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Jazz & Blues

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bannockburn

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« on: <06-12-13/2015:11> »
Today, I've arrived at a point with this background story where the character might enter play.
In writing that story, it kind of took on a life of its own, so here are a few caveats:

First off, I am not a native speaker, so I took it as an opportunity to flex my English a bit. All comments pertaining to grammar, spelling and word order are very welcome. It's something I'm looking for feedback on, actually :)

Secondly, the goal was a background story to a character I created a few years back. Sam / Jazz was created with the old costs under Karma generation (New attribute x 3, not x 5) with free contact points based on charisma and free knowledge skill points as in BP generation. What's done is done, and I won't rebuild her, since obviously she has got some playtime now. Don't look too close at the stats, or your head might explode if you're a purist in that way.
Speaking of which, her character sheet is here: http://bannockburn1981.deviantart.com/art/Jazz-Character-Sheet-311718725

The background was supposed to a) fit her stats and most equipment and b) provide a few pieces of information about the world Sam lives in, especially for new players. Comments are welcome here, too.

Finally, before posting links to the story itself:
It clocks in at around 25k words, currently wrapped into neat 5k word chunks. It's a lot to read, but I appreciate every reader and every constructive comment. Thanks in advance for taking the time.

A synopsis:
Samantha Hamilton SURGEd as a child and I took some liberties with how the CAS handled this 'disease', as I couldn't find official material on the matter. She mostly grows up in a few camps before fleeing and seeking her fortune on the streets. She works as a courier, skirting around the edges of the proper shadows and tries to deal with the curveballs life throws at her.
Her journey takes her from Memphis to Seattle, via Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington and Denver.

Part 1: http://bannockburn1981.deviantart.com/art/Jazz-and-Blues-Part-1-309993651
Part 2: http://bannockburn1981.deviantart.com/art/Jazz-and-Blues-Part-2-323598683
Part 3: http://bannockburn1981.deviantart.com/art/Jazz-and-Blues-Part-3-362552977
Part 4: http://bannockburn1981.deviantart.com/art/Jazz-and-Blues-Part-4-370693031
Part 5: http://bannockburn1981.deviantart.com/art/Jazz-and-Blues-Part-5-377572163

A Portrait, made by me (Yes, I know she looks like a Draenei. The original inspiration was Disney's Gargoyles, but there are no functional wings in the game ;))



Awesome gift art (enlarge for funny details in the background!)

http://tarynsgate.deviantart.com/art/Late-Night-Run-358763675
« Last Edit: <06-12-13/2026:36> by bannockburn »
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup
http://bannockburn1981.deviantart.com/

SpatulaODoom

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« Reply #1 on: <06-13-13/2021:32> »
An excellent story with great characterization. Really fantastic, especially at the “show, don't tell” rule regarding tone and emotions (my most common stumbling block).

Regarding grammar and formatting. This is often something I agonize over as well. Consider looking up the rules for comma use and sentence fragments. Once you do, review them on occasion. I noticed you made the occasional mistake. Not often enough to be glaring, but there when I actually went through with the intention of looking for mistakes. Some of your paragraphs are a bit larger than might be comfortable.

After having gone through the UGE (elves and dwarves) boom, and a decade later goblinization, and all the @#%^ that happened there, I think it might be a little odd that they'd inter Surgers. In the current era people are, if not more open, minded at least more jaded to the whole concept of “sometimes weird drek happens, nothing you can do about it.”

Personally I'm of the opinion that I'd rather see someone tell a good story than spend all their time worrying about strictly following cannon and all that. But if it is a concern I do notice that the story would work just as well if Sam ran away/was kicked out from home and wound up growing up a squatter in some out of the way/z-zone drekhole, maybe somewhere where a bunch of surgers wound up gravitating. You'd wind up with the same tone of setting and attitude of the inhabitants.

Regarding stats/optimization. There's no wrong way to enjoy a game so I kind of find the whole optimzation-vs-roleplay debate to be pointless stupidity. As long as all the characters are either roughly in the same ballpark or the don't care about their relative power, and everyone gets a chance to shine in their own idiom, and they're at about the level the DM is planning for/comfortable with, then the exact level of optimization is irrelevant.

bannockburn

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« Reply #2 on: <06-14-13/0710:24> »
First of all: Thanks for reading and the praise and criticism :)
I'm glad you enjoyed it!

An excellent story with great characterization. Really fantastic, especially at the “show, don't tell” rule regarding tone and emotions (my most common stumbling block).
Could you elaborate on what you mean with 'show, don't tell', please? I'm not familiar with this phrase.

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Regarding grammar and formatting. This is often something I agonize over as well. Consider looking up the rules for comma use and sentence fragments. Once you do, review them on occasion. I noticed you made the occasional mistake. Not often enough to be glaring, but there when I actually went through with the intention of looking for mistakes. Some of your paragraphs are a bit larger than might be comfortable.

Word has that nifty green scribble line under fragments, and I usually consider changing it. I think most of the fragments are in direct speech where I left it deliberately. But it's very possible that I am an offender elsewhere, too. I'll take a look at it next time.
Regarding commas: This is difficult for me. In Germany we learned English starting in 5th grade and learn a lot about grammar and vocabulary, but next to nothing about punctuation. One of the reasons for this is that learning two different sets of punctuation can easily confuse a student in his mother language. Pair this together with the fact that Germans like to put commas, almost, every, where, this, easily translates into my typing. I usually go over it to check, but some will always get through (a lot, apparently ;)). It's difficult to proofread your own writing :-\
But I'll see if I can get the paragraphs more readable in subsequent editing, to make it easier on the eyes. I don't want to wall-of-text-crit my readers, after all :D

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After having gone through the UGE (elves and dwarves) boom, and a decade later goblinization, and all the @#%^ that happened there, I think it might be a little odd that they'd inter Surgers. In the current era people are, if not more open, minded at least more jaded to the whole concept of “sometimes weird drek happens, nothing you can do about it.”

