Where my stories come from

I generally prefer to call my stories that, instead of writing, because I don’t write the majority of them down, and even the ones that I decide I should, usually don’t get written immediately. (For example: my vampire mystery novel that might have to end up being a trilogy or getting a lot of stuff cut out.)

All my stories start as daydreams, generally when I’m laying in bed, but I’ve started stuff to keep me from falling asleep in class, when I was in the car, visiting family for the holidays, etc, whenever I have mental energy that isn’t getting used (which is often…). Most of the stories start with me using the names and characters of whatever I’m currently obsessing with. The characters will get stretched and molded to fit wherever my mind roams. I also have character types of my own creation that show up under a variety of names.

A lot of my imaginings are blatant Mary Sues, interacting with my favorite characters. My most current one, who I’ve been using in more or less the same form since I graduated high school (so thirteen years now) is a fire mage who can do anything she can imagine in fire terms, including shape changing and traveling between worlds and into stories. She beats up demons, monsters, and the occasional god. And runs a school for other superheroes, including recruiting a young version of the Phantom of the Opera. Like I said, blatant Mary Sue. Incredibly blatant. Which is why I’ve completely discarded the notion of ever recording those stories (just getting rid of the copyright infringements would… well, basically remove most of it, honestly, and it’s too much of a massive crossover for me to want to do it as fanwork). I’m trying to replace her with another mental centerpiece but I haven’t come up with a story for her yet (and she’ll probably end up horrendously overpowered as well. It’s a recurring problem.)

I lot of it, I’ll just repeat the same stuff over and over. The fire mage and her friends have been working as singers at the Iceberg Lounge for like three years now, with various misadventures including demons showing up to fight Erik, helping Batman, and mostly just lots of snark and banter. Before that she was redoing the file room in Arkham and occasionally getting dragged into doing security work. Yes, it’s all very very self-indulgent.

But some of the smaller stories, the non-epic length ones and the one-shots, end up pretty good. And I try to write them down. The problem becomes when it’s a series of adventures with no specific end. And then I don’t know where the plot is going and it becomes a mess. I have two of those novels in process.

A lot of them I can pick out what influenced them. Some of them I can’t, aside from liking certain things (why do I like whump? No idea, but I sure do. I only just learned there was a specific term for it, for pete’s sake.) And it’s usually a giant mix of things (I have one – that’ll post once I get it edited a bit – that has an character inspired by Alpert, one of BaaingTree’s characters, some of the set-up inspired by a Sherlock fic, and most of it just my own really messed up brain.)

Fantastic fic idea that I can’t write

There are about five people in the world who will get this, but:

Somebody* vs Casanova Frankenstein and Tony P and his Disco Boys (from the Mystery Men movie). They’re finally defeated and it turns out they were the mentors of Tigerlily Jones (from Skinhorse), who unleashes the power of funk in the form of a giant mecha.

Tip, Unity, and Sweetheart have to show up. Preferably Zeta and Foot wander through.

Like I said, I can’t write it. I’m not awesome enough. If you write it and it’s fabulous, I would honestly marry you. Not even kidding.

* I was originally thinking Cumberbatch!Sherlock, but on further thought there’s probably too much of a tone mismatch there. I think it would be better if whoever it was more low-key (so not, like, the Gurren Lagann crew… or even Sailor Moon). Batman could be great. Superman would probably be better. But somebody minimally powered – where they’re using their brain and not superpowers, would be so sweet.

On the other hand, the Creeper or Freakazoid could be really awesome.

Link Dump – Anodyne Edition

History of Type – five part series – link starts at the beginning. Probably only interesting to type and design geeks (of which I am one). (from I love typography.)

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DIY String Art – I’m going to do this in my dining room. I’ve seen other tutorials but this particular result is really cute. (from Hellobee)

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Encyclopedia of Tie Knots – a breakdown of every possible way to tie a tie, based on topology.

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Fiction Into Reality: Why We Borrow From What We Love (from Tor.com)

You can see more of my favorited art on DeviantArt (I just can’t link it all here).

It occurs to me that if I’m going to use weird words for these, I should define them.

