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

Secret Master

Covert Mastermind
Demi Moderator
87 Badges
Jul 9, 2001
34.960
14.076
  • 200k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • March of the Eagles
  • 500k Club
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Pride of Nations
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Crusader Kings II: Limited Collectors Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Achtung Panzer
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • King Arthur II
  • The Kings Crusade
[HomerSimpson]
Mmmmm..... Dialog.
[/HomerSimpson]

Ok, with that silliness out of the way, I will attempt to contribute what I can to the discussion.

Critics, writers, and arm-chair English folks go round and round about conveying information through dialog. On the one extreme, you have older forms of drama where everything is communicated through dialog. Since battles and violence were rarely depicted on stage (at least, in the good plays) until more recent drama and film (say Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Kid), we have messengers coming on to stage delivering lots of information in their speeches. It was through dialog, and only dialog, that the audience even knows what is going on. The other extreme would be lengthy narrative prose and poetry, where page after page is devoted to a description of a single forest. The Last of the Mohicans is a readily accessible example of this type of lengthy narrative in its first few chapters. Then you have everything in between, including some modern and post-modern works that really bend the boundary between the two with such devices as stream of consciousness.

But, for our purposes, how can we convey information through dialog? And what limitations are there to doing so? To begin with, we have to determine what is "natural" in dialog before proceeding further. When I sat down to write this post, I was fully prepared to do so; however, when listing literature in my brain to provide examples, it occurred to me that I have not been studying anyone who writes "natural" dialog (in the sense that we mean here). Shakespeare certianly does not. His dialog for his low-brow characters might be natural for his audience, but no one talks that way any more. Milton's Paradise Lost lacks this quality as well. Satan speaks like a great orator, and God has a boring feel to his speech which does not have the example we need. Joyce, Lawrence, Wolfe, and Stevenson (all of whom I have been reading of late) also have characters who do not speak in a way we would regard as natural, even though they may be speaking in an appropriate way for being a part of English (that is, United Kingdom) culture. (Except Joyce, who is doing his Irish thing.)

Another consideration is that we are a multi-national community writing for a multi-national audience. From talking with our various non-native English speaking forum members, it reminds me that what may be a natural pattern of speech for one part of our audience may not even make sense for another part. Those who learned good English from watching Flying Circus re-runs will have a slightly, but noticeably, different command of the English language than someone who grew up living in the rural South of the United States. Throwing our Canadians into this mix complicates this even further.

And let's not get into attempting to add historical flavor to the dialog...

This leaves us in the uncomfortable place of deciding how to make our dialog sound natural in the face of so much adversity. I can only offer a few guidelines, but I even feel ill at ease offering these. After all, my characters do not converse in a "natural" way, though their pattern of speech has become "normal" to my long-time readers. Let's see what we have.


  • Only have characters speak on a subject they should be speaking on: If the characters have no reason to mention something, then they shouldn't. Generals have little reason to mention the digging of latrines, and privates have no reason to discuss, in detail, the positions of the enemy. The corollary to this is that if need something mentioned in a scene that cannot be discussed by the characters in quesiton, then you need an "aside" of some sort with characters who can discuss it.

    Make use of inner dialog: Most people rarely say everything they are thinking. If information needs to be conveyed, try having a character think it to themselves. Also, related to this, is the have an inner dialog regarding something in the past that the character is "remembering," but that reader has not encountered yet.

    Tailor language to position in society: This is the rule I break the most. Have you characters speak in a way that conveys their position in society. Aristocrats should never use contractions, say "ummm," or other undignified speech (unless drunk). On the other hand, peasants should utilize bawdy humor, fragments, and uncertainty in speech. These techniques can be utilized without resorting to dialects, which are much more difficult to master.

It is also important to remember that in many cases, a writer may be doing something "wrong" in their dialog that is unique to them. Your problem with dialog, MrT, may have a completely different origin than mine or LD's. And it may require just sitting down with an installment, and saying the lines sans the narrative to pick out the problem. I'm afraid that being more specific would require a sit down with individual pieces and an indepth analysis.

With that long lecture on natural dialog out of the way, it is important to remember that dialog serves a more basic function than the communication of information. Dialog's primary purpose, I feel, is to give us a sense of character. You can learn alot about a character just by "listening" to them speak. Inner dialogs pull the curtain back even more, but I contend that when a character is speaking with another character, whatever the nature of those characters might be (robots, gods, peasants, Hannibal Lectors, etc.), we gain further insight into character. You might consider letting the narrative carry the burden of plot information and let the dialog just do character sorts of things.
 
Last edited:

HolisticGod

Beware of the HoG
49 Badges
Jul 26, 2001
5.732
37
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
All,

Another note on dialogue (and kudos SM):

I'm not disparaging the form or trivializing MrT's difficulties... Short of actually sitting down and writing, I think formulating real and interesting conversations is the greatest of the few unexpiring challenges in a writer's career. My point is only that a lot of the trouble can be (and almost always is, by a master) circumvented, rather than overcome. Keep it to short bursts that depict a realistic (within the story) exchange between characters, and remember that just because it isn't said in the text doesn't mean it hasn't been at some other time.

