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

likk9922

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Oranje Verzet said:
I just starting reading some AARs again, something which i havent done in ages, but something i noticed in these AARs annoyed me a bit.

The use of "I" in sentences written from the first person perspective. Of course you are going to use "I" to write a sentence from this perspective, but i feel overdoing makes the text to standard and not attributes to the story. Perhaps something like "I took of my coat, and then I looked at the watch that I just bought one minute ago."

Am i missing something, or is this something writers do think about?

I think about it, even though there's no rule of grammer against it. It simply doesn't make the update sound quite as good.

Also, a lot of foriegn people who might not understand those nuances write here, which may be what you're seeing.
 

coz1

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Yes, it may have something to do with translations and/or writing in a foreign languages (though I admit, I have not seen it that much.) As always, a writer should take care not to be too repititious in any style they are writing in, but you do make the correct point that first person would include more usuage of the word "I."

The sentence you used might be better written as "Taking off my coat, I looked at the watch purchased just one minute ago." Something like that, at least. :)
 

Phoenix Dace

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I hope it wasn't mine you're referring to :D

Wen writing a first-person narrative, I (there I go!) do my best to avoid repetitious use of the word I. It's been said before by others here, there is no rule of grammar against it, but it makes the prose inelegant and repetitive. It sort of drags on. It's handy for communicating to people whose English isn't as good, but for people who are writing word-heavy English AARs, they're not really the intended audience anyway.

Whenever I find myself writing multiple sentences in a row beginning with the word 'I', I know I've gotten myself into trouble. I either take a break or do my best to mix up not just my writing, but also the plot in my head, instantly. It keeps my mind fresh. I also usually go back and change one or more of the sentences if I realized I started more than one in a row like that.
 

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There's nothing wrong with the use of the word 'I' when dealing with the first person. Sure, it can seem repetitive but when I write I try to simulate speech patterns and repetitive words. In narration I do agree it should be avoided but in first person comments or conversations among characters I think it's acceptable in the context of regular patterns of speech.
 

coz1

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Phoenix Dace said:
Whenever I find myself writing multiple sentences in a row beginning with the word 'I', I know I've gotten myself into trouble. I either take a break or do my best to mix up not just my writing, but also the plot in my head, instantly. It keeps my mind fresh. I also usually go back and change one or more of the sentences if I realized I started more than one in a row like that.
That's a good habit, Phoenix Dace. My own "issue" when I write is too many sentences starting with "And" or "But" - when it happens, I do the exact same thing you have described. It is much like the old bit Stephen King discusses with his loathing of adverbs - once finished, go through and strike out each one trying to rewrite the sentence/paragraph/etc without them. It's harder than you'd think.
 

Konig15

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Greetings all! If you've been in the the OT or history forums, you might know I'm trying to write a novel, but this isn't about that...mostly. I need practice, so I figured writing an AAR or two would do me good. I have some ideas, but I'd like to get feedback to see if they would "sell." See I wrote an intro to an AAR and it was not well received:



http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?t=306344



Anyway, I want another crack at it as soon as all the bugs get worked out of Deus Vult. But that will take time. I also have another AAR in mind; using a modified version of the Worldwar mod for HOI II. Problem I SUCK at HOI II and it's said playing the Worldwar mod is only for advanced players. I shudder if it's half as bad as plying Germany in the Gottdamung scenario. So here's the breakdown of the two, or three AARS:



Nation: Byzantine Empire

Date: 1066

Dynasty: Paleologus

Goal: Wipe Islam off the map by converting provinces one by one, create Russia, reclaim Justinian's Empire (mostly), turn Balkans and Italy totally Orthodox

Advantages: Lots of Crusading

Problem: need best way to in game and AAR convert provinces



Nation: England

Date: 1066

Dynasty: Norman (later Plantagenet)

Goal: Unite the British Iles under William the Conqueror and vassilize Iceland. Convert the whole map to Arian Christianity (heresy) via modified 9051 event. All nations other than those listed above are catch and release.

Advantage: Concept has never been done before.

Problem: As above, need efficient way of converting provinces. Also, maybe it's too much to conquer the whole of Christendom and the Umma, will cheat to make vassal of Iceland if Deus Vult vassilize system works like regular Iceland (I wanna leave Iceland a republic)





Nation: Allied Powers

Date 1942

HOI II Scenario: Wolrdwar

Goal: Secure America, Europe, the British Empire, USSR and Japanese Empire for Humanity. Overthrow Nazis, destroy Commies if possible, push aliens off world entirely if all goes well.

