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don longjohns
Mar 2, 2012



take the moon posted:

not to be that guy but you might want to check the long walk next month or whatever. ten bux is a good incentive, as is being immortalized on the wall of shame

I think I would die 😭 I got in my 12 this week. I got it in. Some of it was staring at the screen with my notes. Some of it was actual physical writing.

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Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


don longjohns posted:

I think I would die 😭 I got in my 12 this week. I got it in. Some of it was staring at the screen with my notes. Some of it was actual physical writing.

Enjoy the process and don't judge the output. As long as you've dedicated the time to writing and you follow through with spending that time, it's good, regardless of the actual word count or the words.

Wallet
Jun 19, 2006



Leng posted:

Enjoy the process and don't judge the output. As long as you've dedicated the time to writing and you follow through with spending that time, it's good, regardless of the actual word count or the words.

I'm on board with this generally, but I also think it's really helpful to think about why you're sitting there staring at notes. When you don't have huge blocks of time to write in, small efficiencies can make a big difference.

If you're sitting there because you need a good think then it's all good: that's time you're going to have to put in at some point or another, though you may be able to fit it into the rest of your life by keeping a list of open questions so that you can mull them over when you're in the shower or taking a drive or whatever.

On the other hand, I find that if I'm staring at the screen it's usually for one of two reasons, both of which I can mitigate. Often it's because I just don't know where to start, so I poke around the project looking for a place to jump in. Frightening portions of my time can be devoured by context switching instead of accomplishing anything if I'm not careful. Setting aside the last ten or so minutes of any session writing down what I would be doing next if I weren't stopping makes a big difference for me. If I leave myself a brain-dump I can to pick up right where I left off instead of spending half an hour re-reading everything I worked on last time or poking around looking for the best thing to do next.

The other thing that trips me up is getting caught in dependency hell: To write this scene I need to draft up a new character, but to draft up the character I have to research some obscure topic, but before I research that topic I need to make some decisions because if I change my mind that research will have no purpose, etc, etc. I try to close as many of those doors as I possibly can before I sit down to write something: any small characters I am going to need have names and I have made the necessary decisions about characterization, any research I need to do for the scene is already done, any big open questions about how I'm going to approach things I've already got an answer ready for (even if I end up being wrong, at least I have somewhere to start). If I sit down to write and I don't have all of that done, I jump directly into solving those issues instead of trying to write around them or find a better prepared scene to dig into.

You might be running into totally different issues and my solutions might only work for me, but being conscious of your process is definitely worth it and time invested in figuring out better ways to do things is often paid back many times over.

don longjohns
Mar 2, 2012



Thanks for the tips! Those sound useful. I am always willing to try new strategies I have sticky-notes on my desk for writing down the last thing I was thinking before I stopped writing for the day.

The last bit sounds a lot like me: I tend to over-research and over-think. When I've found myself doing that lately, I just work on the "timeline" in the book, and try to flesh out themes and ideas. I've got this giant spreadsheet with characters, events, etc. in one column, and pieces of the prose in the other column. Moving to that when I feel stuck and just re-reading things has done a lot for my productivity.

Oh, and starting my writing day by reading some good prose (N. K. Jemisin, at the moment) and sketching out what I might what to write that day on paper before I sit at the computer.

Now if I could just get that voice that keeps saying, "You're never going to finish this. Just give up you idiot. No one can teach and write a book at the same time," to shut the gently caress up I'll be in great loving shape.

LiterallyATomato
Mar 17, 2009

CONFIRMED FOR JAY

don longjohns posted:

Now if I could just get that voice that keeps saying, "You're never going to finish this. Just give up you idiot. No one can teach and write a book at the same time," to shut the gently caress up I'll be in great loving shape.

Give that voice the name of someone you hate. Then just say "Shut up, Jeff!" (or whoever) and it'll feel good and right.

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

This article has helped me improve my efficiency a fair bit: https://www.sfwa.org/2011/12/14/guest-post-how-i-went-from-writing-2000-words-a-day-to-10000-words-a-day/ especially the bit about writing a synopsis of the scene before actually writing the scene.

don longjohns posted:

Oh, and starting my writing day by reading some good prose (N. K. Jemisin, at the moment) and sketching out what I might what to write that day on paper before I sit at the computer.

