The SolAARium: Discuss the craft of writing - Alphabetical Index in the 1st Post

Director

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I'm suffering from a bad case of being unable to explain an event. Specifically, what could be the explanation or justification for provinces defecting from one country to another? And does anyone have examples of this type of event happening in actual history?

In my last game (as Bremen) in a span of 150 years I got 14 provinces (3 CoT's) and a trading post by defection alone. The capper was when most of British America (four provinces including the CoT of Manhattan) came over en masse. Four years later, four Spanish provinces and one TP (including a CoT) came over.

I can't conceive of colonies just 'crossing over' like this and I just don't know how to explain this in story-terms.
 

Syt

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Hmmm, mass defections...

Possible take: Your country is so exemplary, unique and wonderful (suiting your current Bremen AAR, I guess ;) ) that regional governors and aristocrats wish to be part of the show, pledging allegiance to you.

That was a bit rambling, let my rephrase:
Bremen is a shining example of progress, prosperity, etc. This causes unrest in other nations, because the people/aristocrats desire the same prosperity and urge similar reforms. Some even switch their allegiance.
 

Valdemar

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I can think of plenty of examples of regions asking a foreign King to be their king as well (Poland, Lithuania, Bohemia, Hungary and Austria over the years spring to mind) But that would be of little use in a Bremish concept world.

On a smaller scale, Schelswig Holstein sort of changed allegiance lastly to the protection of the greater German state (though that specific issue is very clouded to say the least.)

On the other hand I've never heard of such a mass defection before.

As a writing subject, it would take some explanation and I would tackle it by building a history going before the defection, starting with some historical reason ofr affilitation, then dissatisfaction, ineer turmoil and debate as to the best course for the region, finally revolt and in the end a reason (based on past history) for chosing the course they did rather than independency (such as the likelyhood of personal survival as an independent state vs. the protection of greater Bremen.)

V
 

stnylan

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I think the easiest way it to keep things simple. Create a colonial council or something - maybe even a congress ;) - that pledges allegiance to Bremen in return for respecting privileges and so on. A real defection as it were.

iirc this was one of the most common reasons for nobles to change allegiance in the Middle Ages. It is a bit of an extension to apply it to provinces, but the idea should be sound. Though the only simiar cases I can think off the top of my head are from Antiquity and have to do with cities - defections from the Athenian Empire to the Spartan alliance were often based on that logic.

Which creates another possibility. Create a noble who has control of an area, and have him join Bremen in return for honourable position and so on, and with him he brings his territory.
 

Director

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The central problem here is suspension of disbelief, mainly mine. I'm finding it hard to justify an event that I don't think is reasonable.

The richest part of England's overseas empire - the Manhattan Center of Trade, for heaven's sake - decides to join a German-speaking foreign country? And the English do nothing about it? Admittedly they were my allies, but... nothing? I'd have been raising Holy Conniption.

Nevertheless, having spent a couple of hours poring over the game log (God Bless You, Jos Theelen!) I have decided how to handle this.

But the whole concept of defecting provinces still bothers me. I can't come up with a single example of a colony throwing over its native land in favor of a foreign language and culture. I suppose this is a gameplay issue, but IMHO provincial defection should result in a lot more trouble than a CB that the AI never seems to use. Or should never occur except as independence.

Thank you all for your advice - and, Secret Master, I think you've hit the head on the nail, so to speak. I'm going to have to go back 48 years for the English defections. The Spanish defections - I'm just going to have to handle, I guess.

So which events do you gentlemen find troubling?
(I know - none of you worthy authors has any difficulty with anything. Just me. :) Sigh.)
 

stnylan

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So which events do you gentlemen find troubling?

All of them.

It is a bit like the problem with constant sieges that was discussed in the early days of this thread - some events happen fairly frequently and you don't want to come up with the same explanations again and again and again and so on.

Other events simply don't seem to fit.