Modifications: Union of British Commonwealth, Free French, and American forces under one leadership, maybe adding Germans if Nazis are overthrown. Creation of one fictious German general

Advantages: Can use characters I've already designed for my novel, no Worldwar AARs yet, probably best potential.

Problems: Lizard nuking system is off, very difficult and I SUCK as HOI II, mucho editing, no discussion of Commie/Nazi atrocities so I can't really explain why the Lizards are marginally better than genocidal dictators or why the Jews of Warsaw would ally with them so readily or why my big character, Becker, would overthrow Hitler and last but not least, I need to explain how my world is different from the world we know: for instance the Nazis and Soviets (and French) use women soldiers in WWII because the Germans screwed up and segwayed themselves into having female soldiers in WWI (not a long story, not as implausible as one might think), and the British Empire is still united like in the 1914 mod and therefore stronger. This ain't Draka land; these women are not supposed to glorify the fighting female; in fact I'm personally ambivalent about women in combat. It's just my gut tells me they have women soldiers.



Potential problem for all: Game play is subjugated to storyline, so I set myself up to win and will reset until I do. I don't like losing.



Later when my home internet is working I will post more. For the meantime, which do you think would be the best avenue to pursue?
 

TheExecuter

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Hmm...I think you need to pick the one that you are most passionate to do. If you are interested in making the story over concentrating on the gameplay, just bury the gameplay elements and only show screenies of things that 'fit' with the story. I.e. leave the dross of mundane stuff out. I personally would be interested in the 'world war' scenario, but only if you promise not to restart...somehow tales of degradation and humiliation seem to be popular amongst the readAARs.

And as for not getting a good response...what are you talking about? You had comments after your first posts! Comments discussing the game! You lucky dog you!

My first AAR

Note the ratio of content posts to comments in the early going...at times I thought I was performing to an empty room! Taught me perserverence though.

Part of the reason Hakko died was the world I wanted to 'create' was to be pretty dark...and I kept running into the forum rules if I got to close to dark subjects. That, and I played on too easy a difficulty setting so the war was going way too well! In the end, I just got bored...although there is still a years worth of playing (with significant...earth shattering events...) left to be told, I just lost interest in trying to bend the story I wanted to tell to the game I was playing. Make sense?

Good luck with your decision!
TheExecuter
 

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TheExecuter said:
Note the ratio of content posts to comments in the early going...at times I thought I was performing to an empty room! Taught me perserverence though.

Boy, do I know the feeling. Sometimes I take my pocket calculator and I make ratio comparisons with other AARs, which usually ends up with me rising my hands to the High heavens and howling "WHY? WHY CAN'T I GET THE SAME ? O CRUEL LORD, TAKE ME NOW !". :D

And then I realize I enjoy writing so much that it doesn't really matter.

But yes, comments are the bread and butter of the writer, and many a time I have broken free of writer's block thanks to a comment that made me think of a new idea, or just kept fanning on the flame.

Part of the reason Hakko died was the world I wanted to 'create' was to be pretty dark...and I kept running into the forum rules if I got to close to dark subjects.

I run into the same problem. Rules are rules, but I often feel there is a middle ground between including the darkest aspects of WW2 into a narrative AAR and condoning, glorifying, or negating them.
 

canonized

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A very interesting discussion so far , gentlemen . I think that the mods and the rules although they do hold their ground very well are also very tolerante of getting close so long as you pass it by them first . Obviously this should not be a rule of thumb , but I think if you approach the mods they'll be more than happy to review something for viewing . Aside from that , it is true that this is not exactly the place to create something pornographic or utterly violent -- it's simply not the tenor of most of the forumites here .

With that said however , I think that many dark (i like the term noir , really) narratives and what not have been made . I think grayghost's Manchurian Candidate is perhaps my favourite AAR on the boards because he portrays that gritty darkness very well and it's opened up the field for me such as to Executer's fine work , for example . As far as comments/posts ratio ; it is indeed up to us to find our motivation to write , but it's always more encouraging by far to have lots of comments and people reading . Let's admit it , we're all comment whores in one way or another haha . But I think it's all in good fun and it's like being able to go around a fire and share stories with your buddies instead of them paying you money for your ideas . Very rewarding in itself .
 