Counterpoint: I have to avoid reading great books that are too similar to what I'm working on at the time. It makes me depressed to see how much better they are than me.

SimonChris
Apr 24, 2008

The Baron's daughter is missing, and you are the man to find her. No problem. With your inexhaustible arsenal of hard-boiled similes, there is nothing you can't handle.

Grimey Drawer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYvYrns_Ngc

In case some people are still confused about metaphors, I have uploaded the full metaphor scene from "Plain Clothes (1987)". Featuring a reading of e e cummings.

SimonChris
Apr 24, 2008

The Baron's daughter is missing, and you are the man to find her. No problem. With your inexhaustible arsenal of hard-boiled similes, there is nothing you can't handle.

Grimey Drawer

I've been experimenting with GPT-3 text generation using AI Dungeon. If you select "Classic" mode with the "Custom" option, you can simply type in a story prompt and have the AI generate the rest. If you don't want to do the text adventure thing, you can press Enter without typing anything, and the AI will keep generating more story. You can also adjust the length of the generated text and other parameters in the settings.

Here I have tried using the first paragraph of the first Baru Cormorant book as a prompt:

The AI Baru Cormorant posted:

Trade season came around again. Baru was still too young to smell the empire wind. The Masquerade sent its favorite soldiers to conquer Taranoke: sailcloth, dyes, glazed ceramic, sealskin and oils, paper currency printed in their Falcrest tongue. Little Baru, playing castles in the hot black sand, liked to watch their traders come in to harbor. She learned to count by tallying the ships and the seabirds that circled them.

She had a great time with her friends on the beach when they played hide-and-seek or tag. They would play for hours until one of them found something new to tell about it. One day she saw a man coming out from behind some rocks. He wore nothing but his loin cloth and carried no weapons at all except a small fishing net he used as an oar.

"Who are you?" she asked. "I'm looking for my friend."

The man looked at her with surprise. "You're my friend? I thought you were a pirate!" he said indignantly. "What do you want here?"

Baru smiled shyly and held up her hand to show him where the beach ended and the sea began. "My name is Baru," she said, then pointed to herself. "And this is me."

He stared at her for a moment, then nodded. "Yes, yes, you look just like your picture book. And this is me." (*Removed some creepy stuff here*)

"Do you have a name?" she asked. "All people need a name so I can talk to them."

"Everyone calls me Roldan," he said. "What do you want to talk about?"

"I want to be friends," Baru said. "And what are you doing here?"

He stared into the distance and showed her his teeth. "I'm fishing," he said. "Look at all the fish I caught!"

"You only have one," Baru said, "and it's the wrong kind." She took his hand in hers and led him back to the village so she could show him how. He might not be her first friend, but he would be her best.

2

After spending a year on the island of Taranoke, the Emperor of the Known World decided to provide greater support for its expansion. The Imperial Governor at the time, a dour yet charismatic woman named Cassandra, finished her conquest of the southern islands and turned her eyes west. She sent ten thousand men to conquer the land of the Hyrons on the continent of Epirus, leaving only a meager five hundred on the island.

The Empire hoped that this new conquest would provide them with access to the fabled inner sea, where great treasures and savage warriors waited to be conquered. Instead, they found swamps and malaria. By the time Cassandra had won control of Epirus, she had lost nine thousand soldiers to disease alone.

She returned in a foul mood. She blamed the Ministry of Colonization for sending her on a fools errand and under-supplying her on purpose. She blamed her soldiers for being weak. She blamed the jungles for being jungles. Then she took it out on the local population.

The Hyrons had never been conquered before. They were a proud people with long history of fighting off outside invaders. They fought tooth and nail, but they could not match the sheer manpower of the Empire's army. It took three years, but the Hyrons were broken.

Trouble started when the surviving population rebelled. They were joined by the refugees from the conquered islands, who no longer had anybody to rule over them. Refugees swarmed into the jungle and eluded the grasp of the Empire. Cassandra sent more soldiers, then more, then more again. Then she sent in the off-duty soldiers, then the sailors, then the citizens of Epiros who weren't dying fast enough. The war just kept going and going and never seemed to end.

