taking over done ideas and making them interesting

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taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by fruityloops » Tue 20 Feb 2018, 18:50

We have heard of elves, dwarves, orcs, gnomes, and dragons but has anyone heard of Dreydai? I'm concerned that my recent conworld may feel too run of the mill as it does have things similar to these creatures yet the setting is basically a world where continents and islands float over the ocean. A few don't mostly do its lack of magical energy that's holding it up. The setting takes inspiration from a few Mesoamerican cultures with some medieval European ones, notably Spain. Lastly, I don't want to forget Mediterranean culture in general.

the reason I’m doing this is some idea that ended up in my head after having a dream yesterday. It reminded me of my old idea when I was younger. I thought of resurrecting the idea and tweaking it would avoid not being too similar to my other conworld. The setting has races of otter people and tiger men for one thing. So if you had an idea that’s been done before, how did you execute it differently?

My take on dragons are that they're a race of beings that descended from power beast when the world was still young. In there mostly human form, they have markings on their backs that turn into wings they need them. Many of their kind served as warriors and protectors of my setting until they all were killed off by mage that could raise the dead (i'm still trying to find a different name for necromancer). Thankfully they can reincarnate into new bodies when they die.
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by elemtilas » Tue 20 Feb 2018, 23:37

fruityloops wrote:
Tue 20 Feb 2018, 18:50
We have heard of elves, dwarves, orcs, gnomes, and dragons but has anyone heard of Dreydai? I'm concerned that my recent conworld may feel too run of the mill as it does have things similar to these creatures
Well, nihil novum sub sole and all that. I gave up worrying too much about whether The World, or even any other setting I like to or would like to read has a sufficient novelty quotient or not. Even if the ideas are old or done a thousand times, if they're done well and the story is engaging and the world well developed, I'll happily read it! After all, I read & reread every Discworld novel multiple times, even though, and especially in the later ones, it's basically the same underlying story type over and over.

Work at churning the mundane into something just a little more delightful and you'll never have to worry about everyone having heard of elves and dwarves.

yet the setting is basically a world where continents and islands float over the ocean. A few don't mostly do its lack of magical energy that's holding it up. The setting takes inspiration from a few Mesoamerican cultures with some medieval European ones, notably Spain. Lastly, I don't want to forget Mediterranean culture in general.
Lots of good ingredients there. Especially drawing inspiration from the Americas and early Spain. Also, floating landmasses are interesting and there's a lot you can do with those. Good solid mythology, you basic floating island.
So if you had an idea that’s been done before, how did you execute it differently?

My take on dragons are that they're a race of beings that descended from power beast when the world was still young. In there mostly human form, they have markings on their backs that turn into wings they need them. Many of their kind served as warriors and protectors of my setting until they all were killed off by mage that could raise the dead (i'm still trying to find a different name for necromancer). Thankfully they can reincarnate into new bodies when they die.
Well, there are no floating lands in Yeola so that's one down. Well, anymore, since the few there were floated away long long ago...

But dragons, yeah. And Elves. And lots of other folks & places of legend and myth.

My take on dragons is that they're cute little feathery fellows, quite suitable as pets. They get along, strangely enough, with cats and work well in the vermin control business. You just have to keep em away from your jewelry box, as they do fancy a bit of bling, especially gold and rubies, and are not particular as to where they get it from!

My take on Elves is that they are the glamorous bad buys. They project such intense glamours of beauty, sensuality and seem, so wise and fair that few can resist them. And they tire of you, snuff you and leave your crumpled body where it fell without any thought about the matter at all. Getting back more to the malicious elves & fairies of mythology.

My other take on Elves is to contemplate the (theological & spiritual) implications underlying Tolkien type Elves. These would be the Teyor, fully unfallen Men, and the implications their existence in a partially fallen world have.
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Salmoneus » Wed 21 Feb 2018, 01:10

fruityloops wrote:
Tue 20 Feb 2018, 18:50
So if you had an idea that’s been done before, how did you execute it differently?
I think this is the wrong way to think about things.

I think if you go into things with that perspective, you focus too much on "ideas" - little "hey wouldn't it be cool if" slogans - and you get the idea that the solution to a failure to implement one idea is just another idea. That is, if you go in with this mindset, you start asking questions like "what variation on this idea could I introduce to make it different?"

