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  1. Colonel Marksman
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    Colonel Marksman Member

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    Fantasy - Intro to races

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Colonel Marksman, Sep 18, 2009.

    This will probably be easier if I just started off with all that needs to be clear in the story. Some of my readers got confused about these points. For example, a writer-friend of mine started reading this with the assumption that each race composed of it's own nation, and it took me 3 visits and 2 hours to finally iron it out for him (and I think he's still a little confused).

    The world is called Meer'Et. In Meer'Et there are a number of social classes.

    The Quann are people with wings. They make up the knights, military officers and generals, ambassadors, and all ruling bodies of each nation (most are monarchies, but some have other types of government, but all run by Quann). The Quann believe that the Divine Being is the Great King, and is worshiped like so; God shines through the wisdom of rule in the Quann.

    The Sheer are the short class of people, almost like midgets. They make up the aristocrats, land owners, shop owners, and squad leaders in the military organization. They believe that the Divine Being is a Competitor for Souls, trading and bargaining with other gods; God shines through the Sheer in competition.

    The Myth'Hye are normal persons. They are the freemen who work under the Sheer, and are much more populated than Quann or Sheer combined. They also form the basic military units such as archers, spearmen, etc. They believe that the Divine Being is the Great Craftsman; God shines through the Myth'Hye in hard work.

    The Ekkli are the peasant class. They are distinguished by their white hair and very pale skin. The Ekkli are the farmers, servants, and hunters. In military, they are support with their precise archery and ability to defend themselves in combat (very rare in archers for those of you who know your military history). They believe that the Divine Being is the Great Father; God shines through them with love.

    The Youth'ik are the poor class of people, and make up all the other races. It's a general term for prisoners, beggars, the deformed, and slaves, as well as Quann who have lost their wings due to punishment. Their general belief is that God has abandoned them or doesn't exist; God shines through the Youth'ik in pain and sorrow in His absence.


    Ok, that sounds plain and simple. Here's the confusing parts. Each nation has Quann, Sheer, Myth'Hye, Ekkli, and Youth'ik, but each nation is ruled by a different Quann, named for their different wing types. Each nation has it's own form of government and piece of land, set in one of parts of Meer'Et that is each locked in a year-round season.

    Nations of Spring are:
    Ty, ruled by the Fairy-Quann - Monarchy, where the eldest princess/prince may choose a suitor, and those two are King and Queen.
    Frett ruled by the Angel-Quann - Monarchy with a High Court, eldest princess/prince may choose a suitor from the High Court.
    Zephda ruled by the Dragonfly-Quann - A Monarchy/Confederacy. The king is voted by rulers of the districts.


    Nations of Winter are:
    Laddos, ruled by the Gargoyle-Quann - Dictatorship
    Tribes of Kon'Lay ruled by the Bat-Quann - Clan-based, scattered tribesmen
    League of Hah'myan - Republic ruled by a nation without Quann


    Nations of Fall are:
    Tarsis ruled by the Butterfly-Quann - Parliamentary Republic


    Nations of Summer are:
    Hive ruled by the Wasp-Quann - More-or-less a very weak Confederacy. This is the only exception to the normal social classes, every member of Hive is a Wasp-Quann.


    What I think makes this story interesting is the fact that there's no magic, but there is some technology and a variety of aerial combat differences.

    The Fairy-Quann can hover, have very fast take-offs, and change directions quickly. However, they cannot glide very far (which is important when conserving energy). The Dragonfly-Quann have similar advantages and disadvantages, except they can fly vertically better, including backwards (and do it very well). The Wasp-Quann are much lighter, and can conserve energy better, and change direction the fastest, but aren't the best at speed.

    The Gargoyle-Quann, Bat-Quann, and Angel-Quann can all glide fairly well. The Gargoyles are large and wear armor that weighs them down, so they have the fastest dive, but can't fly very high and have slow take-off. Bat-Quann are lighter and thinner, but their forms don't let them glide as well as the other three, though they are the fastest. The Angel-Quann combine powerful wings with light-weight bodies, and are thus have the altitude advantage, but have a disadvantage at diving speed and stamina.

    There are some other advantages, like skin, vs fur, vs rough, woven hide, size, armor, and weapons, but that's something else and not as noteworthy. What is, however, are the fact that many of the races employ different kinds of curved swords.


    Anyway, another confusing thing to my readers was the actual scale between all these races. Of the biggest one was the fact that Fairy-Quann are not tiny creatures. Everyone is basically humanoid in shape and man-sized. The Gargoyles are a bit larger, fairly ugly, with rough, woven skin, and black, lifeless eyes. The Wasp-Quann have six limbs, with a few insect-like features. Everyone else is generally man-sized.