Cassandra was executed for her failures. A new governor came in and tried to change up tactics. Instead of sending more soldiers to the island, he sent bureaucrats. They wrote letters back to the Emperor about how they were trying to make peace with these uncivilized barbarians, but they needed just a little bit more time and a few more soldiers. The Emperor tired of it all, and stopped replying. They kept writing for a decade.

By now, nobody really knew why the hell they were fighting anymore. It was just something they had been doing for so long, it had become a part of life.

Baru and Roldan were two of the many soldiers caught up in the endless war.

The Empire organized its ranks differently for this conflict. Soldiers were organized into large groups based on their class. The skilled were put into work details. Carpenters, miners, stonemasons, cooks, smiths, and more kept the army running. The unskilled were the combat troops. With the war dragging on longer than expected, more and more of these were conscripts from conquered lands with no training. The elite were the veterans and marines. They got the best equipment, were used strategically, and had the most say in things. In effect it was more a class-based system than a rank-based one.

Baru was a marine, through and through. He had joined the navy at a young age and proven himself countless times. He distinguished himself in skirmishes in the southern islands, and was sent to fight in Epiros as soon as he became an adult. He had become a marine because he wanted to travel and see the world, not spend his life stuck in some fort waiting for an attack that may or may not come.

Roldan was a work detail grunt. He didn't have the flair or talent to be a marine, but he was still an experienced soldier who had fought in many battles.

As the years passed and Baru distinguished himself as a brave and capable leader, Roldan distinguished himself by being in the wrong place at the wrong time on countless occasions. He suffered injuries that would've been fatal for most, but the healers did what they could. Over the years he developed a great fear of dying in battle and becoming a cripple. He was already a nervous man even when uninjured, and his time working in the hospital only made him more paranoid.

Baru noticed this change in his friend. More than once he offered to have Roldan transferred to his unit, but he always declined.

The funny thing was, the war was finally turning in the Empire's favor. The work detail soldiers built a massive wall around the heart of the island, cutting off the refugees from the jungle and all the resources in it. Starvation and sickness thinned their ranks, and skirmishes reduced them further. Banditry became more common as refugees turned to robbing fellow refugees for survival.

Finally, they raised a flag of surrender. The war was over. It had taken nearly two decades, but the Empire finally destroyed the rebellion.

Most of the marines were sent home, but Baru and some others were stationed there to maintain order while the rest of the army was sent to reinforce the western borders where refugees from the Arat province were flooding into Empirian territory as Epiros retook their land.

It was at this point that Roldan finally got his transfer.

This is surprisingly good for AI generated text. The AI did forget Baru's gender, but otherwise it actually tells a semi-coherent story. I think I might use this for inspiration in the future.

SimonChris fucked around with this message at 08:38 on Dec 9, 2020

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

Gross! Ew.

Leal
Oct 2, 2009

If you LP what I LP
And if you work retail like I work retail
You would also scream like I scream


Dammit why did you get me into AI dungeon again

I already neglect writing as it is!

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

That AI is really creepy.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

SimonChris posted:

I've been experimenting with GPT-3 text generation using AI Dungeon. If you select "Classic" mode with the "Custom" option, you can simply type in a story prompt and have the AI generate the rest. If you don't want to do the text adventure thing, you can press Enter without typing anything, and the AI will keep generating more story. You can also adjust the length of the generated text and other parameters in the settings.

Here I have tried using the first paragraph of the first Baru Cormorant book as a prompt:


This is surprisingly good for AI generated text. The AI did forget Baru's gender, but otherwise it actually tells a semi-coherent story. I think I might use this for inspiration in the future.

Scary. I actually laughed out loud several times. What part did you put in exactly???

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

Doctor Zero posted:

Scary. I actually laughed out loud several times. What part did you put in exactly???

Everything after the first paragraph including the creepy part. It doesn't read anything like the original.

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

Honestly the whole "my AI generated OC walks up to an underage girl and hangs dong and she loves it" thing is a bit much for me

SimonChris
Apr 24, 2008

The Baron's daughter is missing, and you are the man to find her. No problem. With your inexhaustible arsenal of hard-boiled similes, there is nothing you can't handle.

