1. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    How subtle should inspirations be?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by CMastah, Jun 3, 2015.

    A beta reader of mine is advising me to be extremely subtle with my use of.....well let me tell you what I'm doing and what he's recommending and you'll see what I'm talking about:

    I have a race called cait sidhe in the book based on the ACTUAL cait sidhe with physical differences to the creatures but otherwise functioning the same. I also use names out of Irish lore, the names of heroes and locations, and the story CAN be interpreted to follow the actual legends.

    My beta reader is recommending not to use actual names like cait sidhe or the names of the mythical heroes because people who know the actual legends and creatures will be put off if they don't match exactly or just in general have a distaste to finding references to actual mythology. His primary concern though was that people who know the actual legends would be put off by the thing not matching. He recommends I rename the cait sidhe race and just let readers connect the dots and try to get there on their own. One example he gave was when he read a book that contained a character called king Leonidas (based on the actual king Leonidas), it turned him off.

    Does he have a point on this matter or is it fine to continue on the path I've taken?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    He may have a point, but it would seem only for a very narrow bandwidth of overall anglophone readership. I had to look up cait sidhe, as it's the first time I've heard of them. But... I had a conversation a while back with a good friend concerning the Keanu Reeves film treatment of 47 Ronin, a fantasy story based on a historical story. The historical story has a known appreciation and following and the fantasy treatment it was given in the film left my friend feeling like the real story had been made garish and silly. I too knew of the original story but I was okay with the live-action-anime version that the film seemed to be. :)
     
  3. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    Yeah, +1 for your beta reader. People how know the stuff will want that to be dead on. I know that is how I am.
     
  4. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I mean, I'm a big fan of mythology and enjoy seeing references to the things I know about (Greek and Egyptian mostly, but I know a bit of Irish lore). I've never met anyone who was entirely put off by references to mythology, really - I feel like they probably wouldn't even realize said references were there, right? - though I can see mythology buffs saying "you're doing it wrong!!" if you don't adhere as closely as possible to the establish lore. But, honestly, legends change and people have different takes on them. At the risk of going for the obvious one, how many different kinds of vampires can you think of off the top of your head?

    I also think there's a definite difference between a specific character being referenced (ie King Leonidas) and the new character having the same name, aaand referencing an entire race of creatures and giving yours the same name. The second case is way more broad. I don't see anything wrong with that at all. You don't go "man I wanna write about nocturnal undead dudes who drink blood, better come up with a whole different name for them instead of calling them vampires because reasons." Well, sometimes you do, but not usually. It's okay to reference established things - I already knew more or less what cait sidhe were so I only have to learn your specific rules for your cait sidhe, and other people get to learn approximately what cait sidhe are entirely. It's a good time for everyone.

    Now I don't know how you're dealing with the specific heroes/figures of Irish folklore, and I figure that's the trickier matter. Since you say it could be interpreted to follow actual legends, I'm assuming it's like a retelling? A retelling with some details smudged and your own take and flair sounds fine to me. But, sure, some purist types might dislike it. But you'd only satisfy them by telling the exact same story they know already, and who wants to do that?

    I think it's a matter of personal preference. I love referencing Greek mythology in a project of mine but my target is for that aspect of the story to mainly appeal to other people who're Greek mythology dorks. My advice would be to write the thing you want to write, not the thing your beta wants you to write. Not that he might not have valid points, but if you wanna explicitly retell Irish folklore, do that. If you want to make it a little more open to interpretation, bury the inspiration so only people familiar with it can find it - and that would mean changing names - do that.
     
  5. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    1/ Why have you created a race with physical differences but with the same name and the same functioning? Do they really need to be 6 feet tall instead of 5 feet, or whatever? Why not either change the name, and let people draw their conclusions about your inspiration, or make them the same and "these are the continuing stories of the cait sidhe"? Or, take a trick from Star Trek, where the Romulans are from the same genetic root as the Vulkans, but have developed differently.

    2/ If you're re-interpreting the legends, that's cool. Greek mythology, the Arthurian cycle, probably every mythology in the world has several variations in the telling; after all, it was all done orally to begin with, so of course people forgot the exact story the way they were taught it, and made it up; or they thought of an improvement on the story their master told them.
     
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  6. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    The thing is a lot of the re-telling aspects are more of a....well here's the thing:

    This takes place in a fictional setting, one of the nigh powerful beings in the world is called Mil and because of him, a race of powerful beings called the Tuatha De Danaan had their powers stripped from them (In the actual Irish mythology, the beings known as the Tuatha were defeated by the sons of an invading HUMAN called Mil). Mil is just a character the MC (who is an original character, not taken from myths) meets on his journey, the weakening of the Tuatha would have occurred thousands of years in the past and the event itself serves only as part of the world's HISTORY (hence, inspired by the legend but is NOT a re-telling).

    There are several other things, but they're ALL in this vein.

    In the matter of the Cait Sidhe, the primary aspect I wanted from it in the race that appears in my setting was as soul collectors (also, looking up Cait Sidhe in wikipedia revealed they exist in many forms in popular culture, possibly with varying traits compared to the actual legend). My version of the Cait Sidhe doesn't have the white spot and can talk.
     

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