Other events simply aren't appropriate. An example of this last is in MonAARsteries. In this game I have had 3 Enthusiasms for the Navy I think. All of which have occurred in my colony ports at the far end of the Siberian Corridor. so there are now 15 warships parked in Amgoun, while in my main port of Narva there is nothing whatsoever. I hit upon the idea of Japanese pirates to explain these but it is a long stretch indeed. That said my readers haven't made any rude comments about it, so perhaps it was plausible.

The repitition problem though is my bugbear. Particuarly the ones that cause revolts. Trying to create reasons for revolts that don't sound done to death is hardest in my opinion.

As a result though less common events are far easier to get ideas about - I had great fun when I had an 'Economist' event which allowed me to create whole little sub-idea to fulfil it. Of course in the next game session the computer threw another 'Economist' event at me. Grrrr.
 

Syt

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stnylan, I am right there with you.

Royal marriages, and revolts of various sorts are a heck after some time. Easier to explain are things where you get events that reverse the DP slider decisions you made.

I find myself often ignoring events that don't fit the general context (sale of offices, for example) or that I have done to death in that AAR already (hard to do with Director's defections, though, I guess). If there's a number of same events, e.g. five assassinations of nobles within a few years, I try to put them together, coming up with links between them (maybe a feud between noble families?).
 

Valdemar

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Director, to sum up my earlier post I would have to agree with SM that a loong stretch of prehistory is needed,

On the other question, I would find the weird DOWs from obscure German minors the weirdest, I've just touched of 40 odd years of BB war as Venice (took all minor Italians plus some Balkans in a succession of defensive wars) and I have litterally been at war for the entire time. ALL of the small German states have declared war, they cannot get to me and I cannot get to them, so I have to fight of Austria and Burgundy, but how to explain the anger of all those Germans;) ?

V
 

unmerged(11633)

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I have a plan for an AAR after I finish my Breton one, that is.

I plan to do the early USA (1795-1819) in the style of Ken Burns. Having read a little on the period, I will alternate policy depending upon whether federalists or Republicans are in power, which I think will give a nice flavour.

Speaking of events, I find if events add flavour to an AA, the they are included. If I am writing a stupid AAR, I love finding the most ridiculous way in which events can be incorporated without losing the flow of the narrative. But I'm a newb at writing AARs. I've never visited here before.
 

Director

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Welcome to the SolAARium, Gjerg!

An AAR as the USA? Which scenario do you intend to use?

Alternating policy according to 'monarch' is a great idea, especially since the early political parties had clearly different views and priorities.

Just for my own fun, I like to get an idea of the monarch's personality and make decisions as that character would. Godlike historical knowledge and perfect hindsight are great for getting my tail out of cracks, but too much an advantage over 400 years.

In writing, I tend to leave out lots of events. I got tired of reporting the same five or six events over and over. So now I report events if they are of use in advancing my plot, or if a combination of unusual events can be turned into a plot device.

I think the craziest thing I ever saw come up was a royal marriage between Spain and Haiti. I couldn't explain it then or now. Perhaps the prince (or princess) really made the King angry... but why would the Haitians propose it or agree? Anyway, it still strikes me as peculiar.
 
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I too have plans for future AARs. I think we all do, though.

One thing I know for certain is that I am going to go more character driven with the next one. I am having a great amount of fun writing my Austrian AAR.. however, it does pose to be a lot of work, in terms of the style and method I am using. I want to continue with the same style until I finish the AAR, for sake of flow and continuity. That plus, I am enjoying doing it this way.

However, the next time.. I plan on using what I've learned from the Austrian AAR, which is my first. One thing is that while I like combing through the history log to tell a more complete history of Austria, the events, and the hows and whys (as far as interaction with and between other nations).. it takes a considerable amount of time.

Also.. I want to go more character driven, and write something that reads more like a novel and less like a historical text. With the next, I do plan on incorporating the fun duo of the Skinny Guy and the Bearded Fellow.

I have been reading the SolAARium for quite a while (since December probably) and one thing I have learned and decided is that research beforehand is a good thing.