And avoid using dialogue as a means of escaping narration. Only the most talented of writers, who have thoroughly developed their craft, can use it well enough to make it worthwhile (a la The Sun Also Rises; that other bit about the hills that look like elaphents). Even when used competently by lesser scribes, it's rarely rewarding for all the trouble.

It's also completely unrealistic. If I want to nip off to the pub and huddle in the corner with some girl, I'm going to think about it-turn it over in my mind, imagine the possibilities, polish my lines-get dressed, put on my overcoat and a cap, walk out the front into the cold, clear, foggy, warm, sweet, etc. air, down the road and through the glass double doors and over to the bar. I will most definitely survey the room, find the most promising specimen, pop on over to see if she's feeling the way I do, in the mood for a romantic stroll, liking the song the band's playing, open to a threesome with the goat I saw outside, etc. I will also most definitely buy her a drink, chat about this and that and explain, in graphic detail, which would surely be illegal to post here, what I want to do to her, with her, with her sister, with the goat outside, etc. What I will most definitely not do, before all this, is tell my wife.

That, I think, is the point.
 
Last edited:

Craig Ashley

Prodigal Son
3 Badges
Jul 1, 2002
1.252
0
Visit site
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
Dialogue. Ick! Who needs it?:rolleyes:

I think dialogue is one of my greatest weaknesses. At times it flows wonderfully, but usually my efforts seem forced and contrived. It's strange because I've literally written hundreds of short sketches that are performed and I usually have little trouble with that. Though most of my work there is comedy and most of my writing here is serious.

One thing I try to do in a narrative is to include the other person's reaction. An example.

Bob came out yelling, "Why dirty son of a bitch, I thought you were dead."

"You only wish," was Sam's only reply.


vs.

Bob came out yelling, "Why dirty son of a bitch, I thought you were dead."

A big grin came across Sam's face. "You only wish," was Sam's reply.


That one sentance changed the whole context of the conversation. I must confess that I find it cumbersome at times to include every facial tic and reaction. So I try to find a balance.

I have a related question. When reading, how much do you try to "hear" what is being said. When I read dialogue, I imagine the person's voice. Is it a deep baratone? What sort of speech pattern does the person have? Which words would he emphasis? Does he talk fast or slow?

Say the author wrote that character 1 looked at character 2 with suspicion. When character 1 speaks with character 2, I imagine him speaking slowly and deliberately, whether or not the author has told me that.

Part of this probably comes from my experience in drama. A lot of scripts don't tell you how to read every line. The actor has to add little things like a paticular way of emphasizing words. Or being a s-l-o-w talker. Or a LOUD talker. I just do it now without thinking whenever I read anything now.
 

Director

Maestro
34 Badges
Aug 13, 2002
5.176
2.032
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
Anyone who's read "As The Spirit Moves Me" knows the extreme lengths I went to in avoiding dialog. Why? Two reasons:

1) I'm not comfortable writing dialog, for reasons I'll get into in #2, and I stuck to a 'first-person' point of view so that problem mostly didn't occur

2) If we wrote authentic dialog for the period, no-one but scholars could read it.



Not only is there the 'usual' problem of writing unforced, informative dialog to propel the story along. Not only must we strive to write something that captures a character's unique 'voice' (in music, a motif or leitmotif).

Now we've got to deal with the whole issue of language. And not just 'foreign' language - though translation of a work written in another language is an art, as any encounter with computer translation will assure you - but of the English our forum is built on, which existed in barely recognizable form in game eras.


Anyone want to tackle writing something in medieval French, latin or Chaucerian English and then translating it? :rolleyes: Not me. And not necessary.


I guess I'm more willing to suspend disbelief as a reader than as a writer (confidence issue, coming right up!), but on some level we have to know that no matter how hard we try to get the details of period and culture right, the truth of the language will escape us. So if we cannot have truth, how about a good fake? The appearance of the thing is often sufficient in fiction, so how do we achieve something that has the right sound-and-feel?

I'm bothered by things that are out-of-place and out-of-time. And certainly we're not talking about medieval monks discussing the World Cup, except for humor. But little things can either help the reader carry that load of disbelief or topple it.

But how do you go about getting the 'appearance' of correctness in the 'language' your characters speak? If it is enough for the reader to be convinced the characters are 'in character', then how do we achieve that?
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
I really appreciate the time you folks are taking to share some very interesting thoughts. I found it interesting to read SM's 3 recommendations as I've made rather heavy use of all three in my RRR. I should expand upon a couple things...

The discussion about dialogue was only part of my conversation with LD and came about because we were talking about his ongoing super-edit of his phenominal Austria AAR (see link in his sig.). He's posting this in "chapter" instalments on the wargamer site and taking the opportunity to do a bit of judicious editting as he goes along. He said that those tiny bits of editting have actually turned into a massive re-write and overhaul since he finds that he himself has learned and progressed in his writing quite markedly in the past year since he wrote it. Then he made a comment specifically about his dialogue.

Now I've been a big fan of LD dialogue since I find it hard to think of an example that doesn't flow very smoothly and naturally, so you can imagine my surprise. He went on to mention that it wasn't a matter of any one particular thing, but that sometimes there was an extra word (maybe too long a string of adjectives or something) that made it too cumbersome for actuial dialogue, or the choice of a word that "felt" wrong.

