[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

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The player scrapbooks forum is literally a place for writers to warm-up, brainstorm, keep little scraps of notes, or just post things to encourage themselves and each other. Each player can feel free to create their own thread - one per account - and use them accordingly.

[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

Postby Caelum on July 24th, 2014, 10:28 pm

*applauds wildly* Congratulations!
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[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

Postby Khida on August 13th, 2014, 11:09 pm

Belatedly, thank you, Caelum!

A small hiatus: I have, as of right now, a job interview next week which will also require cross-country travel. I will definitely be scarce from next Wednesday on to the weekend, and may not be posting much before that.
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[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

Postby Khida on September 1st, 2014, 11:01 am

How time flies. There was another week in there somewhere, but it just disappeared.

So, the interview went well. I have a future job, where 'future' is about five weeks away. It's going to be a pretty crazy five weeks. I am all at once a) finishing up at my current lab, b) reading up on literature / the state of the field for the next lab and its projects, c) sorting stuff and packing stuff and preparing to move. Oh, and d) long-distance house-hunting for October. Then I do a cross-country drive the week of the 21st. I should be able to keep up on messages and the like, but probably not posting, while that's going on. I'll spend about a week with family, and then drive up to Portland for the new job.

That's my next month and a half in a nutshell. I'll still be around, but expect replies to be irregular for the duration.
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[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

Postby Colt on February 4th, 2015, 4:13 am

I can't believe I didn't see this! Congrats, Khida!
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[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

Postby Aventis on February 4th, 2015, 10:51 am

Oh wow! That's huge, Khida. Congratulations, friend. c:
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[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

Postby Khida on February 4th, 2015, 1:06 pm

Thank you both! :)
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[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

Postby Khida on February 4th, 2015, 5:12 pm

Value


I've been doing a good bit of item pricing lately, so I thought I'd post some musings on value. Namely: just what is a gold miza worth?

From the perspective of the player, it might seem like relatively little. A miza is the base unit of currency, so one might automatically conclude that's something like a dollar. And even if you do just a modicum of job threads, making living wage for your characters isn't difficult -- not that it should be! -- so 1 GM spent here or there generally doesn't affect much... kinda like spending a dollar here or there. Not to mention, the number involved is 1, and 1 is inherently perceived as being little; it's just one step up from 0. So it's easy to not think about value... but that's all perspective and impressions, filtered through the experiences of one who doesn't live and work with the currency in question.

So what is a miza actually worth?

Of course, there's no direct conversion of mizas into any RL currency, so let's look at the cost of staple foods. Consider the price of bread. I'm going to ignore modern cheap white breads, because those are more filler than food, and their mass production is only possible with industrialization. In my experience, a loaf of decent bread might cost something like $3.50 to $5. Let's call it $4 for mathematic convenience. Per the price list, a loaf of bread in Mizahar costs 2 CM -- all of 0.02 gm.

If 0.02 GM is $4, then 1 GM equates to something like $200.

By that measure, your character's 20x20 cottage (500 gm) is worth $100,000. The least of all horses in Mizahar (50 gm) costs an effective $10,000. That artist's toolkit (25 gm) is $5,000. That quarterstaff (1 gm) is a $200 stick of wood. That green cotton shirt (0.5 gm * 1.25 * 3) is valued at $37.50.

Looking at it that way paints the miza in very different light. Next time your character spends one, contemplate just how much value that little coin represents!



Footnote: For the interested, here's a couple resources on medieval and modern values IRL:

For What It's Worth -- A collection of prices from early England with rough conversions into modern (~late 90's) pounds sterling.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Living Costs of the Rich versus the Poor in England, 1209-1869 -- A scientific paper with a bunch of interesting graphs of relative worth, e.g. housing, spices, textiles, etc. relative to laborer wages. I recommend scrolling past the bibliography and perusing the many charts, then read through the text if you're so inclined.
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[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

Postby Khida on February 19th, 2015, 2:42 pm

So I was wandering through the Internet this morning, as I often do, and I came across this screed about writing fight scenes (in books). The post has more to do with conflict and intensity and the why of the scene, not technical 'this is how you plot out a fight'. One paragraph in particular really resonated for me:

Do you really need the action? Yes. Because for the fight to be important, the characters have to commit to it. They can't suddenly say, "you know, this is stupid, let's not fight." If they can, then you've screwed up as a writer. You've created too simple of a conflict or not given the character enough motivation, or not made the villain strong enough. The conflict requires you to work up a breaking point, and then show it to validate that yes, this was a compelling conflict. If you skip it, you immediately take all the power out of the conflict.


I've been thinking off and on about story structure, things that work, things that don't. There's one author in particular, not the author of that quote, whose writing I really love -- beautiful, evocative prose; well-developed, realized characters; amazingly original settings that live and breathe and you'd about swear they were real. But there are very few of her books that I finish with a feeling of satisfaction, for reasons I couldn't really explain -- until I read the quote above.

It's because the conflict and resolution is where this other author falls down (in my opinion). She ascribes to the 'singularity' style of resolution. She spends the entire novel building up towards a conflict, gets the ball rolling on the final confrontation -- and then suddenly there's a paradigm shift. Everything changes, the reason for fighting has been subverted, and the characters on both sides walk away to figure out the new system. It's not all sweetness and light afterwards, never that -- but that paradigm shift abruptly sucks all the force out of the conflict the entire novel was building towards.

It doesn't happen in all of her books... but a good number of them. Which is unfortunate, because I truly love her writing... but I don't buy her books anymore. I don't have any faith that she will deliver an endgame consistent with the strength of her world-building and characters and prose. And I don't want to get hooked into a book only to find the story falls flat at the end.

What do you find really works, or really doesn't work, when it comes to the plotting and execution of scenes and stories?
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[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

Postby Caelum on February 19th, 2015, 7:27 pm

Paradigm shifts following a plot climax, while not the most popular, are one of the three standard structural occurences. They fall under the “goal is altered” tag as a choice at climax along with “goal achieved” and “goal not achieved”. I hesitate to state that choosing for the goal to be altered cripples the climax and results in an dissatisfactory conclusion, mainly because I’ve seen it done and done well. Typically it’s pulled off because the climax is still allowed to happen. Rarely is it a singular point, one sentence or page, in a story, but an entire scene. The majority of it can be taken up with the climax, the clash, the kaboom. The alteration? A footnote to death drop you into the usually temporary resolution in wait of the sequel.

What I’m driving at is that “goal altered/paradigm shift” doesn’t have to be one and the same as the “climax”. They can be individual yet connected plot steps. I’m curious what author you’re referring to, mainly because I want to know if it’s one I’m familiar with and if I have felt the same way about their books.

Thanks for letting me ramble. :)
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[Khida's Scrapbook] The Curve of the Wind

Postby Khida on April 7th, 2015, 9:07 pm

Posting Activity

Work is currently putting a major crimp on my time, and will probably continue to do so for the next few weeks. The joy of upcoming deadlines. I hope things won't continue to seep over past workday hours for all that time, but I'm not counting on it.

I'll still be working on replies and grades in the interim, as well as some other things I owe -- just slowly.
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