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Category Archives: I mock because I love

WMF Photo Contest Part XI: Shrines, Scenery, and Groups

Hey guys, Amanda here again. We’re on a roll, and today we bring you part XI of the photo contest.

[I’m here too. It’s Pat. I’m orange today.]

Like last time, Pat and I worked together on these blogs, and he picked our winners a long time ago. He just needs that extra push to actually post it. So… *push*

Pat’s going to be popping in here and there to give his snarky input again. I hope you enjoy my public mocking.

[Technically, that should be “I hope you enjoy my being publicly mocked.” The way you’ve phrased it implies that you’re going to be mocking people in public.]

Something tells me this is not the only time you’re gonna sass me today….

[Something tells me you’re right.]

  • Groups.

My favorite thing that happened in this contest were the big group efforts.

Some were more simple, like asking these lovely women to pose with a copy of WMF:

photocontest_2_girls

And then there’s some of the more intricate set ups.

WMF_photo

I love the idea of Alan Menken writing the music for this musical. Would it be more in the vein of Little Shop of Horrors or Aladdin?

WMF_sm2

And here we have Spider-man, wrecking everything, like he does.

Advanced Not Being a Stupid Jackass 006

I was a high school Engilsh teacher before I started working for Pat, so this made me grin more than usual.

[Engeilersh.]

These sophomores are in the middle of a course of Advanced Not Being a Stupid Jackass. I approve. Plus, the teacher actually got waivers from all of the kids in the picture. Though given how long it’s taken to post this, some fairly simple math reveals that they’re all at least 19 now.

[ಠ_ಠ]

entry003 - just went around town asking people to hold their book

I admire this. This photo was made just by going around town asking people to hold their book. Making friends, sharing the love, and a cool photo.

Honorable Mention:

EolianMuses

“Wild warblings from the Eolian lyre/Enchantment softly breathe, and/tremblingly expire” -John Keats

Winners:

wiseman-büchermittelalteredit

(Click to embiggen)

Aynaet, the person who sent this photo in, outed herself as a Nerdfighter to us when she submitted these photos, though Pat and I selected this as a winner before I noticed that. I pretty much immediately wanted to be best friends with her.

Many of the pictures are of her at various conventions, adding a little bonus geek factor to the submission.

'Most Blatant Suck-up' entry

[You guys rock my socks. Seeing you flying your freak flag makes me proud to be a geek.]
The folks who submitted this were very detailed in their explanation:
“-Yes, that is a Luring the Draccus poster; yes, that is my computer background reflected in it; yes, my computer background is the art of the French cover of NOTW.
-Yes, we all three are wearing (or in my brother’s case, draped over a shoulder) Rothfussian shirts
-Yes, my brother is copying the pose from the romance novel cover of NOTW with my flute and copy of The Last Unicorn
-Yes, all those copies of NOTW, WMF, Princess and Mr. Whiffle, and assorted other Rothfuss paraphernalia do belong and were purchased by us, making this kinda an entry into the ‘Most Blatant Suck-up’ category.
-Yes, some of our copies are not pictured due to being out on loan, and yes, as this was taken a while ago more copies have been added.”

There’s a lot of enthusiasm here. They have pretty much every edition of Name of the Wind available, including the book club edition. They even have one of our long-gone original Worldbuilders t-shirts. So, for their commitment, they’ll all be getting sets of gold talent pipes.

[Only fair. It seems like that’s the only thing they don’t have in their collection so far….]

The photostream has even more group efforts, including bonus pictures from some featured here already.

  • Shrines.

There were more than a few shrines built in honor of WMF:

[My name is is Pat Rothfuss, and I officially I approve of this behavior.]

IMG_1385a

But not all of them were beautiful, serene things….

IMG_1390a

This contained real strands of hair from the photographer’s boyfriend, her wisdom teeth, and money from a German middle-ages festival.

[Cripes. Teeth? I never mentioned teeth as a sympathetic link, did I? That particular piece of inspired creepy isn’t my personal responsibility….]

candles1

This one features a wax mommet. I’m particularly fond of the way the instrument case has been bound. If you click to embiggen, you see a note that says “SILENCE OF THREE PARTS” on the case, so it factors into whatever spell they’re placing on their mommet.