I should also mention that I'm actually very happy with my own dialogue. Nine or ten months ago I was scared shitless about trying to write any, and you'll notice in my pre-amble to Waiting For Todog that I embarked on that AAR for almost the sole purpose of forcing myself to write it by restricting myself to the play format. Over time, and with practice, I feel that I've reached a point where I'm comfortable with it and in many cases I now really enjoy writing it.

I guess I'm looking at some of the finer points of technique now in an effort to improve it even further, and I am very grateful for your thoughts about this in general.

* * * * *

Several people have mentioned the obvious problem that must of us are incapable of writing dialogue in the "appropriate" language - and even for those who could, you wouldn't because half of your audience couldn't reead or understand it. In fact, to do a 400-year AAR with dialogue you'd need to have the language you're using go through a fairly marked transition itself. :eek:

I really have no trouble in basic terms with the use of 20th century English however I do have a major problem with excessively anachronistic terms being used - and for that matter this doesn't just apply to dialogue unless you've established already that the POV is from a 20th century perspective.

Example: What would happen if I wrote the following in my RRR (set in 1439)?

"I'll be with you in a second," said the monk as he finished off the last of his coffee and knocked the burning tabacco embers from hs pipe.

Huh? "Second"? "Coffee"? "Tabacco"?

Where the heck did he get that precise a concept of time? It hadn't even been invented yet really at this point in history (arguments that it conceptually existed I will agree with but a 15th Century monk would have no concept of a "second"). Hours were sketchy at best, minutes? Possibly he could say "I'll be with you in a minute." There's no way on God's green Earth that he'd use the word "second", thus you'll find that if I need to refer to a very short period of time, I always use the more plausible "moment", "very shortly", etc.

Next...where did that tabacco come from? How about the coffee? For that matter, it's worth bearing in mind that almost all meals at this time consisted of something that you could scoop with a spoon or cut with a knife. I'd have to check sources to see if the fork existed at all, but it certainly wasn't in common use at this point.

Stuff like this really jars me when I'm reading and I take every possible precaution not to accidentally use it in my own AARs. Of course there are other things that are less anachronistic that I'll let go, but the patently obvious ones should be eliminated.

I've also seen a lot of slang or jargon that is grossly non-period that rattles my sensibilities, and even the use of some words in narrative bug me becuase they are simply too modern. Perhaps the following "rule" of thumb would work:
  • General phrasing and sentence construction can - and probably should - follow the accepted practices of modern English, however actual vocabulary should be limited to period or period-derivative words to as great a degree as possible.
I'm suggesting here that "period" should probably be considered "20th century". If you describe a 16th C knight riding across a field like a tank, I'm not going to be impressed.

* * * * *

I've been experimenting a little with dialect and cultural slang in my dialogue and find that it's extremely hard to write in the first place, it's far too easy to slip up and not be consistent with it, and it's a pain in the ass for your readers to read so half the time they don't bother (or only gloss over it). I've backed off on it, and instead have tried to modify grammar and vocabulary instead. Overall, I think that's both easier on the author and on the victi...err...reader.

I don't know a lot of people who can "write" a Scotish brough (sp?) and I know that I have a terribly difficult time reading and understanding those efforts I've seen. I think that writing a class-distinct dialogue would be best understood if simply constraining yourself to the expected education level of the speaker. Assume that royalty and nobles would be well-educated, have a broad vocabulary, would construct more complex sentences and would be very civil and polite (usually). Commoners would be more likely to talk like your 10-year old. Still using the same words, but they know fewer of them and their school-yard chums have probably taught them some words that wouldn't be used in polite society.

That isn't to suggest that the commoners would be idiots - and far from it! Simply that their communication would usually be restricted to a vocabulary of perhaps a couple thousand words at best, and they only know about the things that they would need to know about to make a living. For everything else, they would have looked to their priest or to their lord to tell them what to do.

I've also taken to injecting the occasional well-known actual language word in dialogue to remind people that we're in country X - as long as I'm sure most readers will understand it.

I think there's a certain basic vocab that most people "know". Forms of basic address (Monsieur, Herr, Senor, etc.) and some titles (Duque, Duc, Marechal, Compte, etc.) will probably not trip anyone up and can be useful reminders that you're in France/Spain/Italy/Germany... In cases like my current project, I took the advantage of this forum format to explain the terms I'd use and then have been pretty consistent in using them frequently so readers would get used to them (Kurfurst, Pfalzgraf, Ritter, etc.) since otherwise I don't think they'd understand them unless they spoke German (I know I wouldn't have until I began doing some research and bugging Sorcerer :D).

* * * * *

Sorry. This hasn't been a very well-constructed post since it's something of a stream-of-conciousness thing as I think of different things than a nicely thought out and orderly ideas. Not enough coffee yet today I guess. I hope that at least some of it makes sense.
 

Lord Durham

The Father of AARland
12 Badges
Apr 29, 2001
6.633
2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Hearts of Iron II: Beta
Busy or not, I've finally had a chance to read these rather interesting and pointed discussions. In the interests of time (mine), I've felt it more prudent to post my comments based on what I've read, as opposed to waxing MrTish, or SMish. :)

So, for what they're worth:

Originally posted by Secret Master

He mentioned that the installments were the equivalent of 5 to 15 pages from the novel. However, without counting, I have no idea how long that is in our terms. I think somewhat longer than what we do.
My typical Portugal post runs from 6 to 8 pages, created on Word, in 12pt Times New Roman font and single spaced. The word count averages 3,500.