...and I don't think that works, because ideas are the wrong level to be working at - they're vague, repetitive, distant. When you try to solve problems with ideas, you find it very hard to get good ideas, and that ideas by themselves don't really fix anything. You need ideas, of course, but I think that, particularly if you're not certain about the ideas, it's good to transition from ideas to content as quickly as possible.

What do I mean by content? I mean filling in the folder that has the 'idea' as the name on the front page. Metaphorically speaking. Take an idea and ask: OK, so what does that mean? Specifically in fiction you ask: what does that mean for what can and will happen in my plot? In conworld it's less clearcut, of course, but it's probably still useful to think about what the idea means for which plots can take place in your setting.

If the answer is "this makes no significant difference", then the idea is just fluff, not a real concept. There is a role for fluff, of course. Fluff is window-dressing, and it can change how people feel about a work. But fluff doesn't fundamentally change anything - you can't build on fluff. It's like trying to build a house out of cool wallpaper. Instead, to form a story, you need some sort of content - something that makes it a different story from other stories. And when you have content, you find that content is always slightly different, so that the problem of an 'overdone idea' goes away.

So think: which ideas are going to be fluff, and which ideas are going to be content? The latter, you need to take seriously (fluff can be serious or silly depending on genre, but even in a comedy it's wise to take the core content seriously, or else it all falls apart). How does this idea actually change things?
My take on dragons are that they're a race of beings that descended from power beast when the world was still young.
This, for instance, sounds like fluff. Whether you call something a "dragon" or a "power beast" doesn't change anything about the story.
In there mostly human form, they have markings on their backs that turn into wings they need them.
This is also probably fluff. "Unusual physical features that don't stop someone from being attractive" are a very easily and widespread form of fluff in SF&F settings. Wings could be content, but I suspect they aren't in this case, if they're wings on a shapeshifter.

I'd also take the opportunity to suggest: think about your assumptions. Why on earth do dragons have "a mostly human form"? I know it's traditional in D&D for dragons to be spellcasters who can use shapeshifting spells and for narrative purposes often appear looking like humans - but you don't have to copy D&D. But if you do - why wouldn't the dragons just make themselves look like humans, rather than humans with a visually-identifiable aberration? There could be a reason, of course - and that reason could even be content. But not until you actually interrogate that assumption.
Many of their kind served as warriors
Probably fluff (what species doesn't have many of their kind serve as warriors?).
and protectors
definitely fluff, 'protector' isn't a job description.
of my setting until they all were killed off
Potential content! How does everyone being murdered affect their politics and psychology? Well, the obvious answer would be that it eliminates it because they're all dead, but...
by mage that could raise the dead
fluff
(i'm still trying to find a different name for necromancer).
Fluff! Finding a different name for things we all know the real words for is, at best, something you can leave until the actual book/conworld/whatever has been made - that's an editing decision of no actual significance. I'd also suggest that you not try too hard, because "calling things by silly names even though we know what they really are" is one of the most irritating clichés in bad writing, which tends to make people suspect that the rest of the worldbuilding may be equally superficial.
Thankfully they can reincarnate into new bodies when they die.
Well, that sounds like content. What consequences do immortality and invulnerability have? Of course, it means that the whole 'killed by necromancers' thing is definitely just fluff, since nobody's actually died and nobody's been killed, they've just been inconvenienced...
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by fruityloops » Wed 21 Feb 2018, 05:06

Salmoneus wrote:
Wed 21 Feb 2018, 01:10
fruityloops wrote:
Tue 20 Feb 2018, 18:50
So if you had an idea that’s been done before, how did you execute it differently?
I think this is the wrong way to think about things.

I think if you go into things with that perspective, you focus too much on "ideas" - little "hey wouldn't it be cool if" slogans - and you get the idea that the solution to a failure to implement one idea is just another idea. That is, if you go in with this mindset, you start asking questions like "what variation on this idea could I introduce to make it different?"