To comment on research: I hope to use my research (for the next AAR) in a way that benefits to story and the audience. It would be important to me to avoid the readers thinking, "He should've done more research.", while at the same to stearing clear of, "Wow, he really did his research on this one."

It seems to me that research should be utilised in a way that makes the story more believable and flavoured with the locale and time period, but not in such a way that it seems littered with historical references, facts, and well.. just things that make it seems like a collection of research notes poured into a story.


okay.. there was my blurt.. now, back to just being an idle SolAARium lurker. :rolleyes:
 

Amric

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Being pretty new to the forums, I've done a LOT of reading the last two plus weeks. Saw quite a few different styles of writing, and enjoyed most of them. I only joined a few days ago as a member. Hard as it is to believe I've owned both EU and EUII for a LONG time and didn't even think to look for such a place as this. When I found it I was in heaven.
I'm currently writing my first AAR, and still feeling my way forward to what I hope is an enjoyable read for everyone. Having read through this thread and numerous other helpful ones I hope that enough transfers into my brain.
I've seen some grand ideas I hope to incorporate into my own story, such as historical references, humor, et al. In essence I guess what I'm trying to say is that so many of you are very talented talespinners of the first rank. IMHO if the story is engaging the style is just icing on the cake. Fusing the facts of the game with the fiction of the storyline can sometimes be problematic, but I've seen some entertaining ways to explain Monarch Insanity and countries DoWing and then quickly asking for a White Peace, etc. It's been fascinating to peruse so many different writers and how they choose to elaborate certain events to the enjoyment of all of us.

I've nattered on long enough with my praise. I'll let this thread get back to it's numerous viewpoints.
 

Director

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Hmmmm. Yes. We have the money. We have the technology. We can rebuild it, better than before...

Cables, check. Block and tackle, check. Steam engines ready, check. Boiler pressure just below redline, check.

The engines growl, the cables groan as they take up the enormous strain. From the deep waters of the pit, the divers wave - all is well.

With a sucking, gasping roar the SolAARium rises from the depths. The cables twang under the load as the building is pushed to the beach by tugs. The powerful steam engines are coupled to high-pressure pumps and the crusted mud, barnacles and seaweed washes away, revealing the beloved exterior.

A brave volunteer approaches the door and breaks the seal. The engines are silent, the crew hold their collective breath - he signals - the interior is still dry!

In fact, the remains of the ham sandwich I left on a table in the corner are still there, but there's no need to talk about that.




What there is a need to talk about, confreres, is humor. With the emergence of a number of humorous tales in the forum, perhaps its time to begin to discuss exactly what IS funny, and why.

Merely to say that humor is a matter of personal taste is a cop-out. Even if we don't agree that a particular joke is funny, we may analyze the whys (or why nots) thereof.

I'll start by listing some categories and hope you gentlemen will chime in with types - and examples - of humor of your own.

  • 1) Parody - an imitation where the style is the same but the theme ludicrously different
    2) Exaggeration - is this the same as parody?
    3) Satire - literary composition holding up to ridicule vice or folly of the times; irony
    4) Anachronism - use of things out of their proper time (see Heagarty's 'Tales of the Gluttonic Knights'*
    5) 'Taboo' subjects, such as sex and bodily functions (see Lord Durham's 'Portugal'*)
    6) Puns - Felonious wordplay with intent to harm. A good joke will clear the air; a good pun will clear the room.

*These fine AAR's contain other examples of humor, also - but they came to mind as examples of these types. If you disagree, fine! Let's discuss!


Can someone suggest some reading material on the subject of humor? Can someone suggest more AAR's we should read as examples of humor done correctly?
 

Lord Durham

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A subset of Satire is Black Comedy (Catch 22, Dr. Strangelove) - a form I enjoy immensely.

