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The science of werewolves, and the uses of a dragon’s body. June 7, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in books and reading, writing.
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Traveling home from work yesterday, reading the free newspaper commuters read, I came across a story where scientists have discovered the ‘werewolf gene‘. It has been a scientific fact for a long time, people who have excessive facial or body hair. But now they have found the werewolf gene!

This excited me because now, for me, werewolves fit a certain kind of logic which I appreciate. When creating worlds, magic, ships which fly through the stars, there needs to be a logic, even if it is your own logic. You need to understand the world you have created, otherwise it will not make sense to you, and your readers will see this.

The magic in my steam punk world is based on sigil magic, the power of the written word, of symbols. Well, most of it. I have always believed sorcerers had magic in the blood. Hmm, maybe the blood cells could be covered in sigils at a tiny microscopic level. . .  anyway. There is a logic, to me, for my magic system.  Functional magic, alchemy, it all has a logic to me.

And now, werewolves have come into my logic. Don’t get me wrong, I love the mystical and supernatural about werewolves. Something controlled by lunar cycles, the irresistible urge of nature. I have grown up reading high fantasy and science fiction. So having a creature turn hairy and howl at the sight of a full moon is fantastic and I like it. It’s just now there can be an actually truth behind the werewolf, a logic.

There are cars controlled by mind control; growing replacement body parts with your own stem cells; cloning; artificial intelligence and cybernetic eyes. Right there you have scientific logic to create an awesome cyberpunk story. It would not be too far-fetched, even by today’s technology.

All we need now are flying cars… 

Kind of related to this, and my need of logic, is something I have been thinking about this week. Dragons. In my steam punk world they exist. I am now thinking about scale. I have dracon, or draca, not sure what to call them yet. Tiny dragons, the size of your forearm perhaps. Skittery little creatures that can be domesticated, if you feed them well. Great for keep the local rat population under control. But there are also the larger dragons. But how large do I want them? Large enough to ride? Massive and imposing? Or like a large cat or whale shark?

This question has become important to me in the sense of what can you do with a dragon’s body? I have uses for them. Dragon scale shavings in potions and anti-dragon ammunition; dragon-proof clothing. Meat? Ivory trophies? All of which I plan on including. But, if the dragon is too large, does that mean hunting and killing one provides you with a massive bounty? Sure, high risk, high reward. But I plan on some of my characters having dragon related paraphernalia. DId they get it themselves? And if so, why are they all not fabulously wealthy?

And if the dragons are large beasts of magnificence, are there few of them? An old ancient race with dwindling numbers? Then that makes me sad killing one for dragon meat and dragon leather.

I am leaning towards the size of a large cat. That fits the mould of a hunter, for me. A large hunter at the top of the food chain, yet still within the realms of being hunted. And if you manage to kill one, you get some dragon scale, claws, meat etc, but not enough to make you super wealthy.

This is something which I am enjoying about my current world building project. I would never have bothered to think about the size of a dragon, or what things could be harvested from a dead dragon’s body. But I like the logic of an aerial hunter that is fast quick and vicious, yet intelligent and wise. Plus, it lends itself nicely to the smaller dragon kind, much like domesticated cats.

As an addendum to this, rather large post, I believe I mentioned in previous blog posts about my love for electronic publishing. Call me slow to realise, or LTTP (Late To The Party), but I have recently discovered Smashwords. I am looking at stringing together some short stories and posting it on there. I will blog about this in future, the dilemma of free books to garner an audience, or setting a price for the books to obtain READERS, not just those who grab free stuff for reading later if they feel like it.

I have also mentioned previously on my love of werewolves, and those who may be real, it seems finding a werewolf gene, and Smashwords, caused some delightful symmetry. Lunar Nights. I don’t have an e-reader yet, so I am not going to buy this now, but I like how this werewolf has popped out of her blog and into Smashwords.

My turn next.


SUnday Afternoon Writing March 20, 2011

Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
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When my writing group was in full swing I would save Sunday afternoons for writing the weekly assignment. Not much happens on a Sunday afternoon. Perfect time to write.

So here I am, 2.30 in the afternoon, with two things to write. A short piece in my Stempunk verse, and the end of another chapter in my sci fi. The Steampunk is more exciting to me, but I know I have to finish my sci fi soon, else it will just hang around and hang around.

During the writing group this week we talked about world building. I have a world to build and things to decide, and I am not totally sure which way to go. What political system to use, a royal family? Principalities? Some sort of tribal council? I need a currency system, I need a weather system… you need to know the best trade winds to fly your sky ship in, don’t you. I even need to know how my sky ships operate. Just wind power or some sort of steam powered thruster system. And hanging beneath the big balloon, is it going to look like an actual ship? Or a different shape entirely? Do I need a pantheon of gods?

I have many ideas for the verse, but we did talk about how the ideas can drown out the story and make it just a vehicle to show off your ideas. There have been a few movies like this. Great ideas, lousy story. My friend warned me not to ‘crow bar’ the ideas in to ths tory. Let the story be, and if the ideas become relevent, use them. Else just leave them in the background.

Truth be told, I havent actually got a story for my steampunk world yet. Great ideas, but ideas do not a story make. I am sure the story will come in time. There is plenty of fodder for it.

For me, it was an interesting notion of crow barring ideas into a story. You can invest just as much time into creating a world as you do writing about it and you don’t want all that effort to go to waste. The story is what is key here. Everybody loves a good story. Not everybody likes a show off.

For some strange reason I in fact feel a little bit like world building is a luxury. It feels so indulgent just creating a world, a sandbox to play in. It isn’t the story, I am not producing a piece of writing to be read and viewed by others, it is just for myself. However I have been shown the benefits of doing his kind of work. It is done, and you don’t have to think of foundation work while trying to write the story.

For example, I am going to use sigil magic, symbols, in my world. But I have not created the symbols yet. They are going to be based on the written language, so now I am going to create a written language. I know it will be good te be able to reference this language while writing, so I can see what sigils to use, what words to use etc, without having to stop the writing flow, think about it, and fudge it over if I don’t have the firm details.

And yet, to me, to that practical part of my brain, creating a language, a written language, it thinks – why are you doing that? It wont have any use outside that novel.

As you can see, I still need to have words with my brain. It needs to let go of the practicalities of things sometimes.