...and I don't think that works, because ideas are the wrong level to be working at - they're vague, repetitive, distant. When you try to solve problems with ideas, you find it very hard to get good ideas, and that ideas by themselves don't really fix anything. You need ideas, of course, but I think that, particularly if you're not certain about the ideas, it's good to transition from ideas to content as quickly as possible.

What do I mean by content? I mean filling in the folder that has the 'idea' as the name on the front page. Metaphorically speaking. Take an idea and ask: OK, so what does that mean? Specifically in fiction you ask: what does that mean for what can and will happen in my plot? In conworld it's less clearcut, of course, but it's probably still useful to think about what the idea means for which plots can take place in your setting.

If the answer is "this makes no significant difference", then the idea is just fluff, not a real concept. There is a role for fluff, of course. Fluff is window-dressing, and it can change how people feel about a work. But fluff doesn't fundamentally change anything - you can't build on fluff. It's like trying to build a house out of cool wallpaper. Instead, to form a story, you need some sort of content - something that makes it a different story from other stories. And when you have content, you find that content is always slightly different, so that the problem of an 'overdone idea' goes away.

So think: which ideas are going to be fluff, and which ideas are going to be content? The latter, you need to take seriously (fluff can be serious or silly depending on genre, but even in a comedy it's wise to take the core content seriously, or else it all falls apart). How does this idea actually change things?
My take on dragons are that they're a race of beings that descended from power beast when the world was still young.
This, for instance, sounds like fluff. Whether you call something a "dragon" or a "power beast" doesn't change anything about the story.
In there mostly human form, they have markings on their backs that turn into wings they need them.
This is also probably fluff. "Unusual physical features that don't stop someone from being attractive" are a very easily and widespread form of fluff in SF&F settings. Wings could be content, but I suspect they aren't in this case, if they're wings on a shapeshifter.

I'd also take the opportunity to suggest: think about your assumptions. Why on earth do dragons have "a mostly human form"? I know it's traditional in D&D for dragons to be spellcasters who can use shapeshifting spells and for narrative purposes often appear looking like humans - but you don't have to copy D&D. But if you do - why wouldn't the dragons just make themselves look like humans, rather than humans with a visually-identifiable aberration? There could be a reason, of course - and that reason could even be content. But not until you actually interrogate that assumption.
Many of their kind served as warriors
Probably fluff (what species doesn't have many of their kind serve as warriors?).
and protectors
definitely fluff, 'protector' isn't a job description.
of my setting until they all were killed off
Potential content! How does everyone being murdered affect their politics and psychology? Well, the obvious answer would be that it eliminates it because they're all dead, but...
by mage that could raise the dead
fluff
(i'm still trying to find a different name for necromancer).
Fluff! Finding a different name for things we all know the real words for is, at best, something you can leave until the actual book/conworld/whatever has been made - that's an editing decision of no actual significance. I'd also suggest that you not try too hard, because "calling things by silly names even though we know what they really are" is one of the most irritating clichés in bad writing, which tends to make people suspect that the rest of the worldbuilding may be equally superficial.
Thankfully they can reincarnate into new bodies when they die.
Well, that sounds like content. What consequences do immortality and invulnerability have? Of course, it means that the whole 'killed by necromancers' thing is definitely just fluff, since nobody's actually died and nobody's been killed, they've just been inconvenienced...


whelp, here I go. I may not understand what you mean by fluff since this isn't for a rpg but a background for my setting. But, to answer your question, the current story deals with a reincarnated soul Ignfor, a dragon that fought for the tribes of Ignima, his homeland. now he resides in the body of a earth boy named randy griffin who doesn't remember his past life as him. Since many of the dragons/mythiks were killed off, it was becoming increasingly harder for them to defend their clans against the armies of the undead. The last remaining are still trying to find others who have reincarnated to live on the legacy of their kind. Randy ends up getting summoned by a Dreydai girl (a sort of elf like being with a tail) he's the key to possibly uniting the kingdoms. the twist is that he isn't the only one to do this task as others are doing this as well. the tone for the setting is neutral but light hearted with a feel of adventure but also dread as many of its flora and fauna are deadly, especially in the Lands of the Ferox (wild).

