Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I should have nine weeks worth of world building done by this point in time.  As I have no real amount of followers, I'm not too concerned that I'm disappointing any of you with the lack of these updates.  My blog hits are very small and mostly from Russian spider crawlers to send spam my direction.  The only other major source of traffic I get is people searching for the movie Clueless.  Yeah, I don't get that either.

For almost all of February, I've been drifting between one of two locations in the Lexington are of Kentucky.  I have been going through one of the hardest personal experiences of my life.  I'm personally doing quite well, but meeting my obligations has been difficult.  I haven't had a good location to set up to do my world building.  I need space for this.  I need to spread out on a desk.  I need my printer.  I need my notes.  I need, well a lot to do this right.  And, right now, I'm unable to do that.  I don't have regular access to most of the things that I own.

I have NOT given up on this blog.  I have not given up on this project.  I will do fifty-two world building blogs posts.  I will complete this project.  I will make the blog look nice.  I will do links to every single entry and make it accessible.  I will update them as I get along and make changes as I learn more information.  I will make it a useful resource.  And maybe, just maybe, it will be decent enough to attract others to the information and become a useful internet resource for others.

- Josh, signing out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

World Building: What Week Is This?!?

Life is fun.  That is all.  On with the world building.

I prepared the screen shots a while ago and I've had minimal to no internet the last week.  So I'm only now able to get around to getting this post together.

I am perhaps one of the most disorganized persons on the planet.  One of the reasons that I'm undertaking this projects is to improve my organization.  Being able to access information on my world is critical.  If I need a reference or need to update a reference, knowing where that information is and being able to find it quickly is going to save me time.

As was discussed in previous posts, I'm both in need of a digital copy and a hard copy of my world information.  The first set of instructions are how I am organizing my information for the digital copy.  At the very end of the guide, I will show you how to then use this information into a program that I highly recommend to easily compile the information into a hard copy.

Before getting into the file tree that I use, on my computer I always use three folders, okay that's a lie.  I TRY to use three folders and I usually just end up using two of the folders.  The folders I use are docs, bak, and temp.

The docs folder is where I save everything with the exception of pictures and game saves.  The bak folder is simple.  Once a month or when I remember to do so, I transfer the bak folder to a CD and/or a USB jump drive.  I then wipe the bak folder and copy/paste the entirety of the docs folder into the bak folder.  The temp folder is where I drop download files that I either only need for a little while or before I transfer them to a permanent home.

To start off with, in my docs folder, I created an folder for worldbuilding.  Because I have other worlds besides my epic fantasy, I created a folder just for this particular world.  In my case, because I'm going to have information I share publicly and I'm going to have information that I'm going to keep secret, I have created three folders.  The compiled folder is the combination of the two folders.

With my worldbuilding, I added folders for each of my different major categories.  I have all major kingdoms in their own folder, a folder for the noble houses, a folder devoted to people and places of interest that require a more detailed entry, a category for the Fae, and finally, an entry devoted to the magic systems.  This is not, at this time, a final list.  I may change things as time progresses, but for now, this information is the information that I foresee needing.

Each folder will contain files for the different areas I create.  For example, my entry on Salicard is saved in the folder settlements -> KoD as it is a part of the KoD kingdom.  As I add new cities, I simply save them in the appropriate folder.  This allows me to have a quick reference to the information on my computer instead of having a large document to scan through and find what I'm looking for.

Now, for a hard copy, my recommendation is Scrivner.  I use this program for 90% of my writing.  It is well worth the investment.  I use maybe 20% of the features that Scrivner offers and it saves me a lot of time with my writing.  For the worldbuilding compilation, I simply broke down folders in an identical way to that of my worldbuilding folders.  To create a hard copy, all you need to do is update the corresponding file in Scrivner with the text in your physical file and then you can compile the information to a single document.

Setting this up took no time at all and now I have no excuse to begin organizing my information together quickly.  In the future, I'll look into Scrivner more in depth and how you can use it to help you with your research and worldbuilding.  For now, this will have to do.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Regarding the Building a World Series

As my few viewers may have noticed, my series on building a world is often times delayed being posted, missing links, missing attachments, and often missing formatting.  Unlike previous blog posts, this series is also about my exploration into the worldbuilding experience.  I'm learning and teaching as I go.  Because of this, this requires an exorbitant amount of extra work on my part.  I have to do my worldbuilding and write up the blog related to the worldbuilding I'm doing.

