Author Topic: Don't you hate it when.  (Read 3122 times)

Lmns Crn

  • Giant Space Hamster
  • *
  • Posts: 717
    • View Profile
Don't you hate it when.
« on: July 16, 2014, 03:15:02 PM »
I dunno, I've had ideas swirling around and have no idea how to connect them to each other in ways that aren't crap.

I've got little bits and pieces, and they don't seem to line up with each other, you know? A magic system here, an element of a setting there, a game mechanic idea here... and none of them seem to be compatible with each other.

I'd love, love, to start a new big project again, but I don't know if I have the time and the wherewithal to put all the pieces together and smooth over the gaps.

In addition, I think I need a kick in the brains to break me out of my current rut. I want to do something fantasy but outside of the sort of typical standards. I want to open my brain to weird magic, maybe some stuff set primarily in a desert or tundra or some kind of other nonstandard environment, throw all the four-classical-elements-dwarves-elves-and-goblins stuff in the trash.

I guess I have a bunch of different directions I don't know how to pursue at the moment. I want to get more active in the hobby in general again (and in this community in particular) and am running into inspirational walls.

Somebody give me a setting to look at, or a book to read, or a movie to watch, or something.
I move quick: I'm gonna try my trick one last time--
you know it's possible to vaguely define my outline
when dust move in the sunshine

Weave

  • Owlbear
  • *
  • Posts: 398
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2014, 03:24:16 PM »
I just read the Bas-Lag series by China Mieville, which I personally found inspiring and rekindled my interests in weird fictional worlds.

I've been in a similar rut, and yeah, I think reading more stuff is the best way to draw out more inspiration. I find that sometimes authors can quantify things in words that I wasn't always able to and/or just get the creative juices flowing over how they tackled a fictional element in their books, be it a location, setting, person, power, government, etc.

Sometimes setting personal constraints can help me focus, like "create a fantasy setting revolving around 5 under-utilized world cultures paralleled in some fictional way," or "make a setting where magic is broadcast like television to magicians whose staves have satellite receptors atop them," or something wonky like that.

Though if you ever decided to get back into Jade Stage I wouldn't not cry tears of joy and excitement. Just saying.

Rose-of-Vellum

  • Giant Space Hamster
  • *
  • Posts: 575
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2014, 04:10:07 PM »
I'd recommend China Mieville (e.g., any of the Bas-Lag novels) and/or Cathrynne Valente (e.g., Orphan Tales or Folded World).

Xathan

  • Gelatinous Cube
  • *
  • Posts: 2211
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2014, 07:51:19 PM »
I'd love to have you more active! And I completely understand the problem - that's how I feel 90% of the time.

A suggestion is to not try reading any major works. Instead, I suggest trying out browsing Deviant Art or even google image searches for anything that vaguely relates to whats in your head. It's a great source of inspiration and fairly lightweight, and unlike reading it doesn't stick in your head and add to the general blockness (or at least, it doesn't for me.)

Quote
I want to do something fantasy but outside of the sort of typical standards. I want to open my brain to weird magic, maybe some stuff set primarily in a desert or tundra or some kind of other nonstandard environment, throw all the four-classical-elements-dwarves-elves-and-goblins stuff in the trash.

You should totally do this thing. I'd say don't worry about a major project. Make it a small one, play around with it, and then either dump it or make it bigger or mash it into a later bigger project.

Also, if you're interested in reading something here, I'm getting back to work on a setting of mine - Keldora - so if you want to check it out, feel free. Just, again, I advise against reading and looking at another media to get yourself unstuck. :)

Good luck, and hope we get to see some more from you!
AnIndex of My Work

Quote from: Sparkletwist
It's llitul and the brain, llitul and the brain, one is a genius and the other's insane
Proud Receiver of a Golden Dorito
Sorry but you are not allowed to view spoiler contents.

LordVreeg

  • Flail Snail
  • *
  • Posts: 2095
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2014, 08:56:39 PM »
I read a lot of history, as my main inspiration.  I like my mind to warp what is real and go from there.  Archeology is a big help.

And music.  So much of my games and plots are derived from music.  My whole Collegium Arcana online game (by far the most inventive thing I've done) came from a song, "Dead Son Rising'.
VerkonenVreeg, The Nice.Celtricia, World of Factions

Steel Island Online gaming thread
The Collegium Arcana Online Game
Old, evil, twisted, damaged, and afflicted.  Orbis non sufficit.Thread Murderer Extraordinaire, and supposedly pragmatic...\"That is my interpretation. That the same rules designed to reduce the role of the GM and to empower the player also destroyed the autonomy to create a consistent setting. And more importantly, these rules reduce the Roleplaying component of what is supposed to be a \'Fantasy Roleplaying game\' to something else\"-Vreeg

Steerpike

  • Flumph
  • *
  • Posts: 3952
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2014, 10:16:37 PM »
I recommend going down to a used bookstore and searching for anything by Vance, Moorcock, Leiber, M. John Harrison, or Gene Wolfe.

Then maybe watch some Farscape afterwards.