    What complicated it though I think was the fact that the Ekkli in Ty live in villages made out of two-storied mushroom homes.



    I'm trying to avoid taking all this information and cramming it all into the beginning for a very boring society lesson rather than outright starting the story. It was a more difficult challenge than I thought. (And no, nobody has pointy ears, don't ask! There's nothing more I hate in Fantasy than an Elf)

    I hope that when I find an agent, she will grant me the wish of getting an artist. I can't seem to show this story to anyone without giving them pictures or go over the nations and races with them, and it drives me nuts!
     
  2. Joran Selemis
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    Joran Selemis Member

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    Whoah. Original. Any idiot can make up a race and throw it into a world, but you've gone a step further and created a whole social hierarchy for the races as well. Bravo!

    Just out of curiosity, who will your main character be? Will he/she/it be one of the dominant class, one of the slaves, or possibly one of the invalids? I only ask because I don't think you should write from the perspective of one of the Quann since they seem so alien. However, you seem to have put a lot of effort and thought into creating this world, so if you've already written from the perspective of a Quann I'm sure you'd know how to do it.

    You are to be commended on, like I said, the thought and effort you've put into this world. Your race/social hierarchy is innovative and original, and bodes well for the remainder of your novel. *Passes commendation*. I award you Joran Selemis' 'most inventive hierarchy' award; a highly sought-after prize I can assure you. And again, well done. I hope the rest of your story turns out like your races have.
     
  3. Colonel Marksman
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    Colonel Marksman Member

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    Hey, anyone with time on their hands can come up with anything, really. I have nothing to brag except an amount of sloppy time (and that doesn't merit bragging rights). In addition, I created the story I think 3-4 years ago and dug it up from the grave for a re-write. The work I'm actually proud of is another race with an entirely different mindset, language, system, etc. I'm trying to figure out how to stick in a story, but that's for later.

    But being able to create a world like this with it's own traditions and putting it onto paper to be read clearly is a whole challenge that I'm, sad to say, struggling to overcome. Out of 10 agencies, I've gotten 1 interest, but after reading the material, she said she didn't want it (I was afraid of that, the first chapter is a battle afterall). I'm actually wishing a literary agent would read what I typed above and have the editor unscramble my words and butcher my story to give it more understanding.


    I actually give credit to Tad Williams' line of fantasy work for inspiration. He's good at this sort of thing. He's not a great writer, but he's excellent at characterization and creating whole civilizations.


    About the main characters, you're probably thinking that it's going to be two lovers who come from two different social classes and love each other, right? Wrong. But actually, I posted a little revealing bit in another topic just below this one about romancing characters.
     
  4. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    My only thought was this... Now that you know how all your races function, hide it in your drawer and tell your story.

    Imagine the good old movie Star Wars (first one), if Lucas had decided to explain in detail how the Empire was structured and what type of stormtroopers answered to what kind of officers and what the little red and blue badges on their uniforms meant.

    It would quite possibly become the dullest movie since that cinematographic experiment of a man sleeping in real-time.

    Lucas had probably worked these things out the same way as you did, but only as a reference to himself to understand his universe and avoid contradictions. Including it into the story is what commonly is known as info-dumping, and it's the surest way to put your readers to sleep.

    So my advice is this... focus on telling the story. Only mention aspects of heirachy between the races as direct, dramatic fuel.

    Ideally, the heirachies should be self-explanatory through their attitudes towards eachother.
     
  5. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    You, the God of your little world, need to know all of this. And more. You need to know how the cities function, when they were built, how they relate to other cities, where people go to learn stuff, how the races interact with each other, where the lines on the previous interaction grid are a bit fuzzier, and what hand motion people use to say hello. We, the readers, do not.

    If the characters in the story meet members of other races, they can introduce them as "a Wasp-Quann child" or "a Bat-Quann elder" before you get into the descriptions of them. Like so: A young, playful Wasp-Quann child trotted across the plaza, its multifaceted eyes glinting in the sunlight. In two of its four arms, it held the reins to a large kite... or whatever. If the characters travel across the world, they'll make mistakes in the new places and make assumptions about the governance that will turn out to be wrong.