One of my intentions is to get ahead a week so that I can spend a week writing the next blog and still get the editing done for that week's post.  As I move along, I plan on going back and revising the older blogs and posting a master list.  This project is going to require a lot of extra work, but I'm hoping that it will pay off in the end.  I appreciate your patience.

Building a World: Week 4

Settlements – Going Deeper

Last week, I talked about creating a template for designing settlements. I talked about the information that I would need in my templates and how to figure out and organize that information together. That information though, isn't enough for worldbuilding. This post is going to talk about how using information from your world building of one settlement can be used to better develop out your world. In this particular case, I'm going to use the created settlement of Salicard from my last week's post in order to improve the worldbuilding of not only Salicard, but the two neighboring settlements.

Salicard is one of the locations that I need in my story, but I know little about it. It is located on the southern portion of my world, another area that I know very little about. In my previous attempts to write my epic fantasy, the lack of understanding of this section of the world has been a road block that has interfered with my writing.

I indicated that there are two road ways in Salicard. Plot wise, it is important that Salicard have restricted access. Later, as the story progresses, it is important that this city location be difficult to reinforce. Just declaring that the city has two roadways is not sufficient worldbuilding. I can use this unique detail about the city and play around with possibilities to understand the city better.

I could simply declare that the city has terrain that makes it difficult to traverse. As it is, the city already has a crevice located to the north. Having two complicated terrains is a stretch and it is a simple way out. In my notes, I indicated the High Lord Raiz is in charge of the local province and that he resides in Salicard. As a more interesting piece of history, he restricts the roads as a means of controlling trade. The less roads to navigate around, the more travel is required for merchants. The more roads the merchants need to travel, the greater the tolls they need to pay.

Additionally, there is another reason for not expanding the roads. To the east of Salicard is a large forested area. The forested area, while a valuable resource, is plagued with a hostile species. It is quite possible for the High Lord to build a road through the forest and supply it with protection, but to do so would require he spend extra money from his coffers to fund the protection. So, instead of creating a new trade route, he just tolls his existing roads and enhances the income.

With this information about Salicard, it gives me additional information that I can use for building the neighboring cities. To start off with, the settlement to the southeast is going to be a larger trade destination. Any merchants going through there are going to want to buy supplies, possibly trade in that location, and will need a place to stay. When you have a major trade route, it establishes other businesses. So, by knowing that the city to the southeast is a major node in the kingdom, I can infer that the city is larger than Salicard. The city located to the west would have the opposite impact. It is more isolated from the rest of the kingdom. Merchants would definitely trade in Salicard, it is where the rich family lives and would attract business. But, the merchants are rarely going to travel further. The tolls are already devastating them. So to the west, you will have a smaller settlement. Also, food is not the best commodity for shipping long distances. For that reason, it would make sense that a settlement west of Salicard is going to be agricultural based.

Now, in my epic fantasy, I had a nobleman who was in charge of a small settlement and was below High Lord Raiz in stature. This smaller settlement becomes a better choice for his home than what I had originally designed. He's located to the southwest of the Fae Kingdom and from an isolated section of the world. He would be in charge of providing soldiers for the High Lord and the King's Army, and would likely lead that himself. He would also certainly be the Lord in charge of the settlement. I don't have a settlement name yet, but by worldbuilding one settlement, I was able to establish details about two settlements, including finding a way to link in an existing character to one of the newer settlements. This information was established simply by looking into the trade routes of Salicard.

Just as a reminder, the idea behind this series is not to share all of my world, but to show you how worldbuilding can help you improve your writing and get yourself on track again. Next week, I'm going to talk about storing and organizing the information in both a hard and digital copy in order to make finding information simpler when doing your writing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Building a World: Week 3

((so yeah, this is not at all formatted.  no images.  no attachments.  I'm going to spend a day this week going through all of my entries and fixing them up.  Sorry!  - jkeezer))

The point to creating objectives is to use them. Last blog entry, once of my objectives was creating a personal reference for my world. Specifically, this was the objective I created.

