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Noble Thought

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Journal: On Incorporating Lore · 12:32am Dec 12th, 2018

Journal Date: 12/11/18

I've recently had the opportunity to include a lot of what I loved most... well... one of the things I loved most about writing: Dreaming. More specifically, dreaming of details that otherwise aren't addressed in the show. Lore, in other words. Especially history, and myth. I like myth.

Anywho... here's a snippet that I polished up from Tides of Love that I think gives a good bit of lore in a nice package. The moment itself is more of a character moment for Twilight and Starlight, and won't play much into the overarching plot other than being a voice and character piece. But it's also not very long, and it's a moment that Starlight and Twilight share as they both view the Northern Lights. One for the first time, and one for the first time away from the light of a city.

I shivered. Watching the lights from the unbroken wilderness was different than when I’d seen them from the top of the Heart tower. The city lights were so dim this far from Heartshome that they were barely a hint of a glimmer on the horizon. The Northern Lights above us and to all sides as the sun set blazed with muted golds and blues, reds and greens. They skittered off the snow, seemed almost to reach the trees, and danced in an ageless beauty that went back far before the sun and the moon were guided by two ponies alone.

The poem came to me as I watched, and I spoke it. Not as it had originally been spoken, but I hoped, in my heart, that the olden ponies who first did would understand.

“This land is harsh, of stone, ice and cold,
As dwellers of dale and snow and drift,
In our homes we ponies stand proud, bold,
We wait til sun sets, fades to our eyes,
Twilight kindles, burns, then shines, a gift,
To call a dance, sing the praise of night,
Our coats painted, we prance under skies,
Lit for all by moon’s dancing, clear light.”

Starlight was looking at me.

“What? It’s an old poem in a book Cadance sent me last year, ‘Collected Poems of the First.’ I thought it was appropriate.” I waved a hoof out at the land crowned by fire and light. “It’s a part of an edda written by the original settlers of the Empire, long before there was a Crystal Heart or even a Heartshome. They called themselves Ice Ponies and worshipped the lights before Princess Celestia and Princess Luna began guiding the tracks of sun and moon.”

“Of course you would know something like that.” Starlight tipped her head to the side, lips moving for a moment. “But it sounds… off in places.”

“It’s been translated three times, from two different dialects of Old Neish, then translated into Equestrian. By a scribe who took other liberties with line and verse elsewhere in the same book. For example, the fourth line—”

“Hey, whoa! I don’t need the whole history!” Starlight waved a hoof, laughing. “But it does sound interesting. If you have the book with you, I’d love to read it.”

The first pony settlers of the frozen north, the ancestors to the modern day crystal ponies. Ice Ponies talking or singing about their Northern Lights traditions. I am not a great poet, so I did do a leetle intentional, no not really, fudging of the verse and passed it off as a translation that would have sounded better in the dialect and language it was first spoken in.

Old Neise: Old Norse (I didn't want to use Old Horse, because come on, that one's been done to death.) It's pronounced with a long S at the end, and Neigh as the precursor word. Nayse to spell it more phonetically.

And onto the topic!

I've always been of the rather firm belief that, unless it's literally impossible to fit needed lore into the story, that it should be incorporated naturally. Exposition dumps are fine and good in their place, but nothing flows and keeps the pace going than a bit of lore slotted into a place where it fits, is appropriate, and either advances the story with needed information, provides a character moment that meets the first two criteria, or is otherwise included outside the regular flow of the story.

I'd like to use, as an example, a series of books that I loved as a young... well... younger woman. The Drizzt series. Now... I kinda view them as a guilty pleasure. I can't help but notice the little tics that the author picks up throughout. One book, he picked up the word Sublimated and used it at least nineteen times throughout the book, and that'd be fine if it was a book about the dangers of ice sublimation on a glacier, or a psychology text about trying to adjust to a different culture (He used it in this context... sort of. It was more 'repressed' like sublimated his rage kind of thing, or let off the rage. In context I'm pretty sure repressed would have worked for at last one or two of those 19).

It got really obvious after a while and I would mentally roll my eyes and then get back into the story... but it broke me out because it was so obvious. Anywho! Back on topic. Sort of.

The Drizzt books tend to have a letter at the beginning from the journal of the main character, Drizzt. Sometimes I'd skip them, but other times I'd read them. Most of the time, they were better written than the third person main part of the story, which kinda tended to throw up a contrast between the two styles. That's an example of the last way to include lore (outside the story). True, the journal entries did tie into the plot (a little - they were usually at best thematically linked, but not contextually), but I was able to read the rest of the story without reading the little pre-chapter tidbits and didn't feel like I was missing anything.

As a reader, it's easy to spot that kind of thing and point it out, because you don't have to fix it. You can just say "Hey, that's not very good." As a writer, you do have to fix it, and it can sometimes be a real chore. Sometimes I'll write something I really like, it's a nice bit of lore, or a great character moment, but when I go back and start editing it, it doesn't fit the narrative, or it feels out of place, or it just doesn't work in an undefinable, but very real "I'm a reader, and I hate this" kind of way.

That's when I call on friends, or beat my head on the desk, or (and I do this frequently too) snip it out and drop it into a folder labelled "Failed snips" just in case I have a use for it for another story or something.

Oh yeah. Ore. That's what we were talking about, right? So... it's in the ground, you digs it up, you smelts it and you dealts it. (hehe. I'm an adult!)

No, we're talking about lore you numbskull. Okay. Well, I think I've said all I have to about lore right now.

Report Noble Thought · 113 views · #journal #poem #lore
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Comments ( 8 )

Is it bad that I winced at "Failed snips?" Because I totally winced at failed snips.

I am honestly, completely confused. Unless you also have a habit of snipping out bits of story to leave them to be forgotten, lonesome, and destitute on the cutting room floor. Snips awareness! Don't forget your failed snips.

I have just been informed of why "Failed Snips" might cause cringing.


Off to writing!

I read one Drizzt story once. I thought it would be a neat tale about a dude subverting the natural order of his birth society or some shit but no this guy was just that baller that he hears a priestess tell him "lolth says males must submit" and just goes "nah chief" because he's so shining awesome

Yeah... That would be the first one chronologically speaking I think. Homeland?

Was a strange story.

The actual first one, Icewind Dale I think was the first one written and the Homeland series came much later, wasn't much better. But it didn't philosophize quite so much.

Edit: gah! No, it was The Crystal Shard

They're super telly, skip perspective constantly, and everyone good can do no wrong, and everyone bad eats puppies for breakfast.

So... Yeah. I think you put it right. Boring.

And the world revolves around Drizzt's dick.

Don't get me wrong, I'm writing a story where that's literally true for Twilight, but it's done for sheer kink value and very tongue in cheek.

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