Tad Williams' Message Board

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- 'God damn it, you've got to be kind.'
-    Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007

Welcome to the message board for tadwilliams.com. All comments are welcome, whether kudos or brickbats. However, please bear in mind that Tad would like this to be a friendly, civil message board, at least in the relations between users. We reserve the right to remove postings, or even ban postings, from anyone who crosses the boundary of reasonable taste. Basically, you can argue vigorously with someone, but watch your language, okay? We have a lot of young readers as well as grown-ups, so please show them some respect.

But the main requirement here is: have fun.


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#676 2017-11-10 13:47:08

Magpie
Mantis
From: miraculously thistle-free town
Registered: 2006-03-27
Posts: 32649
Website

Re: to ramble about our stories some more......

*dusts off thread*

I was really nervous about starting NaNoWriMo this year – because it’s been so long since I’ve written fiction. Looking at my NaNo novels, the last time I’ve really written (part of) a novel was in 2012 – looking at the titles and half-hearted synopses of the others, I mostly don’t even remember what most of these stories were. (I do remember Rocks and Reeds, of which I ended up writing maybe two pages, before making the rest of my wordcount with something else, but what the hell were the others?) So 2013 to 2015 I muddled through with con reports and other stuff, and last year I tried with my Meisterarbeit… so it’s been a long time since I’ve written a story, and I didn’t feel like I even remembered how.

But once I pushed through those initial few days of fear and reluctance, it became fun again, and easy. It turns out you can indeed sit down with a vague idea of the beginning of a new scene, and start writing, and while you write, new ideas keep coming.

And also that miracle of things fitting so well, as if they were always meant to be, even though I did not plan them that way at all. Like – I got the first idea for this story in the middle of a patch of stinging nettles, so I decided to call the village it starts in Nettle Patch. Then, a few minutes after telling my best friend I still didn’t have a title, I thought, “hm, I could call it Out of the Nettle Patch Into the… hm, what’s worse than nettles? … Into the Brambles.”

So Out of the Nettle Patch, Into the Brambles it was.

And because the magic in this story is connected to plants, I have a book of herbs and healing plants that also lists the magical properties of plants, and if I get stuck, I open the book on a random page and try to include that plant somehow.

Two days ago, I found myself wondering, since brambles are in the title, what magical properties do they have? (I already looked up nettles before I started.) And lo and behold, “For spouses that don’t get along any more, there are suggestions from medieval plant lore that are supposed to help restore harmony.” And that literally describes two of my main characters, and their planned personal growth/development/whatever over the course of the plot! So this fits so fantastically well I could scream.


So that is one thing I love, and and having a system of magic that I haven’t seen in a book yet is another (and no, I won’t talk about how it works, because this is one of the rare cases of me having an idea that feels like it could turn into a book to try to get published, so I feel quite protective of it. Maybe too much so, maybe the idea is not so great as to warrant such protectiveness, but I feel it anyway.)


But then the other thing that I constantly have to stop myself from babbling on about…

What I see quite a lot of on tumblr is discussions of diversity in fiction, and historical accuracy in fantasy, especially when it comes to things like misogyny and homophobia and (lack of) people of colour – both the aspect of “is that actually historically accurate?” and the aspect of “even if it was, do we need to be historically accurate, given that dragons and magic are not (nor are potatoes, in a pseudo-medieval-Europe fantasy world.)

All of which has made me want to write a story that is distinctly not “everyone is white, and women only exist to be exploited and raped, and gay people do not exist at all, or if they do they must die”.

And I can’t tell you how much I love my main characters. I recently realised that out of the five of them, not a single one is the classic straight white male main character, and I spent a few minutes cackling happily. (I get equal amounts of pleasure out of thinking of people who would be happy to read this story, and out of thinking of people who would be so pissed off about it.)

