I've heard this one idea several times now on DA with slight variation, that of, “I wish I could tell original stories!” At hearing this, I should probably point them to my The Story – Originality piece, found at fav.me/d3ik34t
. By a very strict definition of originality there are probably no truly original works, original in this case meaning a work inspired by no other previous works; being called original by a critic can still be considered reasonable praise if what the critic meant is that the work didn't borrow as obviously as an unoriginal work. In other words, originality must be on a scale to make sense, going from absolutely original to exactly the same. Between those two points is a lot of space, and so we need a point at which something on that scale can be called artistically original, the obvious point being when we cannot easily tell that the work is unoriginal. And is there really anything so bad about a less-than-perfectly-original work? No two creative people are exactly the same in the way they create, even a copycat will have quirks all their own. Here's a legitimate way to practice your writing: take a book, preferably one you know well, and then every day read one page and re-write that page in your own words. Do it paragraph by paragraph if you have to. The plot and characters may turn out the same but you will be using your own ways of describing, your own writing style and quirks, your own words with their own unique connotations. Anyone reading your version will still be reading a book that should feel new to them, you will have created a less-than-original work that can still entertain someone who has read the original. Do I like my The Story piece on originality? Definitely, it's easily one of my favorite of my The Story group for its clear purpose and eventual countdown approach to describing the different levels of originality. What did I learn? A system of rating originality, which I've used in DA critiques.
This week it's the conclusion of High War's Chapter 8! If I was giving each chapter a title, for this one it would have been The Night Child of Goldenburg! Rusty shows up and somehow doesn't kill anyone (may need to fix that) and then Zarah gets a one-round decisive ninja fight with her dad! Chapter 9 will be back with Teal and friends, but as for next week … don't know yet!
by Peter Liethen
There are plenty of stories where magic and technology do not work together, some where the presence of magic actually disrupts technology on some fundamental level and a few where the two are set up as natural enemies of each other. But going the other way - telling stories in worlds where what might be called a magic circuit is possible - can be just as interesting. A simple example of a magic circuit would be to take a magic crystal that generates electricity and use it in place of the battery in the classic light-switch circuit. There might be a few problems, perhaps the crystal's electrical output is irregular or too strong for the wires or too weak to power the light, but still you have magic and technology working together. The possibilities after that are endless; for another example, if you have a magic stone that moves opposite the direction of gravity when heated, it shouldn't take long to start building airships. Mixing magic and technology seems to be the basic premise of this webcomic, in which a mopey engineer from our world gets thrown through a magic portal to a world of magic wizards and other medieval-fantasy tropes. Turns out he isn't the first to visit, and the first guy has already deposed the local king using magi-tech and brute evilness, not to mention he swamped the local economy with aluminum and invented airships. Meanwhile another kid is going through his own story arc with magic armor that gives him the awesome powers of flight and immortality but won't come off, the friendly local trainee wizard girls are bitter rivals and our protagonist still hasn't even left the house of his dragon-blood super-mage host because the plot keeps happening there. But now he can contact our world thanks to a cellphone spell and start making his own magi-tech to help fight that jerk evil emperor! The art is a decent manga-esque with gray-scale coloring and an almost-3D feel to the sets, as if the whole thing was done in a 3D program and then flattened.
Why you should read this: The magi-tech has been decent so far, with a Star Wars-inspired airship and some (slightly underwhelming) magic-enhancing bracers, and presumably the world will only get more interesting as more items are introduced. Hm, another reason … the fights are decent, if a bit bloody.
Why you shouldn't read this: The story so far is either stuck in the gracious mega-wizard's house as he tries to make other people act mature and not like angsty teenagers, or following the angsty kid whose plotline seems like it belongs in its own story and not this one. The comic has been on hiatus a few times and it seems like it may be on one again.
Other cool stuff: Random ramblings on the home page and a How It's Made in the About section – looks like I was right about those 3D backgrounds – and the Characters page has nice links to each central character's first and most recent appearance plus a count of how many pages they've been in. The Gallery page has quite a lot of interesting things, from random concept art and high-quality desktops by the comic's creator, to a whole bunch of very different fan art and even a mini guest comic.