The reason the dragons are the way they are is as a means of self control. If they stay in their full dragon form all the time they might eventually end up losing control. A few of managed but it's hard to pull off without endangering anyone. Same applies to other mythik kin like them.
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Lambuzhao » Sat 24 Feb 2018, 12:16

I don't know about 're-hashing is good / re-hashing is bad' ,

But I am already in line for the book & then the tix to see the feature length adaptation that pits Ottermen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kushtaka

and their Otter King
https://treesforlife.org.uk/forest/myth ... ore/otter/
Spoiler:
Heck, they might even herd dugongs or river-dolphins (?!), and farm shellfish
to supplement their diet of fish, crabs, turtles, snakes and small caiman (?!?!?)

against the talons of the Harimau jadian or Harimau akuan
In AD&D, they were known as Rakshasa, a borrowing from Hindu mythos

There's a great mashup of Tlingit, Caledonian, and Malay cultures (and maybe So Am Amazonian & Classical Hindi as well) just burbling to the brim all chock-a-block of tales to be told.

All right, on with it, then!
(fingers tapping in expectation)
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Lambuzhao » Sat 24 Feb 2018, 12:22

So if you had an idea that’s been done before, how did you execute it differently?
I do not think that IMO the Ottermen versus the Streak of Rakshasa (sorry, old habits die hard) has not been so done, and if it has, I ain't seen it none.

Bring on the Ottermen versus the Streek of Rakhsasha (avoiding copyright infringement) , I say!

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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Lambuzhao » Sat 24 Feb 2018, 12:26

SInce the riverine/aquatic habits of the Ottermen would be in fuller force, maybe make them have the dragon tattoos, and be able to megazord (or whatever you call it) into a Chinese-style water dragon. They can fly, can't they? They just sort of serpentine thru the clouds, like Falcor the Dogfaced, or be able to take super water-propelled leaps into the air like the Manda reference in Samurai Jack Season 5.

:?: :?: :?: :?:
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Lambuzhao » Sat 24 Feb 2018, 12:27

(next working Title)

Ottermen and the Slash of Harimau
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Lambuzhao » Sat 24 Feb 2018, 12:35

And the Ottermen may grow forests of coconut palms on riverine/lacustrine chinampa-style islets, to feed casts of Robber Crabs
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_crab

whose flesh is said to be imbued with the spirits of dead ancestral ottermen....


Okay, I'm done now. [B)]

It's your story, Fruityloops; roll with it.

But, suffice it to say, you got me at a good moment.

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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Lambuzhao » Sat 24 Feb 2018, 12:43

One more
other word for necromancer
Real pot-shot here:

Corpse-caster?
Revenantor?? Revenanteur??
Quickener?
Enghaster?
Undeadwright????
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by elemtilas » Sat 24 Feb 2018, 17:11

Lambuzhao wrote:
Sat 24 Feb 2018, 12:43
One more
other word for necromancer
Real pot-shot here:

Corpse-caster?
Revenantor?? Revenanteur??
Quickener?
Enghaster?
Undeadwright????
I like the sound of quickener!

Revenanteur sounds a lot like a shady used lich-warrior huckster.
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Axiem » Mon 26 Feb 2018, 17:14

Mto's necromancy (such as it is) is known as thanatology in English, but the world is also running under the idea that what we call "magic", they consider just part of "science", so all of the branches of "magic" are given their (English) names more in line with our scientific disciplines. (In-world is different, because they don't speak English!)

In N. K. Jemisin's The Broken Earth trilogy, all of the scientific studies have an ending of -mestry instead of -ology, which is enough to seem different while still making it clear what's being talked about. You could come up with something like that, changing the -mancy to some other ending to make it alien but recognizable.
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by alynnidalar » Tue 27 Feb 2018, 17:03

Or just use regular words for it. There's no need to call a rabbit a smeerp. Changing the name of something doesn't automatically make it interesting. If your necromancers are interesting, they're going to be interesting even if you just call them "necromancers".

Relevant xkcd.
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Axiem » Tue 27 Feb 2018, 19:27

alynnidalar wrote:
Tue 27 Feb 2018, 17:03
There's no need to call a rabbit a smeerp.
I generally agree with this advice; you shouldn't make up a whole bunch of words just because.

