June 7th, 2012

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Moeities in Hart's Farm

I came across the term "moiety" while surfing online today and realized that one of my poetic series has something similar to this.  When a society is divided into exactly two descent groups, those are moeities.  Matrimonial moeities require a member of one group to marry a member of the other group, and endogamy within your own moiety is forbidden, as with the Yanomamo.

Hart's Farm has two moieties, the farmborn and the outsiders.  Their arrangement makes sense but does not duplicate what other moiety cultures are doing.  1) The farmborn are primarily members of the same family descended from the founders.  Farmborn do not mate with each other.  A farmborn baby has one farmborn parent and one outsider parent.  2) The outsiders are primarily people coming in from elsewhere, not related to that family.  They can mate with a farmborn or another outsider.  3) Someone born off the farm, but known to be related to the founding family, is counted as farmborn.  4) Someone born on the farm, but with two outsider parents, is technically an outsider and thus allowed to mate with a farmborn.  But they usually don't because they grow up with the farmborn, like siblings, so most of them prefer to mate with outsiders instead.  5) When parentage is partly or wholly unknown, people make their best guess.  A baby conceived on the farm is usually considered farmborn and one conceived elsewhere is usually considered outsider.

So it's kind of like ... a moiety and a half, with some blurry edges.  The one firm rule is against mating between two farmborns.  Another important rule is that if something doesn't cause a problem, it should be accepted and not fussed over.  They are far more concerned with maintaining a healthy, comfortable community than with enforcing arbitrary expectations on other people's lives.

Marriage is allowed but it's a trivial minority of relationships on the farm.  Hrafn and Gróa are married but I think they're the only monogamous relationship in canon so far.  Most people just take lovers, short or long term, from whomever is eligible and willing.  That tends to create a web of favorite partners who often hitch up in twos or threes, and it shows in the parentage of the children.  Woven around and through this are other relationships, some of them quite strong and permanent -- best friends, romantic but nonsexual connections, erotic but noncopulatory connections, and so forth.  There are a few people who are less connected but most characters have a dense mesh of relationships, spanning romantic and platonic, with many other individuals.  The primary bond is the community, rather than a nuclear family.
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Update for the June 5, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl

The donation tally is currently at $130.  So far this qualifies for a free $15 poem. 

If the tally reaches $250 by Friday evening, that will be the third qualifier and you'll get a mid-month bonus fishbowl featuring a specific series.

The general fund currently contains $41.50.  That's higher than the price of any unsold poem, so you can sponsor any of those that you want when it comes time for the general poll.  Or you could reveal a sizable chunk of open epics; there are 3 of those now.
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Pixar Story Rules

Here's a list of Pixar story rules.  You know, the cool geeks who make original movies that don't suck.

Some of my thoughts ...

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

Very true.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

No, those fields overlap almost completely for me. I'm all about writing the kind of stuff I want to read.  If I read something new and awesome, I'm likely to try it out in writing.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

It rarely takes me that long to identify and refine the theme. My revisions are usually, "Did I put all the pieces in the right order?"

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

I love doing this.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

Dudes, I'm an interdimensional anthropologist. By the time I'm surprising myself, I'm usually so far beyond human range that it won't fit into the English language without a crowbar and an air compressor. That makes a good story only once in a while.

What I often do instead is lay out stuff that's commonly done and look for gaps. That works really well.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

Only works if that character matches you on that trait. If your characters are diverse, this yardstick only works occasionally.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

Vitally important. Also, there's no such thing as an overpowered character, just underwhelming odds. The more powerful the character, the higher you can stack the deck against them without it turning into a rout.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

This is a brilliant distinction. Must remember it.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

Like this.

I have gotten a great many ideas from TV shows or movies that went right up to a great idea and then stopped short, or did something idiotic. Hey, if you're not going to finish that, I'll take it.