[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

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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.

[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

Postby Faroul on May 5th, 2011, 12:10 pm

Image
What does one do after escaping Hai?
Start a scrapbook, of course.

Image

Vitals:
  • Name: Alfred J. Quizzelbacher
  • Age: 26
  • Location: New York, USA
  • Favorite authors: Gene Wolfe, R. Scott Bakker, Kate Elliott
  • Likes: Writing, drawing, mythology, anthropology, deserts, symphonic metal, fantasy/sci-fi, Japanese animation


Mizahar To-do:
  • Finish intro thread
  • Thread with Malah and Wretched
  • Dream thread with Rak'kena
  • Epic questulence with Melange
  • Get a job! Scorpions?


Mizahar Questions:
  • Skills: What is the difference between the observation and intelligence? Re-read all the relevant skill entries.


Comments/critique/thread planning/etc are quite welcome.
Last edited by Faroul on June 29th, 2011, 5:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

Postby Faroul on May 5th, 2011, 12:46 pm

Writing: Thoughts of the moment

I have a problem. I like to refer to it as "George Lucas syndrome." It is defined as the complete inability to accurately gauge the quality of one's work and ideas. Like Mr. Lucas, if I am not assisted by a screenwriter, a producer, an editor, or just a sane friend who realizes when I need a baseball bat to the cranium, I will come up with some seriously stupid shit. I have had my own Jar-Jar Binkses, endless podrace scenes, insipid romantic dialogues, and microorganisms that whisper the sweet secrets of the universe into my ears, like how to build an AT-AT entirely out of bacon. (Unfortunately, someone got to this before me.)

How is George Lucas Syndrome (GLS for short) contracted? I can't speak for the titular example of this condition, but in my case, it came from constant praise of my writing. Now, before you start thinking that I'm intractably full of myself, I don't deserve most of it. People give praise for lots of reasons. For one, maybe they see you have some potential and want to encourage it, despite the fact that your work isn't going to win any awards anytime soon. (Kindergarten finger paintings, I am looking at YOU.) Maybe the audience likes what they see, but doesn't have the expertise to catch something that would offend a more trained eye. (Remember when you thought your dad's stick figures were the most amazing art in the universe?) Or maybe the reviewer is simply drained or crunched for time, slaps on a sticker, and calls it a day. (I've always wondered about the secret life of SAT essay graders; gods have mercy on their souls.) And sometimes - maybe, just once or twice - we actually transcend the limits of our current abilities, rise to the heavens, and spin our words out of the very stuff of the unfathomable and glorious cosmos. The veil parts, revealing a small thread of the truth of the universe; angels weep, overcome with beauty; my triple-cheese burrito hops into the microwave and defrosts itself. Miracles, indeed.

Hyperbole aside, that last one has probably happened to most writers at least once. (I mean writing something really good, not the burrito thing.) Sometimes people surprise themselves. This is a great thing! However, if you're like me, and have mistakenly taken those miraculous abberations as representative of the usual quality of your work, you may be at risk of contracting GLS. After all, if my writing is great, and my writing springs from my ideas, then my ideas must all be awesome!

Damn, even my logic is infallible.

Luckily, most people aren't like this. The overwhemling majority of the writers and artists I have met are very self-critical, never satisfied with their work and how it compares to that of others. And even if you personally don't go to that end of the extreme, you probably realize, like a sensible human being, that everyone has their original trilogy days, and their prequel days. But I was a dumb kid, fooled around without protection, and caught the GLS without realizing it. Only the aforementioned sane friend(s) with baseball bats were able to knock some semblance of reality into my noggin through some much-needed critique. I now understand that I haven't been critiqued enough in general, and that I've been a big fish in a small pond, so to speak. The ego really does need smacked around now and again, for the sake of sanity.

So, provided you have waded through all the tl;dr, you might be wondering why I still have GLS, given the realizations I've come to. The strange and funny thing, weirder even than the fact that the city planet of Coruscant has no farms, is that I've ended up on the other end. If I'm not great all the time, then some of my ideas have to be bad. Maybe lots of them are bad. Now, that's okay. I can accept that. Humanity accepts unpleasant things, like locker room toe fungus and shitty video game movies, all the time. Some things are just facts of life. But how do I know when something is bad? I might just be tempted to put sparkling vampires in my high school drama, and then where will we be? (This is actually patently less stupid than a bunch of other things I've come up with, like an ice sorcerer who researched a way to turn his, uh, gametes into pollen, so he could have a child with his plant demon wife. No, I was not on hallucinogens.)

