Channa Ti, Pathfinder


Legacy of Fire

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yoda8myhead wrote:

Wondering what people did when books and characters were the only interaction readers had with authors. Has access to an author's vision of a character (which may or may not have been expressed truly on the page or that may or not have been interpreted similarly by the reader) lessened the reading experience?

Sorry 'bout that. Slipped into meta mode there.

Headless (heh), I've often pondered that very thing and recently posted a variation on my LiveJournal blog. The scope of that post was a little different, though, as I wondered if the reader/writer accessibility breaks down the suspension of disbelief necessary to the reading process by dwelling on, and therefore strengthening, the readers' awareness of a story as a created thing. I'm a big fan of the Wizard of Oz's admonition, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" And I often wonder if the online presence and social networks genre writers are expected to maintain tend to strip aside that curtain and reveal the person who's busily pulling levers and pushing buttons.

But yes, I see your point, as well. Some of the comments I've made on this thread about Channa are not in the story; for example, the linguistic nuances behind her surname. That sort of thing might give readers a different impression of the character than they would garner from the story alone. Does that lessen the reading experience? I'm not sure. Certainly it changes it.

Message board discussions often take odd twists. The lastest discussion thread on the "Order of the Stick" webcomic debated ad nauseum and in minute detail the questions of spells vs spell slots, and how a lich is affected by the destruction of its phylactory. These detailed discussions can also effect the reading experience. Two of of the most important aspects of storytelling are pacing and narrative distance, and a over-analysis of details can skew the readers' perception of both, leaving them with something quite different from what's actually on the page.


yoda8myhead wrote:

Wondering what people did when books and characters were the only interaction readers had with authors. Has access to an author's vision of a character (which may or may not have been expressed truly on the page or that may or not have been interpreted similarly by the reader) lessened the reading experience?

Sorry 'bout that. Slipped into meta mode there.

When was this age you post of Yoda? I suspect that people have been writing to authors via newspapers or publishers (and that the rich and powerful have been inviting popular authors to dinner too) for centuries. ;)

Edit:
What I mean to say is that the internet age has simply made available (and more cheaply available for some than the alternative options) another forum for discussion.

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Charles Evans 25 wrote:
yoda8myhead wrote:

Wondering what people did when books and characters were the only interaction readers had with authors. Has access to an author's vision of a character (which may or may not have been expressed truly on the page or that may or not have been interpreted similarly by the reader) lessened the reading experience?

Sorry 'bout that. Slipped into meta mode there.

When was this age you post of Yoda? I suspect that people have been writing to authors via newspapers or publishers (and that the rich and powerful have been inviting popular authors to dinner too) for centuries. ;)

Edit:
What I mean to say is that the internet age has simply made available (and more cheaply available for some than the alternative options) another forum for discussion.

What you say is definitely true, Charles. Dorothy Parker, for example, got a lot of dinner invitations and was a popular weekend guest at the summer homes of wealthy New Yorkers. She was good entertainment, provided her laser wit wasn't aimed in your direction. But we're talking about a very small, select group of people. What the internet provides is not just an alternate option, but one that's widely available. These days, if Dorothy Parker had a blog she'd have more readers than John Scalzi. She'd be the reigning queen of snark, and anyone with access to internet connection would have a shot at being insulted with a clever epigram or an amusing quatrain that scanned perfectly.

Letters to the editor and mail sent to publishers did (and do) provide a means of communicating with writers, but speaking as someone who started out at the tail end of the hard-copy fan mail era, answering letters takes a LOT of time and effort. Many were hand written, and some were nearly indeciferable. Quite a few were lengthy. Some included illustrations. Each one required a personal response. And as my husband the accountant pointed out when my first book, Elfshadow, was published in 1991, the cost of a stamp to mail a response to a fan's letter wiped out the royalty I earned on the sale of that reader's copy of the book. Sad, but true. Emails are quicker, cheaper, and judging from my experience, usually much shorter.

The UPSP style of communication is limited to one person at a time, whereas a message board can be read by many. Letters also lack the immediacy of the internet. They can't duplicate the give-and-take of message board discussions--at least, not unless you were corresponding with each person on a weekly basis and trust me, there aren't enough hours in the day. There's also a considerable time lag. TSR, the corporate predecessor of WotC, used to hang onto fan mail for months before forwarding it. There are ways to get around this, of course. Since most writers didn't want to make their home addresses public, some took out post office boxes. I had one for a while, and it was both expensive and inconvenient. Snail mail, in a word, sucks.

In addition to emails and message boards, authors communicate with readers through blogs, online interviews, podcasts, live chats. The amount and the variety of communication is unprecidented. And yes, it's changing things. I've yet to figure out what direction these changes are taking us.

Perhaps the most significant difference, though, is that the internet encourages the formation of communities. Writers become members of groups. Consider this thread, for example. Better yet, consider this site. This is a Paizo community, and it encompasses readers, gamers, artists, designers, and writers. Letters to the editor couldn't begin to accomplish that sense of shared experience.

