• Member Since 12th Aug, 2011
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AlicornPriest


"I will forge my own way, then, where I may not be accepted, but I will be myself. I will take what they called weakness and make it my strength." ~Rarity, "Black as Night"

More Blog Posts136

  • 92 weeks
    "A Place of Safety"

    I came up with this story idea a little while ago. I wrote out a lot of it, and then I figured, "You know what? This would be a really great way to close out the show. Put this out on the day of the finale, and you can sorta bookend everything."

    Then the finale happened, and 1) I totally forgot, and 2) the story wasn't done yet.

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    0 comments · 141 views
  • 109 weeks
    "Of Wake and Sleep Combine"

    The Nightmare had one thousand beasts…

    The days after defeating her were hell.

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    1 comments · 201 views
  • 111 weeks
    Writer's Workshop: Flawless Victory; or, Why Are You Booing Me? I'm Right

    Let's talk character flaws. I know I've already covered them a little bit in some of my previous posts, but I want to take a slightly different tack. What if we wanted to make a character that was perfect? They're always right, they're good at pretty much everything, they can effortlessly conquer every challenge put in front of them? Could we still make a story that's interesting with this kind

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    0 comments · 154 views
  • 122 weeks
    Writer's Workshop: The Allegory Axioms

    Let's get everyone on the same footing here: there's no such thing as "fiction," really. Or rather, it's impossible to write anything that's completely fictional. Stories always link back to reality, one way or another. This is what I call the "Prime Allegory Axiom." No matter what you write, it's always going to be a reflection of something. With that in mind, we can talk about

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    1 comments · 197 views
  • 126 weeks
    The Tale of the Glorious Angel Food Cake

    Hi, everybody! I'd like to share with everyone this story I picked up from... somewhere. I'm sure I stole it from somewhere, but the origin is lost to time, now. Anywho, I've tried to tell this story dozens of times, and it never fails to... completely baffle everyone who's heard it. I, personally, think it's hilarious, but I don't think most people get it. It's sort of a Shaggy Dog Story, but

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    0 comments · 157 views
Mar
22nd
2019

Writer's Workshop: The Allegory Axioms · 12:34am Mar 22nd, 2019

Let's get everyone on the same footing here: there's no such thing as "fiction," really. Or rather, it's impossible to write anything that's completely fictional. Stories always link back to reality, one way or another. This is what I call the "Prime Allegory Axiom." No matter what you write, it's always going to be a reflection of something. With that in mind, we can talk about some specific examples of symbolism and character choices that almost always refer to reality in a specific way. For example:


The Main Character is the author.

There's a truism thrown about that every character a writer creates is a facet of either themselves or someone they know. This is certainly apt, but particularly so with regards to the Main Character. The Main Character represents our eyes into the story, and it's only natural for the writer in such a way that the character is the author's eyes, too. Think about it: this character is the golden nucleus at the center of the magnum opus this author has been working on for years, decades. This character is the heart and soul of everything; it's only natural that the author puts their heart and soul in there, too. So you see characters that think and act in ways eerily similarly to their creators.

Now, this isn't always true; sometimes the author creates a different character and melds their soul with them instead. One fascinating example comes from Just Write's critique of Ready Player One, where he claims that Spielberg shifted the character from one who was more like the author of the original book, a pop trivia nerd who grew up in the eighties, to one who was more like him, a master creator who defined the zeitgeist of the eighties. Stepping outside of adaptation, you might choose the mentor, or the brooding Lancer, or the love interest. You get to idolize a portion of yourself before a cheering crowd! (Bonus points if you make one lover yourself and the other your real-life SO/crush, just to make it extra-resonant/creepy.)

All in-story fiction is this story.

If you have a play inside of your play, or a character writing a novel inside your novel, it doesn't take a genius to figure out the parallels here. Any comments you make about the play, or the actors, or the playwright, or the process of play-writing itself are pretty obviously statements you want to make about yourself and your medium. This also works with cross-genre stuff, especially if you're writing a book in a setting before the written word, or a play in the distant future, where Smell-O-Vision reigns.

One of my favorite examples of people who do this is, of course, Shakespeare. Between Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Tempest, we can see a lot of Shakespeare's mindset on playwrighting--or at the very least, making fun of everyone else that he thought was terrible at it. :rainbowwild: But speaking of The Tempest, that leads me to my final axiom:

Magic is power.

Literally, obviously, but in a more figurative sense, magic represents societal power and how it is managed and controlled. Most commonly, magic comes from knowledge, which is great! Knowledge is power, after all. (France is bacon.) Though I've always found it interesting that most models of this look pretty similar to the Western academic system; it's much less common to see, say, Tolkien's magic, which is either "normal crafting, but Better(TM)" or "divine power from angels," or maybe even an empathetic magic, that requires you to have a deep knowledge of people rather than an analytical knowledge of things? (See also: True Names.)

That's not the only popular system, and here's where things get fun! (And by fun, I mean "problematic," so buckle up.) What are you saying about the world if magic is a power inherited by bloodline, or a power that only pops up in certain especially talented people, the rest being losers with no hope of potential? What's your take on magic that can only be used by women, or by creepy foreigners, or by outcasts? Is there a type of magic that comes from living peacefully with nature--or can you only be Druids, a bastardization of the Celts created by people who saw the druids as barbarian heretic madpeople? What does magic by democracy look like, or magic by the free market, or magic by social media presence? I'm not saying all of those would be good, or interesting, or meaningful--I'm just curious what magic would look like from the basis of more modern values and sensibilities.

(Also, the answer to many of my questions already exists, and it's Unknown Armies.)


See how the real world tends to bleed in, whether or not you intend it? If you create a religion, or a government, or a culture in your story, whatever, readers have no choice but compare and contrast it with our world to see what you have to say. What did you change? What did you keep the same? What's your story's judgment on that world, and therefore on ours? To be clear, I'm not saying every writer intentionally puts these kinds of parallels into their story, and I'm definitely not saying they always agree with the philosophy that underpins it. (For example, Rowling's Potterverse follows the bloodline rule I was talking about before, very closing paralleling Britain's nobility and bloodline-obsessed society, but the fact that wizards are born into Muggle families, and vice-versa, suggest to me she's trying to challenge the notion that the only people of real power and influence are the nobility. Sometimes you have to exaggerate the hegemony to make your case against it.) What I am saying is, if you do create these kinds of parallels, intentionally or no, you'll eventually need to come to grips with what you've created. You'll be called to stand before the Murder Board of Creators (now with Actual Murder!) and asked to defend your creation.

Or maybe you'll just out yourself as an amateur, and you'll feel like an idiot. Or that.

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Comments ( 1 )

The last allegory is why I always (try and) make my magic/power systems a meritocracy. That is to say, everyone is always capable of accessing the magic system, but not everyone always will.

Of course, as you mentioned, sometimes creating allegories with things you dislike/disagree can be a great way to subvert them.

This is a particularly common thing in fiction, because magic/power/non-humanity/etc. is often used as an allegory for racism/race relations/minorities. This allegory becomes particularly complex (or awkward) when the minority's "otherness" also grants them extraordinary abilities (see most cyberpunk, or just about any iteration of X-Men).

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