Creating a hard/soft copy of my world as a personal reference in order to maintain an accurate and consistent portrayal of the world during the writing process.

Right now, I'm working completely from scratch. I have some reference sheets that I've downloaded from the internet. I have some documents that I have created. But as far as world building is concerned, I do not have any sort of system in place for the process of world building except for when it comes to my Elders and even that system is a big fat mess that needs to be cleaned up. So today, I'm going to focus on creating my first system for organizing my notes.

I'm going to be focusing specifically on settlements. Today's work will be considered a rough draft system. As time progresses, I very likely will have to make changes to this system. As long as I'm improving the system, it is okay. I just need to avoid scrapping the system and starting over. Entropy is my worst enemy.

What information do I need to include in my document:
Settlement name
settlement size (approximate)
political structure
important figures
important landmarks
major imports/exports
road networks
demographic information
military/enforcement abilitiy
history (brief)
general notes
(looked up CIA Worldbook here
Geographic location

(looked up wikipedia)
climate (general information, not detailed)
Cityscape (Districts/Architecture)

(This is a cover sheet)

In the case of my world building, I opted not to use area or the break down of the land use. This choice was because I feel that the information gets too detailed oriented. I don't want to get caught up in the details or I'll be lost forever in world building. For you, you might find that this information is more useful. However, this is why I include general notes, if it is something that is important, such as a really large city, I can highlight it out there.

Like with my objectives blog, I started clumping together the related pieces of information that I needed for my city information. I created headers for each category of related information and sorted them out. I deleted a couple of the entries. This was the updated list:

_Basic Information_
Settlement name
Political Structure
major imports/exports
military/enforcement abilitiy

important landmarks
road networks

Settlement Population
race/gender composition
important figures

History (brief)
general notes

Next, I'm went through the list and made a few cosmetic changes. For example, I'm merged the political structure and the leader(s) section together. I removed notable structures, because I now have a section on architecture, and I moved culture to demographics after removing the race/gender composition. In my world, the races are significantly segregated to the point that it isn't worth putting into world building notes without it being identified elsewhere. For your, it might be significant enough to include.

With my final list, all the remains is making a template. I prefer to use Open Office because the program is free and after having used it for a while, I can work my away around to make templates and other fun little forms. You can use whatever program you prefer, or if you happen to own Scrivner, like I do, you can simply include your work in there.

After laying out the information as a template, all that remains to begin making the documents. You can print out blank copies for when you are away from your computer and save the template files for each of your settlements as you go along. I've included the template for Open Office here as well as a PDF version of one of my settlements using this template. Feel free to edit the template as you see fit.

Next week, I'll be using the template again to get into more meaty aspects of worldbuilding.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sick Day!

I'm feeling really under the weather today.  I'll do my blog entry tomorrow next week.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The 2012 King of the Hill Finale

It has been a long road reaching this point.  I've reviewed and compared every movie of the year until knocking the best films of the year down to two movies.  In the end, two movies very similar movies were able to face each other to be crowned the 2012 King of the Hill Champion.  And I never would have predicted how similar the two movies would be, right down to the movie poster.

Comparing the two movies Brave and Hanna is like trying to rate the toppings of pizza from the same pizza joint.  I cannot begin to identify how great both the two movies are.  What sets them apart are the finer details and these get down entirely to personal taste.  Like the pizza analogy, both movie fits a different mood.  I'm not always in the mood for pepperoni; sometimes I want to have mushrooms.

Brave is a Pixar film aimed for a younger audience, but still with elements appropriate for adults.  Hanna is live-action film aimed for adults.  Both movies are great on my movie watching pallet.  The differences make them next to impossible to compare.  I've made several attempts to write this comparison and each time, I've scrapped my writing to start over.  When determining what I like in a movie, I look at the plot, the characters, and the visuals.  So, for this final showdown, this is how the two movies will be compared.

