Don’t get discouraged if sometimes the ideas in your mind don’t come out the way you want them to. You’re doing great, bud, and it’s pretty fabulous how you paint pictures with your words, even if your mountains look a little more like hills! Keep on going, you’re doing great my dude.
If Terry prachett were there do you think the good omens Show would be any different?
Yes. Probably it would be a lot less faithful, because when Terry was alive and well, we were determined that someone was going to write the scripts and make it, and that someone definitely wasn’t us. I didn’t have the time to write six hour long scripts, then take 18 months to showrun and oversee it, and neither did Terry. And our agreement was that we did things together or not at all.
But his last request to me was to do it… “I know, Neil, that you’re very very busy, but no one else could ever do it with the passion that we share for the old girl,” he wrote. And so I’m doing it.
Ok I don’t have anyone to talk to right now, I just had to be socially trans in person for an hour while signing legal forms, and I’m strung out and tired. SO I’M GOING TO RANT ABOUT CONSTRUCTED LANGUAGES AND MAGICAL SCRIPTS.
Look, I get it. You want your conlang/magic script to look mystical, cryptic, special. You want it to look different than any other language while still looking like a language people write in. If you’re a spiritual person or magic-user this may even be a language you’re channeling and that you believe to be ancient in nature or otherwise pre-existing. But 95% of conlangs and magical scripts look totally fake and made-up, and this is not a judgment I’m casting on their actual grammatical structure or language theory or the languages they were based on. The thing that makes a language look like one people ever actually wrote in for hundreds of years, that makes it look like the letters/characters are all from the same language, is that it looks like a language that’s been written in whatever tools you are claiming or feel like it was traditionally written in.
Let’s take cuneiform:
Looks super-neat, right? Man, who’d ever think of having those wedges in an alphabet! It’s totally different than most modern languages out there and very distinctive, and the wedges are consistent across the letters, so it makes them all look like they’re from the same alphabet. This wasn’t just arbitrarily designed as a font style. There is a reason for this!
Cuneiform writing was pressed into wet clay with these shaped bits and that’s why it looks like that. It got stamped with wedges. That’s how (this type of) writing was done at the time. It’s a technological solution and that’s what makes the lettering get that peculiar stylization. You’ll get variants based on craftsmanship and tools, but basically the method is the same across various implementations. Once someone tried to write that in pencil, you could imagine it’d look different, and you’d see evidence of people’s hand-motion between strokes, becoming more of a tilt between letters.
For instance, English looks like it does, even in tumblr’s sans-serif fonts, because it can be constructed with a pen. When it gets fancy with a variable-width pressure-sensitive pen nib, you can get more complex and flowy, but notice the flow and arc still go with the movements natural for a hand to make:
Those little trails between letters exist today because nib pens were drippy and left ink trails. The written language adapted to the tools to incorporate the trails and still make it look legible, and that’s why we have cursive writing at all. This is a simplified history but it’s basically there to make you think about the letter shapes in various traditional ways of writing in English and why it looks like it does instead of like cuneiform.
Which brings me to conlangs. If you want your brand new ancient-looking language to truly look like people have used it for eons, write it out with the tools you think those people would have used, and keep adapting the letters if you find that, say, a brush or nib pen can’t construct the weird arcs and whirls you’ve designed the language to have. Languages by and large are made to be convenient to write. If you don’t know how to write kanji, Chinese words probably look complex and arbitrary to you. But their shapes are logical when you see them written with a brush:
So if you have some arcane-looking swooshy script but it still looks kind of fake, think about where the weight should really be. It should be where the brush presses down heavier and the trailing marks are where the brush lifts up (and usually leaves the paper and ends the stroke). Where the stroke is wide on one end is where the brush initially met the paper. Above, you can see how one swish immediately flows into another, the strokes are like arrows leading across the page when you understand how they’re created. Pick up a brush and figure out an actual stroke order for your symbol. If logically the stroke seems like it’d leave someone’s hand smearing it trying to follow its arc, then logically that symbol would eventually get redesigned if it were in an actual language. Someone would figure out a better way to write it and everyone would adopt that way over time.
So practice writing your language with different tools. Consider a calligraphy course or even just a kit with a guidebook (or youtube training videos!). Written language is a tool that people use, magical as it can be. And if you’re using it for magical purposes such as woodburning it into tools or painting it onto things or writing it onto paper, consider that your symbols will change a bit according to the tools, just like with mundane languages. A wedge-shaped wood burner will get you something a bit closer to cuneiform. A brush will get you something flowy and not super-precise. Pencil will not leave ink trails and will get you something more technical and practical. Your written language logically should shift for that and adapt like a proper tool. And if you do that right, if you really use it, then it will look much more genuine because it will have experienced an actual evolution of form adapting to the physical tools it’s been worked with via.
And if you’re not using it for magic but are just using it for a fantasy setting where people use it for magic in the story, all the above would still apply to them.
Even with just one symbol not meant to be in a greater language, think about the tool you’re creating it with. It’s hard to make a realistic brush-style symbol in pencil. Use the tool that fits the symbol and you’ll produce something much more genuine-looking.