Grimey Drawer

Doctor Zero posted:

Scary. I actually laughed out loud several times. What part did you put in exactly???

I only put in the first paragraph, from the book. Everything after that is 100% AI-generated, by repeatedly pressing Enter to trigger more text. Typing in commands tends to make AI Dungeon slip back into second-person text-adventure mode, which I am trying to avoid. I think watching the AI work is more interesting without the game framework.

Anyway, I didn't notice quite how creepy the first part was before I posted it. Sorry about that. It doesn't normally do that kind of stuff. I've removed that part from the text.

I tried again and got something less creepy:

The AI Baru Cormorant: Take Two posted:

Trade season came around again. Baru was still too young to smell the empire wind. The Masquerade sent its favorite soldiers to conquer Taranoke: sailcloth, dyes, glazed ceramic, sealskin and oils, paper currency printed in their Falcrest tongue. Little Baru, playing castles in the hot black sand, liked to watch their traders come in to harbor. She learned to count by tallying the ships and the seabirds that circled them.

One day she saw a ship coming from afar. It was big and dark, like an oaken coffin with sails of silver. She knew it must be richly decorated, because her father had told her stories about such things when they were together on the sea. A man stepped out onto deck, his face pale as bone. He wore a long cloak that fell past his knees; he held a staff in one hand and looked down at the people below him with cold eyes. He waved toward the city, but no one paid any attention. They just watched him.

Baru's mother stood beside her, holding her hands to protect them from the sun. "What is it?" she asked quietly.
"I am a messenger," said the man, looking up at them all with cold eyes. "The emperor wishes you all well."

"He does? But why did he send me away?" Baru's father cried. "Why did he not let us go home?"

The man turned his head slowly toward the city. His face was grim, and his voice was cold. "Because I have seen what can happen if men are allowed to live free, even for a moment." Then he pointed to the city walls. "This is where your family should be."

Baru's mother frowned. "What do you mean?"

"You should be ruled," he said. Then his voice grew cruel, and his eyes looked down at the people with hatred. "You should all be ruled. You are nothing but sheep that walk upright. If you were wise, you would give yourselves over to the wolves."

The people cried out in fear. The messenger pointed to the city again.

There is definitely a stochastic element because it returns different results using the same prompt. Anyway, I won't do any more Baru if the author doesn't like it.

SimonChris fucked around with this message at 09:20 on Dec 9, 2020

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


I recently read Baru 1 and loved it; am currently reading Baru 2 and that AI's attempt (which I saw the unedited version of) was indeed horrifying. I did Andrew Ng's machine learning course once just to get a better understanding of the basic concepts and I have to say that I have no idea how you would train an AI on what is and isn't appropriate when it comes to writing fiction.

SimonChris posted:

Anyway, I won't do any more Baru if the author doesn't like it.

The mistake was starting with a great book written by a good author. How about you try one of these awful books written by a bad author or these also terrible books written by a really bad author?

I'm curious to see whether the AI could do a better job (I bet it does).

EDIT:

Sailor Viy posted:

This article has helped me improve my efficiency a fair bit: https://www.sfwa.org/2011/12/14/guest-post-how-i-went-from-writing-2000-words-a-day-to-10000-words-a-day/ especially the bit about writing a synopsis of the scene before actually writing the scene.

I just read this and this is great. Petitioning for this to be added to the OP!

Leng fucked around with this message at 11:38 on Dec 9, 2020

SimonChris
Apr 24, 2008

The Baron's daughter is missing, and you are the man to find her. No problem. With your inexhaustible arsenal of hard-boiled similes, there is nothing you can't handle.

Grimey Drawer

Leng posted:

I recently read Baru 1 and loved it; am currently reading Baru 2 and that AI's attempt (which I saw the unedited version of) was indeed horrifying. I did Andrew Ng's machine learning course once just to get a better understanding of the basic concepts and I have to say that I have no idea how you would train an AI on what is and isn't appropriate when it comes to writing fiction.