The plots between the two movies are not really comparable.  However, I can compare them based on the level of enjoyment into the plot.  Hanna is an action film that also tells an allegorical tale of the loss of innocence.  The plot was very well written and had me drawn into it from start to finish.  Brave is a children's action story about a girl's rejection of her parent's wishes and the bond between mother and daughter.  Between these two films, I feel that the better plot has to go towards Hanna, but only ever so slightly.  Brave story, while a good one is something you can find more commonly in other movies.  This was never more true then when I compared Brave and Whip It last week.  The mother/daughter story is one that is in lots of movies.  While it is refreshing to see this story told to a younger audience, it doesn't make the plot better than other movies of a similar nature.  In Hanna, the loss of innocence plot is allegorically present and leaves a common action film on the surface.  This plot makes it far more complex and worthy for the plot category.

Visually speaking, what makes Hanna strong is it's blending of the visual techniques with the plot itself.  And while this is all well and good, the visual on their own are nothing of super significance.  It has been over a year since I saw this film now and I can remember some of the visual tricks, but nothing outside of the tie in to the allegorical story.  And for that reason, these visual tricks are more related to the plot of which Hanna was already awarded the winner.  Pixar is famous for their visuals.  They have always gone out of their way to make the look of their films visually stunning.  This movie was no exception.  Everything in the film from the Will O' the Wisps to the stunning visuals within the castle are top notch.  There is absolutely nothing missing from Brave in this category.  For this reason, Brave wins.

I've saved characters for last.  If there is a winner to be found in this film, it is to be found in the main protagonists.  And this is, again, a tough call.  Merida is a strong, powerful female character of the same strength and age as Hanna.  So which one of them is the stronger character?  The answer lies in character growth.  Merida's growth comes from her making a giant mistake and having to go out of her way to resolve her error.  In doing so, she learns more about herself and her parents.  She grows significantly from this event.  Hanna, however, has her growth more subtly.  She is thrust into a world outside of her comfort zone.  She is forced into a situation in which she must depend on herself and learn to trust others.  That trust causes those people problems, which she must grip with the guilt.  And, ultimately, she must find her own strength to overcome the final step in her character.  While both movies contain a powerful character in them, the character of Hanna is more realistic with her subtle development and growth while Merida's growth is painted clearly on the screen.  While I will forever give Pixar credit for creating a character that parents can discuss with their child, I want my characters as real as possible.  Hanna has that defining trait.

Plot Winner:  Hanna
Visual Winner:  Brave
Character Winner: Hanna

2012 King of the Hill Champion:  Hanna

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Building A World: Week 2

Last week, I talked briefly about the difference between building a world from a top-down and a bottom-up approach.  I then went on to focus on the top-down approach and how it is important to have a set of core rules in your world and how knowing those rules can prevent you from breaking the approach.  For those of you who read my unedited post from last week, you'll remember that I indicated that this week I'd talk about the bottom-up approach.  I've decided that there is something else that I should address first, something that is going to briefly take us away from actual world building, but something that is equally important to the process.  I'm going to discuss the importance of establishing and creating objectives with your worldbuilding.

Building a World: Week 2
Objectives are the real world rules that we need to establish for our self  before we can truly begin to get into the meat of the worldbuilding process.  It is going to create the limits we need to set to make sure we don't lose track of our goal of worldbuilding.  It is going to serve as a reminder of what we need to do in order to successfully accomplish our worldbuilding.  Worldbuilding, at least to me, is a very complex process.  These guidelines help simply the process.

To build a good set of worldbuilding objectives, you first need to follow some very simple ground rules.

  • You need to have a goal in mind.
  • Your goals need to be realistic.
  • The goals have to be useful.

With these rules in mind, I took some paper and started to brainstorm a list of things that I wanted to accomplish with my worldbuilding.  This was my initial list:

Taking ideas that I have and putting them down on paper
Developing existing cultures in my world
Creating new cultures in my world
Creating a set of rules that I can stick to
Establishing facts in a reference for the writing process
Developing the races of my world
Building cities at a macro and micro level
Map building
Establishing a history

The list is decent, but it isn't all that useful.  Many of these items are similar and I feel like I needed to refine the list.  So, for the next step, I decided to match up the similar objectives and look at them closely to find out how they compare.  This is the result of that process:

 Taking ideas that I have and putting them down on paper
Creating a set of rules that I can stick to
Establishing facts in a reference for the writing process

Developing existing cultures in my world
Creating new cultures in my world
Developing the races of my world

The first thing I noticed was that I had two sets of objectives that shared a similar theme.  With this in mind, I went into the next step and looked at a way to combine the objectives together to better describe what I was trying to achieve.  With the first set of three, the objectives were all about the process of worldbuilding.  These were external objectives.  The second set of three, on the other hand, focused on culture and races.  These were internal objectives related to the behavior of people within my world.

