About "rules" - on publishing and on creating worlds and magic systems - and how to know when to ignore what other people have to say. Also, the perils of being clever: just... don't.
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Um, good morning. Everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I'm here with my first cup of coffee.
Delicious today is Monday September Fourth labor day here in the us something we can always be grateful for that people fought to have a reasonable work hours. I am of course fortunate to choose my own hours. But it's some and today worth noting that people didn't automatically get national holidays like this until they campaign for it. Um, easy to forget.
The rights and privileges that we have are the result of people fighting and sometimes dying for them I saw a great speech by ah I think was Martin Sheen just recently on behalf of the writer's guild. Well actually for the screen actor's guild but they are. Striking in support of the writers guild for writers to be paired paid fairly in Hollywood and Martin Sheen told an an old irish story which I've never heard before but I would say one of the great truths of old irish stories is that um. The irish tend to make them up at will and as is convenient just a bit blarney for you. Ah, and I get to do that because I am mostly irish little bit Scot little bit dutch but lot of irish. So anyway, the story was is that Patty Murphy who the ah your basic Joe blow irishman goes to heaven and arrives at the gates and st peter says. Um you know welcome. Let's see your scars and patty says I don't have any scars. And St Peter says Was there nothing worth fighting for then? It's very irish you know people who believe in never going down without a fight. So um.
Here I am back getting back into all things groove last week was fun with my friend Kelly Robson visiting but it was I wasn't as productive as I would be if she were not here and then on um Friday no podcast because I I caught cold. And so you can hear it my voice still probably but really diligent about getting back on track to finish twisted magic on time of of a few things to talk about today actually a number of things stacked up. And let me decide. Oh I know which one I'll tackle first. So I find this really interesting because and maybe this is just a human tendency is people want to know what the rules are on something and once they decide what the rules are then they like to accuse other people of. Breaking the rules and I find this fascinating behavior in particular when it comes to alternate fantasy worlds secondary fantasy worlds and magic systems and I believe I've told this story before but a long time ago I had a writing friend. Who had decided that she wanted to write a vampire novel but she wanted to do like this clever inversion of the vampire tropes and write her own unique vampire novel which you know there's nothing wrong with doing that.
But that seems to be how a lot of people who want to be very clever about what they're doing come at stories. They're like oh well I'm going to do this thing. That's never been done before and I'm going to be so much more clever than everyone else and so like these silly vampire tropes I'm going to. Do totally different things. Okay well part of her problem was is that she had never read a vampire novel and so she kept asking me for vampire rules. Basically so she could break them and when I suggested to her. A couple of vampire novels that she could read so that she could understand the freaking genre right? she declined because she didn't want to read any vampire Novels. She just wanted to write one and.. It's amazing to me how people can come at that and not realize how inherently offensive that is it's that they walk into a new place and decide that they want to do things totally different that they want to be unique and insightful and. Um, do all sorts of clever things and then but they don't want to honor what's gone before them. Not even with the simple courtesy of actually reading what went before.
Killian is out here with me if you're on video. You'll see him in the background so she became very upset with me because she kept asking me questions like you know can vampires see themselves in a mirror and what happens. If a vampire doesn't drink blood or can a vampire drink something besides blood and I kept saying it just depends. It depends on the book it depends on the author and she's like well just tell me the most common thing because she was trying. Shortcut this right? which I found offensive on top of all the rest of it and I was like no I said it literally depends on the vampire and on the author that created that particular story because spoiler alert vampires don't actually exist. So. It's not like there's a science around it I saw a great thing recently about the difference between science and theories or other beliefs is that you can always come back and prove the same things with science again that science. Will always come back to the same principles and I'm probably not explaining that well I wonder if I can find the quote. Well I'm not gonna be able to find it. But basically it's that science has reproducible results if we lost all of our scientific knowledge now we could start over.
And still come up with the same principles because they're unchanging. They're demonstrable. They're provable I I was on a panel with some folks talking about magic systems and religions in in books and I so. And there were an interesting array of people on this panel but one of them was an actual minister for something like that and I said that one of the cool things about creating religions and magic systems is that they don't change or I'm sorry they do change. Um, is that you can create all your own rules and that you can make magic be true in the world in a way that it is not true in our world where it's all comes down to belief in our world and the minister type said well that miracles were demonstrably true. That the world was full ah Killians climbing the tree.
I Captured him excuse me for the coughing there I thought it wasn't playing yet. It was always the risk of pausing right? So Anyway. Ah yeah, so the minister contended which is a very. Religious faith thing to say and I mean I'm a comparative religious studies major back in College. So I I understand a lot about religious faith and religious texts and mysticism and I've studied fair amount. But the thing is is that faith is very different than proof having faith in miracles is not proof. It's not scientific proof and so I argued with him on that I said establishing a world where magic is demonstrably real. Is different than believing in miracles in our own world and I afterwards I said I hope he I hadn't offended him and he said oh no, but he um, definitely wanted to stick to that point right.
So anyway, my point and I did have 1 oh magic rules. So so the whole reason that this came up for me is that I have some of my audio books up on Youtube for free I talked about this quite some time back but I've got. Ah, the first 4 books of well bonza the first 3 bonds of magic books and then the the first book of renegades of magic shadow wizard I've put them up there for free It's been interesting. Um I guess I haven't touched back on results on that but I now that I have enough subscribers on Youtube Thank you all? Ah I can I get a decent income from those listens. Ah Youtube monetizes them and I get income from that and that really helps pay for the audio books. And I think it reaches a really different audience. So recently there was some person um a guy that had a the user had a traditionally male name. Ah.