Anodyne is a pain reliever or anything that relieves distress. It was also Madelyne Pryor’s codename in the rather forgettable X-men/Alpha Flight crossover where Loki was going to give everyone in the world super powers, at the cost of their imaginations. Her costume was terrible.

Last time’s word, serendipity, means to stumble unto desirable discoveries, from a story called The Three Princes of Serendip (more info). And it was a series of really adorable (if sometimes slightly twee) kids books.

Link Dump – Serendipity Edition

The Likeable Unlikeable Character – “Even an unlikeable character has virtues. Eeyore, the melancholy donkey in A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories, is not a likeable character at face value. He’s a moper and complainer and oozes negativity. But his unselfishness is a virtue that Milne used to endear us to him. Eeyore didn’t exude happy thoughts but he’d likely give you the tail off his back if you needed it.” (from Novel Rocket)

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Fantastic Batwoman Cosplay – Not entirely related: even though I don’t read the comics (it violates my guideline of not reading anything modern because I tend to get stabby), I appreciate the current Batwoman for not being the same old stereotypical male gaze oriented, super sexy supermodel. I like that she’s generally drawn bigger and curvier, with feminine strength. She’s not generically beautiful. Anyway, unnecessary opinion over. This is just a really good cosplay.

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Ame-Comi Duela Dent (Joker) Cosplay – The character is silly and the statue it’s based on is basically fan-service, but this cosplay is really well-done.

Wordcount for Lovecraft’s Favorite Words – “One of the things any fan of Lovecraft discovers early on is that Lovecraft was very attached to certain words. We either laugh or groan every time we hear something described as ‘indescribable’ or called ‘unnamable’ or ‘antiquarian’ or ‘cyclopean.’ And sometimes we wonder how many times he actually used the words.” (from Cthulhu Chick)

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12 Mind Blowing Number Systems From Other Languages – “The Oksapmin people of New Guinea have a base-27 counting system. The words for numbers are the words for the 27 body parts they use for counting, starting at the thumb of one hand, going up to the nose, then down the other side of the body to the pinky of the other hand” (from Mental Floss)

Tutorials off DeviantArt:

Understanding Your Style: Symbols, Design Pattern, and Anti-Pattern -or- Why a Little Figure Drawing Never Hurt Anybody. (Two parts, this links to the first part and there’s a link there to the second part.)

The Really Flippin’ Easy Way to Make Things Look Like Crappy Silver Age Comics (pretty sure I linked this before, but that’s alright)

Skin: A Tutorial (four parts, just linking to the first.)

Paper Charm Bracelet Tutorial (how to turn paper into cool looking beads)

Conlanging – Ŋyjichɯn – Lesson 1

As I said last time, this is one of my languages that I made for Thundercats fandom. Specifically, this one is the one that Wilykit and Wilykat speak, along with one of my original characters, Felino. First of all, I haven’t seen all of the 2011 revival, so all of this is from the original series and the 80s comics. Second, my personal theory is that Wilykit and Kat are adults, but that their clan don’t get as tall as other Thunderians and grow up slower.

None of that is incredibly relevant to the language itself, to be honest. This post will cover phonology (the sounds of the language) and colors. Here we go.

Phonology

IPA / Trans labiodental alveolar post-alveolar velar
nasal ɱ m n n ŋ ŋ
plosive t t k k
affricative tʃ dʒ ch j
fricative f v f v s z s z
approximant ɰ w
tap β ɽ r
lateral approximant l l

The International Phonetic Alphabet notation is given in red. The standard transcription is given in black. Honestly, the only reason I use β is because the IPA symbol doesn’t show up in my browser. It looks better than β, but what are you gonna do?

My accent is Standard American English. Since this is a conlang, it honestly doesn’t matter that much if you pronounce things incorrectly, but I’ll be giving approximate sounds based on my accent, with heavy help from Wikipedia.

The majority of consonants should not give students trouble, although Ŋyjichɯn speakers may detect an accent on the ‘m’ and ‘w’. If you wish to prevent that, pronounce ‘m’ against your top teeth and ‘w’ in the back of your throat.