What's all that mean? Probably squat, but I've found the above to be a comfortable reading length. Now, how do we continue to hook readers? Well, I think my next AAR will apply some of the following self-imposed writing rules. Those rules will be based on some basic ideas I wrote about earlier, in an attempt to depict the life cycle of a 'serial':

1. Resolution to the previous episode's cliffhanger.

2. Further plot and character development to lead the story through the 'big picture'.

3. A series of events that produced a mini-climax.

4. A period of resolution to the 'mini-climax'

5. A sudden and often bone jarring cliff-hanger to end the episode until we return to #1.

Will it work? One can only cross their fingers.


Originally posted by Secret Master

Dialog's primary purpose, I feel, is to give us a sense of character. You can learn alot about a character just by "listening" to them speak. Inner dialogs pull the curtain back even more, but I contend that when a character is speaking with another character, whatever the nature of those characters might be (robots, gods, peasants, Hannibal Lectors, etc.), we gain further insight into character. You might consider letting the narrative carry the burden of plot information and let the dialog just do character sorts of things.
I think that SM really nailed this one. Dialogue is most effective to establish character, convey a personal sense of surroundings and above all, allow the character to react to those people that he/she deals with on a daily basis. When handled effectively, dialogue will tell the reader more than any amount of description possibly could.

Now, to go back to the conversation that MrT and I had, I wasn't so much as criticizing the dialogue, but the use of it that can make a character sound clunky, or unrealistic. If the dialogue comes across as forced, then the characterisation will fall flat.

Dialogue should follow certain basic tenets, which are by no means law:

It should sound natural. Now, the word 'natural' can be misleading. If you ever listen to people speak (whether it's Aunt Mary, a politician, or the TV repairman) you will discover that the typical conversation is full of 'pauses', non-words like 'um', 'er', phrases like 'you know', 'like', 'what's that word'... and so on. Real 'natural' speech is not pretty. However, for our purposes, 'natural' would mean having the character say what has to be said as realistically as possible, without the extra words or other nonsensical flowery bits.

It should be used to convey information/emotion/characterisation Dialogue for the sake of dialogue is a waste of time. In essence, anything you write should be important, and should advance the story.

Avoid the 'he replied', 'she extrapolated' syndrome. Well written dialogue seldom requires these 'descriptives'. Once the writer establishes the speakers, then the dialogue should be all that's necessary to carry the reader along. That's a tough one, to be sure.

Use dialogue to 'tell'. What's that mean? Well, it's a common mistake for writers to tell, or preach to a reader through narration. The reader's are not sitting in class, but they want to be caught up in your world. This harkens back to my inaugural post, way back when. Show, don't Tell.. If you have to impart information, then do it through dialogue. After all, that's how we do it on a day to day basis.

Talk out your dialogue. This one is optional, but I find it works for me. However, I get strange looks from the wife and the dogs. If the dialogue 'sounds' realistic after shouting it for all the word to hear, then go for it. (BTW, that's how Robert E. Howard did it, and look where it got him ;) )

It's not necessary to make it sound like Chaucer, or Shakespeare. It would be nice, but hardly practical. These days, people are used to reading contracted words, and non-flowery descriptions. Try reading Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The White Company' and tell me how comfortable the prose felt, or how hard it was to 'get into it'. We are creatures of our time, so beyond getting the historical aspects right, leave the 'thee' and 'thou' in the library.


MrT mentioned the rewrite job I've undertaken on my Austrian AAR. While I find his comments extremely flattering, I should explain my reasons. The idea came from Storey, who mentioned that my direct conversion into PDF made the AAR feel clunky. When I asked him to elaborate, one of the key points was the lack of paragraph breaks. Right after that, I was approached to submit the AAR to the MGO website.

I thought, Great. I can break it up into paragraphs, correct some typos, then there we go.

Wrong! Once I had dragged it back into Word (it came out to be 118 pages in length), I began to reread it. Now, bare in mind I haven't touched the AAR for several months.

I was appalled! In fact, I was so disgusted I came close to deleting the entire thread. It just reinforces the adage about walking away from something, then returning to it for a fresh perspective. In this case, the walk-away lasted several months.

Anyway, to date I've gone through about 3/4 s of the AAR, and I can safely say that hardly a single line has escaped my wrath. Is it better? I'd like to think so. When it's finished, I'll repackage the piece in PDF form and invite the curious to read it, and perhaps compare. Otherwise, you can read the revised version over at the MGO website, where it's being posted two chapters at a time.

Crap, this was longer than I thought. :D
 

Secret Master

Covert Mastermind
Demi Moderator
87 Badges
Jul 9, 2001
34.960
14.076
  • 200k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • March of the Eagles
  • 500k Club
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Pride of Nations
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Crusader Kings II: Limited Collectors Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Achtung Panzer
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • King Arthur II
  • The Kings Crusade
It should be used to convey information/emotion/characterisation:
Dialogue for the sake of dialogue is a waste of time. In essence, anything you write should be important, and should advance the story.


I'm glad you brought this up, LD. This has to be the closest thing to a cardinal rule in writing (prose or poetry) that there ever could be. I cannot think of a single excellent author that does not follow this rule, whether they are verbose or concise. And it applies to so much more than dialog (as you mention).