There's:

Slapstick humoUr.
Innuendo
Dry and Droll humoUr (which is probably my favoUrite).
Self-Depreciating

It's unfortunate about SM's hiatus. He was going to critique my Portugal or Bust AAR. I was going to challenge him to identify all of the various humoUr techniques I used in the story (beyond the obvious T&A references... ;) )

Director, you have to look at my King Kristoffer work for Bodily Function humoUr. ;)

Anyone else out there? What do you find funny? What makes you laugh? Which comedian(s) make you laugh?
 

unmerged(9046)

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Some of the humoUr used in these threads is great. For me at times it becomes hard to keep up the humor level through a long thread. For example, in my Brunei tale I just wrote a pretty sad chapter built around the death of my long ruling king. Does everybody else who is writing humoUr find it hard to keep up the humoUr quotient?
 

Director

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Well, Stroph1, I have to say I've tried writing humor (curse all unnecessary U's, anyway) and never achieved anything that I thought worked. So I admire authors like Heagarty and Lord Durham and yourself who can 'keep the ball rolling' through page after page. I've enjoyed the light-hearted humor of your 'Brunei' - dare I say whimsy? - but haven't gotten to the latest chapter yet.


One brand of humor we haven't touched on is 'shock'. Lenny Bruce, Redd Foxx, Howard Stern, 'Jackass'... others too numerous to mention. People frequently laugh when this 'shock' kind of humor is thrown at them. I question, though, whether they are amused or laughing out of nervous release of tension. This brand seems to be dying out, replaced by simple 'gross-out' humor. i think we've largely lost our ability to be shocked.

I believe 'shock' comedy is different from black humor. Dr Strangelove makes me laugh and scream all at the same time - the commonplace, banal, tepid end of the world... Gotterdammerung with gods who are faintly embarrassed to be there.


Which is funnier to you: the punch-line you can see coming or the completely unexpected? The elaborate set-up or the comedian who tell it as it is with only slight exaggeration - Jack Benny, Chris Rock, George Carlin?

One of the funniest bits I've heard in years is an English soprano trying to explain the plot of Wagner's Ring Cycle. Completely deadpan over the roaring laughter of the audience, punctuated with her forlorn, "I'm not making this up, you know!" I'll go look up her name.

Favorite comedians, eh? I'll have to think on that.
 

Wyvern

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I have a question I'd like to ask and this seems the most appropriate place. It's a long time since I studied English grammer and I'm a little unsure on one point (well more than one point but this struck me in particular just now), namely where to use 's or s' at the end of a name or word.

ie Ruethan's brother entered the room.

but when would Ruethans' be used?

Ruethan is the name of my current lead character in Defender of the Isle by the way, I pick his name purely for the sake of an example.
 

unmerged(9046)

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If the word ended in an "S" before you made it possessive, i.e. the hats of the braves would be the braves' hats. If the word did not end in an "S" before you made it possessive, i.e., the hat of the brave would be the brave's hat.

Of course, being the English language there are many, many exceptions but that is the general rule which will get you right most of the time.
 

Storey

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Director this is a tough subject. You say you’ve tried to write humor? How does one go about doing that? When I’ve written something funny, either a story or as with my latest AAR just humorous comments about game play I just sit down and go for it. Are you using a formula, blueprint or what? Do you have something funny to say or do you have to 'find' something funny to write about? One of the advantages of being a guest author in someone else’s AAR is that you don’t have the pressure of having to produce a huge volume of comedy. That might be part of your problem. The idea of trying to write something funny about a 400-year period is something that scares the crap out of me. The two comedic stories I’ve written have been about short periods of game play. I think just about all my characters in the FC thread have been basically comedic in nature and I can pop in and out when I actually have something funny to write.

I should warn you though that I have a basically absurd view of life in general, which forces me to see the humor in almost everything. That’s why when you combine black humor with the absurd I’m in heaven. Examples already mentioned by LD are Catch 22 and Dr. Strangelove. However when you combine the absurd with wit as in Faulty Towers I’m above heaven.