  • ‘ŋ’ is equivalent to ‘ng’ in ‘sing.’
  • ‘r’ should be pronounced cleanly and shortly, a tap at the top of the mouth, like the ‘d’ in ‘rider’.
  • ‘β’ is similar, a short tap against the upper teeth.
IPA / Trans front near-front central near-back back
close i y ɯ ɯ
near-close ʏ i ʊ u
mid ɜ o
open a a ɒ ɒ

The pairs ‘i’ & ‘y’ and ‘ɯ’ and ‘u’ are primarily distinguished by how rounded the lips are. Vowels are most likely to give students trouble, but the approximations below will generally be sufficient.

  • y as in free
  • i as in bit, but with the lips rounded
  • a approximately as in cat
  • o approximately as in strut
  • ɯ as in boot but with the lips very rounded
  • u as in hook
  • ɒ as in hot but with lips very rounded

(If I don’t have IPA available or it’s too much hassle, I cheat and use ‘h’ for ‘ŋ’, ‘B’ for ‘β’, ‘x’ for ‘ɯ’, and ‘p’ for ‘ɒ’.)

Doubled vowels are pronounced twice as long. Any vowel may combine with another to form a diphthong, and are pronounced long. On the occasion that a vowel is meant as a syllable it is written with apostrophes separating it. For example ro’ɒ’ryi, za’yr’ta, ny’i’an, kyo’yt.

And now for some fun stuff.

Colors

Color words in Ŋyjichɯn are heavily associated with nature and the exact color meant is heavily context specific. The pictures below give a sampling of the hues associated. If you’ve checked out the link dumps, there was a long article about how different cultures see color. Wikipedia also has a fair overview here.

jpxw

hafnxh jasakyijio     kixklyasim kouch

To reference the color itself (or to create new color terms), the color is incorporated into chanyki, thus chajɒɯwnyki, white; chawaovonyki, fire colored (waovo, fire), etc. Native speakers would say that metal terms would fall under lyasim, even if the shade itself might fall under ŋafnɯŋ or kiɯk.

You’ll note that most of the words have meaning beyond colors. Words will be given in Ŋyjichɯn alphabetical order.

Modern Ŋyjichɯn English Notes
chanyki skin, surface, color
jɒɯw day, to be daytime, white, light
jio water, to be wet, to be liquid, juicy, black, brown, blue, green, blue For colors it describes deep cool colors like black, brown, green, and blue. The base color is black/brown. May also be used how we would use ‘tomato red’ to evoke the flavor
jasa fruit, flower, pink, red, magenta, purple References flowers and describes anything from pale pink to vibrant purple
ŋafnɯŋ child, unripe, green, raw, yellow, pale When used as a color it’s the color of unripe fruit, early morning sky, young shoots and grass, and can cover white, yellow, and light greens
kyi ripe, adult, mature, full-size, green, blue When used for colors it means the green of ripe vegetables, or noon-sky (vibrant greens and blues)
kiɯkjio red-brown Given as an example of combining colors. From kiɯk and jio
kiɯk blood, red, orange Describes the color of blood.
kouch night, dark, black Describes the dark, usually blue and unsaturated colors, you would observe at night.
lyasim stone, grey, beige, pale, yellow, tan, off-white Primarily inorganic colors (the color of stones), but also pale bark, the yellow of wheat, etc

I’m creating all this using a combination of Excel, Tiddlywiki (basically a wiki in a single file. It’s awesome), and various text files. At some point I’m going to write up an in-character description of Ŋyjichɯn, but I have to figure out how I want to approach it. And probably the next post will be simply ‘I’ve changed this in the tiddlywiki, here’s a link!’ rather than making it work in WordPress, which is somewhat of a pain. I have to get the tiddlywiki uploaded.

(Editted 2-18-13, because I screwed up when I derived kiɯkjio.)

WTF is a Conlang?

What is Conlanging?

Conlang is short for constructed language. Conlangers make up languages, whether that’s basically an English cypher or something as involved as Tolkien’s Quenya and Sindarin or Klingon created by Marc Okrend, which has taken on a life of its own. Generally, it’s done by people who love language for their own pleasure. It may or may not end up being used in stories (it seems most conlangs made up for as background are fairly skeletal). Some might be little more than a phoneme inventory, how to build words (morphology), and a bit of grammar. Some are as involved as any real language. There’s way too many different ways to do it for me to explain it, but the wikipedia page and the links at the end are a good start.

Why do you do it?