This is one of the reasons I try and avoid pointless conversations between characters. Yes, my dynamic duo, the Duque de Toledo and Carlos, talk about all kinds of things, from women to wine to the airspeed velocity of unladen swallows, but the reader rarely needs to see that sort of thing. What the reader needs to see is them talking about plans for war, or the raising of Carlos's nephew.

This is also the reason I tend to be very minimal in my narrative. Since I know all of you have some inkling of what a mud hut in Africa looks like, I don't need to spend 1000 words describing it. On the other hand, if I spend alot of time describing something in narrative, that lets my readers know "Hey, this might be an important detail."

Talk out your dialogue. This one is optional, but I find it works for me. However, I get strange looks from the wife and the dogs. If the dialogue 'sounds' realistic after shouting it for all the word to hear, then go for it.

This is a really good idea, LD. And it is helpful for more than just writing. If you come across some poetry or dialog that seems difficult to read, try reading it out loud. It might be much easier to deal with then, and you might gain more insight into it. Its also not bad for picking up some "verbal" typos that people might write, but would never say.

Holistic God mentioned something interesting as well.

And avoid using dialogue as a means of escaping narration. Only the most talented of writers, who have thoroughly developed their craft, can use it well enough to make it worthwhile (a la The Sun Also Rises; that other bit about the hills that look like elaphents). Even when used competently by lesser scribes, it's rarely rewarding for all the trouble.

I would agree. There is nothing wrong with narrative to convey information. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that dialog is the "superior" part of the craft of writing. This is not true, of course. Writing is all about everything working as part of a unity, so forcing something to be dialog when it shouldn't is just as bad as forcing something to be narrative when characters should say it. It is entirely possible to have beautiful narrative without one bit of dialog. And its just as hard to write, too!
 

Lord Durham

The Father of AARland
12 Badges
Apr 29, 2001
6.633
2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Hearts of Iron II: Beta
Well, I certainly hope I'm no thread killer, so while we're on the topic of dialogue, let's try a little exercise. I've written a descriptive paragraph that's basically dull exposition. Now, I'm challenging some brave soul or three to take this passage and breath life into it through the use of dialogue.

Sir Francis of Calais was a tall man for the age, broad shouldered with dark unkempt hair and a full beard. His short temper was legendary, causing many a servant to cower in fear during one of his frequent tirades. Even the members of his immediate family dared not venture a contradictory word, at least not until the bright, fiery eyes lost their deep penetrating madness.

His wife Eleanor, a comely women barely half his 40 years, silently cursed her parents for the arranged marriage that had saddled her with this overbearing brute. On the outside, to all who saw her, the flaxen-haired woman presented an aura of grace and dignity. Indeed, her sharp mind had managed to keep the Knight's modest lands from forfeiture, though Sir Francis was too ignorant, drunk, or both to totally appreciate the severity of his situation.

Still, Eleanor continued in her role as the dutiful wife, though often, during the times of her darkest despair, the young woman's thoughts would drift to Sir Geoffrey of York, a young knight with golden hair and a ready smile...



Any takers?
 

Faeelin

Field Marshal
75 Badges
Dec 15, 2001
7.067
1.009
Visit site
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Surviving Mars
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For The Glory
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Victoria 2
Mr T:

I disagree about your tobacco smoking, coffee drinking monk. Historical accuracy is to be desired, but not at the expense of the story. To use the Free Company as an example: (Since what is it but a collaborative writing of several writers).

I'm not worked up when I see common soldiers drinking glasses of wine and from bottles, when historically they were all drinking from leather sacks and barrels. Nor am I that surprised when I see 20th century values grafted onto these characters. Historically, mercenary companies joined the Turks in attacking Byzantium because it was more profitable. This isn't to say the Free company couldn't exist, but if you were to act historically it wouldn't be as enjoyable.

Example:

"The Captain thought about the Greek's offer. They were heretics, and did not accept the superiority of the Pope. They routinely boasted that they would prefer the Turk to the Pope. Why not give them the chance?

Still, the Captain thought, they would pay well. And he could always betray the Greeks and sell the city to Murad. Yes, that would be very fitting."

Historically, this is what would have happened. And it is what happened, because according to some sources the Turks were let into the city. You discuss the concept of a second as being invented yet, but some of the other concepts we've seen in the AARS weren't invented at the time (Oh, such as that it's wrong to go invade your neighbor's lands because he's rich and weak). The concept of a second is no more unhistorical than that of common soldier's questioning their king's orders.

Oh, and they did have the concept of a moment. And since instead of saying a moment we'd say a second, even that's not that bad.

And I personally would love to hear a story about a knight with a tank. How did he get it? How did he fuel it and supply it with ammo, and learn how to use it?

Most importantly, now that he has enough firepower to singlehandedly smash all the armies and walls in Italy, what will he do? :D
 

Craig Ashley

Prodigal Son
3 Badges
Jul 1, 2002
1.252
0
Visit site
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
Faeelin, I think you have misintrepreted MrT's thoughts. The way I read it, he would be unimpressed to hear the approach of knights compared to or described as a tank.