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Paris observed:

Quote:
I'd be interested to know what would happen if Channa came to believe that Gham Banni had betrayed her.

Funny you should mention that....

;)

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Elaine Cunningham wrote:
Paris observed:
Quote:
I'd be interested to know what would happen if Channa came to believe that Gham Banni had betrayed her.

Funny you should mention that....

;)

Ooohh...you're bad. ;-)

I'm think this would most likely go one of two ways, but I'll refrain from comment. Instead, I'll sit here and anxiously await the next installment(s) of the story. ;)


I really enjoyed Channa's handling of Ratsheek.

As far as her character goes: Sure, her uniqueness makes her interesting, but her complexity is what makes her compelling.

And I'm just going to pretend like I didn't see those last two posts. :@

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
Sure, her uniqueness makes her interesting, but her complexity is what makes her compelling.

Very well said, Mairkurion.


The end of Part Four, 'Gemstones' isn't currently making much sense to me; now that might be deliberate with further explanations and revelations being yet to come in later installments.

Channa Ti comments 'this wizened husk bore no resemblance to the man I'd known', and the only things recognisable about it (to her) are some of the rings which it wears.
Her hostess of the moment is someone whom Channa Ti knows has already deceived her on at least one occasion, no kind of explanation or details of the circumstances of demise of the friend of Channa's whom the corpse is supposed to be have been offered to Channa Ti up to this point (nor are later given in this installment) and the most significant identifying feature which the corpse could have (if it was Channa's friend) is missing.
And yet Channa Ti who expects (or at least is prepared for) betrayal from almost everyone, is perfectly happy to tag along with the suggested plans of her hostess.
This seems outright incredible to me.

I really hope that there are further developments to come here, such as that Channa Ti is simply playing along to see where things go, figuring that taking the bait knowing that one is walking into a trap might be the fastest way to get to whomever is behind recent events...

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Charles Evans 25 wrote:


there are further developments to come here, such as that Channa Ti is simply playing along to see where things go, figuring that taking the bait knowing that one is walking into a trap might be the fastest way to get to whomever is behind recent events...

This... mostly... just read part 5 last night... it explains some of her motivations in this regard pretty well....

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Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:


there are further developments to come here, such as that Channa Ti is simply playing along to see where things go, figuring that taking the bait knowing that one is walking into a trap might be the fastest way to get to whomever is behind recent events...
This... mostly... just read part 5 last night... it explains some of her motivations in this regard pretty well....

::nods::

Channa knows that Lapis has more going on than surface appearances would indicate. Alliances are always risky, but Channa is a strong believer in the power of shared motivation; for example, if a gnoll wants to escape slavery, chances are she'll cooperate with a half-elf to reach that goal. Channa perceives Lapis's desire for vengeance to be a force strong enough to get the ball rolling. What happens when they FIND these people has yet to be seen, but as her experience with Ratsheek recently demonstrated, Channa anticipates the possibility of a two-front battle and plans accordingly.

The point about the mummy-in-progress is interesting. Channa assumed that her venture captain was dead because the hand with the sigel ring was missing--the very thing that would positively identify him. The missing hand/ring was the obvious motive for murder (since the ring could not be removed from the hand, and since it was used to seal the letter that started Channa on this quest), but what if Gham Banni was NOT dead? What if the corpse belonged to someone else, and Gham and Lapis were manipulating Channa for reasons of their own? Or maybe Lapis has Gham stashed somewhere and is forcing his hand in this matter?

Either of these would be a very cool plot twists. Unfortunately, they'd probably require a lot more than 25K words to develop and resolve. :)

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

I have to say, I really enjoyed the many twists and turns, betrayals and backstabs that are coming to light in the most recent installment. I had to read "When Mermaids Laugh" twice to really get what was going on and who was playing whom. I can't wait for the next one!


Does anyone else find Channa Ti to be really unlikable? She comes across as kind of a jerk.

Not to say her story isn't well written, cause it is. And I enjoy reading about her bitter, mean-spirited antics. But she's one of the most unsympathetic main characters I've ever read about.

Like if she died, I'd laugh about it instead of feeling bummed out.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
hazel monday wrote:
Like if she died, I'd laugh about it instead of feeling bummed out.

You mean you're getting some of the anti-hero vibe from her? I could see that, having her more as a Punisher than a Spiderman (just to throw comic references in there) ...


Cpt_kirstov wrote:
hazel monday wrote:
Like if she died, I'd laugh about it instead of feeling bummed out.
You mean you're getting some of the anti-hero vibe from her?

Not so much an anti-hero as just a plain old jerk.

I like the sories she's featured in a lot. I just find Channa-Ti to be too judgmental and abrasive for me to like her as a character.


I find anti-hero a sticky term, though she's definitely not a traditional heroine.

But jerk?

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yoda8myhead wrote:
I have to say, I really enjoyed the many twists and turns, betrayals and backstabs that are coming to light in the most recent installment. I had to read "When Mermaids Laugh" twice to really get what was going on and who was playing whom. I can't wait for the next one!