    The main thing, though, is you don't need to tell us everything. Take Discworld, for example. Huge swaths of the Discworld series don't even mention Uberwald, and most of them get by without talking about the Counterweight Continent. We only really learn about the Trolls in "Thud!", up 'till then they're kind of shadowy. It's made clear that they're stupid, impressively strong and made of sentient stone- and they hate Dwarves and the Dwarves hate them- but beyond that, we don't know about Mr. Shine or the real politics between the Dwarves and Trolls, and we don't get to know much about Koom Valley (the decisive event that caused the Troll/Dwarf hatred) until that book either.

    Have the various relationships in mind, let them bleed into the book and influence how people react, but don't tell us everything. We don't need to know. What we need to know how P. Rota Gonist steals the Ma'Guff-n from the evil clutches of the An'Tagonists.
     
  6. Sophronia
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    Sophronia Member

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    You can introduce different aspects of the societies as you write your story, although even then you don't need to cram everything in. Let the reader get an idea of what they're reading about, enough to make the characters and world alive in and of themselves.

    Another thing you can do is create an index where you can put all this information and then add it to the book when you're done writing. Besides, compiling indexes with such detail can be really fun :D and it can put a lot of interest into the book without distracting the reader from the story.
     
  7. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    whoa your idea is really unique... aerial combat differences... aerial races...

    If you wrote something like that, I would be interested in reading!
     
  8. Joran Selemis
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    Joran Selemis Member

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    Of course he's not going to spend the whole time describing the races. The point is that he has such a good idea of what world the story takes place in that it will be believable and engrossing to the reader. At least, I hope that was your plan...
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What is your point in posting this?

    If you plan to put all this in the beginning of your story, you will doom your book. If you are posting it here for our information, why do we need it?

    I'm going to post one of my dreaded templates here:
    This isn't even a story summary. It's a summary of the setting for a story.

    If you have a story, write it. Don't show us the pretty wallpaper you will be using in the house you don't even have the architect's blueprint for yet. Show us the finished house, or at least a finished room after the framing and exterior are complete.
     
  10. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't bash elves. Other people hate nothing more than a winged humanoid, or a random apostraphe in the middle of a word. :)


    The secret here is to not explicity bring all this stuff up. Just tell the story. It's hard to say more without knowing how many of these races will be central to the story, how many will appear at once, whatever. You seem to have good visual ideas, however, so showing should work pretty well.



    One question, though... In terms of aerial combat, what's to stop a bunch f archers from just refeathering these Quann with arrows?


    ETA: Cog, I think the point was help with how to integrate this into the story.
     
  11. elfen
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    elfen Member

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    Hmm, I like how you've used a caste system and applied it overall to a set of differing government types. I take it the caste had sway over the system (e.g. if you can vote, you either earnt the vote or have to be a certain caste level to vote) I also like how their physical characteristics show the caste they are in (and the only type of people I think who can use a sword and hand-to-hand as well as archery were the Elven people in LOTR)

    You probably wouldn't need to put a lot of this into the book, but you could always have some of it explained in appendicies at the end of the book (say for the caste systems appendix 1, for the different nations appendix 2) so it is explained slightly, but in more detail at the back for those who want to read it.

    However, there may be some that comes up as a matter of course. I mean, you would base it in one Nation, and in some way shape or form, allude to the societicial norms within that Nation, and then build how another could come into it, and the differences between them. It doesn't have to be done in too much of a hurry, but you could (if the Ekkli live in different houses) have either a derogatory or celebratory tone for their different way of living (or even have it explained by a Sheer/Quann, and then break it off if it gets to boring by another character's interjection)

    Although, this could work, and has in other novels (thinking LOTR/Hobbit as prime examples, but also more visual types such as V, Alien Nation, etc)
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This post is more suited, I think, to a blog if it is that your hard drive has run dry of room to hold the word file.

    You've posted data, but there is no question. If there is not question, then there is nowhere to go.

    Dead end.
     
  13. Colonel Marksman
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    Colonel Marksman Member

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    I pointed out that I've had readers read through the story. I teach other writers about not cramming a history lesson in the beginning. But when I tried avoiding that, my readers get too confused along the way as they read the text.

    Besides, doesn't hurt to ask if this type of setting is "ok", or if I should go more traditional.


    ------

    The Gargoyle-Quann have large, leathery wings, but also carry steel armor over thick, rough hides woven around acting like skin. They are extremely resilient to damage, but are very large targets. An arrow through a piece of the wing may hinder him, but it's not going to outright stop him from flying.

    Smaller Quann, like the Fairy-Quann and Dragonfly-Quann, have extremely vulnerable wings and very lightweight, aged armor. But they are able to buzz and zip as well as dodge.

