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roadmagician

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roadmagician last won the day on April 2

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About roadmagician

  • Birthday June 2

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  1. roadmagician

    IMPORANT: Worldsmyths 2019 Feedback Survey

    well, FWIW, I'm one who vastly prefers forums over fb groups, but maybe i'm just nostalgic lol hope you can find some sort of solution! good luck! 🙂
  2. roadmagician

    IMPORANT: Worldsmyths 2019 Feedback Survey

    What if you used what you've already got (the points system) to reward users? What if they got points for reviewing or for submitting? Don't underestimate the token economy! People do crazy things for points. (Honestly, I like seeing that little green number go up and it encourages me to post more, ngl.) It's the same thing as the progress bar in the Nano forums. And look at WoW - people spend literal money on clothes for their in-game characters! It's addictive for a reason, because it's designed that way, and you can leverage that to get people to use your website more. A dude I know at work has 'gamified' his classroom with an elaborate RPG setting and points for good behaviour. It works and they all love it! It's super fun. Basically, the prize doesn't even have to be physical. They could get a 'top reviewer' tagline or hat on their icon or something like that, or a leaderboard for "submitter/writer of the month".
  3. roadmagician

    Question of the Day #50: Favorite Mythological Creatures

    I love how we have basically opposite posts! Why do you like dragons, exactly? I just don't get them. Maybe there's something about them I'm missing. The Last Unicorn! Agreed, a bit of a weird movie as a kid, but I appreciate it more now I'm older.
  4. roadmagician

    IMPORANT: Worldsmyths 2019 Feedback Survey

    I'm just trying to think of some suggestions and starting points. Are members actually aware of the existence of all aspects of the website? I don't think I am. I wasn't aware that there was a critique group. What if you had a link to the library and forums etc. along the top bar instead of in a drop-down menu to increase visibility? I'm kinda wondering if maybe it could be partly the way the website is laid out and the navigability of it. It is beautiful to look at and has so many awesome features, but could it be unintentionally 'hiding' some aspects, buried under links? (ETA: Please excuse dodgy MSpaint but here's an example of what I mean: Like, the FAQ/new user thing is normally the first thing people would see/click on. You could include guidelines/rules there, too. The Calendar is one link I've never really explored. Same with Resources. And I don't know why, except maybe because it's not as visible and I'm not sure what it's for? I have also never used the "create" button to the right of the user thing because it's easier/more familiar to me to just reply within a thread/post or go to the specific section I want and create content there. By contrast, I frequently use the "notifications" panel. This is just the things I've noticed as a user who is lazy. ETA2: I also just thought of something else. What is the function of that picture icon up on the userbar? What does it do? I have never used it. Likewise for the 'unread content' thing (wouldn't unread content either show up in notifications or in the updated activity)? And I've mentioned the "Create+" button. Removing redundancies could help as well with making the stuff you DO want visible, depending on how much you're actually able to tinker with the layout. This is just an example. Even if you had those things visible across the top, maybe it would entice people to click? Also, are members posting more on Discord than the forums or vice versa? Which space do you want to be more popular? How are you promoting the forums? Could members be more active in recommending Worldsmyths on Nanowrimo, fb groups and other forums? Like, could you do a 'promotion drive', would that be something that could work or people are interested in, or would that just be super annoying?
  5. roadmagician