The mistake was starting with a great book written by a good author. How about you try one of these awful books written by a bad author or these also terrible books written by a really bad author?

Yeah, that was a mistake. I apologize to General Battuta.

Anyway, here is the preface to Twilight. The first four paragraphs are from the book. The rest are AI-generated.

Twilight AI posted:

I'd never given much thought to how I would die—though I'd had reason enough in the last few months—but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.

I stared without breathing across the long room, into the dark eyes of the hunter, and he looked pleasantly back at me.

Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved. Noble, even. That ought to count for something.

I knew that if I'd never gone to Forks, I wouldn't be facing death now. But, terrified as I was, I couldn't bring myself to regret the decision. When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it's not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end.


The hunter smiled in a friendly way as he sauntered forward to kill me.

"So," he said, "you're the one who did it."

It took all my willpower not to scream out loud. My throat felt dry, and I didn't know what else to do but keep silent. The hunter reached down with his other hand, and pulled the pistol from its holster on his side. He held it up slowly, as if waiting for me to make some sort of move or reaction before pulling the trigger.

My heart stopped beating as the bullet went through my chest and into my brain.

The world spun around me, and I could feel nothing but air rushing past my lips. I saw stars, and heard no sound save for the wind blowing against my face. It seemed like forever, but only lasted a moment. Then, everything returned to normal again.

When I opened my eyes again, there was only darkness surrounding me. There were two figures standing over me: the man holding the gun and a woman wearing a black dress with red trim who stood behind him.

"Isabella?" I managed to gasp.

"Hello, Bella. It's been a long time."

The woman knelt down beside me, and brushed the hair out of my face. The hunter moved over to stand where she had been, his face as emotionless as stone.

"You're dead," I said stupidly.
"Obviously not," she responded with an amused smile.

She helped me sit up, and I looked around. We were alone in an alleyway I didn't recognize, with only an abandoned pizza box and a few beer cans to keep us company.

"Am I dead?" I asked, suddenly realizing the situation.

Isabella laughed. It was musical and light, the sort of laugh you'd expect to come from a girl just learning how to ride a bike, not the grim creature crouched on the other side of me.

"No," she promised me.

There genuinely doesn't seem to be any drop in quality. Also, Twilight must have been part of the training material since the AI knows the name of the main character (I did another Twilight run where the AI decided that the main character was named "Kate", but still gave her a love interest named Edward).

My point in posting all this was simply to demonstrate how you can bypass the game part of AI Dungeon and use it to generate story ideas.

Edit: Also, in case people think I am making this up, you can use the link https://play.aidungeon.io/main/adventurePlay?publicId=801290bc-5aa7-4302-87ba-efbeb1ae0a4d (do not click) with the code Evu4Qk to join the Twilight game. Just press enter to generate more story. You will need to go to https://play.aidungeon.io/ and click "Join Game". This requires signing up for a free account.

SimonChris fucked around with this message at 16:45 on Dec 9, 2020

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


The machine learning model that AI Dungeon uses was trained on a corpus of texts taken from the internet, if I recall, so if you're using a popular enough media property it will "know" roughly which keywords are associated with one another.

(I think it's either the full version of the basic model that TalkToTransformer used or some similar but more advanced model, and I remember you could get TalkToTransformer to replicate formats of things you'd find on the internet, like Wikipedia lists of titles or recipe blogs.)

Djeser fucked around with this message at 16:54 on Dec 9, 2020

newts
Oct 10, 2012


I mostly just lurk in here, but I'm at the point where I'm trying to write a blurb for my novel.

Why is it so hard!? The feeling is akin to writing a resume or a cover letter for a job application. I guess because it's a form of self-promotion, which has always been a problem for me. It's also hard to hype the novel I've basically seen in various states of undress, each one more unflattering than the last, for months. Ugh.

I need an automatic blurb generator.

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

Go read Queryshark a bunch, then simply don't do what any of those queries do.

Rad-daddio
Apr 25, 2017


General Battuta posted:

Go read Queryshark a bunch, then simply don't do what any of those queries do.

Is it bad?

I'm nearing the querying process now. Are there better places for tips and help?