The next one is also the last one. There will be a couple more twists that I hope you'll find surprising and enjoyable, then the various bits and pieces come together.

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hazel monday wrote:

Does anyone else find Channa Ti to be really unlikable? She comes across as kind of a jerk.

Not to say her story isn't well written, cause it is. And I enjoy reading about her bitter, mean-spirited antics.

It's interesting that you see Channa as bitter and mean-spirited. I don't perceive her as either one of these things. She is cautious, certainly. She's had reason to be. And like the drow of the Forgotten Realms, she sees layers of possibility and tries to prepare for every layer.

Consider her dealings with Ratsheek. She saved the gnoll's life to honor their previous pledge, paid her well, and put her in a situation where she could potentially become part of a new tribe (of sorts). Things could have gone very differently. In the pugwampi cavern, Ratsheek could have gotten Channa safely to the other side, then set herself up as the pugwampi's leader or priestess or goddess, collected the second half of the very generous fee Channa paid her, and lived a long, misspent life. She didn't HAVE to betray Channa. But she did, and Channa was prepared for that eventuality.

The same situation occurred with the escaped slave. Channa suspected the slave might try to frame her for a murder she herself committed. So Channa pocketed the woman's slave bracelet as insurance. As it turns out, the slave will be sought for a DIFFERENT murder than the one she was responsible for, but since the bottom line is the same, Channa's okay with that. Had the slave NOT dropped Channa's headscarf at the scene of the crime, Channa would not have returned the favor. She had no problem with the woman's desire for revenge, having been a slave herself.

If you deal honorably with Channa, she'll meet you more than half way. But she's prepared to protect herself against attack and betrayal.

But to each his own--no character will appeal to every reader. Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts. :)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Elaine Cunningham wrote:

The missing hand/ring was the obvious motive for murder (since the ring could not be removed from the hand, and since it was used to seal the letter that started Channa on this quest), but what if Gham Banni was NOT dead? What if the corpse belonged to someone else, and Gham and Lapis were manipulating Channa for reasons of their own? Or maybe Lapis has Gham stashed somewhere and is forcing his hand in this matter?

Pun intended?

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Matthew Morris wrote:
Elaine Cunningham wrote:

The missing hand/ring was the obvious motive for murder (since the ring could not be removed from the hand, and since it was used to seal the letter that started Channa on this quest), but what if Gham Banni was NOT dead? What if the corpse belonged to someone else, and Gham and Lapis were manipulating Channa for reasons of their own? Or maybe Lapis has Gham stashed somewhere and is forcing his hand in this matter?

Pun intended?

Heh. :) No, I have to admit that I missed that one.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Heres hoping for a full on portrait and stat block next month. Its gonna be sad to see her story end though.


Good point, Andrew! We need a great picture to send us off...and we had at least one hint close to a promise that there was artwork in the works!


hazel monday wrote:

Does anyone else find Channa Ti to be really unlikable? She comes across as kind of a jerk.

Not to say her story isn't well written, cause it is. And I enjoy reading about her bitter, mean-spirited antics. But she's one of the most unsympathetic main characters I've ever read about.

I've been pondering this post since I read it at lunch. I'm glad others have chimed in in the interim, so I won't say much. But. I can't agree w/ you at all about her being unlikeable. As far as "unsympathetic", that's a strange yardstick for enjoying a character, IMO. Do you find Conan sympathetic?? I don't, but that's not what I'm looking for when I read and enjoy REH's stories about him.

hazel monday wrote:
if she died, I'd laugh about it instead of feeling bummed out.

The irony of this last sentence, after you just mentioned "mean-spirited". I'm sorry, but that was out of line for a thread in which the author has posted numerous times. It's one thing to say you don't like something; even explain why. But this was an unduly harsh thing to say about someone's creative enterprise.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

andrew berthiaume wrote:
Heres hoping for a full on portrait and stat block next month. Its gonna be sad to see her story end though.

Sutter confirmed to me at PaizoCon that this will not be happening. At least not the statblock. He said that they didn't want to close the door on Channa Ti quite yet. (Not that Eando won't show up again, but his 18-part story sort of justified that level of closure.)

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yoda8myhead wrote:
andrew berthiaume wrote:
Heres hoping for a full on portrait and stat block next month. Its gonna be sad to see her story end though.
Sutter confirmed to me at PaizoCon that this will not be happening. At least not the statblock. He said that they didn't want to close the door on Channa Ti quite yet. (Not that Eando won't show up again, but his 18-part story sort of justified that level of closure.)

I haven't heard anything one way or another about an official portrayal of Channa Ti. There's some fan art in the works, though, and I'm looking forward to seeing her interpretation.

Lest there be any misunderstanding concerning Yoda's comment, there are no plans at present to continue Channa's story. The character and the plot were designed with a 6-episode story arc in mind. It's possible, I suppose, an idea will pop up that's too compelling to ignore, but that possibility exists in the mist-shrouded future. The next adventure path will have a new 6-part story by another author. I've read the first couple of episodes, and I think you'll really like this tale. :)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

I think, by process of elimination, she's True Neutral.