I like language. I unfortunately don’t have the knowledge necessary to be good at conlanging (I only learned IPA1 last year, for instance). It works my brain in different ways. I tend to work in spurts, which makes going back to things a challenge, but I have fun anyway. Pretty much all of my languages started as background for writing. My first (really bad one) was for a bunch of stories I started writing in junior high, I think, and was basically an English cypher. Several of them I came up with a phonetic inventory during class when I was supposed to be paying attention and did pretty much nothing else with it. I have a tendency to use mostly affixes and to create a writing system for each one.

When the Thundercats fandom was a lot more active in the 90s and early 00s, I started several Thunderian languages. Most of my languages started from that. They’re mostly going to get applied to other things (specifically the world of the White Knight, because creating a language is obviously easier than translating something into a real language /sarcasm). Some of my newer ones I take more inspiration from other, real languages, as you’ll see.

Some of my languages, in no particular order:

  • Herlanian: My first conlang. Objectively terrible. It was supposed to be the result of mixing a ton of real languages together, but it’s basically an English cypher. It just wasn’t very good at all and we shall never speak of it again.
  • Tusir: something I’m going to go back to at some point. A proto-language2, to then evolve into at least four other languages (theoretically). I was going to take inspiration from Arabic and Sanskrit. Currently just a phonetic inventory.
  • Nyazchyn: The name is probably going to get modified a little. Previously called Ochyn. One of my Thunderian languages, and probably the language I have the most done on right now. Previously SOV3 and isolating4, now highly synthetic, edging into polysynthetic. It takes some inspiration from Iroquois and other Native American polysynthetic languages, but only a tiny bit. Verb heavy and pretty much anything can be turned into a verb. This is the one I was working on most recently. I’m kind of lost on it right now (I stopped in the middle of things) so it’ll take some floundering to get going on it again. I need to do a ton of translations for it.
  • Lepadi: Playing with gender and another Thunderian language. The gender of a word determines the placement of the accent and the pronunciation. Phonemes have different sounds based upon gender. Noun-heavy with few verbs. I actually have a few passages translated, which is rather remarkable for me.
  • Okelen: Another Thunderian language, this one I was mostly dealing with the writing. It’s logographic like Chinese, but I was trying to avoid having any pronunciation info in the characters. VOS and supposedly agglutinating5.
  • Tynthna: Another Thunderian language that I did a fair bit with. Inspired by Japanese, with a syllabulary writing system and honorifics. That one was fun.

1 International Phonetic Alphabet

2 A language that will evolve into other languages. Latin is the proto-language for Romance languages, for example.

3 The word order of a language. English is subject, verb, object. There are six possibilities (I leave figuring them out as an exercise for the reader, or you could look at the link at the beginning of this).

4 A language is isolating, like Chinese, when the majority of words can’t be broken into smaller meaningful parts (aka morphemes). Synthetic is the opposite of that.

5 A form of synthesis, where you just keep adding bits (as opposed to fusional, aka inflectional, where the bits added mean multiple things)

Link Dump – Lapin Edition

In Which My Toddler Helps Me Think of “Character” in a New Way – “Our son, the one we call ‘B-Dub,’ thinks of the people in his life abstractly. Example: if he sees a magazine ad featuring the car you drive, he’ll point to it and say your name. If he sees a spot on the floor where one of the dogs likes to lie down, he’ll say that dog’s name. But it can be even more abstract, to the point where it takes us time to figure out what the connection is – like it’s a little bit of a puzzle.” (from terribleminds)

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(Go see the full-size version!)

“Well, you should learn to control your temper” – Why Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is NOT an abuse-apologist narrative. “So what does Belle do? Does she put aside her hurt and attempt to be kind and loving? Does she assume he must have a troubled past and decide to go along with his not-requests until her sweet acquiescence tames him? No. She stays the hell away from him, not even allowing herself to be in the same room with him, and has dinner that night with nice people who care about her feelings instead.” (from Sailor Ptah’s Dreamwidth)

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Justice League of Rodents!

1958 Sears kitchen cabinets and more – 32 page catalog (from Retro Renovation)

NPC Characteristics Generator – Linking because it’s also good to give minor characters some sort of background or quirk.

Quickie Character Backstory Generator – another one