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

The briefest look at Queryshark would tell you it's a site where an experienced reader critiques query letters and offers suggestions for improvement. It's not for mocking people or giving bad advice.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




General Battuta was referring to the query letters themselves, not the site.

Rad-daddio
Apr 25, 2017


Sham bam bamina! posted:

General Battuta was referring to the query letters themselves, not the site.

ah, got it.

Pennsylvanian
May 22, 2010


don longjohns posted:

Now if I could just get that voice that keeps saying, "You're never going to finish this. Just give up you idiot. No one can teach and write a book at the same time," to shut the gently caress up I'll be in great loving shape.

I've been fighting that voice for thirty years. Somehow though, I still manage to add lines to my docs.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


Over in the Thunderdome thread (our local weekly competitive flash fiction group) we've been debating the usefulness of a Thunderdome tradition: the losertar. Each week, or at least most weeks, the people judging goon-submitted stories choose the one they thought was the worst, and that poster gets a cool new Mad Max-themed Thunderdome Loser avatar. They can change it back themselves if they want, or they can earn a new avatar through improving in the subsequent weeks.

We're trying to figure out whether this is worth keeping around, so I figured I'd ask here and in the CC Chat thread: Does anyone feel reluctant to participate in Thunderdome because of the threat of losing their avatar? The competitive nature of Thunderdome is something we want to preserve, and we know that's not for everyone so if that's the case for you, that's cool and valid. But if you're interested in participating, we don't want you to feel like you can't take part because it puts your avatar at risk. (We've also been considering having a Thunderdome gang tag with a 'loser' variant that gets swapped out, if that sounds more palatable than an avatar change.)

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


Though I’m no longer in the dome, when we originally instituted the losertar, the generic one replaced making individual ones for each “loser” like the animated ones I made for the potato challenge. But the mods didn’t want to give everyone who lost a cool/hilarious/terrible individual avatar every week, so half the fun was kinda killed.

I think the gang tag idea is much cooler, for winners and losers

REMEMBER SPONGE MONKEYS
Oct 3, 2003

What do you think it means, bitch?


I guess on mobile you don’t even see gang tags? Mine here has some good(?) miles on it, but really to have an opinion with any weight I’d need to finally get off my rear end and participate.

Megazver
Jan 13, 2006


I've narrowly avoided getting a losertar the few times I've participated, but this particular tradition never struck me as something that makes TD better. Gang tag sounds a lot better.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




So I'll be publishing a fantasy book in early march. Got a lot of great feedback from people on this forum and on critique sites about how to improve dragging sections in the manuscript, wondering if I can get people's feedback on how to make this blurb snappier:

As an enforcer for the Order of the Magi, Cantus dreams of glory in magical combat. But the Order has been too effective in its function, leaving the world with a mere smattering of hedge wizards as incompetent opponents. Worse yet, his new partner Evroh is an ancient man who feels more at home in libraries than on the field of battle. When a seemingly simple mission leaves Cantus permanently disabled, he will journey to the center of the Auduwyn empire to track the rogue mage who can heal him before his magic disappears forever. At the same time, internal divisions in the Order become apparent and Cantus discovers Evroh is not what he appears.
A story about hubris, fear, and the occasional fireball, the self-contained novel Order of the Magi should appeal to fans of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles and KJ Parker’s Academic Exercises.


In particular wondering if the last sentence before the comparisons could be stronger as a hook. An alternative I'm playing with is:
"Meanwhile, centuries of peace have left the Magi unprepared for a growing new threat that may challenge the very fabric of their Order."

newts
Oct 10, 2012


Ccs posted:

As an enforcer for the Order of the Magi, Cantus dreams of glory in magical combat. But when a seemingly simple mission leaves Cantus permanently disabled, he will journey to the center of the Auduwyn empire to track the rogue mage who can heal him before his magic disappears forever. As Cantus embarks on his quest, he discovers a growing threat that may challenge the very fabric of their Order.

A story about hubris, fear, and the occasional fireball, the self-contained novel Order of the Magi should appeal to fans of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles and KJ Parker’s Academic Exercises.