Not Chaotic neutral. She does keep her word and her bond.

Not Lawful Neutral. She doesn't have any compulsion of relying on laws and their structure.

Not Neutral Good. She makes no assumptions of the the goodness in people, and in fact makes plans to handle the possible (likely?) betrayal. Also she has little or no compulsion to killing the granddaughter of an old friend to protect a secret.

Not Neutral Evil. She doesn't advance things for just herself, and does allow complications. She doesn't automatically betray others or clean up 'loose ends'.

So I'm pegging her as True Neutral :-)

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Matthew Morris wrote:

I think, by process of elimination, she's True Neutral.

Not Chaotic neutral. She does keep her word and her bond.

Not Lawful Neutral. She doesn't have any compulsion of relying on laws and their structure.

Not Neutral Good. She makes no assumptions of the the goodness in people, and in fact makes plans to handle the possible (likely?) betrayal. Also she has little or no compulsion to killing the granddaughter of an old friend to protect a secret.

Not Neutral Evil. She doesn't advance things for just herself, and does allow complications. She doesn't automatically betray others or clean up 'loose ends'.

So I'm pegging her as True Neutral :-)

I can't argue with your reasoning. :)

Nature, to my way of thinking, is true neutral. There is no good or evil intent. What we perceive to be "laws of nature" are not guidelines for nature to follow, but rather, humans' attempt to explain and codify our observations. So it seems very likely to me that a druid would tend toward true neutral, especially a druid with strong identification to an element.

Alignment has to do with motive. Water simply is. Water can be a necessity, a force, a blessing, or a curse, but how it is perceived does not change what it is. Human concepts of morality just don't apply to wind and water.

Channa's mixed-race background, her upbringing, her life experiences and her personality all lean toward neutrality. She doesn't have a strong alliance to a race, a social group, a family, or a close friend. Strong alliances provide strong motives, which in turn can lead characters (fictitious and otherwise) to embrace law, chaos, and their social group's definitions of good and evil. Channa has had reason to distrust elvish/human concepts of morality, and she feels more comfortable aligning herself with impersonal elements.

But she's certainly capable of alliances. By her own word, she's a Pathfinder because it suits her curious nature and is consistent with the type of work for which she's suited. But like most people, she has more than one reason for what she does. I don't think it's expressly mentioned in the story that the old druid who trained her was a Pathfinder. After she escaped from slavery, she sought out the Pathfinders because that old man, though demanding and occasionally harsh, treated her fairly. She feels loyalty to her venture captain. And consider her reaction to the sea elves.

SPOILER WARNING: If you haven't read episode 5 yet ("When Mermaids Laugh", Pathfinder #23) you might want to stop reading now.

Channa is a half-elf and a water druid. She never felt much kinship with, well, ANYONE. She doesn't even have a companion animal, or an affinity to any particular species of animals. But she was struck hard by her encounter with the sea elves and the beauty of their hidden city. The power and poignancy of that experience brought out her elven side in a way she'd never experienced and yes, she would have died or killed to protect the sea folk.

Strong alliances can be a factor in determining alliance. There's usually a reason behind cliches such as "a man is known by the company he keeps." Our attitudes and values are influenced by the people who surround us. A powerful alliance can lead to a shift in allignment, which led me to ponder this: If Channa had found it necessary to kill Lapis and the crew, would that have been an evil act? In gaming terms, would that have been an alignment violation or even an indication of an alignment shift?

I don't think so, and my reasoning goes back to Channa's nature. She's not a human. She's not an elf (and the elves never let her forget that.) She takes her cues from the natural world. We wouldn't consider a wolf evil who killed a bobcat that was hunting too close to the den where her cubs lie sleeping. Wild creatures seldom attack without reason. They hunt and kill for food. They will protect themselves, their young, social group (pack, pride, swarm, etc.), territory, and food supply. And that gets down to my central characterization goal for Channa, which was to depict someone who might in most regards look and sound and think and function like a human, but whose character was more consistent with the neutrality of the elements and the response of wild creatures: "Give me no reason to attack you, and we're fine, but if you eff with me and mine, you can expect Nature, red in tooth and claw."


Elaine Cunningham wrote:
Lest there be any misunderstanding concerning Yoda's comment, there are no plans at present to continue Channa's story. The character and the plot were designed with a 6-episode story arc in mind. It's possible, I suppose, an idea will pop up that's too compelling to ignore, but that possibility exists in the mist-shrouded future.

Wow, I hate it when my misunderstandings get cut off before they even have a chance to open their face to the sun and glory in life... Still, I want a nice picture, powers-that-be! Slip it through the crack in that door that Sutter refuses to close all the way.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I've been reading Michael Moorcock's Elric works. I'll admit, I'm enjoying them a lot. I love the continuity between them and recently it made me realize something.. in a way, the episodic stories you've written aren't much different and the fan anticipation I've experienced with each new part must be very similar to what readers (fans) felt when they got Moorcook's newest Elric story.