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canonized said:
A very interesting discussion so far , gentlemen . I think that the mods and the rules although they do hold their ground very well are also very tolerante of getting close so long as you pass it by them first .

Obviously this should not be a rule of thumb , but I think if you approach the mods they'll be more than happy to review something for viewing . Aside from that , it is true that this is not exactly the place to create something pornographic or utterly violent -- it's simply not the tenor of most of the forumites here .

I concur. I featured a Soviet camp in SIberia in one of my updates and it apparently didn't trip any alarm. I guess it's up to the author to act responsibly, and to show due respect to the victims of the conflict, whether civilian or military.

I usually spend an hour with each of my updates, looking for pictures to illustrate the scene. I have often found powerful pictures, showing for example fallen soldiers. These pictures are neither pornographic nor utterly violent or obscene. Some of them even exalt noble sacrifice, and as my own AAR revolves around France, I often think people cracking jokes about French soldiers not fighting and surrendering should take a good look at these pictures. But I also know I'll never use them. It doesn't do, in my book, to instrumentalize someone's death just to spice up a work of fiction.

The good thing about the forum rules, as you pioint out, is that they are not blindly enforced, and that they are indeed written in such a way we have our own questioning to do about what to write, and why we want to write it.


Let's admit it , we're all comment whores in one way or another haha

- What ? Never ! Never !
- We have pictures of you doiung that, AF.
- Oh. Well, yes, yes. A bit.
 

Lord Durham

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Atlantic Friend said:
The good thing about the forum rules, as you pioint out, is that they are not blindly enforced, and that they are indeed written in such a way we have our own questioning to do about what to write, and why we want to write it.
Well put.

I have always encouraged writers to push the envelope while at the same time work within the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not. The question you have to ask yourself when it comes to acceptable versus outrageous is, who will I offend and why?

WW2 can be hard to write, as the memories are still relatively fresh for many families and friends. That's why we have our rules. So even though AAR writers are given a lot of latitude, it has to come with a liberal dose of responsibility.

On the flipside, it's a lot easier to produce edgier material with CK, EU & Vicky because of the earlier frame of reference. There are no recent memories to offend, unless you are extremely old or a vampire. :)

LD
 

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Unfortunately you may find (as I have) that the more you write the less satisfied you are with the results. I suspect this only means our abilities have improved with use and we are able to spot problems more easily. But when it all clicks and the words come pouring out of the keyboard... wow.

I wrote a few pieces in the old Gazette about 'how to' get comments.

To sum:

1) You get what you give. Read a lot, comment a lot, offer praise when it is sincere and (gentle) constructive criticism as appropriate (IE 'I'd like to see more from this character' NOT 'You moron you ignored the only character anyone cares about.') Above all, be a gentleman.

But READ and COMMENT. A 'comment' is the forum's currency; it is the way you pay the author back for hard work and effort. READING without COMMENTING is PLAYING without PAYING. So put a COMMENT coin in the slot when you read the work, yes? :)

2) Write for Guess-The-Author. READ and COMMENT (see above) in Guess-The-Author. GTA is your friend! :D

3) Be prepared to earn those comments. You may have to write for months - or in my case most of a year - before you begin to attract any number of readers. Once you post, wait a day or two before posting again. Writing is like fishing - to get comments (fish) you need bait (posts) and patience.

4) Shine. Hit 'em with a wild idea, open the story with a cliffhanger, knock 'em dead. Turn expectations on their head! The opening should kill! You have a paragraph, maybe an entire update, to capture their attention so they say, "Stop reading? Heck no! I can eat and sleep anytime!" Personally I can't do this but it is what we all should shoot for. You are competing with food, sleep, sex, XBOX, TV and every other recreation. You gotta have sizzle to sell steak!

Involve your readers by asking questions: who likes this character? Which character should I kill off? Who should I DOW next? Etc.

5) Read - lots. Read classics. Read Dante, Hugo, Poe, Twain, Shakespeare, Nabokov, Parker, Blish, Asimov, King, Caesar, Grant, manga, the newspaper... you get the idea. You write what you read and you recycle the plots you know.

6) Talk to us. PM people you trust or authors whose work you like. Invest in a phone call. Accept criticism gladly.

7) Write it. Leave it. Re-read it. Edit it. Leave it. Read it AGAIN and if it is absolutely perfect then you missed at least one typo and got one fact wrong. NEVER post immediately after writing - let it sit for a day or so. You'll be surprised at what you want to change.