However, words do have cultural connotations to readers. Readers do have expectations on what words mean, and what they imply. "Rabbit" is not generally one of those words, but "necromancy" is. I can see, if you're trying to move away from those cultural connotations, you might want to pick a different word, one that better captures how the conculture views the thing in question. Or, how everything ties together; the word probably wouldn't exist on its own, but in tandem with other branches of magic. (In Mto, all the branches of magic/science are scientific terms (some archaic or obscure) in English, to reinforce the underlying viewpoint of the culture that it's a branch of science. Thanatology by itself would stick out like a sore thumb, but it works better when listed as a sub-discipline of biology, alongside zoology or pharmacology (also, thanatology is a word found in dictionaries, for whose who don't know Greek roots offhand))

That said, if the defining attribute of the magic school is "raise people from the dead", I'm struggling to think of something better than "necromancer". (And googling "someone who raises the dead" drops necromancy near the top, so...)

I also agree with the sentiment that you don't have to call it something cool to make it interesting; it can be interesting with a word people already know. And giving it a different, edgy name doesn't make it interesting on its face.

It's definitely finding that balance between other assumptions people will have based on the words you choose and being consistent in-world and making it interesting to read. But on a first pass, I'd say there's nothing at all wrong with just calling them a necromancer, and if you really come up with something better latter, that's what find/replace is for.
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Lambuzhao » Wed 28 Feb 2018, 16:22

alynnidalar wrote:
Tue 27 Feb 2018, 17:03
Or just use regular words for it. There's no need to call a rabbit a smeerp. Changing the name of something doesn't automatically make it interesting. If your necromancers are interesting, they're going to be interesting even if you just call them "necromancers".

Relevant xkcd.
Of course, there's J.R.R.'s take on the whole thing:

The Fellowship of Quenya and Istari were charged with protecting the Hildor, Rohirrim and Hobbit-kinds with the Light of Eärendil, which was like the light of the Sun, only awesomer.

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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by Lambuzhao » Wed 28 Feb 2018, 16:32

Axiem wrote:
Tue 27 Feb 2018, 19:27
alynnidalar wrote:
Tue 27 Feb 2018, 17:03
There's no need to call a rabbit a smeerp.
I generally agree with this advice; you shouldn't make up a whole bunch of words just because.

However, words do have cultural connotations to readers. Readers do have expectations on what words mean, and what they imply. "Rabbit" is not generally one of those words, but "necromancy" is. I can see, if you're trying to move away from those cultural connotations, you might want to pick a different word, one that better captures how the conculture views the thing in question. Or, how everything ties together; the word probably wouldn't exist on its own, but in tandem with other branches of magic. (In Mto, all the branches of magic/science are scientific terms (some archaic or obscure) in English, to reinforce the underlying viewpoint of the culture that it's a branch of science. Thanatology by itself would stick out like a sore thumb, but it works better when listed as a sub-discipline of biology, alongside zoology or pharmacology (also, thanatology is a word found in dictionaries, for whose who don't know Greek roots offhand))

That said, if the defining attribute of the magic school is "raise people from the dead", I'm struggling to think of something better than "necromancer". (And googling "someone who raises the dead" drops necromancy near the top, so...)

I also agree with the sentiment that you don't have to call it something cool to make it interesting; it can be interesting with a word people already know. And giving it a different, edgy name doesn't make it interesting on its face.

It's definitely finding that balance between other assumptions people will have based on the words you choose and being consistent in-world and making it interesting to read. But on a first pass, I'd say there's nothing at all wrong with just calling them a necromancer, and if you really come up with something better latter, that's what find/replace is for.
Thanatologue?
Thanatologer (cf. Astrologer)

Partially Folk-etymologized to Thanatolodger

and, by further folk-etymologizing

Death-lodger:
1) someone who lodges with (lives with) Death or the Dead
2) someone who gives or makes a home for Death, or the Dead
:?:
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Re: taking over done ideas and making them interesting

Post by fruityloops » Thu 03 May 2018, 13:12

i'm keeping the word thing to a minimum but i'm trying to find goods words that made from aztec and mayan vocabulary. frustrating there's little to nothing save for a decent word root thing i found.
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