Good work Elaine, Paizo! Give us more! :)

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SirUrza wrote:

I've been reading Michael Moorcock's Elric works. I'll admit, I'm enjoying them a lot. I love the continuity between them and recently it made me realize something.. in a way, the episodic stories you've written aren't much different and the fan anticipation I've experienced with each new part must be very similar to what readers (fans) felt when they got Moorcook's newest Elric story.

Good work Elaine, Paizo! Give us more! :)

Thanks, SirUrza. I must admit, this is a first--I've never been compared to Moorcock before. The cognitive dissonance is deafening. ;)

Ideas tend to be circular, and I think serial fiction has come around again. People are used to serial fiction, for one thing, in that they follow network and cable shows. Fantasy readers expect continuing characters and ongoing story lines, both of which are addressed by serial fiction. And the technology favors this storytelling approach. Online publication, in particular, is conducive to serials. Some authors are experiementing with it; for example, Catherine Valente is publishing a YA novel in "real time," writing and posting a chapter every week.


I'll compare the Channa Ti stories to Moorcock's Elric stories too, then.

Spoiler:
The former are better than the latter.


Shame on me. Quote some proverb about comparisons and such. (And it didn't even kick up any dust.)

Spoiler:
Of course, I'm still right.


Elaine:
How different is it for you writing something with very definite limits on it (six ten thousand word short stories for a publication such as Pathfinder for example) as compared to a novel? Do you find that your style of writing changes or that the disciplines needed change?
I'm still waiting to see the last two Pathfinders in the Legacy of Fire Series here in the UK, but I suspect I may come back to these questions later, after I have seen them.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
hazel monday wrote:

Does anyone else find Channa Ti to be really unlikable? She comes across as kind of a jerk.

Not to say her story isn't well written, cause it is. And I enjoy reading about her bitter, mean-spirited antics. But she's one of the most unsympathetic main characters I've ever read about.

Like if she died, I'd laugh about it instead of feeling bummed out.

Ever read the Thomas Convenant series? One of the first series of books I read where I started out truly not liking the character.

btw, they are some of the best fantasy books ever :)

Best.

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Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Elaine:

How different is it for you writing something with very definite limits on it (six ten thousand word short stories for a publication such as Pathfinder for example) as compared to a novel? Do you find that your style of writing changes or that the disciplines needed change?

Funny you should bring up the question of "definite limits." I was pondering this just the other day, and my conclusion was that ALL writing has definite length limits. I've heard a lot of people argue that imposed word counts limit the writer, that the story should take whatever the story needs. I agree with the second part of that statement, but I tend to flip it around: There are an infinite number of story variations, and it's up to the author to plan and write one that fits the chosen parameters.

Look at it this way: If you set out to write a sonnet, you know going in that you'll have only so many lines, that you will follow certain conventions of rhythm and meter. So you chose a topic, theme, and tone are are suited to that form. You draft an idea, develop it, work on imagery, and then you revise, rework, and refine until you've nailed both structure AND music. What you DON'T do is start out with an idea that requires six pages of rambling free verse or three 150,000-word novels to develop.

The Pathfinder fiction represented a brand new form for me. I've written novellas before, but this is the first time I've tackled serial fiction. When I considering story structure, it occurred to me that a good model would be a TV series in which each episodes was a story with a beginning, middle and end, but also part of a story arc that spanned the whole season. The first season of "Dexter" is a solid example of what I was shooting for. So the Pathfinder novella has very different structure than my stories of the same length which were written to be read in one sitting.

Short fiction lends itself more to experimentation, particularly when it comes to narrative voice. The last thing I wrote was inspired by Polish history and mythology, and the style echoed the tone of Slavic folklore. One of my favorite short stories, "Dead Men Tell No Tales," is a ghost story set in 18th century Newport, Rhode Island, narrated in first person by a sailor who is a little simple--a man who senses far more than he understands. Getting into that mood, time, and mind was a really interesting challenge. I'm really happy with how the story turned out, but I'm sure I could sustain that particular narrative voice for a novel-length story.

Big topic. This is probably more than enough for now. :)

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Did that answer your question, Charles? Sort of? Not at all? :)

Liberty's Edge Contributor

I'm really glad to get back to this thread. I had to stay away for a bit, because I couldn't download my PDF copy of the lastest adventure path, so I didn't want to risk spoiling the story for myself.

Elaine, thanks for sharing your above thoughts on format. I certainly agree that the imposition of word limits can have a positive impact on the quality of a writer's work. The catch is that you have to put more work into the writing for that to be true.

For example, I'm a member of a writing group called the "Wiley Writers". Although I'm extremely junior in terms of the number of works written and published, I've learned a heck of a lot by interacting with other professional and semi-pro writers.