I know critique is the answer. I know that having someone to act as your sounding board for ideas is the first and best way to separate the gold from the pebbles and the mud. But I can't really demand time from my busy friends to ask them to look at my posts. This means it is up to me to evaluate my own ideas, and proceed without the crutch of their scrutiny. That's enough to make me wet myself, and I'm someone who held it in through a nine-hour overseas flight due to an irrational issue with airplane toilets. (Don't ask.) Right now I'm even sitting in front of a post-in-progress, wondering if this is the fanciest thing since Henry VIII's commode (DAT BLING), or something so banal that it will confirm my deepest fears of creative bankruptcy.

I think I'll just post it and see what the eff happens.

In conclusion, I am hoping that participating on Mizahar will help me to become a better writer and get over my crippling perfectionism. I hope too that I'll eradicate the last of my GLS, and learn how to more accurately consider what the heck I'm putting on paper or on the screen. And lastly, but most importantly, I hope to meet some awesome folks and have fun telling a story. Some of the best things in the universe come out of collaboration. Together, like Mr. Lucas and the crew of the original Star Wars, we can turn a little scribble about space farmers on Utapau into a memorable epic.

Maybe we'll even get some burritos out of the deal.
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[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

Postby Faroul on June 30th, 2011, 8:17 pm

This happens sometimes.

"You."
"... Faroul? Is that you?"
"It is. I have demands."
"What demands?"
"Get up. You must draw me."
"Do you know how early in the morning it is? Go back to bed!"
"Listen. If you are going to torment me, write flashbacks to my darkest moments in Hai, and otherwise pull me open for your own entertainment, I insist I have a face."
"But Faroul, you will just look like Abashai."
"And who would not want to look like Abashai?"
"Point taken. But you already have some excellent Tuareg gentlemen as your reference photos!"
"If you are going to write my words and thoughts, you can make my face, too."
"Ahh, fuck it. But no complaining about what comes out. Deal?"
"Deal."

And so it was that Faroul got his face. (Or rather, the face he had a decade ago.)

Image

Enjoy it, you bastard. I'm going back to bed.
Last edited by Faroul on July 24th, 2011, 5:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

Postby Monarch on June 30th, 2011, 8:55 pm

Al, I think you're in an abusive relationship with your character. I know, I've been in one too. I think it's time you got some help: try the Abused Writers Anonymous (AWA) today. It can help you out of a difficult time, trust me.
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[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

Postby Dhalvasha on July 1st, 2011, 8:37 pm

I know the feeling of the GLS syndrome as I once had it. Now I suffer from its extreme opposite...which, given my creativity is lacking at the moment, I will give no name. It is simply the idea that ones writing is inherently superior to anyone who shows they have a command of English and grammar equal or greater to oneself.

What I mean to say is aim carefully. If you fall back too far you won't like the view.
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[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

Postby Renaria on July 3rd, 2011, 9:58 am

I've had that before too. (not the GLS, the more recent thing you posted)
*joins AWA*
My pc keeps wanting me to draw her, but frankly I'm no good with people.

(Love the picture btw)
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[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

Postby Silvy on July 3rd, 2011, 4:45 pm

Great pic!

I like how the eyebrow is just about to raise in that smug manner! Very well done!
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[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

Postby Faroul on July 24th, 2011, 6:58 am

Responses

@Melange: But, but! You don't know him like I do! :(
... Just kidding. Sign me up!

@Dhalvasha: I agree. To be healthy as an artist, I feel you have to both balance your perceptions of your work with reality (receive and accept critique) and maintain the drive to succeed and love of words and imagination that keep you writing. I sure don't want to end up prideful and oblivious, nor negative and joyless, in regards to my work, so here's to kicking our respective writing demons in the face.

Image
Hell yeah, Courage Wolf knows what's up.


@Renaria: I'm glad you like the picture! At the risk of enabling your abusive PC, I'd say give it a whirl and draw her anyways. The sooner you start working on drawing people, the sooner you'll feel confident about it. You did a great job on her snow leopard form - I'm sure you can make her human side just as nice.

