Demons and Dialects and Writing

Right, so recently I started the rewrite of Possession and Other Invitations. I’m taking the story slow this time and making sure to compile all the needed notes for things that–well most of this will never get a mention, but there’s something gratifying about being able to answer literally anything about my story and world setting. This doesn’t mean I’m writing every little thing down. I focus on crafting the world setting guidelines. See, with enough principles in place, knowing every detail is easily done and doesn’t actually take up that much headspace (which when you’ve got multiple worlds competing for brain power, simplicity is a mind saver).

I made a heinous mistake in my last draft of the book when I didn’t name the infernal dialect used by the demon in the opening scene. So, I started digging through what I knew about my world and researching languages. Since I was talking the other night to my friend about how I developed character and world together for Starfell, I thought I’d share a bit of my process on how world setting and ideas affected each other to establish a world setting rule in Possession and Other Invitations.

All right, first step in adding new world building–decide which rules are relevant. World settings are huge vast, things, and while most rules will interplay, it’s easier to start with the basic block and then build up from there. In this case, languages spoken by demons, the building begins with Belief = Power. The second being Low Level Psychic Fields Exist.

Those two rules affect nearly every decision made about the world setting and are the basis for the magic system in Possession. See, the idea is that the more something is believed, the more likely it is to be true. You get enough people thinking the same thing and it starts warping reality to that thing. The opposite is true, too. If too many people don’t believe in something, it gets nearly impossible. The magic system example I like to use is a fireball. People–even the wizards of the Society–don’t believe that magic fireballs are possible in our world. That shared thought/belief creates a psychic field which in turn helps the physics of the world stay in place. Okay, that’s something that gets harder, what gets easier? Well, there’s a lot more people believing in ghosts and the ability to talk to the dead. Get a room with the right people and the right mood and contacting the dead is like flipping a switch.

Okay, I’ve got to add in the rules The Spiritual Plane Is Linked To Our World and Belief = Greater Power in Spiritual Plane. While the Spiritual Plane exists on its own, it’s highly influenced by the world. In fact, Religions have enough psychic fields behind them to create realms inside the Spiritual Plane. Possession‘s world has a multitude of Heavens, Hells, Purgatories, Nirvanas, and other after-mortal-life areas.

How does all this affect language choice? Well, Religion is a cultural aspect (see another rule slip in there?) and culture is passed from person to person primarily through language. Language then becomes a part of that psychic field that has an effect on the Spiritual Plane. That part of the plane is influenced to adapt to the language component. So human languages are spoken in the Spiritual Plane. However, many people think that demonic/angelic/other worldly languages are going to sound different, which has also had power over how the denizens of the Spiritual Plane speak.

That all sounds a bit obtuse, doesn’t it? I’ll run through an example.

Catholicism is a large, multi-cultural, international religion. In modern era, masses are said in local dialects and the religion will take on cultural aspects from where it’s being practiced. But Latin is still an important language to the religion and is still used for some ceremonies. Latin helps bind a few of the bigger Catholic concepts (one God, redemption through Christ, Heaven for the saved, Hell for the unrepentant) and gives the large psychic field a strong foundation. So, Latin is spoken in those related Hells, Heavens, and Purgatories. In fact, the older a demon (or angel for that matter) is, the more likely it will speak a dialect of Latin–assuming it lives in one of those related realms. If it comes from, say, an older Lutheran realm, it’s more likely to know a dialect of German.

I say dialect because it won’t be exactly Latin. First of all, there is no exact. There’s a standardized version, but each place that speaks it will have variance. The same is true of the Spiritual Plane. Demonic dialects of Latin are going to snarl, hiss, and spit more than the standardized according to region. The specifics of their dialects are going to be based on region. So if there’s, say, Seven Layers of Hell, the First Layer is going to have differences from those demons in the Seventh. To an outsider, it’d be like picking out the difference between the Midwestern Illinois Dialect versus the Chicagoland Dialect. A lot of it comes down to word choice (like soda versus pop), but get someone talking long enough and you’ve got an idea of where they come from. A skilled exorcist, like Wes in Possessions, is going to need to be a linguist as well. While some basic chants will work, an exorcism is going to be more efficient if the demon is bound in its native language. That’s going to take some knowledge and a keen ear.

Knowing all of this is going to help me create a naming system, so that the next time I need to name a dialect, or hell to even know what language is important, it’ll be a bit of research and then bam! idea. Uh, this was also a glimpse into the insanity of how detailed my brain can get on a subject. Deepening world setting can be easy if keep asking ‘why does it work this way?’ That’s all I did here. Just a repetitive cycles of ‘whys’ until I understood Possession‘s world that much more. Thanks for reading. Got any interesting world building factoids of your own?

DestielCon

This last weekend I went out to Cincinnati, Ohio for–well, as the title says–DestielCon. I must admit that I felt a bit like I was sneaking in because while I adore Castiel and Dean separately, the Destiel ship has kinda sailed out of my fleet. I think that there’s a way it would have worked back in some seasons, but not in the recent ones. And I really don’t think that the Supernatural producers would ever let the show take the plunge–Anyway, this post is supposed to be about the lovely time I had and not the shitty parts of the show. So, *ahem* back to my con recap.

