Stargate Monuments


Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus

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Stargate Monuments

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Here's a link from Bill Crider's Blog: Digital Karnak: Each video shows scenes from the Karnak virtual reality model, photographs from the site today, maps, and present-day video footage.


Taking more writing questions in order: supurnuva asked: 1. How do you write in a voice that distinctive from your own? What I mean is, when I write fiction, I seem to get stuck either in an overly reflective first person that's far too similar to how I write journals, or in a chatty, wry, vaguely 19th century third person omniscient that's far too similar to the way I narrate my life in my head. Do any have any tips for developing a new style?

Voice tends to be one of those things that some people have no trouble grasping immediately and others need to work on and develop. For me it's very important, because even when I'm writing in third person, I try to make the prose have the feel of the voice of the viewpoint character. I think it makes the readers feel more like they're seeing the scene through the mind of that character. Or at least, that's how it works for me as a reader.

One thing you can do to develop your skill at voice is to become very conscious of it in prose and in visual media. Take your favorite books and TV shows and really concentrate on how each character speaks, what makes them distinctive from the others. Voice combines word choice, slang, sentence structure. Those elements are usually based on the character's background and culture, their level of education, and whether their normal environment is casual or formal.

If you're a voice junkie like me, you'll notice TV shows where the characters all tend to have distinctive voices, and you'll notice when a different writer who has no concept of voice (*cough*David Fury*cough*) writes their dialogue. Normally laconic characters become suddenly chatty, characters from different backgrounds and cultures all suddenly have the same word choice and slang, and everybody starts to sound generic.

Accents are something that can usually be conveyed by word choice, and shouldn't be conveyed by lots of missing letters and apostrophes. (If you've ever read a Star Trek novel where Scotty's accent was so thick his dialogue looked like a printing error and was nearly unreadable, you'll know what I mean.)

One exercise you can do is take some characters or actors with distinctive voices and try to convey those voices in prose. (This is where a background in fanfiction comes in handy.)

I hope this is helpful and makes sense, because voice is something I've internalized over the years and it's gotten to the point where I don't think at all about how I do it, which makes it really hard to explain. The fact that you're conscious of the fact that you need to work on voice does put you ahead of a lot of writers who don't seem aware of it at all.

Still taking writing questions here.

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Thank you, this is very interesting!

I loathe books where the local accent (often Scottish) is written so thickly that one has to stop reading and disentangle the code. Kipling never went over-the-top like that: yet I remember a radio programme in the '70s when people with the accent he was referencing (Cockney, Scottish, Irish etc) read his poems and they sounded just right. The speakers said that they found reading him easy, too, without funny spellings or peculiar grammar!

Yes, talking writers out of accents can be difficult, but it's important...

On voice, IIRC, in story meetings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the writer would sometimes have a character say something, and in the meeting, they'd look at the line and say, "But Xander'd never say that! Willow, on the other hand..." and keep the line, but change it from being Xander's to being Willow's. It no doubt helped the show's entire milieu a great deal.

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