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Random Questions Thread:

Hello, fellow writers! Got any question that you can't find answer from Google or Wikipedia, but you don't think it needs a separate thread for? You came to the right place!

Don't be shy, and just ask away. The nice folks here, writers and non-writers, experts and non-experts, will do their best to help you.

Here are links for special interest threads, mostly at OTC, but also from Yack Fest and Troper Coven.

Now, bring on the questions, baby!

edited 12th Oct '14 2:07:28 PM by dRoy

 6876 Morwen Edhelwen, Wed, 27th Feb '13 4:25:38 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
The hero's half-Scandinavian, (Swedish) his mother is an American. He has a Scandinavian name (Sigurd), but the question isn't about why he has a Scandinavian name, it's about why his mother would have one, as she has no European ancestors that she knows of (she's Black).

@Ars Thaumaturgis: TBH, this story is actually an Urban Fantasy loosely based on the story of Sigurd Fafnirsbane.

edited 27th Feb '13 4:55:58 PM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 6877 Ars Thaumaturgis, Wed, 27th Feb '13 7:29:18 PM Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
[up] Offhand, I don't see a major effect of that, depending on your world-building. As to the character's mother having a Scandinavian name, I think that my points stand: one doesn't need to have ancestors in a given area to have a name from that area. I doubt that all people named "Dora" are of Greek ancestry, for example. This applies even if their ancestry is of another continent, I imagine.

You do say that it's a relatively rare name, but even so, the hero's grandparents may still have heard of it, again, especially in a relatively information-rich future, in which they have some equivalent to the Internet on which to encounter names. If travel is fairly open, then perhaps they spent some time in Scandinavia and picked up the name there.

Indeed, I think that all of my points in my previous post stand, unless there's a specific reason to exclude any.

edited 27th Feb '13 7:30:24 PM by ArsThaumaturgis

[up] That's the difference between "possible" and "probable". What you describe is the former while what Morwen's asking sounds more in line with the latter. If there isn't a reason for someone to pick a name (or to do most things), then the likelihood of said person picking that particular one name drops significantly.

edited 28th Feb '13 1:45:51 AM by peasant

 
 6879 Morwen Edhelwen, Thu, 28th Feb '13 1:52:56 AM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
@peasant: The future is ruled by a Physical God (Odin in human form) and ancient Scandinavian stories and culture are very popular, probably because there are elves, dwarves and trolls sharing neighbourhoods with humans from this world. And "Hiordis" means "sword spirit"/"sword woman" so maybe her parents wanted her to be a shieldmaiden? People often think name meanings are important.

edited 28th Feb '13 2:17:05 AM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
If it makes sense to you and fits your setting, I don't see why not. Given the strong Norse elements in your setting, it would fit so long as hers isn't the only strongly Scandinavian name.
 
 6881 Morwen Edhelwen, Thu, 28th Feb '13 3:25:54 AM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
[up]There's a Frodo ("wise by experience") and a Thorin ("bold one").

edited 28th Feb '13 3:27:21 AM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 6882 Ars Thaumaturgis, Thu, 28th Feb '13 4:10:53 AM Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
That's the difference between "possible" and "probable". What you describe is the former while what Morwen's asking sounds more in line with the latter.
To some degree, perhaps, but I honestly don't see it as all that improbable — especially for a single character, and especially in the future. It seems to me to be perfectly plausible for one such character to have such a name, while having an entire town similarly named might take more explanation.

At any rate, given what Morwen just said regarding Scandinavian stories, etc., it seems very plausible.

edited 28th Feb '13 4:11:07 AM by ArsThaumaturgis

 6883 chihuahua 0, Thu, 28th Feb '13 2:10:21 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
I'm writing something for the SCP Foundation.

Read through this (currently at "Rabbit-Skinned Magician's Hat). What is your reaction on it? How do you think it can be improved to be more interesting or scary.

This post has been blanked upon request.

edited 21st Dec '13 12:07:34 PM by BestOf

I'd say I'm being refined

Into the web I descend

Killing those I've left behind

I have been Endarkened
Shadowed Philosopher
By the initial, untrained assessment, sure. I don't imagine that by quick eye you'd be able to tell any more than "bitten to death", and that's obviously going to suggest animals. The first trained coroner to look at it with any rigor will pick it up, though.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
[up] And even then, it depends how closely the person looks; for even to an untrained eye, a human bite marks looks very distinctive and would be hard to be mistaken for anything but a human bite mark.