    Just some examples. Though, it's interesting that the Quann culture believe that archery is for the "coward", and so they don't take up archery. The exception is my hero, who's ability to shoot arrows from the air gives him a very good edge in combat.



    Anyway, thanks to everyone for the insightful replies. Here's the issue. I've already tried incorporating the races into the story. I know that's what I'm really supposed to do (with a list of references at the end of the book for people to go back to for reference on occasion). But none of my readers 'get it'.

    I've included the cultural element to explain the big differences between Ekkli and Quann by having the hero and heroine interact with their young servants (who ask questions). I've also used a fishing spot where one of the characters asks a young Ekkli questions about the different races.

    The thing that bothered me the most was the fact that my readers didn't understand that the Fairy-Quann weren't actually tiny little fairies three inches tall, or that the mushrooms the Ekkli lived in were two story homes. And yet, I was describing some elements in large size (e.g. a 20-lb cat).
     
  14. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rename them?

    Fey-Quann, for example.

    Atleast it's less likely to bring up an instant mental picture of Tinkerbell to those who rush to conclusions.

    Some names are just so loaded with preconceptions that you'll fight a losers battle using them differently.
     
  15. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm assuming there is some sortof magic invoved in them flying?



    Anyway, it's not so much that an arrow would hinder them. Despite what ou see in LOTR, say, being hit with an arrow is an enormous shock. It's moving at a good clip.

    I'm assuming if bows are for cowards, crossbows are banned or un-invented?



    Also, arrows move pretty fast. If your average bird flies at 40mph, your arrow is still going 20 to 100 mph faster. Obviously, going into the physics of flight for the Quann would destroy the concept, thus the assumption of magic I made above. But the will not be dodging the hail of arrows any reasonable group of arcersould muster--whether you claim they can dodge indivduals or not. I'll ignore the issues of armor as well. Rule of Cool trumps all (or most).

    I'm also wondering whether the terrain supports aerial combat. If the Quann will not use arrows, what good is their flight? Transport, to some extent, but not much beyond limited use in that area.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Why do you need anyone else's opinion in order to proceed? It's your story. You can write it without seeking approval or permission first.

    It's what writers do.
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Precisely. And as Dave has already stated, these kinds of posts are a bit like showing someone the pieces to
    say... a Monopoly game and asking, "Is this a good game?"

    The pieces are not the game. They are just pieces.
     
    1 person likes this.
  18. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd agree with Horus. Watch your words. Some have connotations that will be very hard to get over. "Fairy" is one of them. I would also avoid "angel" for the Christian conntations, and possibly "gargoyle".

    You might avoid using any sort of comparison at all. Just give them a country name (they seem to be divided into single-country groups in terms of race) and use description for the showing specific traits. The animal comparison seems a little kitchen-sinky anyway... to have each race mimic an earth animal's wings? It will seem less wierd if you don't make the comparisons yourself.


    I don't think there is a problem with you discussig this, since it is more about how to get things across to the readers than about whether your idea is good or not.
     
  19. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Etan and Horus have a great point:

    Every english word you chose ties you strongly to the english language, and to the history and bias thereof. It means that humans- and not just humans, but modern conglomerated-english-speaking humans- named them, and they accepted those names. It also ties the world strongly to our mythology.

    I assume Gargoyle-Quann got that name from their vague resemblance to human-built gargoyles. Gargoyle comes from the french world "gargouille" meanning throat or gullet, and refers to their original purpose- filtering water away from stone buildings, usually by vomiting it through a tube that was a fundamental part of their design (Non-water-filtering gargoyles are properly, if rarely, known as grotesques). Naming a creature after a decorative, but functional, structural consideration is a very human thing to do, but it doesn't make sense for them to use that name.

    Plus, using words like "Angel-Quann" not only ties you, as Etan said, to christianity, it also ties you to modern christian concepts. The idea of the angel as a simple, beautiful winged humanoid is a fairly modern one. The original concepts for angels were based on them being a functional part of God's domain, a living tool that he could use- hence the Metatron, the great flame that bears God's voice, and Azazel (or Azrael) the angel of death, a huge black shape five hundred days' walk wide, who actually had a pair of giant helpers, each nearly as large as him.

    I agree with the above- they need a rename. They probably need two names each, one for our name for them, and one for their own name for themselves.
     
  20. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    Your ideas seem to be more suited to an manga/anime, as from the tone here, I find that in the western world, people usual restrict themselves in writing because of political correctness or to avoid conflict with religion unless they are writing something to that point like Dan Brown. Other times, writers are unwilling to try something new, and just stick with the traditional tinkerbell fairies, stone gargoyles, christian angels, bearded wizard, fire-breathing dragon, and etc. in the fantasy genre which I have grown tired of reading.

