View Full Version : Discuss Story Elements and World Building Concepts

09-05-2012, 08:44 PM
Is there a place where story tellers can suggest some concepts and what not, not entire stories, just small elements of them, and get a little feedback on it’s pros, cons, and how to tastefully handle it and stuff like that?

Just throw out something like: “would having a universe where magic is commonly possible, but it’s extent changes from time to time? Like, for 10 years, even weak wizards would be capable of nuclear level destruction, and then it would cycle so that even the best wizards could barely produce the power for an explosion with the force of a stick of dynamite. It would then eventually cycle back, and forth, and through other such limits, thus making technology still worthwhile as there will be long periods of time that magic just doesn't do it. Can this be handled well, or would it just look like you’re copping out and changing the established mechanics of your story because you want a change of status quo that wouldn't otherwise work?”

And you’d get some replies like: “I think that might work, but you’d have to add a lot of extra effort not to make it seem cheap. Maybe have the magic-level change be something on a fit schedule.” or “No, it’s gonna turn out badly for you, because your audience will get tired of the gimmick, and not feel like the mechanics of your universe have any grounding.

I think such a thing would be really cool, and you could get some inspiration for your own stories based on interesting concepts other people put out. So here's a thread to do just that. You can also point out concepts and elements that are already in a story, and discuss how they do and don't work.

09-05-2012, 09:00 PM
The writer's section?

09-05-2012, 09:18 PM
I thought it might go there, but had some doubts, since it could also be about the way art style could enhance a story and such, and more about broad ideas that wouldn't necessarily warrant their own thread, but I could just delete or move this if it would be a better idea.

09-05-2012, 10:33 PM
Guys please stop making suggestions about where threads are meant to go if they're not in the right place they get moved magically. Just a secret between me and you.

09-10-2012, 11:37 AM
I've been waiting ages for a thread like this on here.

09-15-2012, 12:44 PM
So, since there hasn't been anything yet, I'll put something out there. My friend was telling me about how having a complete, or at least extremely advanced understanding of human psychology would be almost like a super power. The character in question would be able to reasonably manipulate everyone around him because he'd know how they would react. To the point of out right mind control. Then I thought about the downside of this, he would only ever be able to see other people as objects to be used, and he would be unable to have any actual social connection with people. Thoughts?

09-15-2012, 04:09 PM
People like that exist, though. And they don't just think of people as objects.

Like Chris Carter (http://powerlistening.com/), for example. Yesterday, I attended a seminar he put on at my college, and the man could literally manipulate the audience into moving their arms up and down--and then he told us how he did it. It wasn't a magic trick. It was merely the subconscious parts of our minds doing what he said rather than our conscious minds naturally resisting. He understood body language, spoken language, and emotions to a point where he could accurately "read" people and even influence their thoughts.

If you want to use something like that in a story, read up on the link under the guy's name. There's a lot of interesting stuff there.


On the topic of downsides to great abilities, only include them if they make sense to be there. By getting really good at writing music, for example, your big drawback won't be hating modern music, since the best composers are trained to see the merits in all types of music. Similarly, a rich girl's big flaws won't be a tendency to throw cash around left and right without thinking about it and regarding anyone less wealthy than her as peasants.

Back to your question, I think a better flaw for your people-watcher would be a more human one. Extrapolate on seeing people as objects, for instance, and let me predict the story:

1. People-watcher does some amazing thing that makes a bunch of people amazed and wonder if he can read minds.
2. Person approaches people-watcher, tells him he's missing out on something important/he can't go on acting like this/etc.
3. People-watcher meets person who defies his people-reading powers.
4. Power-defier slowly teaches People-watcher the value of individuality and human uniqueness.
5. People-watcher's "final showdown" ends with him winning because he could realize how unique every person was.

But what if the people-watcher was just really good at people-reading and used that to his advantage in work, love, and friendships, but had an extremely hard time learning a new skill that he'd wanted to take up during childhood, precisely because there was no way he could use people-reading to learn it faster, that would make for a less boring character. Kinda like how superheroes are pretty much invincible, so the villains have to target people important to them. Nobody in their right mind would charge into a conflict using abilities that the opposition is vastly superior in, though DBZ may have you think otherwise.

TL;DR - Characters should be people, not cardboard cutouts.


And here's a concept of my own. Feel free to deconstruct it, analyze it, critique it, what have you:

Secondary-world fantasy with either no magic at all or very limited magic, taking place in a time parallel to Earth's early gunpowder age. That would mean there are printing presses, hygiene products, and black powder guns. With printing presses, books can be more readily printed and widely distributed. With hygiene products, characters can actually have white teeth and pretty hair. With black powder guns, battles are more lethal, end faster, and pretty much every soldier is deaf. Also, if you fired a black powder gun in a room as small as, say, your bedroom, you wouldn't be able to see through the powder.

The lack of magic or presence of non-deus ex machina magic would force more realistic ways to treat injuries, build cities, engage in combat, and influence people. Basically, you have to think things through instead of saying "magic!" whenever someone asks you how something works in this fantasy.


This thread needs more responses. You'd think, manga being art and writing combined, that this site would have a much bigger emphasis on writing. I know I say that a lot, but oh well.

09-15-2012, 09:40 PM
Thanks for the reply, especially the link. But I was thinking more along the lines of our people-watcher keeping this talent to himself, and the drawbacks being more along the lines of what you could find in Neil Strauss' The Game.


Don't know if I've seen that in a manga/anime before, but I know of two novel series that use it. Brent Weeks uses a similar setting in his Lightbringer series, albeit with a strong magic focus, though said magic does have pretty clear limits. Noami Novik's Temeraire series is a virtually magic-less alternate history of the Napoleonic Wars where Dragons are used as flying war horses. Might be something you could find from looking into those.

I think one of the most important things in such a setting would be getting facts right about how those new inventions work. Maybe if they've only been introduced to the area the story takes place in you could have some conflict between people embracing the new technology and traditionalists.