With my external objectives, I identified that my main purpose was to have a copy of my world information available for reference and to make sure that I remained consistent with my writing process.  Taking this information, I was able to rewrite the three objectives into a single objective:

Creating a hard/soft copy of my world as a personal reference in order to maintain an accurate and consistent portrayal of the world during the writing process.

For the cultural approach, I decided I needed to expand a bit on these three objectives when I combined them together.  I've recently become fascinated with anthropology and I want to explore anthropology more in depth.  I'd ultimately like to make my cultures at least somewhat feasible from an anthropological setting.  From this, and the notes on my paper, I created this as one of my objectives:

Develop and construct the cultures and races of my world in such a way that it is easy to pinpoint what makes the cultures unique while, at the same time, making sure they remain relatively accurate on an anthropological level.

With the second objective, I was keeping the second rule in mind.  It is very easy to get lost within developing a culture.  What matters when building a culture, something I'll talk more about later, is that you know what makes them unique and not focus on the tiny details that can distract you and the reader.  As I said in my later objective on history, "Who cares about when taxes were raised?"

Now, I'm not going into depth about how I created all of my objectives.  I'll be adding in a link to my final document once I've finalized it.  There is one objective that I do want to discuss briefly before I end up this blog post:

Leave room for new objectives to be added to the worldbuilding process.

There are aspects of worldbuilding that will need to be addressed as I go along.  None of my objectives, for example, discuss things such as magic and weather.  For now, these might fit best under my culture objective.  As I move along with the worldbuilding, I need to be willing to be flexible.  That's why this objective is present.

That's it for this week's entry.  If you are reading this, I encourage you to go ahead and start listing out what you want to achieve with your worldbuilding process.  Be as lengthy or as short as you'd like.  Just be sure to follow the three rules listed above.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2012 King of the Hill Semifinals

We are down to the last four films of the year for the best film.  Brave swept the entire month.  The Avengers was the only movie in May and has so far stood well coming in as the last seed.  Hanna was the January champion.  The Dark Knight Rises has, well, risen well to be one of the better films of the year.  Today, two of these films will find their downfall.

This project has been an interesting project that has blended a range of classics featuring Maryland Monroe to the horrifically modern film of Snow White and the Huntsman.  Each film, be it good or bad, has gone head-to-head with the other films of the year until only these four remain.

Brave v The Avengers
It is time for a small confession time.  I initially didn't hold The Avengers very high when I saw it the first two times, I have seen a bunch of Tumblr photos that have shown parallels between characters and subtle things might have missed.  For example, Thor tells Tony Stark not to touch him again.  Later in the film, there is a point where Tony Stark pokes (or maybe pats him on the shoulder).  Seeing this pointed out and given the circumstances for the touch, it is clear that Tony Stark is trying to push Thor's buttons.  This isn't obvious and makes for a subtle detail that adds to the film.  There are other areas such as the strong parallel between Tony Stark's story in this film and Captain America's film.  Given that Captain America very pointedly calls Tony Stark out on his lack of heroism, this is very interesting to see in the film.  These discoveries have helped raise the appreciation I have for the film.

Brave has not changed from my initial assessment.  The film is a great one.  I have encountered some parents that didn't take their child to the movie because of how dark it was.  I felt that this was a shame and have tried to explain why it is a great film for children.  The movie still remains highly accessible, despite the dark overtone.  The film has a great story, one that I would encourage everyone to see.  It has a great moral lesson.  The film is also very entertaining, something that is important to remember is a necessity in movies.  There are several movies I've seen over the year that had moral lessons, but lacked entertainment.

