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Tag Archives: logic

There are three paths to rule creation (and by rule I mean the rules, planks and other staples that support the internal logic of any work of speculative fiction):

  1. Strict Construction: The writers has a rule for everything and for everything a rule.
  2. Fudge it/Fuzzy Logic: The writer sets the rules as the situation demands it.
  3. Thou Shall Not: The writer concentrates on the outer edges of the rules, that is, on those things that CAN NOT BE DONE within the setting/universe.

The first option is one that many a Tolkien/RPG fan takes as the de facto way of building a backdrop for their upcoming epic fantasy story. Worked well for Tolkien, but many a would be writer ends up catching world building addiction/disease and never reach he first page of the first draft.

Others, after spending many hours pouring over every detail of the rules that govern their universe then feel the overwhelming urge to write paragraph after paragraph describing said rules with slavish devotion. Exposition without action is telling not showing. Then you have the writer that gets stuck somewhere on late Act 2 and finds that the reason they are stuck is because either a) the rules don’t cover this particular situation or b) according to the same rules, well, the plot is screwed.

End result: the Ass Pull. Yes, it is as ugly and for the reader, as painful as it sounds.

Strict Construction is a style of world building you work your way into after many a trial and error, unless you are Brandon Sanderson, or Tolkien, or a game designer. What about discovery writers? Discovery writers (like me) don’t have the time, patience (or skill) to engineer everything before hand (no outlines).

So we tend to fix rules after the fact, hence the term Fudge It/Fuzzy Logic. Rules pop up as needed. Great for the writer on the go, but can be murder on consistency. The rule you set in stone in page 14 can bite you in the butt on page 214. Can lead to anything from Fridge Logic to You Fail Logic Forever, especially when you’re trying to apply the Rule of Cool and instead the reader thinks you’re pulling everything from between your butt cheeks (see previous scatological link above).

Solution: Write everything down!

A rule is a rule, is A RULE!

Unless the rule is that vampires sparkle in sunlight.

I know where you live. Don’t make me come to your home and slap you in public.

Ahem.

Where was I?

Last but not least: Thou Shall Not or there are no rules but these rules, conveniently packaged in a stone tablet and numbered 1-10.  This method means that everything goes, and I do mean everything EXCEPT anything in the list.  Gives the writer a wide latitude but can turn some people off plus can end up with a Deus Ex Machina (a A$$ Pull on steroids with frosting on top). No limits means very little in the way of internal logic. Fortunately the same solution that applies to #2 applies here as well.

Of course, you can make a story around breaking said rules, or having the characters work their way around them. Now that could make for some interesting reading. If done right, of course.

Just remember: NO SPARKLING! Thank you!

And now for the video of the day:

So, the Big Bad has set up shop in the entropic Kingdom of Doom and now his armies march across the plains to enslave all of mankind.

Wait, what?

Where did all these guys came from?

And why are they marching across the plains to enslave all that is good?

What is their motivation?

The Answer: because Evil Lies in the Heart of Men!

Let me count the ways:

  1. Fear: Now the obvious way fear works as a motivator is that the minions would be afraid of their leader. But what if they are afraid of something or someone else? A neighboring country, a minority (or majority) within their own borders, a race of people (or in fantasy/sci-fi a species). Their leader could promise them that he will lead them over victory against their oppressors (real or imagined) if they follow him.
  2. Greed: Until fairly recently conquering armies got to plunder their enemies territory. Soldiers shared in the booty of coin, art and slaves. Going on campaign might be worth it for a poor peasant if the rewards merit them.
  3. Tribal loyalties: Us vs. Them. Morality may be defined not acts but by who is doing them (and who is in the receiving end of said acts). If the target is anyone not part of the group/tribe then they do not deserve the same consideration as members of the tribe. You shall not kill or steal from your clansmen, but that would not stop you from doing the same to others who are not within that select group.
  4. Ideology/Philosophy/Religion: People show a willingness to lower their cognitive dissonance in the service of  metal constructs such as an ideology/philosophy/religion. What they would normally recoil from doing by themselves they are ready to do in the service of a set of beliefs. They are willing to accept and support acts that would repulse them if directed at them. Works well when mixed with a charismatic leader who exploits fear and tribal loyalties.
  5. Vengeance/Playing the Victim: A variant of fear induced loyalty. The core of the villain’s army is made of people who have being historically abused, butchered or regularly invaded and enslaved. They got good reasons to be pissed and now the bad guy (at least to us) promises them a chance at revenge. Can generally lead to an endless cycle of violence where the acts of one side set offs a chain reaction of victimization/revenge, especially when you add a strong dose of tribalism.
  6. Altruism/Utopia/Golden Age: Tends to be a variant or the logical result of following a given set of beliefs. The world as the followers of the villain see it is lost, there is no hope except to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. Yes, a few misguided souls will protest, but the greater good demands unwavering action in the face of existential moral decay. Questions are not allowed. They are at best unwanted distractions and at worse a base betrayal of the Truth that awaits at the end of the journey. Hallowed are the Ori!
  7. Conscription: Service is the law, citizen! Worked for armies and navies for centuries. Still used by some military forces (child soldiers are common among rebel groups in parts of the world, mostly Africa). Even the U.S. has the selective service. Simply put, it is the LAW. The sovereign has the right to assemble an army for the defense of the realm and we all know that the best defense is a good offense. The Romans complemented their forces with auxiliaries from recently conquered lands and the Turks created an elite military force made up of slaves. Add a promise of treasure from conquered territories and you got yourself an army.

This is not an exhaustive list (by far) but it should give you a hosts of real world/logical reasons why would anyone follow/commit acts that are by definition EVIL. Better than “the pay is good” or “I was just made that way”.

That’s all for now.

(H/T To Marian, Again 😀 )