[*Pushes up glasses again.* “Binding” is the preferred nomenclature. Nobody at the university would use the word “spell.”]

You know Pat, if you’d rather I *stopped* helping with these blogs, all you have to do is ask….

[*mumbles something softly to himself without meeting your eye*]

Honorable Mention:

ducks2

The photographer was convinced these ducks were performing a ritual to bring about some “well deserved happiness for our dear Kvothe.” I hope it worked…

Winner:

055

The best shrines are those that provide enough light for you to read by.

[This is just an awesome picture. I’d love it even if it had nothing to do with my book. As it is, I love it exponentially more….]

There are even more shrines in the photostream, if you want to get ideas for your own glorification of the books.

  • Scenery

Our next category was fairly simple.

A lot of the pictures are simply beautiful, and can pretty much speak for themselves….

IMG_20110515_164015

DSCN0158

I feel oddly calm and at ease looking at this photo. Stevens Point has nothing resembling this for me to climb, but I might go looking for one now…

Dennabogmark2

[My aging, decrepit mind thinks this picture was from Finland…]

Wise Man's Fear1 201

Having spent my entire life in the Midwest, and primarily Wisconsin, this was REALLY cool to me.

[Butte. LOLOLOLOL]

New York Times Bestselling author, folks. I’m so proud.

Honorable mention:

book  in stone circle

My immediate reaction to this was a desire to get a group together to sit on the stones and read the book aloud, with each person playing a role. And then I was worried some creepy fae magic would happen and someone would disappear, so I decided not to ever do that.

[I can’t tell if I think this ring of stones is cool or creepy. I keep wondering who made it, and why? Then the stories I come up with in my head to answer those questions aren’t always good stories….]

Winner:

Aileen Hay3

I don’t know why this picture appealed to me the way it did. It’s a beautiful picture, but there’s something more to it that makes me really happy. There’s something about the angle, the black and white, the small glimpse of water through the planks, the expanse of sky, that all just sort of… fit.

And really, that’s enough for me.

[I hear you. There’s a real art to shooting a good photo. I don’t know how it works, but I know what I like…]

There were so many more cool photos. We’ve added them to the photo stream, and you should really see them.

* * *

Thanks for taking this ride with me, guys. I’m pretty sure Pat appreciated having me take over a couple of these, even if he mocked my every word.

[Please, at most I mocked every fourth word or so.]

Previously: [Prologue] [Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V] [Part VI] [Part VII] [Part VIII] [Part IX] [Part X]

There are only two photo contest blogs left: Miscellany and the Grand Prize Winner. They’re both pretty awesome…

Amanda

[What she said.]

[pat]

Also posted in fan coolness, Photo Contest 2011 | By Amanda21 Responses

Fanmail Q&A: The Biggest Mistake

Pat,

I love your books, and I’ve been reading your blog for years, silently lurking. Not wanting to take up your time with a comment, let alone a letter.

But here’s the thing. After years of thinking about it. I’m actually starting to write.

Yeah. Surprise surprise. I’m looking for advice.

I know most of it I’ll have to learn on my own. And I know you don’t have time to tell me all the tricks of the trade you’ve learned over the years. But I was hoping you could tell me just one thing. Not something I should do. Something I should avoid. What’s the biggest mistake you see new writer’s make in fantasy?

If you can tell me what that mistake is, then hopefully I can skip that one and make other mistakes instead.

Love,

Jan

Awww…. free love.

Well Jan, the biggest mistake I see new writer’s make is the grocers’ apostrophe.

No, wait. Don’t cry. I’m just teasing a little. I mock because I love. I don’t hold minor grammatical goofs against people. I’m no Strongbad. Hell, I make the classic it’s/its mistake more than half the time.

Anyway, to the heart of the matter. Let me answer your question the way that I answer all questions, with a story.

Months ago, I was sitting around with Oot. He was just starting to get really verbal in those days. Whole sentences. Picking up words right and left.