    Question of the Day #50: Favorite Mythological Creatures

    I guess this isn't technically fantasy but... Probably vampires. I like the lore surrounding them. When well-done, I think they can still be creepy, even after all this time. I enjoyed Dracula, it kind of feels like an early horror movie in book form, if that makes sense. I also really enjoyed The Historian, which brought in bits of the historical Vlad, and used the same epistolary format. Although most of the time it felt more like reading a travelogue of Europe, I actually liked that about it, and now it's one of my comfort reads. As for movies, Let the Right One In was horrifying when you sat and thought about it afterwards. I think vampires (when well done) has that element of 'the virus' that you get with zombies, where anyone could be next, only the vampires themselves are characters. Feels like they have more agency as antagonists than zombies. They're completely overplayed now in the wake of paranormal romance diluting the scariness, but vampires will always have a stake in my heart. 😉 Related: Fair folk/fae, when treated in a similar vein, are gloriously unsettling. See: Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell. I can't think of many more examples outside of folktales, though, sadly. Least favourite: See the gif above. Dragons. I just don't find them that interesting. Maybe they could be but I feel like they're just... sorta there.
  6. A ton of mythology and folklore books and fairytales. So many. Quite a lot of older British kids books with cute talking animals. Winnie the Pooh, Paddington, The Animals of Farthing Wood (I think it was called?) And The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and all the rest. A Wrinkle in Time. The Hobbit and LOTR was read aloud to me as a kid as soon as I could comprehend it. I loved the whole 'riddles in the dark scene'! However, their obsession with Tolkien didn't transfer because I still have not read LOTR myself cover-to-cover. After having been there for multiple rewatches of the extended editions of the films (plus DVD commentary) and traveling around Wellington looking for the damn costumes, I did my time in Azkaban, okay? Of my own accord: I enjoyed The Edge Chronicles, which was just the right amount of weird for me (sky pirates!), and Mortal Engines, which is sort of... Mad Max steampunk. I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy earlier than I should have in order to get the jokes. Borrowed The Colour of Magic from my mother after she couldn't be bothered with it. Movies - I enjoyed stuff like Atlantis, Treasure Planet, The Dark Crystal (we had the book of the movie for some reason?), also comedy like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Princess Bride. I was massively into Star Wars which I suppose you could describe as "wizards in space" so it makes sense. But I stuck with the movies and videogames; the novelisations never grabbed me. I never quite jumped onto the Harry Potter train which was popular at the time, so I have a... lack of influence, I guess? I mean, I've since watched the movies and gotten halfway through the books, and you kind of pick up a lot anyway from fan osmosis because at one point it was impossible to escape, but I was never "into it" like many people.
  7. roadmagician