I considered this during writing. One of the commentators in the first chapter also pointed that out.
I retained it for several reasons:
a) The CAS are kind of hardliners in a lot of ways. That's one of the reasons they seceded, after all. Being no American, I can only rely on second-hand experience here, but some of my relations down in the south tell me that it's really difficult being different there, right now. In the 2070s, the racism would probably be mostly directed at Aztlaners and metahumans, but in my mind, a sudden second wave of goblinization could trigger the usual response. There were riots even in Seattle, according to YOTC.
b) It's more dystopian that way. People are cattle anyways, and it's a good idea to lock potentially dangerous ... things! away, erring on the side of caution.
c) I wanted a parallel to X-Men narratives. I've always viewed SURGE as a kind of mutation, akin to the Aces and Jokers shared world or Marvel's X-Men. People express strange powers and are confronted with suspicion and hate about it. SURGE fits that description.

The in-game explanation is, that the CAS government didn't know what to do with those people. They had no idea at first if it was a disease, and if it was, whether it was contagious. Camps were opened in the first weeks, getting people off the streets and located under surveillance. After a while, and the intervention of a few human rights groups and courts, the camps were largely abolished and people were sent back to their families. Unfortunately, a lot of SINless people were also interred, and those were kept in the camps out of convenience. This also explains the dilapidated state of them. They were largely forgotten about and no one cared enough.

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Personally I'm of the opinion that I'd rather see someone tell a good story than spend all their time worrying about strictly following cannon and all that. But if it is a concern I do notice that the story would work just as well if Sam ran away/was kicked out from home and wound up growing up a squatter in some out of the way/z-zone drekhole, maybe somewhere where a bunch of surgers wound up gravitating. You'd wind up with the same tone of setting and attitude of the inhabitants.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll consider it, if I ever feel the need to rewrite. :)

Quote
Regarding stats/optimization. There's no wrong way to enjoy a game so I kind of find the whole optimzation-vs-roleplay debate to be pointless stupidity. As long as all the characters are either roughly in the same ballpark or the don't care about their relative power, and everyone gets a chance to shine in their own idiom, and they're at about the level the DM is planning for/comfortable with, then the exact level of optimization is irrelevant.

Ah, don't worry. I don't worry about it a bit. I just put up the disclaimer before people point it out in righteous indignation ;)
Also, I don't think she's in any way optimized (apart from the running speed, and even there's a lot of room to grow ^^).
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup
http://bannockburn1981.deviantart.com/

SpatulaODoom

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« Reply #3 on: <06-14-13/0846:56> »
“Show don't tell” is one of many literary rules. It's one of those “easy to talk about, hard to master” things. You can easily find various explanations of it with a quick google search. It has to do with turning simple direct downloads of information on places and events that occur, while showing uses descriptive non-literal text to get the same information across in a way that is evocative and draws the reader into the scene and sparks imagination. It's an aid in getting the tone of the piece across as well.

Tell: Drake received the file from George. It contained a news story with pictures of Shiela, the ganger he'd befriended, dead. This upset him greatly.

Show: His link gave an innocuous little beep, a message from George. On reflex Drake popped the file up in the corner of his display glasses. A decision he'd come to rue. This was the sort of thing that should be done with careful deliberation, not a casual flick of the hand.
The Seattle Herald. Big bold letters: MASSACRE ON 94'TH ST. And right there on the front of the story, in all it's soulless sensationalistic glory, a person he knew.  Drake can taste bile. A young lady. Strawberry blonde hair matted with blood, sharp intelligent green eyes now glassy and dull. And just above those eyes, a horrible gaping unnatural hole. A void where expression should be.
Shiela, aka Juliette. The Haloweener too smart and sane to be a Haloweener.
With a sick shaky hand Drake dismisses the story. He didn't need to read the text or listen to the reporter. He needed to find out who did it. And then. That old familiar fire lit in the runner's belly as the raw vicious anger rushes in to fill the void of another friend lost. Drake invited it in. Sour, but better than the cold helplessness. Oh yes, when he found who did it, there would be hell to pay.

Taken literally both give the same information to the reader, but the second does a much better job showing just how upset he is, and what sort of person this Drake guy is.

That's not to say you should always use “Show, don't Tell.” Over use can result in your work coming across bloated and make the pace drag. And often there will be, shall we say, less than critically important to the story bits and information that we none the less need to get across to give context to the story. A particularly good writer can use this idea subtly to help a reader subconsciously know what to pay extra attention to.

What I noticed is that as the chapters in your story progressed the character developed and matured in response to her experiences, but you never outright explicitly stated it, but you didn't need to. She goes, a piece at a time, from an everyday little girl who likes baseball and her dad to someone who's response to being shot by some schmuck is close to annoyed resignation. And there's a logical progression from that starting point to the finishing point. You don't have to say “this story is about transformation. Physical, mental, societal, chronological” because you already say that with the story itself.



Formatting and proofreading for mistakes (like that tense thing) tend to be my biggest concerns, so maybe I'm more likely to notice it in the writing of others.

bannockburn

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« Reply #4 on: <06-17-13/1123:40> »
Thanks for going into detail so much :)
I am familiar with the concept, but I never heard the name for the rule. Very nice demonstration, though :)

On another note: I have been told that some people weren't able to read the stories on my deviantArt account, due to mature content (which apparently can't be circumvented easily without logging in).
That's why I have put them up on my blog as well. Future editing will be maintained there too.

Here are the links for people who are interested:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup
http://bannockburn1981.deviantart.com/