. Tone is a full palate that is adapted to the invented world, not the invented world to it.

    But collecting words, having a database of historical words that you want to use, as Wallflower was suggesting, is also a workable tool for writers. When I found out what a petard actually was, well that's a fun thing for an author to work with. And since authors are often making up their own word and names, language from English or different languages that's unusual to the ear can be useful in that regard. But there are already medieval culture and language databases out there on the Net that are probably way better than what we could assemble here.

  4. #34
    I was reading some YA novel a couple weeks back (the name escapes me now) that was supposed to be medieval fantasy but the heroine kept saying "as if" and "whatever" in her internal monologue. It really threw me out.

  5. #35
    Start judging theWallflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    But there are already medieval culture and language databases out there on the Net that are probably way better than what we could assemble here.
    Like where?

  6. #36
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wallflower
    Like where?
    Seriously, does no one know how to run searches on our evil overlords Google and other search engines any more? Here you go to start, type in medieval life or folklore with the evil overlords, etc. for more:

    http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/med/

    http://www.medieval-life.net/

    http://www.medieval-life-and-times.i...life/index.htm

    http://www.learner.org/interactives/...s/feudal.html/

    http://www.britainexpress.com/History/Townlife.htm

    http://www.csupomona.edu/~plin/ls201/medieval1.html

    http://www.fidnet.com/~weid/medievaleconomics.htm

    http://www.svincent.com/MagicJar/Eco...cupations.html

    http://www.castles-of-britain.com/

    http://www.historyonthenet.com/Medie...allifemain.htm

    http://www.localhistories.org/transport.html

    http://pantheon.org/

    http://www.learner.org/interactives/...s/feudal.html/

    http://www.youtube.com/show?p=s-Gqsjg9y-8

    Books (check the library):

    The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval Life
    Medieval Life (DK Eyewitness Books)
    Life in a Medieval City
    Medieval Life
    Medieval Cuisine
    Life in a Medieval Castle
    Daily Life in the Middle Ages
    Last edited by KatG; August 19th, 2012 at 12:20 AM.

  7. #37
    Is Winter Coming? R.J.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theWallflower View Post
    There are a lot of basic, common words that don't fit in a non-Earth setting. For example, I had one character say "the heavens", just referring to up. Well, this is an alternate world. There's no bible, there's no Jesus, there's no angels, there's no Judeo-Christian God. So there's no such concept as heaven.
    But "heaven" is just another word/translation of "sky"
    (http://www.infidelguy.com/heaven_sky.htm)

  8. #38
    Goblin Princess Teresa Edgerton's Avatar
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    I always take the stance that the book is being translated from the original language anyway, so there is a little latitude. For instance, words that have no direct translation but which refer to a person or a place. I'm not going to stop and describe the thing when I can bring the picture immediately into a reader's mind with one word.

    I used to obsess over words like earth but gave up. Dirt and soil don't have the same feel or the same nuances. Synonyms never mean exactly the same thing, so sometimes it's not appropriate for me to use one for the word I am struggling not to use.

    On the other hand, I avoid modern slang. The big problem with language that is too modern is that language shapes our thoughts and the cultures we live in shape our language. Modern language makes it very easy to make the mistake of giving characters thoughts and attitudes that they simply wouldn't have in the type of culture I have borrowed or created for them. So I try to think what attitudes each word I use betrays.

    I also find that there are some older words that simply don't have any equivalent. To substitute a more familiar word would be to lose a whole system of thought that surrounds the other. So I use the less familiar word, which many readers are going to know anyway, and figure the ones who don't can look it up in the dictionary. I have to use the word that fits, or I'm not telling the story as it should be told.

  9. #39
    Start judging theWallflower's Avatar
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    I find it insulting that whenever someone asks for some resources, the person automatically says "just google it, don't you know how?" Google is not a divine oracle. It is a search engine that indexes and ranks sites based on how many other, "more popular", sites link to it (known as "page authority")*.