8) Read it out loud. Does it flow?

9) ALWAYS respond to people who comment. Respond BY NAME, politely and in as much detail as you can.


These precepts have worked for me, at least a little bit. Try them. If one works, use it - and if not, toss it. Make up your own rules and try them, too.

Above all, WRITE.
 

unmerged(57402)

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Morning all (at least it is where I am...),

I'm going to assume that this is the right place to post my following queries, but if it's not then I apologise profusely and sincerely hope that there is some way I can delete this post...

Anyway I've got some writing-type questions that I thought I might air with the best and brightest of this forum and see what people think.

I've got an AAR going at the moment: The Golden Nation- California (VIP) AAR, and it seems to have ground to a bit of a halt. I think it started fairly well, but recently comments have largely dried up, with the exception of a select (and highly valued) few. I was wondering if I could get any advice of kick-starting it again.

I think my main problem may be the speed of its progress. I'm on page 20 of the AAR, yet the year is still 1841, and little that one might consider of great importance in actual game terms (eg. great wars, discoveries, colonisation etc) has really happened yet, partly because I've spent quite a long time setting the scene for things to come. What are people's views on how fast an AAR should progress? Quite a few "important" things have happened in mine, but they are largely focussed on the characters of the AAR. In a game-based story, should there be more gameplay?

This is another question- how much should the characters and imagined plot play a role, as opposed to the actual game? I've involved a lot of things which aren't "visible" in the actual Victoria saved game- people's families, relationships, beliefs etc. Will that ultimately weigh down a story that is essentially gameplay-based?

I do have other questions, but these are largely ones that require a reading of the AAR to answer, so I won't put them down here. Plus if I go on too long I'm going to miss a train :D!

Anyway I'd hugely appreciate any help!

Thanks,

DerKaiser
 

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DerKaiser said:
Morning all (at least it is where I am...)Anyway I've got some writing-type questions that I thought I might air with the best and brightest of this forum and see what people think.

Best and Brightest have gone for breakfast somewhere, so I'm afraid you're rather stuck with me until they return !

This is another question- how much should the characters and imagined plot play a role, as opposed to the actual game? I've involved a lot of things which aren't "visible" in the actual Victoria saved game- people's families, relationships, beliefs etc. Will that ultimately weigh down a story that is essentially gameplay-based?

I think that if you chose a narrative or History Book AAR, the game is just here to provide you with results, cold hard facts such as "intelligence operation X failed", "battle Y was won", "ship Z was sunk", "Country ZZ declared war on its neighbour", "factory ZZZ was built in the Capital province". But these things are mere nuggets of information, that you not only have to wrap around a suitable narration, but also take into consideration when writing the next chapter. If for example your country changes its military doctrines, will generals wilfully embrace the new credo or will they (as they so often did in History) fight the new theories ? If you build 30 more infantry divisions, on't this have an effect on your country's society ? If your country becomes more asertive on the international stage, won't that change its perspective on its neighbours, and its neighbour's on it ?

Actually, just as in a modern army you need 10 logistics specialists for every fighting soldier, I think you need 10 non-game related topics to explain, introduce and support every game result.
 

likk9922

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Don't worry! If you write it, they will come. :p

You'd be surprised. There are probably a lot more people lurking around your AAr than posting. Just remember that it's about you, your vision of what would happen to the characters, your vision about how it should end. Profuse comments are nice, of course, but there are always people watching any AAr.

A character based AAr will get fewer viewers than a pure gameplay AAr too. Harder reading- it's just a fact of life.

Hope I was of assistance. :)
 

CatKnight

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likk9922 said:
A character based AAr will get fewer viewers than a pure gameplay AAr too. Harder reading- it's just a fact of life.

Hope I was of assistance. :)

*******

There was a time I would have agreed with this...but maybe not.

Another forum I'm on is discussing ways to immerse readers into your story. There are a few tricks: Giving them a say in what happens, letting them guest author or have a character in your AAR are easy enough.

Listening closely to and responding to comments is one that not enough people take advantage of, though many over the years mention it. Sometimes comments actually change my story or gameplay. I think they like that.

This other forum I'm talking about is generally very bad at comments - and not good at stories. The functional equivalent would be game play AARs. People view. They don't comment.