Comparing the two films is extremely difficult.  However, there is definitely one thing in The Avengers that sets the movie apart from Brave.  The Avengers team consists of six members.  One of the members of that team is Black Widow.  As the only female in the film, I don't expect to see a lot of moments depicting strong female characters.  What I do expect is to see the depiction of the heroes to be the same no matter what the circumstances.  And there is a scene in the film when the Incredible Hulk is on a rage and is going after Black Widow.  During this scene, she shows true fear.  She could have been fearless.  Someone else could have also shown fear in the film.  Or someone else could have been the subject of the Incredible Hulk's pursuit.  Instead, the one member of the Avenger's team that shows fear is the one female member.  And while I don't think it was intentionally planned, it still mars the film.

Winner:  Brave

Hanna v The Dark Knight Rises
What is going to determine the winner between Hanna and The Dark Knight Rises is going to be based around what makes the movies different.  Both movies are as close to flawless in my mind as a movie can get.  Yes, you could go through the two films and find issues.  But as far as entertainment value is concerned, the movies are as good as they can get.

The first major difference between the two films is the length.  Hanna is a full feature length film.  It stands alone and runs from start to finish in one movie.  The Dark Knight Rises is the third movie of a trilogy.  This allows the movie to take well established characters with previous character development, and go forward with them.  There are new characters introduced, such as Selena, but the movie is mostly old faces brought back.  This requires that I give Hanna credit for doing in one film, what The Dark Knight Rises does in three.

Hanna is a story about the loss of innocence.  The Dark Knight Rises is, well, its a lot of things rolled into one.  There are many stories and messages in the film.  And I think that to a degree, this adds into The Dark Knight's favor.  It isn't quite as powerful of a win as having everything done in a single film, but if you look at just what takes place in The Dark Knight Rises, you can see that there is a lot there.  That is definitely worth something.

The final major difference between the two films is imagery and filming techniques.  The Dark Knight Rises is an action film.  Hanna is as well, but in a different way.  Hanna takes the story of a character and uses the settings and the color of those settings to naturally tell a story.  You could watch the movie without the audio and still notice these changes.  With The Dark Knight Rises, the story requires that you hear the conversations.  I'm not saying that Hanna is a movie you could watch in complete silence, but you can see the major theme of the movie without having to listen to a word.  That trick was wonderfully done, something that I could point out is also found in Pan's Labyrinth.  Hanna wins on this front as well.

Winner:  Hanna

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 King of the Hill Finale: Round 2

Four movies have been eliminated and eight remain.  This time the winners of Round 1 are up against the movies that were fortunate enough to get a Bye the previous time around.  Can Whip It, The Avengers, Back to the Future, and War of the Worlds survive one more round of elimination, or will Brave, Hanna, The Dark Knight Rises, and Paranormal Activity 2 stop them in their tracks.

This is the second round of the 2012 King of the Hill Movie Challenge.  For the last year, I reviewed every movie that I watched and I have pitted those films against each other to determine the best movie of 2012.  This is the finals bracket where the best of each month is squaring off to be crowned champion.  All movies were seeded based on the number of direct movies they compared with and defeated as well as when I saw them during the year.

Brave v Whip It

Brave was Pixar's release of the year and it was a powerful film bringing one very unique princess to the movies.  Brave and Whip It share a lot in common.  They are both movies about young girls on the verge of adulthood who are struggling with their mother.  The first major difference between the two films is the supernatural element.  In Whip It, Bliss runs away from home when it is discovered that she is defying her mother and going out to Rollerblade behind her mother's back.  In Brave, Merida curses her mother in her attempt to gain independence.

There are other differences between the film.  The question, however, is which of these films is the better of the two.  Whip It, despite it's story of parent/child struggles, is focused more on the aspect of the world of roller derby.  it is a broader picture and less focused on the narrative of family.  Brave is also set to target a younger audience.  This gives Brave a stronger place in my mind.  It gives a great moral lesson to children, particularly young girls, and is more accessible to the audience where as Whip It deals with a darker story and is not appropriate for all ages.

Winner:  Brave

Paranormal Activity 2 v The Avengers

So, let's be honest for a second.  Do you really expect the sequel of a supernatural horror flick to stand a chance against one of the biggest blockbusters of all time?  Marvel planned this out perfectly.  It would be a waste of your and my time to compare these two films.  Let the real comparisons begin in the quarter finals.