One of the first things I discovered is that most of publishers of fiction (both online and in print) are looking for stories with a particular length. They may not give an exact number of words, but markets usually have a set of guidelines for how long they want their stories to be. Keeping the word count down controls the publisher's costs (since they often pay by the word), allows them to plan for the number of stories they can publish in a particular issue (for webzines or other periodical publications), and optimizes the number of authors represented in a particular publication.

That's the business side of the number limit, of course, but that limit forces you to choose your words and story elements carefully to maximize the value of everything you put into your writing.

When I wrote my entry for "Wayfinder", I knew going in that I had to produce a 1500-word story. By shaping the concept of the narrative before I began writing, I was able to prevent a large amount of "over-writing". After the first draft, I think I had about 2000 words in front of me...maybe a bit more.

I had to consider carefully what aspects of the prose were really necessary and which ones were just extra words. I could easily identify some of the things to cut or change, but other choices were much harder...especially in the cases where I liked the turn of a particular phrase or the way I had described an object. There were times when it almost hurt to cut something out.

I got through it, though. Ultimately, the work made the story tighter and clearer. The editor did his job of furthering that process. In the end, I'm fairly happy with the printed product, even though there are some things that I really would have liked to include. My nemesis was time...I would have liked to spend more time working on both the concept and the writing.

If I had started earlier and given myself more time, I think I could have made it better...and doing so probably would have reduced the word count even more.

All of this is to show that, for us amateurs, the word count limit can be a really good way to learn disciplined restraint and to make the most of the words we do have. Once you're an established author, you may be able to convince someone to lift the limit and give you the freedom to explore a bigger concept. Right, Elaine? ;-)

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Paris Crenshaw wrote:
I certainly agree that the imposition of word limits can have a positive impact on the quality of a writer's work. The catch is that you have to put more work into the writing for that to be true.

Yes, indeed. I think it was Mark Twain who ended a letter with this observation: "I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn't have the time."

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Paris Crenshaw wrote:
Once you're an established author, you may be able to convince someone to lift the limit and give you the freedom to explore a bigger concept. Right, Elaine? ;-)

When I get to that point, I'll let you know. :)

Most of my work has been in shared-world settings, so my stories are designed to fit the parameters. But even people who are writing creator-owned fiction usually stay within certain boundaries. There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, a 100-125K-word book is easier to sell than one that's a great deal longer.


Elaine Cunningham wrote:
Did that answer your question, Charles? Sort of? Not at all? :)

Sorry. Busy with local bureaucracy, PaizoCon UK, and with being ill at the moment.

It sort of answered the question, thank you, but I suspect I may like to come back to you on it, if you wouldn't mind, after I have read the last two installments of the path? As a comment for now, I had thought that you had done serial fiction before in a manner of speaking with the occasional short pieces in Dragon and the 'Realms of...' series which led into your novels. I recall at least two different pieces regarding events at the friendly arm Inn which led into the 'Dream Spheres' story.

By the way, PaizoCon UK looking very fun so far - balti house trip Friday night, three gaming sessions today (including a Richard Pett special at one table this afternoon) and two further sessions to come tomorrow.... Solid gaming, just meal breaks and no seminars, but it seems successful and that everyone is enjoying themselves. Hope we can tempt you to come and game with us next year.... ;)

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Elaine Cunningham wrote:
But even people who are writing creator-owned fiction usually stay within certain boundaries. There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, a 100-125K-word book is easier to sell than one that's a great deal longer.

And sometimes requirements completely outside of the professional realm impose limits. For example, I've been writing a story for my daughters over the past few months while I've been away from home. I e-mail the chapters home for my wife to read to the girls at bedtime. We quickly learned that anything over 2000 words just took too long to read and kept them up past their bedtime, so I've had impose a word limit on each chapter. Each chapter also has to have enough fun elements to be a good bedtime story on its own, so I guess it's kind of like serial story.

Getting back to the thread topic (sorry for the derailment): I've said all along that I respect Channa Ti, but still can't say that I really like her as a person. After all, most of us tend to like people who are approachable and friendly more than we like people who are constantly guarded and ultimately pragmatic to a fault.

I think she would be fascinating to talk to, though. I imagine being around her would be like my experiences with several martial arts masters I've met: really interesting people who engender respect but have a very small, carefully chosen, "inner circle". Their knowledge and skill make others want to be part of that inner circle, even though we know that that we have very little in common with them outside of the art.

With this last installment, I'm also beginning to see the characteristics of a true Pathfinder emerging from her, at last. It was probably always there, but I'm just now seeing how her innate curiosity gets her in trouble. Revenge is a big motivator at the moment, but I get the feeling there's an element of curiosity about the situation that drives her in this, as well. She HAS to know what happened and why...I think in the end she's going to learn things she'd rather not know.

Contributor

Charles Evans 25 wrote:
Elaine Cunningham wrote:
Did that answer your question, Charles? Sort of? Not at all? :)
As a comment for now, I had thought that you had done serial fiction before in a manner of speaking with the occasional short pieces in Dragon and the 'Realms of...' series which led into your novels. I recall at least two different pieces regarding events at the friendly arm Inn which led into the 'Dream Spheres' story.

