1. WhoWatchesTheWatchmen?
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    WhoWatchesTheWatchmen? Member

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    Spells and Robots

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by WhoWatchesTheWatchmen?, Jul 24, 2008.

    When it comes to spells and robots, I look away. For when a wizard yells out "Shelelelesh Erboda Kalalalalaladionionion," it seems weird. You can't really give spells a name, nor can you shout them out, otherwise you'll suffer by looking like an idiot.

    Same for Robots and Technical terms in SF. This is the Time-Contium Carborater 3000 and it travels back into time. No. It, it just sounds bad. But if your wizards don't shout out spells, then it seems like magic is nothing, and that is not real. And your new SF machines need cool nicknames, so what do you do?

    ~ The Watchmen Whatches Who?
     
  2. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have always struggled with that one to be honest with you, not so much with the robots as I have never wrote anything with robots in it, but with the magic spells thing. I once tried doing it like Sabrina, where she pointed her finger and something happened, but I think that works much better being visaully seen, rather than read as it is hard to describe it.

    I think when you start making up spell names, it is a case of A. making sure you do not get carried away and keep then simple enough for people to remeber some of them. and B. writing your world and story in such a way that people walking around shouting spells is beleiveable.
     
  3. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    With the spells they use in my story, I don't see why they particularly have to have a name. They just call them things like "a spell to summon rain spirits" or "a spell to see in the dark like an owl."

    The spells are written in pictograms on birchbark scrolls (it's very loosely based on an American Indian belief), and when they're used the person does call out a command, but it's not some gibberish word--they'll just call out to a spirit associated with the spell to do what it's asked, I don't know, maybe for that first spell something like, "Spirits of the rain! Open up the sky and dampen the earth!" *shrug*

    My characters have to yell out the spells, for the simple reason that the very way the words are spoken aloud, and the way the spells are phrased, affect how the spell works. So the reciter must be very careful to get it just right, and even a harmless-sounding spell can be quite devastating if the words are phrased just so.

    I've never cared for the weird gibberish/magical word spells either. Nor for robots. I write fantasy so the subject of robots has never come up. :D

    I think either thing--spoken-word spells or robots--can be included in a story given that the writer knows how to make it convincing and not hokey. But I haven't advice on how to do that myself.
     
  4. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    I think for robots, the best thing to do is look at the names of machines which we have nowadays.

    The robots won't have weird and fantastic names, they'll have dead boring names, most likely.

    Unless you give them a brand name, then things can get more interesting ;).

    The Important thing to remember is that the technology of the future, which seems strange and amazing to us, will just seem normal and everyday to the people living with it, so it will most likely have a normal and everyday name, probably based on the function it serves. Like a 'microscope', for example.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Very often, brand names become the unofficial common name of the item, much to the dismay of the corporations involved directly or in competition.

    Print this out, Xerox it, and hang it over your desk with Scotch tape or superglue for future reference. Or flush it down the crapper*.




    * The flush toilet marketed by John Crapper has suffered more than most products from brand name absorption into common language. Even what goes down the pipe has taken the name.
     
  6. Necromortis
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    Necromortis Member

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    You can avoid the problem of spell names altogether with, "he muttered the phrase that," or "he yelled an incantation," etc. etc. Words like that convey what is actually happening quite clearly without having to have the actual spell names...spelled out.

    You can also create your magic system so it doesn't have to be spoken at all. Center it around hand gestures. How about a music note based magical system (you have to have magical talent and be able to whistle!)? Or purely thought based? Maybe they have to sketch out the spell in the dirt, air, or on paper for it to work, rather than speak it. Possibilities are endless.

    ~Christian
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    So what spell will be the upthrust middle finger of the spellcaster's raised right fist? Perhaps a Shield spell? Or Reflect Curse?
     
  8. Necromortis
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    Necromortis Member

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    I meant multiple hand weaving gestures, but I think the upthrust middle finger would send rolling waves of car horns from L.A. rush hour traffic at the opponent.

    ~Christian
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you be 'creative' as writers are supposed to be... if you can't figure out how to do that, maybe you're in the wrong business...

    don't mean to be harsh, but isn't that a kinda silly question for a mind that's creative enought to make up an entire fictional world?... so, why should spells and robots be any harder?
     
  10. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Your the author - do what you feel is best.
     
  11. coalminersdaughter
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    coalminersdaughter Member

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    Creating a fantasy world is hard enough without worrying about incantations and whether they'll make you look like an idiot or not. I know that I suck at writing fantasy in terms of wizards and witches, and the like, so I really have a lot of respect for writers who can do it and make it seem really cool. I think J.K. Rowling does a really excellent job of it, even though that's perhaps too obvious an observation. But to state all of this in one sentence: I understand what you mean ;)
     
  12. Silver Random
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    Silver Random Senior Member

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    So what do *you* do? Perhaps the question is asking the different writers how they would approach the problem (if they even see it as a "problem"), you know, as a way to start a discussion, share ideas... rather than saying "tell me what *i* do."

    I dont see why so many people feel the need to slam topics and say "you decide for yourself" when people are just trying to make a discussion... i mean isnt that what this forum is about :rolleyes:

    And the way i see it, with the spells, there are a few ways i would do it:

    1. Have magic possible without incantations, perhaps based more on thought or even as someone said hand gestures.
    2. Don't actually say the words of the incantations, just say "he muttered a few strange sounding words" or "he spent weeks pouring over different complicated incantations."
    3. Make up incantations out of real words (though this can sound a bit cheesy).
    4. Invent an entirely new language that has to be used for magic (though this is a bit overdone, and could take a long time to do properly).
    5. String together random funny sounding words/ latin words, like "Horribilis Protectium" or "Abadoo Es Voliarr!" (It can be fairly well (as in Harry Potter), or it can end up sounding the most stupid ;\

    So basically, i'd personally be more likely to not have incantations for all magic, and not say word for word the ones i do have.

    As for robots, though i've never had to do very many, i would probably invent a couple of companies that make them and name them after that - as people said earlier, its realistic that a brand name would end up being a common name for them. I'd imagine looking at program names would be a good way to get an idea of what companies would call each model.
     
  13. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why don't you give some examples, and we'll give our best shots at naming them?
     

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