    IMPORANT: Worldsmyths 2019 Feedback Survey

    The Community How often do you use the forum? Is there anything we can do to encourage you to visit more often? Is there anything we can do that might compel you into using the forum more often that we are not already doing? Probably a few times a week. (Please don't lol I'm trying to cut down on my internet use!) Interesting discussion has always been something that draws me to forums. So far I can tell there's a few regular people who tend to post more often. Do you use the forum, the Discord server, or both? If you currently use one but not the other, is there a specific reason? I use the forum because I prefer the format. I am on a Discord, but 'real-time' discussion can be hard if you're out of sync with the Northern hemisphere (America), you tend to miss big swathes of conversation and are basically yelling into the void while everyone else is asleep. So the forum format is nice because it allows for this slower pace as well as larger chunks of conversation. I may visit the Discord in future. Are there any specific rules or guidelines that you feel are unclear and need to be expanded on? If so, which ones? No, I think they're pretty clear. Do you feel like the staff members are always around to answer questions and help if you have any issues? Yes, although I haven't had to ask the staff for help so far, I get the impression they are invested in this website and would try their best to help. What overall feedback do you have for Worldsmyths? A very solid start to this community. The Forum How do you like the new forum software? Is there anything that confuses you? Are there any sections of the forum that you would like to see be more active? No issues with the software. I like the option to quote sections with a click. The option to 'react' to posts by liking them is also neat, because I guess people don't always have a full response other than "that was cool." (On the other hand, it could be that the presence of a 'like' button may reduce discussion on social media - I'd love to see the data on this!) I would like to see more discussion from people who aren't "regulars". Are there any discussion sections that you feel could be added to the forum? You could maybe look to the Nano forums for an example as to how they've arranged their sections. Have you joined or created any clubs? I've joined the comedy club since I received an invite and it's relevant to my interests. I haven't created a club because I don't want to mod or run anything else in my life right now. Are there any clubs that you would like to see and haven't yet been made? Not personally, but if there's a comedy subgenre club maybe people might like to see other subgenres? (Like high fantasy, or dark fantasy, other subgenres...) Are there any parts of the forum that you don't visit, or that don't interest you? What part is your favorite? I tend to use the "recent activity" feature since it's quicker than navigating down to forums in the list. There are some sections in the forum that seem pretty dead, new members would probably help revive that. The Library Do you use the Library for submitting or reviewing? If not, what is keeping you from visiting? Is there anything about the library that is currently keeping you from using it (whether it's submitting or reviewing someone else's submission)? Not yet. Mainly because I'm nervous about showing my work to others. Have you had any trouble submitting to the library that has kept you from using it? n/a ^^^^^ Is there anything that has kept you from reviewing any of the submitted works currently in the library? Maybe it would be helpful for the people submitting to add something like what they're looking for from reviews? Some people like intensive criticism, some people like no criticism, some people are focusing on a very specific issue with their piece (is this POV right, grammar, etc.) I'm hesitant to give feedback if it's unwarranted. Do you think there should be some kind of a guideline for the 1-5 star rating system of submissions? If so, do you have any suggestions? Possibly? Though what that might look like, I don't know... maybe something like 1 for "meh needs work" and 5 *chef's kiss* (just as a super rough suggestion lol) Discord (Optional) Do you currently use Discord to interact with your fellow members? No - see above. I also belong to another writing related Discord and I'm trying to keep Internet time to a productive minimum. How easy do you find it to join the conversations? Is there anything we can do to improve engagement? n/a ^^^^^^ Are there any rules for the Discord that you feel are unclear and need to be elaborated on? n/a ^^^^^ Writing Challenges Some history - When the forum first opened, we had the challenges as bi-weekly, but received feedback that that wasn't enough time. They've been monthly ever since. Also, in question two it asks about a "system" suggestion - by "system," we mean the way the challenges are done (i.e. with them being member created VS staff created like they currently are). Are the monthly challenges beneficial to you? I haven't participated in them yet. (See above: I'm hesitant about posting my work, especially since it's unfinished and unpolished, but this is due to me and not the website.) Is there another system that you think would work better for the writing challenges? I'm not sure. Maybe a poll for what people would like the next challenge to be? Or, in future, a calendar of 'themes 'for the year, so that people can plan ahead what they might want to submit? Activity with the challenges has been up and down, and lately we've only been getting one or two entries each challenge. Do you think we should get rid of the challenges? Note that April is Camp Nano for a lot of people, myself included. (So is July, and November is Nanowrimo) - I expect you'll see a downswing in submission to the challenges during these months, and the post-Nano/post-holiday months when everyone is too full of roast dinner and drunk on resolutions. I don't think you should get rid of the challenges entirely, and I also think a month is a reasonable timeframe for most people. I think it also depends on what the challenge is (I saw that April was something to do with worldbuilding/mythology and as this isn't relevant to my current WIP, I didn't have anything to post for it.) Also keep in mind that you'll probably only ever get... 10%(?) of a userbase actively participating instead of passively viewing (I can't remember the exact ratio but it's a phenomenon in other contexts too). So, all of this to say, don't feel bad if you don't get a ton of activity with the challenges. As others have mentioned, it also depends on a) people's other projects and life commitments and b) whether they have the sheer balls to post their work for public viewing (which I don't lol). Maybe it would help if you had a specified word-range for people to hit? Or if you made the prompts less specific (like a word or a picture)? Do you have any ideas for any new site-wide challenges we could do instead of the monthly challenges (and the word count challenge)?? How about a "time spent/days spent" challenge? Similar to the 'X' thing where you cross off an X for every day you've written. An alternative to word-count based goals.
  8. roadmagician

    The Monogram Scene

    I think this has some similarity to the "opening image" in some forms of story structure (Save the Cat IIRC?) I think about it in terms of... firstly I have an idea that I think is fun and a character I care about, but underlying that in the background is: what does the reader need to know about who this character is and what their motivations are, and why should the reader care. I don't set out in a stilted or manipulative way to "make people want to read it" but those questions sort of underlie it as part of the scene, if that makes sense? So, in my current rough draft: I have the boy hero, Roland, treating the villagers around him with disdain, but also being crushed when he misses the apprenticeships, and seeking the guidance of old man Nicodemus for what to do next. There are also a few hints thrown into that first scene about how it's all being orchestrated around him. All of this to show his immaturity and selfishness, but also his vulnerability. (Like, he's sixteen, guys.) Another example: In Percy's opening scene, he's one of two guards outside the Dark Tower. It's his first day on the job and he's explaining to the other guard why he failed at past jobs (asking too many questions, etc). Then he shares some biscuits. I'm using this to show the contrast/conflict between his appearance and the expectations for him vs what he's actually like. Also establishing the fact that he's a decent guy but lacks confidence. The fact that it's raining and they're stuck on a lousy shift is also a way to create relatability.
  9. roadmagician