It all comes to keeping your narrative in character just like dialogue. Certain ahistorical facts can easily slip into any AAR, and I'm willing to forgive them. I do ask that you keep any obviously modern references i.e. tanks out of the descriptive language unless there is a good reason.

Abdul in your own AAR would be able to compare cavalry to tanks because he has seen a tank. Yusuf, on the other hand, has no such point of reference.

In a way the narrative portions are similar to dialogue in that the piece should be written through the eyes of a certian character. MrT's RRR is a really good example of this. In my own narrative sections, I frequently splice in the thoughts or feelings of whatever character is my focal point for that scene. I actually find this a lot easier than writing dialogue.

Anyway, good discussion all. LD, let me roll that around in my head and see if I can come up with anything. I'm not making any promises, but we'll see.:)
 

Cat Lord

Moderator
Moderator
64 Badges
May 13, 2002
10.842
11
www.revolutionundersiege.com
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • Warlock 2: Wrath of the Nagas
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Hearts of Iron II: Beta
  • Magicka: Wizard Wars Founder Wizard
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Surviving Mars
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Divine Wind
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
Sorry I have not been in the Solarium in awhile and I hope I will not disturb any ongoing thread, here is my discussion topic:

Norg and I seem to suffer severe "inspiration drought" for the moment.

I was knowing it would be difficult to keep up the pace with an AAR, but I think it is especially difficult with very a-historical one, because this is just stretching the game's narrative possibilities very far away.

What do you think ?

How to overcome with loss of inspiration ?

Cat
 

unmerged(4007)

En Til'Za
May 23, 2001
2.627
0
Visit site
Throw a monkey wrench in your works. Introduce a new adversary for your character, think from a different perspective. In short, the best way to break a writer's block IMHO is a change in perspective.

Which is easier said than done.:D
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Lord Durham
Well, I certainly hope I'm no thread killer, so while we're on the topic of dialogue...Any takers?
I'm game. Expect an attempt from me in the next day or two...

One comment though: aren't you asking for a block of dialogue that breaks your own "rule" that
Dialogue for the sake of dialogue is a waste of time. In essence, anything you write should be important, and should advance the story.
There's no storyline in your exercise so what story advance is being made (or should we make one up)?

In the interim...

Faeelin: Sorry, but in my opinion unexplained historical inaccuracies detract from an AAR that is otherwise being presented in a format in keeping with the time period. When the AAR is written in a style that introduces such possibilities, fire away. :)

Craig: That's pretty much what I had in mind. Obviously the whole issue of what's apocryphal and what isn't leads to some pretty grey areas - particularly to the areas Faeelin points to with emotions, thought processes and actions - but certainly the more obvious adjectives and comparisons whould be avoided if it's not in keeping with the rest of the presentation.

Cat: when you figure it out, let me know since I seem to be in a bit of one right now and am amusing myself with contributions to other peoples' AARs instead. When it just isn't flowing...maybe taking a couple weeks off and playing with sonething else will rekindle the interest (although sadly it will hurt your reasdership).

shawng1: you can say that again! :D
 

HolisticGod

Beware of the HoG
49 Badges
Jul 26, 2001
5.732
37
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
All,

On anachronistic writing, I have to agree (largely) with Faeelin... Contextually, given that we're playing a game with history, who's to say coffee, tobacco and, yes, mechanized warfare weren't stumbled upon earlier than was historical? Ditto on artistic license.

However, when it comes to realistic values in the hearts of individual soldiers and commanders, I would say that anything is fair game. Remember that Erasmus was born only forty-seven years into the time period, Ficino only a decade and Petrarch and Boccaccio had been and gone. While their work probably wasn't widely read in the general community, it was the general community that produced them, and it was not only possible, but probable, that humanism was having a genuine affect on the commons by the end of the fourteenth century. More importantly, Augustine railed against war, monarchy, poverty and wealth a millennia earlier, and his works were certainly diffused among the classes that produced the soldiery.

I certainly don't dispute that the moral crises of every officer in the Free Company and the like are indicative of the moral crises of the age, but to suggest that vanity and greed were the motivating force in most every resolution is plainly false. The Enlightenment wasn't produced spontaneously and without precedent-the same values we accept, at least in name, weren't unheard of then, or ever. I think it's cynical to reduce a people whose dissension probably hasn't survived the years to mere brutes, Thomas Hobbes be damned. :D
 

Director

Maestro
34 Badges
Aug 13, 2002
5.176
2.032
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
Anachronisms - sigh. Heavy sigh.

(Makes a big pot of Russian Caravan tea, very strong and very sweet).


For me it all comes back to suspension of disbelief, and the point at which that burden of disbelief comes crashing down. Sometimes accompanied by a book becoming airborne, which books handle better than monitors. Is there a market for computers that can take a pounding? But I digress...

I can appreciate an author going to the trouble of detailing bread trenchers and wooden cups, but I can probably handle pottery and crude glass. Describing a knight as a tank is right out unless the observer is familiar with tanks - ie, from the modern era.



Contentious point number one:
Everything we write is a 'translation' of thought and view.

There is NO accurate AAR, and there never will be, I believe. Go live in the woods, hunt your food, learn to smith weapons and tan skins. Become an expert on medieval languages... :) fight your neighbors with swords! (Now that one I like.) :cool:

Obviously, no-one will or can do this (and it probably wouldn't be interesting if they did. If we recommended this to new authors it would certainly thin out the board). But the other extreme ("tanklike the knights rumbled down the smoothly paved road, lances questing like laser-seeking gun barrels") is equally ridiculous.