I messed with this a little bit. Basically, I took out the parts that made me lose interest and added a little more agency to Cantus in the last sentence, which might not be what actually happens, but it would make me more interested in this vague threat as a reader.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Yeah that's much better.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


sebmojo posted:

Yeah that's much better.

Echoing this!!

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Thanks! Someone also mentioned that comparing the book to other books in the last sentence seems gauche. Is it bad form to add comparisons to more famous books at the end of a blurb? (I know queries need comps but to very recently published books.)

don longjohns
Mar 2, 2012



Ccs posted:

Thanks! Someone also mentioned that comparing the book to other books in the last sentence seems gauche. Is it bad form to add comparisons to more famous books at the end of a blurb? (I know queries need comps but to very recently published books.)

Have you seen examples of it? I have but I cannot think of any specific examples at the moment 🤔

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




don longjohns posted:

Have you seen examples of it? I have but I cannot think of any specific examples at the moment 🤔

Yeah I could have sworn I've seen it before. But the big traditionally published books don't do so.

At alternative last line:

A story about hubris, fear, and the occasional fireball, the self-contained novel Order of the Magi transports readers into a world where magic comes at a cost. (is that too cliche?)

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Djeser posted:

Over in the Thunderdome thread (our local weekly competitive flash fiction group) we've been debating the usefulness of a Thunderdome tradition: the losertar. Each week, or at least most weeks, the people judging goon-submitted stories choose the one they thought was the worst, and that poster gets a cool new Mad Max-themed Thunderdome Loser avatar. They can change it back themselves if they want, or they can earn a new avatar through improving in the subsequent weeks.

We're trying to figure out whether this is worth keeping around, so I figured I'd ask here and in the CC Chat thread: Does anyone feel reluctant to participate in Thunderdome because of the threat of losing their avatar? The competitive nature of Thunderdome is something we want to preserve, and we know that's not for everyone so if that's the case for you, that's cool and valid. But if you're interested in participating, we don't want you to feel like you can't take part because it puts your avatar at risk. (We've also been considering having a Thunderdome gang tag with a 'loser' variant that gets swapped out, if that sounds more palatable than an avatar change.)

I'm in favor of the gang tag because now that I have achieved peak cuteness with my new avatar I am loath to lose it

Nae
Sep 3, 2020

what.


Ccs posted:

As an enforcer for the Order of the Magi, Cantus dreams of glory in magical combat. But the Order has been too effective in its function, leaving the world with a mere smattering of hedge wizards as incompetent opponents. Worse yet, his new partner Evroh is an ancient man who feels more at home in libraries than on the field of battle. When a seemingly simple mission leaves Cantus permanently disabled, he will journey to the center of the Auduwyn empire to track the rogue mage who can heal him before his magic disappears forever. At the same time, internal divisions in the Order become apparent and Cantus discovers Evroh is not what he appears.
A story about hubris, fear, and the occasional fireball, the self-contained novel Order of the Magi should appeal to fans of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles and KJ Parker’s Academic Exercises.

From what I can see, you've got a couple issues with this blurb unrelated to the comp titles at the end. The best way I can think to explain this is by summarizing what the blurb does and doesn't tell me, and what I need to know.

1) I know Cantus is an enforcer of the Order of the Magi. I don't know who the Order of the Magi are, or why they matter to the world. The name doesn't give anything away. You go into a little bit of detail later, but their function and importance still isn't apparent by the end.

2) I know Cantus dreams of glory in magical combat, but I don't know a) what that looks like, or b) why he wants it. Is magical combat dueling for sport, or is it warfare? Does Cantus have personal reasons for wanting glory, or is he fighting for a cause?

3) I know the Order has been too effective in its function, but I don't know what that function is. It seems like they kill wizards. Why? Don't they use magic? Cantus wants glory in magical combat, but he works for an agency that seems opposed to magical combat. Without more information, this doesn't make sense.

4) I know Evroh is an old man who doesn't like fighting, but I don't know why that matters to Cantus. How does he stop Cantus from achieving glory on the battlefield? I know they're enforcers, but what do they enforce? I can assume it's related to the wizards dying, but it's a lot less confusing if you state it explicitly.

5) I know Cantus becomes permanently disabled, but I don't know how that stops him from achieving glory. What specifically happened to him? How does this disability impede his goal?