I got in on Thursday and was honestly glad I took the extra day to drive out. My route had like ten different construction zones, and traffic would have to slow up considerably. But hey, I made it without too much delay. Pre-reg for the convention was open that night, so after meeting up with a few people (thanks for doing that by the way!), I was able to get my badge and surprise gift since I’m a panelist. This was the fourth convention I’ve paneled at, but the first time I got a present for it (other than one of the attendees giving me a pretty origami piece at 221B). DestielCon gave us mugs with the con logo and year. It’s nifty.

Friday was a blast. There were a bunch of panels and I had the pleasure of sitting on two that day. The schedule went from 3pm until past midnight that night without a break. I think that’s one thing the con could actually improve upon–leaving one hour in the evening free from the discussion panels. I overheard a couple of times where people said “I don’t want to miss anything, but I gotta eat.” With the free hour, people won’t wind up missing anything and hopefully remember to do that important bit of eating. (Con life, sometimes you get wrapped up and forget a meal).

Late Friday night was karaoke. Someone got up to sing “Let it Go” and I cringed for about three seconds, until it turned out the song was only to the tune. The lyrics were completely different and that song was pretty awesome. Another two did a different version of “I don’t care, I love it” but it was “I don’t care, I ship it.” And then there was Deanmon singing “I’m too sexy” with Cain and Abbadon dancing to the lyrics in perfect synchronization. Pretty sure they didn’t practice that. All in all, an awesome night.

Up and down seemed to be Saturday’s theme for me. I submitted words to the writer’s workshop and yeah, that didn’t go what I’d call ‘well.’ Critiques are like that, though. If they go too ‘well’ then you’re either already some kind of insane perfect writing machine, or you’re not putting your material in front of the right people. Hell, even when I glanced at the words the night before, I figured that the next day was going to be rough. But sometimes you don’t know how to fix things anymore without clear, fresh eyes. And honestly, I got some of the same advice that I’ve been working on a lot in the last year. Besides all that, the first two hundred words of a story are hard. Nailing them alone is an art form. Yeah, I got stressed out after the critique, but it wasn’t just hearing about where the story was failing–I’d been getting psyched up for the con all week and I live alone so I’m not used to so much socialization anymore. In other words, stress levels were already pretty maxed out.

I also got to pitch my book Possession and Other Invitations to the visiting publisher that evening. It was a phenomenal experience, because, well, if you’d told me a year ago I’d get to talk with a publisher face to face I would have dropped over in awe. And the pitch actually went awesome–especially since this was the first time I’d ever talked to a publisher about my work. Don’t get too excited here. Wasn’t a ‘oh I want to buy this now!’ situation. But the advice boils down to ‘sounds like strong character arc, strong world, but that execution I got a glimpse of sucked.’ If I want a chance, I’ll have to rewrite the book. That’s a lot more hard work, but you know what? Some of the hardest–character and world–are fine at the core. It’s the writing that needs improvement and honestly, the day I stop trying to improve my prose is probably the day I’m dead (Cause there is no way I’m giving up on writing). Saturday wound up a little rough ’cause my brain was attempting too many calculations about the work and about how to change the book, but now that I’m a few days out? I’m giddy as hell. A publisher said I had interesting ideas. I can rip this story down to the foundations and rewrite. And I’m not going to be discouraged if I do all this work and don’t wind up getting published by them. The critiques set off a firestorm in my head and now that it’s over, I can see where the story had strength and where it was completely failing and I’m ready to give it another go. It’s going to be a stronger piece in the end and that’s the important part.

Heh, back to the convention. Sunday was another relaxing day. I spent the morning talking with Euclase and crap I forgot the darling girl’s name but you’re awesome, and then got lunch with Winjennster, and then more talking with Dori, then watching the fanart workshop for a bit (I’ve spent all my time with words and reading and roleplaying and video games. I barely know anything about drawing, and not enough to practice in public). Then I went over to the other panel on gender discussion. After that I got to sit on the Fandoms Unite and then Villains panel. Unfortunately I had to leave right after my panels ’cause I had a long drive home.

Leaving con spaces is always hard. Cons are these wonderful, peculiar liminal spaces. They are rituals of a sort–I’d have to dig out my textbook, but I’m pretty sure they fit the definition. I mean, you go to a specific place, at a specific time. There are clothing options specific to the space (in this case cosplay). It’s a celebration/worship of philosophy or at the very least of what the attendees consider important cultural products. The weekend is intended to foster community and creativity. Yeah, sounds like a ritual to me.

And this convention was so great. I’ve gotten too used to like the massive size of Dragon Con where you only get to know a handful of people if you’re lucky. Both 221B and DestielCon were much smaller and I had the chance to get to know people a lot better this year–which is a good thing since I usually wind up going to these gigs solo. I had such a great time and I can’t wait to go back again next year. I’d say I’m missing everyone intensely, but you’re all over my tumblr feed now. I feel like I just gained like two dozen friends 😉