And equally rare, thank heaven, which brings me to -



Contentious point number two:
There is a standard that is mutually-agreed-upon and well-understood even though ill-defined, to which we as a group usually adhere.

Verisimilitude - the appearance of truth - is enough. It MUST be enough, since we will never have truth. And MORE verisimilitude is usually better than less. But like pepper, supporting facts should be carefully chosen and meticulously researched and carefully used.

There are things - like a noon feast lit by daylight through wide castle windows - that we would probably wince at. But there are things - and character behaviors - that we accept and pass over, largely because they don't trouble us as much, though they may be as false as that day-lit feast.

We are embedded in our beliefs and attitudes. We can be freed from them for shorter or longer periods of time - such is one of the purposes and joys of literature - but we are anchored by them, and we are comfortable with characters who share our thoughts and hopes. Even a raving, sword-swinging, heretic-burning, blood-thirsty tyrant can appeal to that little part of you that daydreams of wreaking havoc on - say - a boss or co-worker. But a truly evil character would disturb us and we would not read. (Yes, you can rise to a pinnacle of literary skill and fascinate us with Hannibal Lecter. But the real heroes are the ones who contend with him, and only a disturbed person would admire and seek to emulate the cannibal).



Contentious point number three:
We are writing to entertain - and inform. We are reading to be entertained - and to be informed. That which increases our pleasure is good - and will be rewarded.

One of the greatest gifts an author can bring to me is what I call 'transparency'. Drop me into the scene, let me lose myself in a different world. Do nothing to disturb my immersion. Don't talk about a device or an idea - show me what it is and how it works - and show me how the characters think and feel about it. Complete, seamless, transparent immersion - with nothing to dispell the illusion that I am enjoying so much. Bliss!

If the author can refrain from 'obvoius' errors that increase that wicked burden of disbelief, and occaisionally ADD a detail or two that would lighten it - well, that's moving in the right direction. But if you really, truly want to give me a gift, tell me things I don't know. Facts are nice, comprehension of a mindset or a situation is better. And never, never lie to me. I can accept that you write based on the best info available at the time. I cannot accept that you didn't bother to check.



Contentious point number four:
So after all this long-winded set-up, this's the trap I see most falling into - attempting to add to the value of a scene by throwing in detail that, if wrong, destroys the scene.

You can, for example, give a fine description of a feast while not talking much about what's being eaten, or what's being used as implements - though probably not by ignoring both. Lack of detail may not INCREASE the passage's flavor, but detail you add for flavor may DESTROY it. To stretch the point, if you intend to flavor your passage with a little salt, don't grab the sugar by mistake.



The first rule is: Unless your are SURE of the truth of a fact or belief, don't mention it.

The second rule is: When in doubt, GOOGLE. Research, research, research. And, of course, research. ;)

The third rule is: it's what you know that isn't so that is the danger. Preconceptions and assumptions are wonderful, time-saving things, but like all pieces of art they need to be examined from time to time.




HolisticGod - I can accept that some things are discovered at different times than in our history, got no problem with that.

What I do have a serious problem with is people overturning belief systems with casual contempt. What is sometimes not appreciated is that an EU2 government, or church, or tactical system was not usually arrived at by whim. They may not seem sophisticated by our standards, but they were the product of intense thought and practical experience. They may have been tradition-bound or contained elements that seem ridiculous to us, but all of it at one time had some use.

Which is, I think, part of the point you were making. :)
 

HolisticGod

Beware of the HoG
49 Badges
Jul 26, 2001
5.732
37
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
Director,

I agree-I think that was incidental to my post.

By the same token, and this was the point I was making, those belief systems, and the governments, churches, laws, etc., they precipitated, were not unopposed or unmaligned. It's easy to mark Erasmus as the first post-classical secular humanist, John Locke as the first post-classical free market libertarian, Thomas Paine as the first post-classical socialist, but the truth of it is that every people in every age struggle with those questions. The difference between the 15th and 18th centuries is that dissent in the former was largely suppressed, so thoroughly that only records of a very few popular uprisings and major movements survive, while in the latter history is chiefly an account of popular uprisings and movements, major and minor.

My position is simply that the people described in AAR's are and should be complex and conflicted, not automatons bent to the preservation of God and Country-much like people today.

Douglas Adams has become something of a fixation around here, but to quote him just one more time---

"The past is truly like a foreign country now. They do everything the same there."
 

unmerged(4007)

En Til'Za
May 23, 2001
2.627
0
Visit site
On the modern values in the game. Some good points on the humanism issue. But let's not take this too far, the humanists of the day were still almost entirely believers, they would be appalled at what is called humanism today. I try not to say anything on other people's AARs, but I'll pitch my beef on the subject here since it's been brought up already. I find it more than a little annoying that all "enlightened" rulers in people's games are atheist or agnostic. The concept that these were equated didn't even occur until the end of the game period. And even then Deism was still more prevalent.