6) I know internal divisions are appearing in the order, but I don't know how that stops Cantus from achieving glory. Need specifics.

7) I know Evroh is not what he seems, but I don't know how that stops Cantus from achieving glory. Need specifics.

By number 7, you can probably see the theme in my questions: 'What does Cantus want, and what's stopping him from getting it?' You've got a lot of details packed into a short space, but at the end of the day, a blurb needs to accomplish the same things as a query. It has to tell us:

1) who the protagonist is
2) what they want
3) what's stopping them from getting it
4) what happens if they don't get it

First, who is Cantus? We know he's an enforcer for the Order of the Magi, but that doesn't tell us anything about him when we don't know what the Order does or what enforcers do for the order. We can guess based on context, but guessing is frustrating. Details are key.

Next, what does Cantus want? We know he wants glory in battle, but we don't know what glory is or why it matters to him.

Then, what's stopping Cantus from getting glory? You've thrown a ton of roadblocks in Cantus's path--the decline of magic, the bookish partner, the disability, the schisms in the Order, the partner's lies--but none of them can stop Cantus from achieving glory when we don't know what glory is. The closest you come to hitting this point is 'Cantus wants to fight wizards but all the wizards are gone'. That's a legitimate roadblock; you literally cannot fight wizards if there are no wizards. That makes sense. The other stuff (the partner and the disability and the Order) all need to be fleshed out as obstacles if you want to include them in the blurb. Note: You don't have to include them all! In fact, you probably shouldn't. You've got a lot going on here, so you're better served focusing on one or two of the biggest obstacles, rather than all of them.

Moving on, what's going to happen to Cantus if he doesn't achieve glory? This is the big one, the one that ties into all the other questions. If we knew more about who Cantus was, what he wanted, and what was standing in his way, we should be able to answer this automatically. If Cantus is a charismatic, narcissistic guy who thrives on adoration and wants glory so he feels important, not achieving glory will guarantee he's miserable for the rest of his life. If Cantus is an honorable, kind-hearted magic-user who wants glory to raise awareness in the goodness of magic, he will be heartbroken if he fails to bring it back. It's better if he has something concrete to lose if he fails, like a loved one or an important object, but there are many great stories where self-worth is the highest thing at stake. The only way those work is if we know who the protagonist is, what they want, and what's standing in their way.

I realize now that this is a huge wall of text, but I wouldn't have written it if I didn't think you had the underpinnings of something workable. As the blurb stands, you have the basic skeleton of a story; you just need to put the meat on its bones.

Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Good notes. Synthesizing that latest critique alonside the edits other have done, here's is a new blurb:

Cantus dreams of glory in magical combat. As an enforcer for the Order of the Magi, hunting down rogue magic-users, he should have ample opportunity to build a heroic legacy. But when a seemingly simple mission leaves him permanently disabled, he must journey to the center of the Auduwyn Empire to track the rogue mage who can heal him before his magic disappears entirely. To make matters worse, he soon discovers a growing threat that challenges the very fabric of the Order and the lasting peace it has established.
A story about hubris, fear, and the occasional fireball, the self-contained novel Order of the Magi transports readers into a world where magic and heroism come at a cost.

Ccs fucked around with this message at 03:10 on Jan 8, 2021

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Ccs
Feb 25, 2011




Alright I come to you all with another small question. I have a sentence here:

quote:

"The glow from the engraved runes on Cantus’ staff faded as he and his partner Renk moved through the haze of the rogue mage’s hall."

I've realized it's technically grammatically incorrect because "staff" is the subject, and it's making the staff sound like "he".

I've tried a few variations on rephrasing. This is the second sentence in the entire book so I want to get it right.

quote:

Cantus and his partner Renk moved through the rogue mage’s hall, the glow from the engraved runes on his staff fading in the haze.

That one sorta works but the "his" is so far from "Cantus" that it could be a bit unclear to readers whose staff is being referred to. Cantus? Renk? The rogue mage?

I could substitute "his" with "Cantus" but then I'm repeating the name a lot.

Ccs fucked around with this message at 02:45 on Jan 13, 2021

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