That’s it! I’m not a language expert, this is not meant to be A Real Factual History Of All Language, it’s just a rough primer in How To Make It Look Like A Language Is Actually Written With. It’s not meant to be a critique in whether your magical language is “real” enough or “magical” enough either. It’s simply some pointers in how to make a magical/constructed language that’s actually reasonable to write with and suits the tools you’re writing it with and the purposes you mean it for. Hundreds of years of written language evolution is hard to replace, but I believe in you.
one major thing about padme’s story that i still take issue with is how quickly she forgot about shmi skywalker. still on tatooine, still a slave, her only child taken from her, miserable and worked to the bone until her violent and lonely death at the hands of the sand people. no.
if i know padme, then she went back for the woman who gave her a meal and a warm bed in an unfriendly port when padme was literally fleeing for her life. shmi showed her incredible kindness even when she had every right to be jaded and cynical with the entire gd universe. padme was horrified to learn that slavery still existed in the galaxy! how could she forget about the enslaved woman who took her in?
and for george lucas to decide that shmi was a write-off character that everyone, EVERYONE, except anakin, her own son, forgot/didnt care about, is lazy and terrible writing. i dont buy that for a second. padme was led by ironclad morals and for her to forget the slave woman who saved her on tatooine so she could return to a life of opulence on coruscant is just…. not true in my eyes. the jedi couldn’t/wouldn’t do anything about it but that shouldnt have stopped padme.
In a screenplay, the action/description sets the scene, describes the setting, introduces characters, and set the stage for your story.
Example: excerpt from the unproduced draft of Seven (1992)
Format: -Action appears after the scene heading. It is left aligned, single spaced, and mixed case. -It is written in present tense, active voice, and in as few words as possible. -Action should be no longer than 4-5 lines at a time. -When introducing a speaking character for the first time, put the name in all caps. -Capitalize specific sounds in the action. (Radio, door slam, shouting, etc.)
Content: -The action describes what can be seen on screen. Do not describe thoughts or what happened off screen unless it can be shown. (For example:You can’t say a character arrives home after a lunch out with friends. You need to show it via visuals, action, or dialogue. The character could be holding leftover food from a restaurant or tell another character about the lunch.) -You can use the action to describe a new setting or character. -Describe what is important in a scene, nothing more. Call attention to important details that give the setting or characters personality. For example:
“THOMAS (34), stands in the middle of the pristine, unfurnished foyer in muddy jeans and a tattered shirt.”
“Gabby (8) sinks into her seat in the back of the classroom. All eyes are on her bright purple Mohawk.”
-You can get fancy by having the action transition to another scene. You could say, for example:
“Suddenly, Maya bolts from behind her desk and runs out into:
INT. DRISKILL HOTEL HALLWAY - DAY”
-Avoid putting dialogue in the action. You can put generalizations about crowds (such as “Rosa pushes her way past a jeering crowd”) but specific dialogue should not be in the action. -Do NOT write camera angles or shots unless absolutely necessary! It’s the directors’ and cinematographers’ jobs to visually interpret the script.
*Note: There are definitely screenwriters (especially famous ones) out there that break these content “rules.” But they can afford to break the rules. When starting out, you should follow the rules until you can prove to people you know your stuff.
In the original Blade Runner, the Voight-Kampff method was used to distinguish Replicants from humans. In this film, a more advanced technology analyses a Replicant’s operational stability. “The Baseline is designed to test the effects of a Blade Runner’s job on his brain and psyche.” Explains Ryan Gosling. “Because they have to kill their own kind, they constantly need to be assessed as to whether their work is having some kind of impact on them.”
Two versions of the Baseline scene were filmed for the movie: the original scripted version, and a much longer take written by Ryan Gosling himself. It was a lengthy eight-minute staccato dialogue, and Gosling delivered each take without hesitation for every camera angle.
The moment it was filmed, everyone on set felt that they had witnessed something unique and powerful. “When you are shooting a movie, there’s always a scene that makes you feel you’ve made contact with the soul of the story,” recalls Villeneuve. “That was it, and it became our own Baseline for the rest of principal photography.”
This feeling was shared by Joe Walker in editorial, “it was one of those great times as an editor, where you lift off from the page and it’s no longer about the scripted material, but there is blood running through the veins of an idea.” The long scene was later fine tuned to serve its percussive purpose in the final cut. “It’s an attack on K’s psyche, so it has to wrong foot him and be hellishly aggressive. That gave me a lot of material to work with rhythmically in the cut”
“What were you thinking?” you asked.
“I was thinking about nothing.” I said and smiled.
But in reality.
I was thinking about how fast time flies and how life moves rapidly. I was thinking about the future and how my decisions would affect my own story soon. Sometimes I tried to imagine how I wanted things to happen. It’s like I’m writing a script for a movie. It’s as if I am giving roles to a lot of people that I wanted to stay in my endless book. I was thinking about my dream love story. I love to read, and sometimes I wish I can make those things happen in reality. I was thinking about random scenarios with different people. I was thinking about the last song I’ve heard—the last food I ate. I was thinking about the last thing that made me laugh—the last person that made me smile. I was thinking about myself—and other people. And I was actually thinking about you.
It has been another long day searching for my beloved Glendower. Is it weird to call him my beloved? I do hope Blue doesn’t take offense to that. But she must know how I feel. Maybe I should have winked after I finished her yogurt. Would that have been too obvious? Diary, you should have seen how incredible Adam looked today in his tee shirt. Is that inappropriate? It is just…the way he so recklessly wears a shirt like that with abandon….it’s Incredible! He truly inspires me every day. I cannot find my boat shoes this week and am sincerely wondering if it was Ronan who hid them. Perhaps Noah, though I would expect better of my dearest ghost friend. Tomorrow I have plans with Henry, though I hope he does not bring his robotic bee to our lunch. I hope you have a good night, diary. May the search for Glendower be as rewarding as writing here to you.