More to the point of this story: he was just learning how to count.

So. We’re sitting around and I hold up a finger and say, “One….”

He knows where I’m going with this. Counting is a new thing, so he’s pretty exited about it.

“One…” I prompt him again.

He jumps on board this time. “…two. Three. Four! Five! SIX! EIGHT! TEN! SIX! THREE! SIX!

He gets really worked up after three. He makes little fists and waves around his arms enthusiastically. On a good day he’ll get all the way up to nine before he falls apart.

It’s perfectly natural, really. When you have a cool new piece of information to show off, you’re bound to get excited.

Later on in the day I come in and he’s reading a book with Sarah. It’s the last page in a big Richard Scarry book, and it has groups of things lined up, just for counting. One picture of a whale. Two pictures of walruses. Three pigs.

You get the idea.

Mom is coaching him with ladybugs and buttons. There’s lots of those, way more than ten.

I tag Sarah out so she can go do some stuff on her own, then I sit down with Oot.

I point to the book. “How many walruses are there?”

He looks at the page. “One…. Two….” He looks at the book seriously.

There’s a pause. A long pause. He furrows his brow.

“Two,” he says.

“Good job!” I say, completely earnest. This is big stuff. Cutting edge. I’m proud of him. He really thought it out. Didn’t just make a guess.

I point one line down on the page. “How many pigs?”

He looks at the three pigs. “One… two…. Three.”

But he doesn’t stop there. He’s on a roll now. “Four! Five! Six! SEVEN! TEN! SEVEN! MANY!” He finishes by throwing his arms up over his head triumphantly.

It’s cute as hell, really. But the fact is, he’s wrong. He got carried away.

And this, Jan, is the biggest problem I see most new fantasy authors make.

* * *

(Yeah. That’s a scene break. I’ve decided I can put a scene break in my blog if I feel like it.)

You see, one of the hardest parts about writing fantasy novels is describing things.

Now this problem isn’t unique to fantasy novels. No matter what genre you’re writing in, you have to describe things. That’s a given.

The problem is that in fantasy, there’s so much you have to describe.

If you write a novel set in the real world, you can assume your reader will have a certain baseline knowledge. They will know about Seattle and Paris. They will know what the internet is. They will (almost certainly) know who Robin Hood is. They’ll (probably) know who Don Quixote is. They’ll (maybe) know who Cyrano De Bergerac is.

But when you’re writing fantasy, especially secondary-world fantasy (By which I mean fantasy where the story takes place in a world other than our own) the reader doesn’t know anything about your world. They don’t know the cultures, religions, magic, or cities. The reader doesn’t know anything about the myths and legends of the world.

Now a lot of times, this is one of the major selling points of the book. A big payoff of secondary-world fantasy is the thrill of exploration. We get to see new countries, fantastic creatures, odd cultures, curious magics, etc etc.

And, honestly, this is one of the big perks of being a fantasy writer. We get to build castles in the sky, then show them off to people.

So here’s how it goes wrong.

1. You create something for your fantasy world: a creature, a culture, a myth, whatever.

2. You’re proud of your creation. You’re excited about it. You love it with a fierce love.

3. You need to describe this thing to your reader, because if they don’t understand how it works, your story won’t make sense.

(3b. Remember, the story is the real reason people are there. Story is everything. Story is god.)

4. So you start to explain how folks in the the Shire celebrate their birthdays. (This is important because one of the first major events of the book is a birthday party.) You talk about how hobbits give presents away at their parties instead of receiving them. (This is important because it ties into why Bilbo is going to hand over the ring to Frodo.)

Then you start talking about how some of these presents get passed back and forth, party after party. And how those items are actually called mathoms, and how there’s actually a museum full of mathoms at Michel Delving, which is in the Westfarthing of the shire, since, as you know, the Shire is composed of four sections which take their names from prominent families in the area, such as Tookland being named after the Tooks, who are among the largest and oldest of the Shire families, and in fact still held the title of Thain, which had been passed to them from the Oldbucks, and while the title was largely ceremonial these days due to the lack of Shire-moot in recent, peaceful times…. Four! Five! Six! SEVEN! TEN! SEVEN! MANY!