Winner:  The Avengers

Hanna v Back to the Future

Hanna is an amazing movie with some incredible stopping power.  Unlike most of the movies I've seen this year, Hanna uses a ton of visual tricks to help carry the story in addition to the story itself.  It is a movie that is both well written and excellently filmed.  Back to the Future is a cult classic and has aged well over the years.  The story is highly entertaining and has put a lot of effort into getting all of the details right.  Comparing the two movies is difficult because I want them both to win.  In the end, Hanna is the better movie.  While Back to the Future is flawless, Hanna carries a better story because below the surface of the film, there is an imagery of the loss of innocence.  And that depth gives it the edge it needs to advance.

Winner:  Hanna

The Dark Knight Rises v War of the Worlds

See my discussion on The Avengers above.  This was the long-planned conclusion to the Batman trilogy.  And while it is great to see a War of the Worlds movie done right, it was even better seeing a Batman series come to an end.  Otherwise, it would have been just another freaking story line reboot.  Yes, I'm looking at you DC Comics!

Winner:  The Dark Night Rises

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Building a World: Week 1

Top down worldbuilding starts with little details but fills in later.
After a successful year of reviewing movies, I’ve decided to take my blog in a slightly different direction. The original intent of this blog had been to be a writer’s blog. At the start of the year, I managed to cover a lot of content on writing. As time progressed, that lost focus while I maintained my regular posts on movie reviews though those were sometimes late.

For 2013, I plan instead to devote every Tuesday to a post dedicated to work building one of my worlds. I will be using this blog to discuss the process and I’ll be sharing pieces of my world, how I’m developing the world, and various resources I’ve encountered in the process.
For those of you who don’t know, I have a Twitch account. I use the account to stream myself playing a variety of games. Though I promise no schedule for streaming, I will be using my Twitch account while I write these blog entries. And, to meet Twitch’s guidelines for gaming streams, I’ll have a special game running at the time as well as discuss on stream how this can be applied to gaming.

Building a World: Week 1

There are several ways to approach worldbuilding. In this blog series, I will not be focusing so much on how to worldbuild, but rather discuss my process of worldbuilding. Part of my goal here is to not only build up my world, but start to finalize and compile the details of my world. I have a massive binder filled with notes and pieces of my world. I have computer documents scattered all over the place with details I’ve come up with. I have approximately eight manuscripts worth of writing with details of my world that I can skim through. I also have an assortment of short stories. There is a lot of information to work with, many of it is contradictory.

With worldbuilding, there are two main approaches. I’m gloriously “stealing” this information from wikipedia

  • Top-Down Worldbuilding: Starting with the larger aspects of a world such as continents and countries and creating the details within those aspects. (1)
  • Bottom-Up Worldbuilding: Taking a detailed section of your world, such as a single city, and building the world around that city. (1)

For the most part with my blog, I will be doing top-down. There are, however, parts of my world that are finely crafted and I will need to better fit them into the world around it. For those areas, I will focus on a bottom-up approach.

My world is a fantasy world with three distinct magical systems and three major races. There are other races and the magic system has a unified rule that allows some manipulation to imitate different forms of magic. However, these are merely the exceptions to the rules.

This is why the first rule with worldbuilding is to have core rules, rules that cannot be broken. Today, I want to talk about the nature of death and life in my world. Much of my world revolves around what happens when someone dies. In The Rose and the Crown, the story gets into what the humans believe happens when you die and what the fae believe happen when you die. Are they the same? No. Does it matter to the reader what really happens? No. Does it matter to me, the writer, when I am working on a story? Yes.

It is important that when I tell the story, I’m being consistent. If I have one story in which a character dies and the ritual is followed one way, and in another story, it is different, the reader will pick up on this and wonder if I am doing things right. You never want to break the trust in your readers. So, it is important to know the story behind your world even if the reader never encounters it.

So, in my Aldaric world. This is a place where all souls go when they die. This area is timeless and is inhabited by the keeper of the dead. She is a special soul who sacrificed her ability to move between worlds in order to guide souls to the next point in their life.