Example of a human bite mark

edited 28th Feb '13 5:47:53 PM by peasant

 
Shadowed Philosopher
That being said, it would take really unusual circumstances for a human to actually bite someone to death; the first instinct of a human is always going to be some other attack, probably beating or kicking. (And also, a bite mark that actually killed someone would necessarily have removed a lot of flesh and/or bled a lot; it might well not end up being so distinctively human-looking.)
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
Quick one: When you're in a plane, you can see a sort of "sea of clouds" effect at cruising altitude. How high is that, precisely? Not cruising altitude, the clouds. Specifically, I have a six-hundred and fifty meter tall building, and I want to know if someone would see that from the top floors.
 6889 Noaqiyeum, Thu, 28th Feb '13 7:37:22 PM from Ockham Asylum Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
the it-thingy
It really depends on the location and the day.

However, the Empire State Building is a mere 381 metres at roof-level and regularly above-the-weather, so I'm pretty sure you should have no problems with plausibility.

edited 28th Feb '13 7:38:56 PM by Noaqiyeum

Go and get your riot gear! Swing your partner all around -
We'll be dancing on the cinders as the town is burning down!
Shadowed Philosopher
The height of clouds is wildly variable depending on the cloud. They might be nearly as high as the plane's cruising (40, 000 feet, maybe) or anywhere down to actual ground level. So you can do pretty much what you want there.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
 6891 Morwen Edhelwen, Fri, 1st Mar '13 3:29:19 AM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
If a parent let their child run around barefoot all the time would that be considered neglect?

edited 1st Mar '13 3:32:13 AM by MorwenEdhelwen

The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
Depends on era, location and culture. What counts as "neglect" is generally a reflection of social norms and the standards a parent is expected to meet in the rearing of a child.

So if in your setting, it is unusual for a child (or person in general) to go barefoot, the parent has the means to provide footwear, AND running around barefoot is potentially harmful (e.g. roads, rocky terrain, etc); then probably yes.

edited 1st Mar '13 5:46:46 AM by peasant

 
 6893 Marq FJA, Fri, 1st Mar '13 6:42:49 AM from Saudi Arabia Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
O' Allah, save Egypt
Fair warning: The following contains stuff that may be too squicky in a Nightmare Fuel / Nausea Fuel sort of squicky.

Inspired by this extremely Woobieriffic artwork that I saw todaynote , I'm designing a character with a similar situation, though in this case she's a latent psychic whose powers emerge after hitting the critical point in her And I Must Scream state of complete immobility and sensory deprivation. Additionally, the criminal involved decided to "have a little fun with her" while he's at it (and he invites some of his "friends" to join in). The whole ordeal leaves highly misanthropic, cynical, and once her powers emerge, she's a hair's breadth from becoming a full-on Omnicidal Maniac Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.

Full list of mutilations so far: Total amputation of all four limbs (up to the shoulder and pelvic joints), both eyes and ears, nose, tongue, both lips, and teeth; permanent loss of physical capacities for the senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch ("mostly" in the last case; see below). Right now, I'm contemplating a few things:

  1. What degree of physical trauma to the ears is required to induce permanent and complete hearing loss. Would damage to middle ear suffice, or does it have to extend to the inner ear as well? If the latter: Considering that the vestibular system is quite close to the colchea, what are the possible effects of damaging the former? And would it plausible for an "ordinary" criminal with simple instruments to be capable of inflicting such trauma, or would it require something on the level of ear surgery?

  2. I'm torn on what to do regarding her sense of touch; if I remove it for the complete sensory deprivation factor, then it would call into question how she could feel her torturer abusing her body. I could simply limit it to her external flesh (i.e. skin), but then I wonder how that could mitigate the mental trauma of her rape.
    • On a related note, is it possible to feel pain while having lost the sense of touch?

  3. I'm open to suggestions on what further physical traumas/mutilations can be added to the list.

PS: If the concept is too offensive, I could blank this post and resign myself to laborious independent research (initial results so far have been less than promising, to be honest).
Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ ḥukm al-ʻaskar
 6894 Septimus Heap, Fri, 1st Mar '13 7:33:16 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Another Wizard boy
A bang to the ears might inflict enough damage, but it would have to be a really loud one.

Touch has nothing to do with pain.

Shadowed Philosopher
I'm not sure you actually can remove the sense of touch entirely. It's fairly fundamental, and not tied to a single organ. (Okay, yes, "the skin" is an organ, but whatever.) And to be much of a threat in this scenario, the psychic powers would have to be of sensory type as well as effectuary type, since otherwise she couldn't tell what she was blasting/crushing/otherwise doing bad things to.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
 6896 Marq FJA, Fri, 1st Mar '13 9:01:35 AM from Saudi Arabia Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
O' Allah, save Egypt
A bang to the ears might inflict enough damage, but it would have to be a really loud one.
I thought loud noise technically could only cause impairment of hearing ability to the point where it becomes extremely weak, not literally destroying the capacity for hearing.