You see what happens? It’s easy for an author to get so caught up in the details of the world they created, that they go off the rails and give us more than is really necessary for the story.

Now it might seem like I’m picking on Tolkien a little bit here. But again I say: I mock because I love. I grew up reading Tolkien, and I mean that quite literally. I read the lord of the rings at least once a year through all my teenage years.

To his credit, Tolkien gave us one of the best traditions of our genre, that of elaborate, realistic worldbuilding.

Unfortunately, he also gave us the tradition of providing *way* too much information at the beginning of the story.

Tolkien is the cornerstone of modern fantasy. His impact on the genre is immeasurable. His arm has grown long….

Again, I love Tolkien. But the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring is one of the most egregious instances of info-dumping in existence. At best, it resembles the dry essay it was intended to resemble. At worst, it’s like reading Leviticus.

(Okay. Fine. It’s really more like reading Numbers. But you know what I mean…)

And yeah, you can argue that Leviticus is a chapter in the best-selling book of all time. But the key is that the bible doesn’t *start* with that chapter. The bible starts out with action. Right out of the gate you get you have magic, “Let there be light.” You get conflict. You get character development. You get a good antagonist, drama, betrayal, exile from paradise. That’s exciting stuff. Genesis really gets the story going. It sets the hook.

That’s why the bible sells so well. Only after you get involved in the plot does Moses start giving you the heavy worldbuilding in Numbers and Deuteronomy. He did that for a reason. If he’d started the bible with the info-dump, it would have been *way* too boring. No publisher would have printed it.

So how do you avoid falling into the trap of telling too much?

I wish I could give you a simple answer to this, Jen. But the truth is, I could teach a week-long class on this seemingly simple question. There are dozens of tricks and cheats. There are hundreds of ways to do it well, and thousands of ways to do it badly.

What makes this such a horrible problem is that “too much” is largely a matter of taste. Some readers really *do* want to read all the details of the ancient Shi-Ang dynasty, and how their government relied upon the use of telepathy crystals. Other readers just want you to hurry up and get to the part where the Lesbian Unicorn Sisterhood initiates apprentice Ayllisia into the secrets of the Eternal Kiss.

It’s also a matter of style. Some writers are better at making exposition engaging than others. Some worlds are more alien than others, requiring more explanation.

My personal philosophy is to err on the side of caution. Given the choice, I’d prefer to give too little description and leave you wanting more, rather than give a lot and risk you being bored.

And yes, I’m aware of the irony of preaching “less is more” after writing a 400,000 word novel. Imagine how long it would have been if I hadn’t been consciously riding the brake.

In my opinion, Jen, the biggest thing is you can do to avoid this problem is to be aware that it *is* a problem.

Knowing is half the battle, and all that.

Verbosely yours,

pat

Later Edit: Yeah. I know the author of the e-mail was Jan, not Jen. I changed it as an oblique reference to the way that Strongbad would usually change/screw up the names of the people that wrote into him by the time he finished answering their questions.

See? That way we start and end the blog with a Strongbad reference, providing a sort of closure and narrative unity.

I can tell from the comments below that at least a few of you got it. But it’s clear the rest of you just thought I didn’t care enough to get her name right.

Just wanted to let you know that I’m not an insensitive asshole. No. I’m just prone to arcane referential douchery.

Also posted in Fanmail Q + A, Oot, the craft of writing, Things my baby has taught me about writing | By Pat85 Responses

Suvudu Cage Match….

Two years ago, Suvudu hosted a sci-fi fantasy cage match, where they pitted fictional characters against each other in a tournament style series of one-on-one fights.

It was a cool concept, and it led to interesting match ups like Cthulhu vs Lyra. Cthulhu being an omnipotent elder god from the outer darkness, and Lyra being a plucky 13 year-old girl from Oxford.

Simply said, good times were had.