@ Silvy: Thanks! Now I'll have to make a smug eyebrow lift part of his repertoire, haha.
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[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

Postby Faroul on July 24th, 2011, 10:02 am

Desert Survival!

I don't believe I've mentioned it before, but I'm an anthropologist by training. I've always been fascinated by other cultures and the sheer diversity of lifestyles and beliefs practiced by people around the world. This is part of the reason Mizahar appealed to me so strongly - each race is richly detailed, with information on everything from physiology to social structure to the kinds of clothing and adornments worn. To me, details like these are important for good roleplaying, for the establishment of an immersive game world and characters filled with the breath of realism and life.

The peoples of Eyktol interest me in particular. The Eypharians, the Benshira, and the Chaktawe each have a different relationship with the same harsh environment. Between them, they also represent the main methods of subsistence - ways of obtaining food and resources - practiced by real-world people. The Eypharians practice agriculture, living sedentarily and raising grand monuments around them to proclaim their dignity and ward off the dunes. They are the masters of their surroundings, imposing order and their will on nature as they cultivate the soil, their mines, and the nearby sea. The Benshira are pastoralists, ranging the arid wilds in search of water and grazing for their herds, on whom they depend. Though some live settled in Yahebah, most need no greater monument than the one for Yahal they build in their hearts. The Chaktawe are hunters and gatherers seeking game and forage, better adapted to the harsh climate than any other race due to their specialized eyes, feet, and water organs. Their relationship with the desert is an intimate and immediate one, as they live directly off the land, rather than domesticating plants or animals. Three races, three different takes on desert survival.

As a player in Eyktol, then, I must pay attention to how I depict the desert and my character's travels in it, and how his race, culture, and experiences influence what he thinks about it and how he interacts with it. I'm going to use this space to collect the different materials I find relating to desert geography, survival, and travel. Maybe someone reading this will find it useful, too. (Or be inspired to come play in Eyktol... wink wink!)

[Desert Geography]
  • Wikipedia: Desert
    A good overview article. Particularly useful are its descriptions of the different kinds of desert regions - mountain and basin deserts, plateau/highland deserts, rock pavements, and dune seas. The water section is illuminating, too - check out flash floods and ephemeral lakes!

[Desert Survival]

[Travel]
    Using the chart, map, and rates below, you can roughly calculate how long a trip through Eyktol will take.
  • Mizahar Distance Chart
  • Map of the Cities of Mizahar
  • On foot: "By walking slowly and resting 10 minutes per hour [and avoiding walking during the hottest hours of the day,] a person in good physical condition can cover 12-18 miles per day -- less after becoming fatigued or suffering from lack of sufficient food or water."
  • By camel: "Normal 'amble speed' for a walking camel is 5kph/3mph; a working camel will typically cover 40km/25 miles a day."

[Camels]
  • All About Camels
    A camel overview, dealing mainly with their biology, adaptations, and the two different types.
  • Camels vs. Horses
    A comparison of two beasts of burden, with emphasis on the animals' behavior and disposition.
  • Travel Tips - the Camel
    An overview on traveling with camels, with a discussion of saddles, loads, rope, and travel stages.
  • Camels with Howdahs
    Scroll down for many links to pictures of camel howdahs (carriages).

[Shelter]
    Some inspiration for Benshira tents!
  • 6,000 Years of Housing
    A huge, awesome book discussing housing through history. This particular section looks at traditional Tuareg and Bedouin dwellings, with illustrations of several kinds of tents and yurts used in desert regions.
  • Tuareg Tent Exhibit
    A brief look at Tuareg tents and bedding, with interesting pictures.
  • Living in a Bedouin Tent
    Commentary on Bedouin tents, also with great pictures.

[Mizahar Lore]
  • Eyktol
    Geography, demographics, peoples, and wildlife.

Now to apply all this to my upcoming Burning Lands flashback with Malekiah. Woo!
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[Faroul's Scrapook] The Oasis

Postby Silvy on July 25th, 2011, 5:27 pm

I've only done vague reading of a little desert lore on Miza but I had no idea it was so comprehensive! Now I'll certainly have to read up on Eyktol and the other peoples. :)

Re the PC pic, he -needs- that smug eyebrow lift of superiority! It's a natural match for that smirk!

Oh and yay Courage Wolf pic!
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