I sat down and started telling a story there. Yes, there was game play... but I found the more I focused on the lives of the characters, their interactions and feuds, the more comments I got. The more people started caring what happened. I once flatly asked if the storyline was getting in the way, and one reply was equally frank: "I want to hear the story. I don't care about the game."

DerKaiser - I hope you come back and read this. I can thoroughly understand story-based AARs grinding to a halt for the reasons you stated. If the comments are drying up I have a few questions of my own:

Is your posting rate dropping off considerably? You don't want to post every three hours, but a consistent rate helps convince people to come back for more. Also, sometimes people like it if they come back and there are two or three posts waiting for them.

Are YOU losing immersion in the story? Are you getting bored? If so, you could well be telegraphing this doubt and confusion. My advice there is to do what I did when my plot ran away from me: Sit down and plot it out. Where are the characters going? What needs to happen to get to the end of the story (or the chapter)?

Sometimes it's enough to throw in a new character and let them play with the others. I've done that in Resurrection. Another tactic which Stephen King used in "The Stand" when he got stuck was to kill a whole slew of them off and watch the dynamics change.

Don't be afraid to ask for help - here, or with your readers, or in PMs. Sometimes it's as simple as letting someone else hear where you're stuck and trusting their instincts.

Regarding the time passing in the AAR - That's a choice you need to make. Story based AARs almost always move much, much slower (in game time) than historical narratives, which are in turn usually slower than pure gameplay. "Resurrection" has been in 1784 for...a very long time.

It can be a little frustrating to be honest. You want to crank up the game to see what happens next - and your character wants to spend several posts courting a new love. In a character based story, he wins. In game play - you skip ahead.

I think it makes for a much richer story if you just let your characters have their way (while keeping an eye on the main plot.) Of course the question is: Is that what you want? Or do you want to talk about California's growth in the nineteenth century?
 

likk9922

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CatKnight said:
*******

There was a time I would have agreed with this...but maybe not.

Another forum I'm on is discussing ways to immerse readers into your story. There are a few tricks: Giving them a say in what happens, letting them guest author or have a character in your AAR are easy enough.

Listening closely to and responding to comments is one that not enough people take advantage of, though many over the years mention it. Sometimes comments actually change my story or gameplay. I think they like that.

This other forum I'm talking about is generally very bad at comments - and not good at stories. The functional equivalent would be game play AARs. People view. They don't comment.

I sat down and started telling a story there. Yes, there was game play... but I found the more I focused on the lives of the characters, their interactions and feuds, the more comments I got. The more people started caring what happened. I once flatly asked if the storyline was getting in the way, and one reply was equally frank: "I want to hear the story. I don't care about the game."

Part of it might simply be the low English-as-a-first-language ratio on these forums. Quite simply, a lot of Swedes/Finns will find it difficult, tedious, tiresome etc. to read through what native speaker might consider well written. Also that we have a lot of teens/young adults without the time, patience, or care for the story. And we have the people who want to see the fight and conquest, not read a story. On a more literary forum, or a larger forum, I'm not doubting that the story will probably win out in the end. But here, the dynamic might be different.
 

coz1

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likk9922 said:
Part of it might simply be the low English-as-a-first-language ratio on these forums. Quite simply, a lot of Swedes/Finns will find it difficult, tedious, tiresome etc. to read through what native speaker might consider well written. Also that we have a lot of teens/young adults without the time, patience, or care for the story. And we have the people who want to see the fight and conquest, not read a story. On a more literary forum, or a larger forum, I'm not doubting that the story will probably win out in the end. But here, the dynamic might be different.
That's the great thing about this forum, to me. There is a nice mix of various elements who enjoy different things. There is surely an audience for everyone in each style. But a story must have some car and reason for a reader to go beyond simply reading and then want to comment. Story driven work will get more views, but I know that I have enjoyed any and all readers I am able to get and try very hard to let them know that so they feel welcome and appreciated. And I have never lacked for an audience, partly for that reason and partly because I make sure and repay that favor as much as I possibly can. That definitely helps as well.
 

Estonianzulu

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Character Development

Hey everybody;

I remember, vaguely, a character development guide that was posted somewhere on the forum. I think it was LD's but I can't recall. I went trolling though the Solaarium but couldn't find it.

Anyone know where it is?/have a copy?
--
On a related topic, anyone have any good hints and tricks to developing characters that they'd like to share?