And I was thinking today, writing the first scene with Denneb, the last of the five main characters, that he would be the closest thing to the typical main character, being a teenage boy. Except that he does absolutely not want to go on a quest and have adventures, because he’s extremely shy, and just wants to live with his grandfather and hide from people in the forest, and having to leave his home, with four complete strangers, is the absolute worst, and he would really like to burst into tears, but then everyone would stare at him and that would be even worse.

But it’s also surprisingly difficult to write. I mean, feeling this way is a thing that is very familiar to me, but I never read it, and it’s like my brain can’t make sense of a character acting this way. Like real people get to feel this way, but characters don’t. I don’t know… it makes sense to me, but I can’t really explain it.

And the other thing that is proving surprisingly difficult to write is a society without sexism. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to remind myself, “no, the person doing (task) does not need to be (gender). Somebody else can do it too.” or “no, there is no reason for only young men to volunteer to travel to that place, because given the religions and morals of this world, rape would be so unacceptable that it would not even occur to most people to worry about it, and nobody would worry about a woman’s chastity, so why the hell is there not a group of young women who also want to travel and have adventures?”

So, yeah. Those were not the challenges I expected when I started this story, but they are much more fun to deal with than “not remembering how to write”. I just love this story. (And I hope so much that this feeling lasts, and that I’ll actually manage to finish it. And to get to the end, I should now finally get my characters on the road.)


Basically, I'm Prince Josua in jeans and sneakers, or a different flavor of Renie Sulaweyo.
- Tad

Master of Gardening, Mistress of Kingdom Plantae, Defender of the Seedlings, Guardian of Root and Bough
Scrollbearer and offerer of some very useful opinions

 

#677 2017-11-11 00:26:18

Sahi
Mantis
From: Assendelft (the Netherlands)
Registered: 2001-06-04
Posts: 44693
Website

Re: to ramble about our stories some more......

Sounds awesome to me! I would definitely buy it if it ever gets published!


"Because it is scientifically impossible to have enough books." - Patrick Rothfuss

Scrollbearer
First member of the Shadowmarch Council of Sages, Official Quiller's Mint Historian
You may call me the Porcupine Lady, or if you are feeling generous the Erinaceous One.

 

#678 2017-11-11 05:34:36

Peter
Pilgrim
From: Austria
Registered: 2001-08-23
Posts: 39185
Website

Re: to ramble about our stories some more......

*waves patented NaNoWriMo pom poms*


May the birds who shelter in your branches never poop on the innocent. -Tad

 

#679 2017-11-12 03:07:44

ylvs
Mantis
From: Art Central
Registered: 2001-06-19
Posts: 13269

Re: to ramble about our stories some more......

This all indeed sounds very intriguing. I am very happy you found joy in writing again my dear. One thing though: The Middle Ages all being misogyny and killing of gays is a modern times prejudice. Just saying.


To meet an old friend is like the finding of a welcoming campfire in the dark. Qanuc saying
Scrollbearer
Titan of fact-checking and priceless source of Osten-Ard-iana
Arsonist of the probably most spectacular Mint burning ever

 

#680 2017-11-12 03:44:24

Magpie
Mantis
From: miraculously thistle-free town
Registered: 2006-03-27
Posts: 32649
Website

Re: to ramble about our stories some more......

ylvs wrote:

This all indeed sounds very intriguing. I am very happy you found joy in writing again my dear. One thing though: The Middle Ages all being misogyny and killing of gays is a modern times prejudice. Just saying.

I know - that's why I said, part of the discussions I see is "is that actually historically accurate?" Because you get writers and fans defend having these things in stories by screaming "but historical accuracy!!", but then people who actually know things pulling out sources and laughing at them.


Basically, I'm Prince Josua in jeans and sneakers, or a different flavor of Renie Sulaweyo.
- Tad

Master of Gardening, Mistress of Kingdom Plantae, Defender of the Seedlings, Guardian of Root and Bough
Scrollbearer and offerer of some very useful opinions

 

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