This allows me the possibility to have souls reborn and allows me to have souls move to a place in which they remain for the rest of eternity. However, it also means that souls cannot be destroyed in my world. No matter what I do in my universe, this rule cannot be broken. From this, I can then extract different cultures and work from there.

  • The fae believe that the soul moves on to a new world.
  • Humans believe that the soul can move on, but requires a specific ritual must be followed to prevent the soul from lingering in the current world.
  • Aquians, my third race, believe that souls are reborn in the form of a new life.

It is important to begin starting your process by creating a list of hard rules that you cannot break in your universe. By creating this list, you have a handy reference anytime you need to add something new to the world around you. Never break these rules, even if you are sure that the reader will never realize they were broken.

Next Week
I will dive into the Fae Kingdom, my most developed culture, to reflect a little bit on bottom-up worldbuilding and explore how to blend real world cultures and folklore in a fictional setting.

2012 King of the Hill Finale: Round 1

2012 King of the Hill Bracket Time:  Round of 8
Brackets courtesy
It has been a very long, exciting year with movies.  I've reviewed them all.  Now it is time to see which of the twelve best movies is the official 2012 King of the Hill winner.  The highest seeded movie of the year was Brave with a whopping four direct defeats.  The lowest seeded movie was Avengers which happened to be the only movie in May that I watched.  For the single elimination bracket to work, four movies were give Byes to advance them automatically to the second round.  Those movies are Brave, Paranormal Activity 2, Hanna, and, The Dark Knight Rises.

I will be reviewing each movie in this round all in one post.  As I'm comparing eight movies in Round 1, the descriptions will be shorter.  If you want more detailed information on the movie, be sure to click on the matching movie label.  That will bring you to the original reviews involving that film.  It is a great way to get more detailed information.

Whip It v Hunger Games
These two movies have very little in common outside of having a strong female protagonist.  One is a distopian world in which kids are sent off to fight each other to the death.  The other is a contemporary piece in which the protagonist is trying to set out to find out who she is in the world.  What makes this comparison so difficult is that both genres are unique in their own right.  Science Fiction is about exploring the possible and asking the question:  "what if?"  Contemporary creates a slice of life about our modern day society and makes us think about the world around us.

Hunger Games is going to stand the test of time.  Of that I have no doubt.  However, Hunger Games is not the complete story.  It is the first movie of a trilogy.  While some of the "What if?" of science fiction has been asked in the first film, the movie does not fully address the question in this movie.  There are aspects that will come in later movies.  And those movies will bring the full question to a head.  However, when looking at the movies to determine the winner, it is important to look at the movie as a whole.  Hunger Games did not tell the full story.  Whip It did.

Winner:  Whip It

Tucker and Dale vs Evil v The Avengers
This comparison is a pretty easy one to make.  Tucker and Dale vs Evil is a movie that both mocks horror films, but pays homage to them at the same time.  The Avengers is an action packed blockbuster that combines all of the big name super heroes from the Marvel Universe that has been in theaters recently.  While I probably would have had a higher appreciation for Tucker and Dale vs Evil had I been more involved in horror, the movie does not compare to The Avengers.  The Avengers is a movie I have sought out seeing a second time and will definitely seek out again.

Winner:  The Avengers

Back to the Future v The Little Princess
One of these films is a cult classic.  The other movie is a cute movie about a girl who is thrust from one worldly experience into another.  Back to the Future is a classic for a reason.  It is a damn good movie about a boy who accidentally goes back in time and has to fix the future before he ceases to exist.  The film has lots of secrets hidden in.  The movie is extremely accurate.  The movie is great for discussions with friends.  The Little Princess is simply entertaining.  I'd watch it again, but it holds no special strength in my heart.

Winner:  Back to the Future

Super v War of the Worlds
Forgive me Ellen Page.  I love her role in this movie.  I love the movie Super.  It is definitely a cult classic and will stand the test of time.  This movie is about the drive to be a hero and change the world.  It is a dark comedy, and those always do better as time goes on.  However, the story of War of the Worlds is much older and has already survived as long as it has.  Unfortunately, the story has never had a chance to get a proper shining in movie format.  That changed with this version.  And for this reason, this movie will be remembered for being the first War of the Worlds rendition to get it right.

Winner:  War of the Worlds