Although not much data on their user account I did go look at it but he listened to all 3 um bonds of magic books and I know this because he commented on them regularly and he would comment at various points with the time signature. And seemed to think that he was giving me I'm not exactly sure what what he thought he was doing but 1 of the things that like he commented like 11 minutes in and the character said only. Had sex twice and that he guessed it could be worse I'm like it's interesting to me when people offer criticism on stuff. That's free. You know it's like ah but he thought he was being clever in the way that. Men who comment on sex scenes and books always think they're being clever. That's a theme today isn't that it's like the whole when you think you're being clever are you are you though? Doinda jones laughs at me. We I saw her at bobon and cut and we were talking about that. She. Ah, thinks that I'm funny because of my is it the the way she's like Jeffie questions everything I'm like too I though. Ah so anyway, ah, get distracted by my own jokes.
So he kept commenting and then explaining why things didn't work the way they would um yo he would say things like oh well, an automaton can't do this because it only gets the instructions that you upload or something like this. Um and he had a lot of comments and he kind of went through like he. Was pointing out to me the flaws in my world or magic system like where I had made mistakes and it's like those aren't my magic rules I don't know whose magic rules you're using, but they're not mine because. This is one of the things and I have this conversation with people all the time with writers all the time because they'll say things like well can a Griffin do x y z it's back to the vampires. You know like people criticizing twilight and say well you know, vampires don't sparkle. It's when you come. To mythological creatures and believe me I'm a big believer in magic in the world. I love magic in the world. Um I I want magic to be real I believe that there are probably dimensions where that where it is real. You know the multiverse who knows but.
Until it's demonstrable. You get to make this stuff up people. That's the joy of being an author this is up to you. You can have whatever rules you want now my friend with the vampires to come back to her. She was so intent on. Subverting the trope that she wanted to know which tropes to subvert you know she wouldn't have been quite so iconoclastic and clever if she had been just making up her own vampire rules. You know Stephenie Meyer in writing twilight. She subverted a trope you know and people can complain all they want about that. But the way that she created her vampires. She upended the traditional idea of what vampires were like and people can say oh well vampires don't sparkle on it's like well. Stephenie Myer's do so you know this is the thing you get to create your own worlds. Um I just think it's really funny that this guy like wanted to go through and so carefully comment on all these things and it's such a guy thing to do isn't it. It's like well you know, actually they should be this and that's like you know and I think I replied to one and I said great thing to use in your own magic system which I think went totally past him. But yeah.
Alas, um, and along the lines of those rules. Um, and I have some related thoughts to this. Let me just double check this.
Oh yeah, I'm not sure I want to talk about all of that. Um, well so yeah, we'll just go back to you know along the lines of rules. It's the same kind of thing with writing advice. 1 of the gals in my Patreon and Discord said something it was she was worrying about her second book releasing second novella and she said something about how someone had told her that the second book always does worse than the first. And so she was braced for that and we were all like that's bullshit. Um, and she was like oh that's a relief because I just you know I think she just accepted the rule so here are some rules of thumb people I'm still a fan of the internet. I still believe that the internet is done more good than ill but with that caveat the internet has enabled anyone capable of typing on a keyboard to issue knowledgeable proclamations. And you have no idea no idea who they are ah you know, kind of goes back to that joke from very very early days of the internet where it shows the dog sitting at the keyboard talking to another dog and the dog is saying no one knows you're a dog on the internet and this is true. You don't know.
Who these people are giving you advice unless you know who they are. You do not know sorry I know that's like a well it's a something um but it's also true. Um, you know like. Me if you listen to my podcast and you talk to me Online. You've met me in person you have a way of knowing that I'm actually not a dog on the internet at least not literally so you have a verful via a bit a verifiable idea of who I am. And from where my advice comes the kind of experience I Have you know my take on things Now. You don't have to agree with me sure. But you know where I'm coming From. You know what? I am what I'm talking about right? You know you have a sense of. Who this person is spouting off advice when somebody else says oh the second book always does worse and it's like oh yeah, well you know that they've written 3 books or you know you you know their online persona. People don't necessarily know and a lot of times people just Parrot advice or aphorisms that they have heard from other people and they're They're not careful about what they repeat. Why should they be? They don't care. They just want to sound good. They want to sound knowledgeable.
And nothing makes people happier than giving advice to people who they think no less on them and I really want to say present company accepted I I don't feel like I do all of this because it makes me really happy to talk down to all of you i. Do this in part because there is so much bad information out there and it drives me crazy. So 2 rules of thumb there holding up fingers for thumbs but ah the first is unless you really know. What that person's experience is not what they tell you it is take everything they say with a grain of salt and you don't have to not be friendly to them or not listen but take what they say with a grain of salt because yeah, they could be a dog on the internet right with a really good. Um. Ability to keyboard maybe a little ah bark to text ability. Um second rule of thumb is any time any time and and here I'm going to put this in absolutes anytime someone gives you an absolute. Saying oh the second book always tanks or everybody knows that anytime someone says everybody knows or some variation of everybody knows that's a big red flag for assumed information with absolutely no foundation. Ah.
But also if they put it in absolute terms if they say things like always or never or this is you know the rule is take it with a grain of salt because they are. They're kind of doing the opposite of science. They are not giving you empirical evidence. They're giving you anecdotal data which means they are telling you a story that they have heard repeated and the thing is is people just tend to repeat these various truths that. Make them happy to hear for whatever reason because maybe they're second book tanked. But anyway, that's my advice for the day and I'm at 20 minutes so I'll save the rest for Friday mosquitoes are getting me to. Ah, hope you all have a wonderful week I hope all of the advice you get is sound and based on empirical data and sound evidence you all take care bye bye.