LD

  • Flail Snail
  • *
  • Posts: 2096
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2014, 10:18:55 PM »
Someone here please sell me on Fritz Leiber. I never found anything too amazing in his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series... Conan also did some of the thievery and if I recall it was written about as well. Other than that- Leiber is notable because he was one of the first, but he didn't seem to be particularly skilled with words, if I recall properly, and his plots have become overused and done better. He's foundational, but foundational in the sense that better work came after him.


beejazz

  • Yrthak
  • *
  • Posts: 1511
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2014, 10:47:32 PM »
Quote
I dunno, I've had ideas swirling around and have no idea how to connect them to each other in ways that aren't crap.

I have sort of a process for this.
1) Think up stuff all the time. Doesn't have to be for anything. Write it all down.
2) If a few ideas match up, start to see if I can make something out of it.
3) Sit down and think up a bunch of stuff for 2. Doesn't have to be any good.
4) Assess where I'm going in 3. Cut what doesn't fit.
5) Identify unanswered questions, create answers, and retroactively add whatever needs adding.

I've managed lately to make this process work pretty well for my comic work.

As for reading and ideas, I'll second that non-fiction and history are pretty cool. I also watch a lot of TV and read a lot of short stories and comics and fables. I figure working through a whole story in 30 minutes to an hour will let me burn through more stories.
Beejazz's Homebrew System
 Beejazz's Homebrew Discussion

Quote
I don't believe in it anyway.
What?
England.
Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?

LD

  • Flail Snail
  • *
  • Posts: 2096
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2014, 11:11:59 PM »
Quote from: Steerpike
Which Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories did you read?  I quite like em...

Some of the short stories and novellas in collections and I think one book, sorry but I cannot recall the names.

Steerpike

  • Flumph
  • *
  • Posts: 3952
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2014, 12:33:03 PM »
The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories vary in quality.  I'd suggest "Bazaar of the Bizarre" (widely reprinted and considered a particular high point), "Ill Met in Lankhmar" (an origin story, and Hugo and Nebula winner), and The Swords of Lankhmar, which involves megalomaniacal intelligent rats and the Mouser shrinking down to rat-size.

If you've read any of those and still don't find Leiber your cup of tea - fair enough.

To be honest I haven't really read his other works, or know much about them other than that some of them involve crazy cross-stream sideways time travel stuff.

LD

  • Flail Snail
  • *
  • Posts: 2096
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2014, 08:57:16 PM »
All of those names sound very familiar, which means I may have read them, but that's probably because I've heard them listed as famous works. Thank you for the list.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2014, 09:03:38 PM by Light Dragon »

Steerpike

  • Flumph
  • *
  • Posts: 3952
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2014, 09:13:59 PM »
There are some that are great, and often the nominees are worth looking at... American Gods, Dune, Ringworld, Neuromancer, The Claw of the Conciliator, Perdido Street Station, Lyonesse, A Game of Thrones...

Magnus Pym

  • Giff
  • *
  • Posts: 849
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2014, 09:16:30 PM »
It's always good to have a notepad, physical and virtual, on which you write simple lines, or words, that, for some reason, are of interest to you.

Then you can set a theme and work out the details little by little by helping yourself with your notes. You could take 15 minutes per day for a week, first, to write down ideas on those notepads. And then start writing some stuff the next week and see where that leads you?

In the end, you just can't force it. I thought I was on another streak with my Primeval setting and I just got distracted, and can't get myself to want to think about it anymore. It's just how it works.

Oh, and I didn't really make any suggestion on how you can glue all those ideas together. Whatever these ideas are, that you wrote in your notes, I'd simply suggest going over them one by one, and applying them where relevant. And if it's not relevant, but it's such a good idea that you want to include it into your work, you'll then have to craft another idea that serves as a bridge between what already exists and that idea you so want in your creation.

I'm a simple person. I got simple tricks. Maybe that won't work for you.

Oh, and looking at pictures (National Geographic, Google Image Search, Other sources...) and reading lots of historical works helps inspire and sometimes with the wording, describing of certain things.

That was a long reply...

LD

  • Flail Snail
  • *
  • Posts: 2096
    • View Profile
Re: Don't you hate it when.
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2014, 10:15:34 PM »
Quote from: Steerpike
There are some that are great, and often the nominees are worth looking at... American Gods, Dune, Ringworld, Neuromancer, The Claw of the Conciliator, Perdido Street Station, Lyonesse, A Game of Thrones...

Ah, sorry, I edited out the statement that you replied to before you replied since I didn't want to derail the thread too badly. For posterity-  I was making a comment that I wasn't too impressed with Hugo or Nebula Winners. But well...derailing-> While I think all of those stories are inventive, they are not necessarily good literature. Ringworld is not amazing writing. Ringworld is interesting scientific writing and an okay story, but the characters feel very flat. Dune- I think had more developed characters, but I fell asleep while reading the book and while watching the movie...The characters did not feel very real. American Gods- one of the most boring books I've ever read- the characters were pastiches and jokes...but not funny jokes- sadly Neil Gaiman is no Terry Pratchett (I do realize that AG and Dune have large followings). Neuromancer- I tried to read it many times, but once again, I could not get into it. I think the styling put me off- as opposed to Snow Crash's styling, which I enjoyed. Perdido Street actually did have some characterization issues at first, but Mieville's writing prowess encouraged me to blaze through that- his writing ability is much better than the other listed authors' abilities. A Song of Ice and Fire was groundbreaking in some ways- what with Ned Stark's death, etc., so I agree it belongs on the list. The others, I am not familiar with.