Hey what's a descussion about humor with a joke or two so read on and no I didn't write this.


THIS IS SOME KIND OF CHILI CONTEST


*Note: Please take time to read this slowly. If you pay attention
to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even
better! For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true
this is. They actually have a Chili Cook-off about the time the
Rodeo comes to town. It takes upa major portion of the parking lot
at the Astrodome.

The notes are from an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who
was visiting Texas from the East Coast:

Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a
chili cook-off. The Judge #3 called in sick at the last moment and
I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking for
directions to the Budweiser truck, when the call came in. I was
assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili
wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have
free beer during the tasting, so I accepted."

Here are the scorecards from the event:

Chili # 1 (Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili)
Judge # 1 -- A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge # 2 -- Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3 -- (Frank) Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You
could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to
put the flames out. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are
crazy.

Chili # 2 (Arthur's Afterburner Chili)
Judge # 1 -- Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge # 2 -- Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken
seriously.
Judge # 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure
what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two
people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to
rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

Chili # 3 (Fred's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili)
Judge # 1 -- Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick. Needs more
beans.
Judge # 2 -- A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of peppers.
Judge # 3 -- Call the EPA. I've located a uranium spill. My nose
feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine
by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the
back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting
shit-faced from all of the beer.

Chili # 4 (Bubba's Black Magic)
Judge # 1 -- Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for
fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was
unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally,
the barmaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That
300-lb. bitch is starting to look HOT... just like this nuclear
waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?

Chili # 5 (Linda's Legal Lip Remover)
Judge # 1 -- Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground,
adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2 -- Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must
admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge # 3 -- My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead
and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind
me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told
her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue
from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I
wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really pisses me off that the
other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw those rednecks.

Chili # 6 (Vera's Very Vegetarian Variety)
Judge # 1 -- Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance
of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2 -- The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and
garlic. Superb.
Judge #3-- I shit myself when I farted and I'm worried it will eat
through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except
that slut Sally. She must be kinkier than I thought. Can't feel my
lips anymore. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone.

Chili # 7 (Susan's Screaming Sensation Chili)
Judge # 1 -- A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned
peppers.
Judge # 2 -- Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can
of chili peppers at the last moment. I should take note that I am
worried about Judge #3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he
is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and
I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world
sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with
chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of
lava-like shit to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy,
they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing, it's
too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need
air, I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

Chili # 8 (Tommy's Toe-Nail Curling Chili)
Judge # 1 -- The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not
too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither
mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge # 3
passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of
himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor dude, wonder how
he'd have reacted to really hot chili?

Joe
 

Stuyvesant

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[HIJACK]Ahh... the wonders of hyperbole applied correctly. Thank you for cheering up my evening, Storey! :)[/HIJACK]

What? I'm supposed to talk about humor? Oh, well, yeah, sure, I like humor. Some of my best friends are humorous and I have no problem with that... Look! A three-headed monkey!*
<ducks away>

*I know, I know, making in-jokes is REALLY sad... Welcome to my world. :p

Anyway, I can't really say anything about writing humor, since I have never written anything here. To salvage something from this post (and to try to not get it condemned as OT immediately), besides some of the things already mentioned, I like a good groaner every now and then. And running gags, especially if they develop into ever more convoluted shapes.

And I like absurd situations. For example: A time-travelling Elvis Presley (due to a time sprout named Barry in his head), who is supposed to dodge the draft in '58 to revive the flagging viewing figures of Earthers, Inc. (Earth being nothing more than a large-scale Survivor aired on the planet Phnaargos), decides to travel forward in time to 2050 to defeat the Anti-Christ (Elvis had this revelation), who happens to be the 153rd reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, Dalai Dan. Who also happens to run one of the Big Three television channels, Buddhavision... And then I haven't even mentioned Rambo Bloodaxe and Eric Deathblade, Jesus' twin sister, the Nuclear Holocaust Event...

Any of this make any sense? :D

Oh, and I'll shut up now. :)