The short stories weren't serial fiction, per se. Some of them happened between two novels, such as "The Direct Approach," which was a mini adventure Liriel had between the events of DAUGHTER OF THE DROW and TANGLED WEBS. And you're right--there were two short stories about Isabeau Thione, both of which took place shortly before the events of DREAM SPHERES.

Quote:
By the way, PaizoCon UK looking very fun so far - balti house trip Friday night, three gaming sessions today (including a Richard Pett special at one table this afternoon) and two further sessions to come tomorrow.... Solid gaming, just meal breaks and no seminars, but it seems successful and that everyone is enjoying themselves. Hope we can tempt you to come and game with us next year.... ;)

I have no idea what next summer will look like, but I would like to get over to the UK at some point and it's possible the two will coincide. :)

Contributor

Paris Crenshaw wrote:

I've said all along that I respect Channa Ti, but still can't say that I really like her as a person. After all, most of us tend to like people who are approachable and friendly more than we like people who are constantly guarded and ultimately pragmatic to a fault.

I think she would be fascinating to talk to, though. I imagine being around her would be like my experiences with several martial arts masters I've met: really interesting people who engender respect but have a very small, carefully chosen, "inner circle". Their knowledge and skill make others want to be part of that inner circle, even though we know that that we have very little in common with them outside of the art.

This ties in very closely to a point Charles raised about the difference between short fiction and novels. One of these differences is the sort of character you're likely to choose as a protagonist.

I think you put it very well with the contrast between someone who's likely to become a friend and someone who's interesting to talk to, but who is clearly going to remain at a distance. The latter sort of person is better suited for a short story format. When you're reading a novel, you want to get to know a character.

I don't think I've actually come right out and said this, but I don't see Channa as a character that could carry a novel-length story. If I were to write a Pathfinder novel at some point down the road, it would be about a new character. Nothing against Channa--I'm very fond of her. But I wanted her to have a decidedly not-human feel, and that, I think, would be tough to pull off in a longer format.


Elaine Cunningham wrote:
Paris Crenshaw wrote:

I've said all along that I respect Channa Ti, but still can't say that I really like her as a person. After all, most of us tend to like people who are approachable and friendly more than we like people who are constantly guarded and ultimately pragmatic to a fault.

I think she would be fascinating to talk to, though. I imagine being around her would be like my experiences with several martial arts masters I've met: really interesting people who engender respect but have a very small, carefully chosen, "inner circle". Their knowledge and skill make others want to be part of that inner circle, even though we know that that we have very little in common with them outside of the art.

This ties in very closely to a point Charles raised about the difference between short fiction and novels. One of these differences is the sort of character you're likely to choose as a protagonist.

I think you put it very well with the contrast between someone who's likely to become a friend and someone who's interesting to talk to, but who is clearly going to remain at a distance. The latter sort of person is better suited for a short story format. When you're reading a novel, you want to get to know a character.

I don't think I've actually come right out and said this, but I don't see Channa as a character that could carry a novel-length story. If I were to write a Pathfinder novel at some point down the road, it would be about a new character. Nothing against Channa--I'm very fond of her. But I wanted her to have a decidedly not-human feel, and that, I think, would be tough to pull off in a longer format.

And yet you pulled off a not-human feel in 'Evermeet', or do you regard that as a collection of linked short stories rather than a novel in the sense which you address here?

Contributor

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

And yet you pulled off a not-human feel in 'Evermeet', or do you regard that as a collection of linked short stories rather than a novel in the sense which you address here?

Hmm. I wouldn't call EVERMEET a collection of short stories, exactly, even though most of the "historical" flashbacks were told as more or less independent stories. But because it was fragmented into a "current day" framing story (the attack on the island), a collection of letters to and from Danilo Thann, and a collection of myth, legend, and historical tales that supported Danilo's topic (the rise of the Moonflower family) and theme (how the elves' attitudes and decisions led to this moment in time), there was no single non-human protagonist to follow. The central character is Queen Amlaruil, and she has a decidedly non-human feel, but the VOICE behind everything--story and backstory--is that of the chronicler, Danilo. He was the unifying factor, and his viewpoint and goal established the tone and the parameters of the story. And since he is (all too) human, there's a certain narrative distance from the "non-human" themes and characters.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Off-kilter question - but will we be seeing Channa Ti illustrated and statted out in the last Legacy of Fire chapter? (The statting is fluffing. I really like her description and want to see it captured on canvas.)


Elaine Cunningham wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:

And yet you pulled off a not-human feel in 'Evermeet', or do you regard that as a collection of linked short stories rather than a novel in the sense which you address here?