    Meaning it doesn't matter if the site's good or bad, just how many links there are to it. That's why "google bombs" work. This algorithm also favors older sites.

    When you go to the library, they don't qualify the books on the shelf either -- they place the poorly researched sources with the bad -- there's no discrimination. So there's no way to tell with an impartial computer what facts are real and what aren't. There's still pages out there that declare that a duck's quack does not echo, or that you only use 10% of your brain.

    So, like in advertising, the most reliable resource is still word of mouth. I'm sure most writers, especially fantasy writers, have a few research sites bookmarked (I already have a few myself), and know the most optimal ones already. It doesn't cost anything to share -- we're all in this together.

    *Also felt it necessary to mention that links in e-mails, sites with "nofollow" tags, or pages that are too similar are not included in google's index crawl.

  10. #40
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theWallflower View Post
    I find it insulting that whenever someone asks for some resources, the person automatically says "just google it, don't you know how?" Google is not a divine oracle. It is a search engine that indexes and ranks sites based on how many other, "more popular", sites link to it (known as "page authority")*.

    Meaning it doesn't matter if the site's good or bad, just how many links there are to it. That's why "google bombs" work. This algorithm also favors older sites.

    When you go to the library, they don't qualify the books on the shelf either -- they place the poorly researched sources with the bad -- there's no discrimination. So there's no way to tell with an impartial computer what facts are real and what aren't. There's still pages out there that declare that a duck's quack does not echo, or that you only use 10% of your brain.

    So, like in advertising, the most reliable resource is still word of mouth. I'm sure most writers, especially fantasy writers, have a few research sites bookmarked (I already have a few myself), and know the most optimal ones already. It doesn't cost anything to share -- we're all in this together.

    *Also felt it necessary to mention that links in e-mails, sites with "nofollow" tags, or pages that are too similar are not included in google's index crawl.
    You're right and I apologize for being snippy about it. On the bright side, I did actually give you all my bookmarked medieval sites and went out and found you more of them. So you got a free research assistant. And if you find a site and you're not sure about it, you can always bring it up here and see if anyone has used it and found it helpful. Generally, anything from a university is probably pretty golden. Also, the Terry Jones video was actually an official one, so it's probably good and fun too.

  11. #41
    Was: "Virangelus" A. Lynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theWallflower View Post
    And then I heard that Mary Robinette Kowal made a custom dictionary out of all of Jane Austen's writing for her regency novels, to make sure she didn't use a word that was out of place.

    So my question is, hasn't anyone ever done this for medieval fantasy? Seems like it's a no-brainer, with some constant mistakes writers do. Or at least, maybe we can crowd-source a list?
    Wallflower,

    I am not aware of an exact dictionary, but there are a lot of Historical books out there that can help you put your time period in perspective. I remember picking up a couple of books in one of my English teacher's classes that was literally an instruction manual for properly writing in the Medieval Time Period. I cannot remember what they were called, so I at least got this link for you.

    http://historymedren.about.com/od/da.../dailylife.htm

    Here is something else you will want to note about History. They are always, always discovering new things about former time periods.

    I will never forget when I wrote a story that was circa 40-30 BC (or BCE if you prefer). In the story, there was an open-sea vessel similar to what Vikings would have used that crossed between modern day Scandinavia and modern day Ireland. I had some terrible would-be critic come down on me really hard for being "so ignorant." They asked how I could not know that open-sea boats came out around 800 AD, and therefore how stupid was I? Obviously, people only had little canoe like boats back they, they could not cross the open sea like that! I was a fool! According to them, I should have just quit writing that story right there.

    Flash forward some years later, and History has found out (or perhaps it was seldom-known in the 90's) that the Egyptians had no problem crossing the open sea and left behind relics in South America. They also found blonde-haired blue-eyed native North Americans who had nordic-like coins on hand. Also, the Mesoamericans understood basic principles of hot-air balloon, open-sea boating, and even rudimentary aerodynamics. Who's foolish now?

    Oh, this same person thought they were still wearing loincloths in 40-30 BC. Lol.

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