Kvothe was one of the characters they chose that first year, which was flattering, as back then I only had the one book out, and I was very new to the scene.

Even more surprising was the fact that Kvothe won his first match. Then his second. He made it all the way to the semi-finals after beating  Dumbledore, Garret Jax, and Aslan.

Y’know. Now that I’m thinking of it, I’m going to retroactively award myself an achievement for that. Because it was awesome.

In my opinion, the best part of the cage matches was the fact that Suvudu posted write-ups describing how they thought the fights would settle out.

Even better, they invited the authors to submit their own write-ups, so WE could describe how we thought the fights would go.

I did a write up for Kvothe vs. Aslan, then later did another for Kvothe vs. Jamie. It was the most fun I’d had writing in a long time. At that point in my life, trapped under the crushing weight of book two, it reminded me that writing could actually be fun….

*     *     *

Fast forward to today. Suvudu is running another tournament, and this time Bast is one of the players….

The Suvudu Cage Matches have been going for a couple weeks. I’ve been meaning to mention them here on the blog for a while, but I’ve been busier than usual lately, so I’m only now getting around to it.

Bast’s first opponent was Seregil, from Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series.

I read the first two books of Lynn’s series and liked them. But in addition to being busy, I really wasn’t able to come up with a good idea for a scene between the two of them. I briefly entertained the thought of writing it up as a kissing contest between Bast and Seregil, but that seemed kind of… inappropriate.

Lynn, of course, is a better person than me, and did a delightfully playful write-up of the bout between them that you can see over on Suvudu’s site. It was a good scene, and I expected her to win because of it. But Bast squeaked by….

Bast’s second fight was against Richard Rahl. And again, I found myself at a loss for an idea for a scene. My only idea there was something involving bondage. And since I’m still fuzzy on the parody-as-fair-use laws, I decided to focus on a few interviews I was late on and the questions in my translator questions instead. Luckily, Bast won through that one without my help, too.

Now it’s the third week, and Bast is going head to head with Anomander Rake from Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series.

I feel like a bit of a slacker by this point, like I should really do a write up for this one.

So here goes….

“So, Rake,” Bast said. “At last we meet again for the first time.”

“Indeed,” said Anomander Rake, tossing his flowing white hair over his shoulder.

Bast looked over his opponent calmly. “I’ve heard tell that you are old as ages.”

Rake nodded, his face giving nothing away.

“I’ve also heard that you are well versed in the arcane arts, you have a floating fortress, and that you..” Bast snuck a quick look at a piece of paper he held cupped in the palm of his hand, “…can turn into a dragon.” Bast looked up, his expression a little disgusted. “Seriously? You can turn into a dragon, too?”

Rake had the decency to look slightly abashed, if only very slightly. “Yeah,” he said. “All that and a bag of chips, too.”

“And you’re also nigh-invulnerable,” Bast said.

“That’s The Tick, actually,” Rake said grudgingly. “But yeah. I’m pretty much nigh.”

Bast nodded at this, seemingly unsurprised. “I see,” he said gravely. Taking a deep breath, he looked up, meeting the tall man’s eyes. “All that aside, do you seriously think you can eat more pie than me?”

Okay. I’ll admit it. I haven’t read Erikson’s series. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and it’s on my list. It’s even a complete series, which is a huge selling point in my opinion. (*ahem*) But it’s also ten books long. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Given that I don’t know anything about Rake (And I don’t care to, thank you very much. So no spoilers, please.) I’m going to have pass on writing a full scene for this match too.

Right now, Bast is taking a bit of a drubbing, and perhaps rightly so. If he loses this round, I’ll still be proud he made it this far.

But I’ll also be a little sad. Because if Bast wins this round against Rake, and Zaphod Beeblebrox wins his match against Saphira…

…then the next round would be Bast vs. Zaphod.

So I’m not saying anyone *should* go and vote. I’m just saying that if the Bast vs. Zaphod match ends up happening, I would write the hell out of that scene.

That’s all I’m saying.

pat

Also posted in Achievement Unlocked!, fanfic, Nathan Taylor Art | By Pat66 Responses
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