I realize religion is a touchy subject, but it's one thing to give it short shrift. It's another to import modern assumptions into a period where they didn't exist. In short, I think it's fair to expect quality writing to honestly set forth the real values of the people at the time--or at the very least portray the rare exception as a rare exception and force the character to deal with the consequences (social ostracization, excommunication, if a ruler, popular uprisings supported by the church, etc.). The idea that a person could be an agnostic even without even being noticed as odd is brutally anachronistic, and jarring to me as a reader whenever I see it.
 

Secret Master

Covert Mastermind
Demi Moderator
87 Badges
Jul 9, 2001
34.960
14.076
  • 200k Club
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • March of the Eagles
  • 500k Club
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Pride of Nations
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Crusader Kings II: Limited Collectors Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Achtung Panzer
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • King Arthur II
  • The Kings Crusade
I think I will jump in here and offer a quick bit of advice regarding religion in our writing.



It is helpful to remember that human beings can act in hypocritical or paradoxical ways without even realizing it. For example, your typical Machiavellian ruler might use murder, lies, and theft to advance his political cause, even while considering himself a devout and pious Christian. Is this a ridiculous notion? Yes. Is it plausible and perhaps even normal? Yes.


The point is that being a realpolitik ruler does not preclude a devout stance towards religion. There is no doubt in my mind that when the various princes and rulers began adopting Protestant rites in rejection of Catholic ones, they considered themselves still very Christian. It may have been politically useful to switch religion, but the idea was that they were still Christian and held on to a belief in God (and everything that goes along with that). I think if we keep that in mind, it will improve our writing substantially.
 

Craig Ashley

Prodigal Son
3 Badges
Jul 1, 2002
1.252
0
Visit site
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
An interesting little debate here. Let add my meager thoughts to the mix. Religion and the AAR. Hmmmmm.

First off, I do believe there have always been agnostic or athiest types. I think that those in power may have been a little more prone to such beliefs. Seeing the dirty, political nature of the Papacy could have such an influence. Granted in this period they had to be in the closet and were still the exception.

But why do such characters dominate the modern AAR? I think because for most folks it easier to write for a cynical atheist, than a devout believer. It's a more modern mindset, thus easier for the modern writer. Plus, add our modern values and how we love to see the hypocritical nature of many rulers who raped and pillaged their way through history and then claimed to be devout followers of the Church and God. It's far easier to have this ruler see the Church solely as a political device and not care about religion or God at all.

As shawng stated, religion is a touchy topic and many folks prefer to avoid it. It's ashame because it was so key to the period and in most people's individual lives as well.
 

Craig Ashley

Prodigal Son
3 Badges
Jul 1, 2002
1.252
0
Visit site
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
Here is my attempt at the exercise LD provided. Feel free to slice my self esteem into tiny shreds.;) To allow for easy comparison, I also have LD's original text. That way everyone can compare my efforts to the assigned material.

Seriously, I would greatly appreciate any in-depth analysis or suggestions. Feel free to say anything.

Sir Francis of Calais was a tall man for the age, broad shouldered with dark unkempt hair and a full beard. His short temper was legendary, causing many a servant to cower in fear during one of his frequent tirades. Even the members of his immediate family dared not venture a contradictory word, at least not until the bright, fiery eyes lost their deep penetrating madness.

His wife Eleanor, a comely women barely half his 40 years, silently cursed her parents for the arranged marriage that had saddled her with this overbearing brute. On the outside, to all who saw her, the flaxen-haired woman presented an aura of grace and dignity. Indeed, her sharp mind had managed to keep the Knight's modest lands from forfeiture, though Sir Francis was too ignorant, drunk, or both to totally appreciate the severity of his situation.

Still, Eleanor continued in her role as the dutiful wife, though often, during the times of her darkest despair, the young woman's thoughts would drift to Sir Geoffrey of York, a young knight with golden hair and a ready smile...


“Damn him to Hell. Damn his royal ass to Hell!” Sir Francis of Calais was in a foul mood again. The shattered dishes lay as proof. “How does the king expect me to pay these new taxes? I can barely pay the old ones!”

Eleanor silently cursed her parents for giving her to this brooding brute. “My dearest husband, I'm certain you will manage to meet your obligations.”

Sir Francis took another swig from the now nearly empty bottle of wine. Some dribbled down into his dark beard. “How? How can I pay what I do not have?” A servant crept in, intending to clear the table. A saucer aimed at his head was his reward. “Begone, you lowly dog or you'll spend the night in the stocks.”

Eleanor remained quite. She knew what the look in his eyes meant. Between that wild stare and his long, dark unkempt hair, Francis appeared to be more beast than man. Though he was 40 years old, he still had the strength of a young man.

“Well? What do you propose my beautiful, flaxen-haired wife? What does your pretty little head think? Shall I pull the gold out of my ass? Or piss it in liquid form?”

Quickly, her mind raced. She was walking along the tightrope. One false step would send her crashing to the ground. “Perhaps His Majesty would accept an alternate form of payment? I heard Sir Geoffrey of York is supplying horses and grain instead of gold. Could you do the same?”

“Of course, that Geoffrey was always the sly one. That is what I shall do. Be glad you have a husband who is so astute. Many other men would be ruined by now.” With that his hulking frame disappeared. He was off to terrorize another wing of the manor.

Eleanor never even heard her husband's response. The mention of Sir Geoffrey was enough to distract her. She dreamed of a life that could have been.