Tags:
  1. lyteside
    Offline

    lyteside Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0

    Narrator Tone & Vocabulary for a Fantasy + Sci Fi Setting

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by lyteside, Aug 4, 2009.

    The first part of my story has a fantasy, old world environment. Midway through, the protagonists travels through time and dimensions to a futuristic world.

    I'd love to have our narrator talk about things with mystery and romance, so I'm concerned about entering into the futuristic world. Any suggestions for keeping the same tone and vocab in the future world?

    For example, should a "spaceship" be known to the narrator as a "great ship that sails through the heavens"? Sounds interesting and engaging at first...but I don't think a reader wants to put up with that kind of talk through the whole novel. Do the words spaceship, lasers, cyborgs, etc. disenchant the fantasy tone? Or dare I think its the content itself that is getting in the way...

    If you guys think I should have two different narrators/tones (or think of a third option) let me know!
     
  2. Shadow Dragon
    Offline

    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Messages:
    3,483
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    In the land of the gods
    I think describing things the way that the main character(s) would see them is a good idea. Then after a while, the character who's pov you're going off of, could learn the names of the different things (such as space ships and lasers) and then you could slowly phase in the more scifi type things into the narrative, while keeping the fantasy tone.
     
  3. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    Why not flying ship? Burn beams. Does the MC know of magic? Isn't there some sort of magic spell similar to a laser? Most likely he would associate future things with things he knows. There is no need to have him call a ship "A great ship that sails through the heavens," when "flying ship" works. Or "sky ship," etc.

    Cryborg. For the kind with visible metal. Metal man.
     
  4. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    This might be okay the first time the character encounters it. After a few times, it would get tedious and annoying. Besides, your characters would be interacting with the characters from the future settings, so they would learn the vocabulary. Doesn't mean you have to sacrific the sense of wonder. That requires more than terminology.
     
  5. murphcas
    Offline

    murphcas Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    In a fantasy world
    I agree with Shadow. You could start with the more descriptive and then have the MC learn the names of these things. Maybe when the MC learns the names he can't remember them all so he either slips back to using description and have someone correct him (if the MC is speaking out loud) or have the MC correct him/her self.
     
  6. jwatson
    Offline

    jwatson Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2009
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    canada
    agree, "Hey man, what's that huge ship sailing through the heavens?"
    "Oh," said the man, "that's what we call a spaceship. You should start calling it that too."
     
  7. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    "Hey, a flying ship. What magic does it use?"

    "Magic? It's a spaceship."

    "Space, ship," he said, testing the words, not understanding how they fit together.

    "You don't know what a spaceship is? Did you grow up in the basement?"

    "So it doesn't use magic?"

    Could be an opportunity for humor.
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    The narrator as a contemporary of the main character would try to describe what he sees in terms of what is familiar to him in fact or lore. So a flying saucer might appear to be an enormous burnished shield, as large as a giant's buckler, levitated to the sky by some dark magicks.

    You can have some fun with double meanings (modern insight juxtaposed with period perception), but be sparing and subtle about it, or it will merely be cheesy. An excellent and very funny novel is The Flying Sorcerers by David Gerrold and Larry Niven. I laughed my butt off when the pun behind the Magician's name was revealed at the end of the book, having been in full view throughout the story.
     
  9. jamiebender
    Offline

    jamiebender Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    great falls MT
    Don't underestimate your reader. By describing the futuristic things readers will figure out what they are and your characters can continue to use words they would normally use. If you describe a flying saucer as a flying saucer, your character can call it whatever he wants and your reader will know what it is.
     
  10. lyteside
    Offline

    lyteside Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    helpful advice. thanks guys. I think I will stick to the older tone for the narrator throughout. I will assume that although the narrator knows what the sci-fi objects are, he will be writing for an audience of the old fantasy world. I think this will help the reader experience the world better from the main character's point of view.

    I'll just have to be clever about the complications. heh heh.
     
  11. Dante Dases
    Offline

    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,446
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    West Yorkshire, England
    Certainly initially, you need to use everything in context with what the character already knows (like people have already said). For example, in descriptions think of the man from the late 30s seeing a modern computer for the first time. He might describe it as being a screen with a typewriter in front of it. Obviously, that's an overly simplistic view of things, but I hope you catch what I mean.
     
  12. jonathan hernandez13
    Offline

    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 12, 2009
    Messages:
    5,040
    Likes Received:
    63
    Location:
    Mount Vernon New York
    What determines whether or not your story is fantasy or science-fiction is determined less by the style of narration and more on the subject matter.

    If I wrote a tale of gladiators in an arena using modern vernacular it would be historical fiction, so a fantasy with futuristic lingo is still fantasy.

    BTW, I hope you do realize that Star Wars is fantasy, right? If you replace the starships with horses and the lightsabers with swords, what do you have?

    Also, I despise the term 'sci-fi, especially when it is used as a buzz term for any thinly veiled premise with scientific sprinklings. See my blog on 'why I hate 'sci-fi'':)
     
  13. lyteside
    Offline

    lyteside Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey Jonathan. You are truly speaking to the real dilemma of blending sci-fi with fantasy. I absolutely classify Star Wars as fantasy, and Star Trek as science fiction.

    Fantasy is rooted in aether qualities such as faerie, longing, desire, sehnsucht, mystery, and story. Appeals to the sense of other and outer, and the heart. When I read fantasy, I don't care where the journey takes me, or whether I "solve" anything. I am edified by the simple telling of the story for the story's sake. I don't want to be in the story, I want to go on thinking of the story.

    Science Fiction is rooted in physical and mental qualities such as inductive & deductive thinking, "what if" scenarios, demystifying, analytics, concepts, imagination, science, physics. Appeals to the sense of self and mind. When I read a good science fiction book, I want to be solving puzzles and generally figuring out what the hell is going! I also want to think "Woah, that's cool! If I was there I'd..."

    Of course, these genres borrow from each other, but I believe fantasy story errors on the first, and the sci-fi with the second. My story is a "fantasy" at its root, so I want to be careful and not get stuck in the "how & why things work" in the futuristic world. That's why I think the advice is sound to keep it from the perspective of the old world characters. The purpose of the story is the journey and story... the sci-fi elements should just be background, under the surface.

    *as a disclaimer, I realize there are some pet peeves of labeling genres that do "so-and-so". I totally respect that, and my response: doesn't matter what we call it, let's just say I want my story to do what I've labeled as "fantasy"
     

Share This Page