    Your favourite type of villain

    Villains are fun! There are different types of villains I tend to enjoy: a) Tragic monsters. Villains that elicit that mix of pity-and-revulsion. Like, you almost feel sorry for them, but also, NOPE. I am a sucker for really compelling origin stories and "for want of a nail" type scenarios, like if that one thing hadn't happened... Often monstrous. One of my favourites is Shrike from Mortal Engines. In the book you get little hints of backstory and remnants of humanity in there which only makes him more unsettling. b) Related - villains who have a damn good backstory or revenge quest. Basically a compelling motivation for why they're doing what they're doing. I think some good examples of this can be found in studying the more memorable villains in superhero narratives. And contrasting with the ones most viewers don't care about. In Marvel movies, you've got antagonists like Magneto, the Winter Soldier, Loki... I feel like their more memorable movies are the ones with memorable villains. I find the ones who are just doing it "because i'm evil/crazy/for fun" wayyy less interesting most of the time. My one exception to this was the Joker (I'm thinking more the Nolan movie here, but also his general vibe of "multiple choice backstory"), but I think it works because it's one of those story questions that's never really answered. Esp. in the Nolan movie he's used more as a force of nature/representative of human evil which works to contrast with Batman's whole thing. c) Paladins. "righteous villains" that are technically not wrong, or believe they're working for a greater cause. Javert is a good example of this. Sometimes they're not even evil, or they later help the protagonists, which can also be an interesting dynamic. "Other" modes of morality can also be compelling, in characters who seem to be working off a totally different framework of reality to the others (though it has its own form of logic.) I thought Greer and Root from Person of Interest were both interesting examples of this in different ways, and how they view the AI. Hannibal Lecter is another example and I love the way the more recent TV series explores the idea of his "morality" as being more tied to aesthetic and politeness, in a way that's almost fey. d) That bastard. aka. villains that you love to hate. Think the classic Iago, or Umbridge from Harry Potter. My other favourite examples are from Star Trek DS9 - Kai Winn is awful but I can't stop watching. Gul Dukat is also utterly vile and every time he interacts with Kira I just want to slap him. These characters are great because they make you cheer harder for the protagonist. They seem to work best when they're ultra-powerful and also have a layer of hypocrisy to them, versus the protag who is less-powerful but who has integrity. Chessmaster villains, too! (Has anyone else read Gormenghast and adored hating Steerpike's manipulations of all the other characters?) HA, same!
  10. The APPLE. I lost it at the apple. This reminds me of that [location] Gothic meme. the lithe, graceful elf, the stubborn but loyal dwarf, the always evil orc. (and the hobbit-who's-not-called-a-hobbit-due-to-copyright-reasons.) you are only a callow youth, barely sixteen, yet you have a chiseled jaw and wisdom beyond your years instead of acne, you are blighted with a mysterious birthmark it has begun to glow ever since the Time of Choosing your uncle tells you not to ask about what happened to your parents. "no good'll cem 'f askin' questions," he says in his surly, nigh-unreadable drawl. he wants you to be a farmer. as if, dude. you learn 10 ancient swordfighting techniques and speak the language of the High Elves and the Ancient Ones (despite being raised in a barn), because you're just that good dull travel sequence. you visit a tavern at some point and there are wenches. you are a rebellious princess who sneaks out of the castle to get in touch with the common people and feed the peasants bread from your father's storehouse. you have wild, unruly hair and flashing eyes. you are also surprisingly quick to master ancient techniques taught to you by your wizened mentor. if you are a rebellious princess, expect to be hit on by the loathsome Evil Vizier, in a plot to marry you off. if this is a Dark Fantasy novel, ALL YOUR FRIENDS ARE DEAD. and your dog. the princess is married to the Evil Vizier and you have to save her by taking on the mask and becoming BATMAN. there are two gorgeous guys competing for your affections. one, an aloof elven prince of noble bearing whose eyes smolder with something unnameable. the other, a scoundrel with tousled hair and a winning smile. how can you possibly choose when the fate of the Kingdom is at stake????
  11. roadmagician