That said, I am trying to make the injury such that the only way to fix it would involve a complete transplant of the ear organ in its entirety, outer to inner — which, for reasons I will not go into detail about right now beyond "her body constantly rejects any organ transplants/grafts", is not a viable option for this character.

Touch has nothing to do with pain.
Yeah, that's one reason why the actual medical term for what is colloquially known as "the sense of touch" is somatic senses, as it's actually composed of multiple separate senses (each with its own nerve receptors), including true touch, temperature, proprioception (body position), and nociception (pain). But one can argue that being at least able to feel pain is somewhat better than being completely unable to feel anything at all — unless it involves a constant state of agony, of course.

... Maybe. I'm not sure which of those two fates is a worse Fate Worse than Death, actually.

I'm not sure you actually can remove the sense of touch entirely. It's fairly fundamental, and not tied to a single organ. (Okay, yes, "the skin" is an organ, but whatever.)
No, you're right. Touch isn't limited to the skin; it also includes the throat, tongue, and mucous membranes lining several bodily cavities. That said, I'm trying to maximize the sensory deprivation effect as much as it's feasible without resorting to extramundane methods.

And to be much of a threat in this scenario, the psychic powers would have to be of sensory type as well as effectuary type, since otherwise she couldn't tell what she was blasting/crushing/otherwise doing bad things to.
Yes, Extrasensory Perception is in full effect, though of course it entails input stuff well beyond the mundane senses (e.g. sensing "psychic auras"), and as such the resulting psychological shock and effective mental overload drives the poor girl even more nutty and wildly-lashing-out.

edited 1st Mar '13 9:07:11 AM by MarqFJA

Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ ḥukm al-ʻaskar
@Marq: With respect to your question about messing with your character's sense of touch, something to consider is that, much as others have said, it consists of different types of touch. More relevantly, the nerves that carry this information to the brain are clustered at different parts of the spinal cord - specifically, fine touch and joint position sense are at the back of the spinal cord while pain and crude touch are on the opposite sides of the spinal cord (i.e. left side pain nerves are carried on the right side of the spine).

Meaning, a high enough, localised trauma to the back of the spinal cord would result in a person losing their sense of joint position and fine touch while their sense of pain and crude touch remain intact. Meaning, your character would still feel pain and be aware that someone is touching her without knowing WHERE the person is touching.

Downside, in order to accomplish this, the person must have some knowledge of neuro-anatomy. Your average Joe Bloggs probably wouldn't be able to accurately damage that area of the spinal cord without at least causing further neurological damage.

Hope this info is useful for you.

edited 1st Mar '13 9:54:41 AM by peasant

 
 6898 Marq FJA, Fri, 1st Mar '13 1:21:03 PM from Saudi Arabia Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
O' Allah, save Egypt
That's interesting. Giving the perp a background in neuroanatomy (former neurosurgeon should suffice, right?) shouldn't be difficult to accomodate note . Now to figure out which is more liable to cause a worse And I Must Scream-type Driven to Madness reaction in the long run: What you just described, or complete loss of external sense of touch.

For clarity's sake, what I am aiming for is complete loss of capacity for taking any external sensory input except for pain1; visceral sensory input (such as feeling pain from internal injuries) is irrelevant for my purposes.

(1) Though maybe, in a scenario where the girl had her body suffer from horrible burns and/or purposefully placed mutilation to destroy her cutaneous nerve endings note , the constant fear that she might get a "superficial" injury to a rather concealed part of her body at any moment and it festering freely without her or anyone else ever noticing (only visceral pain receptors would be intact) might be a lot more horrific and maddening.

EDIT: Forgot to add that her vocal cords are all ruined as well, hence she literally suffers from the "I want to but cannot scream" side of And I Must Scream.

edited 1st Mar '13 3:49:17 PM by MarqFJA

Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ ḥukm al-ʻaskar
 6899 Morwen Edhelwen, Fri, 1st Mar '13 4:00:29 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
If a king had an adopted/foster son, could he legally make the foster son his heir? (he's in a Rightful King Returns situation, kind of like Thorin in The Hobbit).
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 6900 Sabre's Edge, Fri, 1st Mar '13 4:05:30 PM from Her Majesty's Occult Service
Yes, under most cases, but opposition could be strong. I advise looking up Salic Law.
Przeciwko komuż tak się pojednały?
Przeciwko kilku myślom... co nienowe!
—Cyprian Norwid
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