    To Estan_Isar, HorusEye, and B-Gas, why can't we recycle the words and concepts of angels, fairies, and gargoyles to something beyond the original stereotype? JK Rowling managed to do it with witches and wizards.

    It's also because of these preconceptions people have of their original origins that very few are willing to branch out and try something new, less stray from the status quo.

    In my opnion, it all depends on how powerful your writing is to make fairies or the word or concept of faeries sound cool or condescending; mature or childish; traditional or unique.
     
  21. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Start slow. Start with a MC or two and slowly introduce us to their daily lives. I think this world is perfect for making a peasant the MC. Slowly introduce us to the world through his or her eyes. Perhaps magic does exist, and the peasant wakes up with wings, and now has to get used to a whole new way of life with a Quann group that takes her in. We learn about this new world as she does.
     
  22. Colonel Marksman
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    Colonel Marksman Member

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    That may be what writers do, but you're no author until you learn to listen and improve that writing.

    Writing my own story for myself or what-not, yes you'd be right. But I'm trying to get this published. This isn't about me, it's about the readers. And they are just like customers, I have to listen to them to sell the product.


    I think I decided to go ahead and re-name my Quann, I'll think of something. But the important idea is that I understand that a majority of my readers wouldn't be getting the gist of my descriptions/names of some of my races.
     
  23. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is a bad approach to writing. Every reader wants different things from a novel. You can't please everyone. Even asking people what they want to read is useless. Even if they like your idea, it could be poorly written, and the readers would then stop reading. Just start writing and see where it takes you.
     
  24. B-Gas
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    JK Rowling in no way managed to change the stereotype- she codified it, solidified it, and used the stereotype, but she didn't change it. Wizards and witches in her world wave wands, cast spells, brew potions, curse people, ride broomsticks and teleport via fireplace. Wizards and witches in old myth tend to be older, but otherwise, everything she used she got from old mythology.

    I was only talking about the words- I think we all were. The word "Elf" has major connotations. Tolkein knew that. He used and exploited the major connotations for his writing- he once said that he went into vast detail about the political position of the elves in the world, but never once- not once in any of his stories- did he say they had pointy ears. That was a given. They were called elves, and thus, people invisioned them with pointy ears.

    The fact is, if you call someone a gargoyle, they're made of stone. They also have sharp teeth and a hideous face. They have wings. They like to perch on rooftops. They get shat on by pigeons. If you tell me they're different, you'll have to tell me every single thing about them that is different or the same. You have to run through the entire rough draft of what people think "gargoyle" means and change, or keep, everything.

    However, if you call someone a stone-kin, all anyone knows is that they're in some way connected to stone. You can give them scales and four eyes and giant clubs full of bees where their hands should be, and they will still be stone-kin. Because people don't know what stone-kin are meant to be.
     
  25. Colonel Marksman
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    Colonel Marksman Member

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    Hmm... I'm sure that fans of any writer could say otherwise. There is a general consensus you know. Not everyone is 100% different. Stephen King has millions of readers, not one or two. To do that, you have to please millions of people. The same goes for any product on the market with competition. Stainless steel appliances are popular right now for a reason. If everyone in the entire world was completely different, only a very scant few people who could afford them would own stainless steel appliances.

    While there are some opinions, writing as an art has good quality and bad quality, making it a skill of craftsmanship (and works of art) that can be improved. You can look at a drawing a six-year-old made and say that the sketch isn't as good as someone who made another sketch making money off of the skill for thirty years.


    I've got 14 rejection letters and thus gave the story to a number of readers who happened to stop reading at the same point and gave me the exact same reasons why they weren't that interested in the story. Going back on my research, I found out that several authors with published works and a few how-to's pointed out and proved the same reasons. Some of them were confused as to the exact size and shape of my races and creatures because of the way I named the Quann. Something tells me that just going with the flow as we speak isn't working.

    Furthermore, I see a good number of writers suggesting that I change the names of my Quann race naming, and their logic is sound and plausible, as well as agreed upon. Obviously, I'm doing something wrong.

    Tonten is completely correct on identifying the type of people who would like this reading. The story is a Young Adult Fantasy. I can assure you that my target audience doesn't want a history lesson for the first chapter of a book!


    As for magic involved in flying, no, there's no magic. There's hidden messages in the story that's designed for the Christian world, so I'm going to have to stay away from magic.
     
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