Hmm. I wouldn't call EVERMEET a collection of short stories, exactly, even though most of the "historical" flashbacks were told as more or less independent stories. But because it was fragmented into a "current day" framing story (the attack on the island), a collection of letters to and from Danilo Thann, and a collection of myth, legend, and historical tales that supported Danilo's topic (the rise of the Moonflower family) and theme (how the elves' attitudes and decisions led to this moment in time), there was no single non-human protagonist to follow. The central character is Queen Amlaruil, and she has a decidedly non-human feel, but the VOICE behind everything--story and backstory--is that of the chronicler, Danilo. He was the unifying factor, and his viewpoint and goal established the tone and the parameters of the story. And since he is (all too) human, there's a certain narrative distance from the "non-human" themes and characters.

Interesting. I had another brief look over Evermeet last night after seeing this post, but it confirmed what I had thought which was that it never struck me as having been particularly written from Danilo's point of view. (Apart from the items of his correspondence.)

Events/dialogue such as that between Araushnee and her ring-wearing prey or regarding Nimesin's escape from confinement strike me as things which would be beyond the scope of any but the wildest of speculations from an uninformed narrator, and whilst I know Danilo is a bard, he had never struck me as the type to make things up to quite that outrageous extent....
The longevity and attitudes of elves other than amlaruil were represented too, I felt.
Anyway, have to run. Back later. :)

Contributor

Saurstalk wrote:
Off-kilter question - but will we be seeing Channa Ti illustrated and statted out in the last Legacy of Fire chapter? (The statting is fluffing. I really like her description and want to see it captured on canvas.)

Saurstalk, I don't know whether or not an illustration is in the works, but James Sutter, the project editor, has stated a disinclination to stat a character-in-progress.


Back. Anyway, I think what I was saying was that I see what I would regard as 'alien' minds and attitudes having been depicted in Evermeet, in novel-length format, by you before.
The only difference I can see is that much of the Evermeet treatment of the elves was from a third person (?) narrative point of view - 'He/she/it did this, that or the other' - whereas much of the Channa Ti material to date is from a first person (?) point of view - 'I did this, that or the other'.
Is it really that much different writing something 'first person'?
Yes, you are recounting what the character thought (or what they tell you that they thought - which may not always be the same, if they are lying to ou or deceiving you and/or themself) as well as part of the story, but if you are recounting what a person did from the third person point of view, even if you do not write it down do you not know, as the writer, to the same extent as if you had been writing from the first person what that character was thinking and doing?

I'm not sure if I'm making very much sense here, in explaining why I'm not sure that there would be a difference between writing a full-length Channa Ti novel and writing Evermeet, from a point of view of 'alien' mindset.

Contributor

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

The only difference I can see is that much of the Evermeet treatment of the elves was from a third person (?) narrative point of view - 'He/she/it did this, that or the other' - whereas much of the Channa Ti material to date is from a first person (?) point of view - 'I did this, that or the other'.

Is it really that much different writing something 'first person'?

Yeah, it's a huge difference. Every in limited third person POV, in which you see the world through the eyes of one person at a time (usually one POV per scene), the narrative lens tends to have a wider angle than a first person narrative. Even more important is the issue of narrative voice. Third person depicts the writer's voice, or in some cases, the narrator's (as in THE GREAT GATSBY), rather than the protagonist's. You're getting someone's view of the protagonist. In first person, you're getting the protagonist's view of the world and himself, with all the limitations that suggests.

Quote:
I'm not sure if I'm making very much sense here, in explaining why I'm not sure that there would be a difference between writing a full-length Channa Ti novel and writing Evermeet, from a point of view of 'alien' mindset.

No, your post made perfect sense.

The switch to third person might resolve a lot of the issues I see as problematic. It seems to me that Channa's personality and social skills aren't the sort that are likely to carry a novel--some people are best taken in small doses--but the right ensemble of supporting characters might fill in the gaps. If I put my mind to it, I could probably come up with a narrative framework, plot, and group of characters that would work in a novel-length Channa Ti story. That said, I still think she'd work much better as a supporting character in a novel than she would in the starring role.

In all candor, part of my reaction about a long-term commitment to Channa Ti might stem from my comfort level with desert and jungle climes. I'm more at home in temperate zones and characters who hang out in forests and mountains. The world Channa inhabits makes her feel more alien to me, in some ways, than the wild elves of Evermeet's deciduous forrests.

Nothing's ever simple, is it? :)


Elaine Cunningham wrote:

In all candor, part of my reaction about a long-term commitment to Channa Ti might stem from my comfort level with desert and jungle climes. I'm more at home in temperate zones and characters who hang out in forests and mountains. The world Channa inhabits makes her feel more alien to me, in some ways, than the wild elves of Evermeet's deciduous forrests.

Nothing's ever simple, is it? :)

(edited):

Hmm. What about a novel which takes Channa Ti out of her 'comfort zone' then, and which sees her head north (or south) away from the jungles and deserts?
In theory, as a Pathfinder some sort of errand could carry her away in such a direction if the need were great enough, and seeing her as a 'fish out of water' (or crocodile thrust into cold water in Channa's case) might offer interesting developments, at least sufficient to help carry one novel?
If she travels with companions familiar to her then could seeing how her attitude towards them changed, when they become the only thing which is familiar to her, offer any interest?

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