    How You've Changed

    I realised I didn't need to know every little thing before starting - no, I really don't need to answer 1000 worldbuilding questions or even have a complete world, because I'm not Tolkien and that's okay! I learned to discern what was important for characterisation and what was irrelevant. (Character arcs, goals, motivations, versus stuff like eye colour or height.) Learning how to apply some kind of structure or framework to the shapeless glurge of ideas - that paradoxically restriction and order create freedom for the story to grow. Deadlines aren't oppressive tools that destroy creativity, they're rocket fuel. I learned how to practice and be okay with imperfection. Most important: learning how to persevere and FINISH what I started.
  12. roadmagician

    Three Act Structure Discussion

    Some additional plot structures to add to your toolbox: 'Plot Diamond'/Moral Premise - I found the idea of story as a debate between different values and ethics to be an interesting way to set it up. A four act mystery structure - discussed here and here. you could argue it's still 3 acts, but another way of thinking about it Save the Cat - gonna be honest this isn't my fave but it's worth knowing about and looking at how they break down films Jami Gold - romance-related but she has a ton of good beat-sheets using the 7 point structure, Nano-related excel spreadsheets, as well as some discussion of how to bring a character's internal conflict and weave it into the plot Dramatica - can't comment on whether it's worth paying for (i'm cheap and love libraries), but maybe interesting? Shakespeare's Five Act Structure - also discussed here and here if you can get past the ALLCAPS this is an interesting criticism (focuses more on scriptwriting) eta: how could I forget Chuck Wending? 1 2 3
  13. roadmagician

    Three Act Structure Discussion

    Thanks for linking all of those @Manu, I've used bits and pieces of all of those structures in the past and found them all very helpful in their own ways. Dan Wells' videos in particular are gems, especially when you get further on to the bits where he describes weaving in the different subplots at critical moments. SO GOOD and such valuable resources. THIS! When you first start learning a thing, it's very easy to adhere to it 100%. Learn the rules before you break them, I guess? Like you I also went overboard (and some might still call my excel spreadsheets a little crazy but whatever works!) What helped was learning to be less rigid in my approach. (As in Save the Cat or similar structures where certain beats MUST occur at a specific % of the novel/script/story...) What I've ended up with is a hodgepodge of everything, tweaked depending on the story I'm writing. Though it probably owes the most to Dan Wells. However, I do have disagreements with the idea of the hero's journey being universal or ingrained in the collective unconscious, if you wanna get Jungian. It's a useful tool but one of many. I think there can be a tendency for proponents of a grand structure or idea to claim that it subsumes all other ideas within it, like the claim that all stories are collectively the same, and I have nitpicks with that.
  14. roadmagician

    Three Act Structure Discussion

    I find three-act structure useful to a point and then it's kinda… eh. It's like getting a map from A to B and you're on the road and you know where you are and then BAM, a thousand miles of desert with one solitary signpost. It's very good at describing what should happen at the start and what should happen at the end (for a given type of story*), but the middle is vague. "Increase the stakes! Raise the conflict!" Like, is it a soufflé? Do I put it in the oven and wait to see whether it's collapsed or not? For me, when I'm trying to figure out what happens in the middle and where the hell we're going to stop for the night without being eaten by bears, I prefer to think of it as separate sections within Act II. Which I think is what they're getting at with the mention of mini-climaxes, try-fail cycles, and the twist. I'm still figuring out the best method for finding a path through Act II. It's less daunting to think of it as smaller sections than one giant block where Stuff Happens. (*on that note there's a lot of overlap with THE HERO'S JOURNEY and heroic narrative which is great and all but I also wonder about what we can learn from other types of story, mystery and tragedy and so on and whether that structure changes depending on the type of story being told, but that's a whole other discussion probably)
  15. BUT THOU MUST. do itttttt one of Disney's underrated gems, probably bc it's so different from their other stuff. worth watching if you enjoy The Road to El Dorado (which is the Dreamworks equivalent I guess (no central romance, frenemies-road-trip sorta dynamic, similar sense of humour, and MESOAMERICA.)
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