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sunandshadow

Sunandshadow's Novel

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Hey all. ^_^ I decided that if I'm going to be talking about my novel project in some detail here, it would probably be helpful if I started out by describing the characters. It makes sense to start the conversation with the characters since that's what I started my design project with. So here they are: Merru - This character is basically a male version of me. He starts out as a university student who thinks of himself as being extremely intelligent and having everything under control (yes he's a little conceited ). Then he finds himself suddenly in an alien body on an alien world not understanding the language and being treated like an animal. He first ponders whether he has lost his mind, decides that if he has he can't do anything about it anyway, so he might as well assume that he's really in alienland. He does NOT panic, as fantasy protagonists have such an irritating propensity to do. Rather, he calmly sets about studying the aliens and trying to learn their language (like the professor on Giligan's Island, if you like). What Merru has actually become is a Construct, a magically-created alien body with an animal's soul translated into it, used as a slave, servant, and/or pet. In particular, Merru has been constructed by the staff of the army's military academy and is intended to be the personal servant/partner of an officer. Being treated as an animal is a blow to his self-confidence, and being unable because of his cultural and linguistic ignorance to demonstrate his intelligence is even more disheartening and frustrating; but it's also unexpectedly, exhiliratingly freeing, like a second childhood. As he gets used to the situation he also realizes that he is lonely, and that somewhere along the way he lost track of his sexuality, because he can't yet read the dragons' (that's what he has dubbed the aliens) body language, and doesn't really consider any of them attractive because they don't seem like people to him. So this guy who was a playa is suddenly chaste and disoriented by this. Then he gets assigned to belong to Attranath. Attranath is the soldier. He is the bastard son of a nobleman and a common woman, and since these dragons have a rather rigidly caste-oriented society, this puts him into the no mans' land between nobility and commoners. Technically he's nobility, and his father could have recognized him and made the heir, except there was already a legitimate son. So as an unrecognized bastard Attranath gets to use his father's last name (only nobility have last, or clan, names) but he has to use the 'Bar' particle that marks him as illegitimate. Thus his full name is Attranath Bar-Televey, while his legitimate brother (a minor villain) would be Kayden Televey. In this culture nobility and military prowess are related, so Attranath enlist in the army, with the dream of being a glorious and honorable soldier and earning full nobility for himself, and thence the respect of his brother and the other nobility. (Merru's name, once he belongs to Attra, is Merru Con Bar-Televey, Con being a particle signifying 'construct of'.) But Attranath has two problems. The first is that his mental image of the ideal alpha male he wants to become (I'll explain that later) is a macho leader, whereas Attranath has a naturally submissive personality and is only happy when he's following a leader he respects and loves. Attranath hasn't yet figured out that this vision of his idealized self is not something that he can live up to, and even if he could he wouldn't be happy this way. Attranath's other problem is that he thinks being macho and honorable, etc. requires being straight. Which in a sense it does, since this particular arrmy has a rule against being gay and will throw you out if you get caught. Attranath doesn't think he's gay (major denial), he just thinks he's macho enough not to be obsessed with or easily manipulated by females. Of course he doesn't have a crush on his squad leader, it's just true-respect and a little bit of hero worship. Of course we the readers have a bit more objective point of view and can see the iceberg looming ahead whenever he eventually gets a clue. But meanwhile he loves being in the army because he likes following orders and he feels that he's making himself into a ideal man, and because his squad leader Bannis is really nice, and his teammates are becoming the clan/family he never had, etc. Bannis is actually being nice to Attranath - he likes Attranath's gung-ho, motivated spirit and obediance (a lot of these noble officer-candidate cadets are used to everybody deferring to them and hate to bow their crest and take orders from anyone). Bannis realizes that as a bastard Attranath is going to face a lot of mistreatment and prejudice that could harm his carrear, and plus he's just not that smart, even though he's got a heart of gold. To succeede, Attra's going to need all the help he can get, especially in the form of a good partner-construct (i.e. Merru). So, Bannis (who is btw straight as the proverbial arrow) has taken Attranath under his wing and thinks of him as his little brother, and a man who is going to make someone and excellent sidekick/right hand man someday - maybe even Bannis himsel, if he gets promoted to command. So, when Bannis gets his briefing with reports on all the constructs he can choose from to assign to his cadets, he gives the most promising-looking one, Merru, to Attranath. So there's Merru and Attranath, and it's hopefully easy to imagine how the first part of the book portrays them getting used to being partners and eventually becomming best friends, and their relationship dynamic, which starts out with Attranath as the owner and Merru as an animal, slowly reverses with Merru's growing ability to speak dragon, until Merru has become the leader Attranath respects and loves and Attranath has become Merru's staunch defender and sidekick. The third major character is Lieann Aravian. He's full nobility... but the problem is he's a beta male. I believe I mentioned Attranath is an alpha male. So is his half-brother, and Bannis, and Merru, although Merru as a construct might be considered genderless in the way an animal is, rather than having gender the way a dragon would. But the important thing is that he too looks like an alpha male - Tall, broad-shouldered, with the only feathers on their body being those that make up the cockatoo-like crest, and their vestigal wings having been converted to featherless bone spars encased in tough leather and useful for fighting. Originally all dragon males looked like this, and dragon-females looked somewhat like this too. But then there was a mutation and 'the most beautiful woman in the world' (think Helen of Troy) was born. She was the first beta-female - a throwback with a variant X chromosome that made her have feathered wings and be more delicately built than the original alpha-female dragons. This first beta-female was quickly siezed by a nobleman to be his wife, and half of her daughters were as beautiful as she and married off to other noble families, spreading the variant X chromosome throughout the gene pool of the nobility. Now, all of these beta-females have one variant X chromasome and one regular one. But some of them had sons who bore the variant X-chromasome rather than the regular one. These were still alpha males, practically indistinguishable from regular alpha males. And some of these males married other beta females, such that some of their children inherited two copies of the variant X chromasome and no regular ones. And these children were feathered and delicate just like the beta-females, but because the variant X chromasomes lacked some hormonal instructions, they were phenotypically male, genetically female, and sterile. And, almost universally, they were attracted to alpha males rather than either sort of females. So the typical idea of homosexuality in the dragons' culture came to be the image of an alpha male and a beta male as a mated pair (which is why it doesn't occur to Attranath that he might have a crush on Bannis - of course he doesn't, who ever heard of an alpha male liking another alpha male). So, since most alpha males can find something they like between the two different female genders, and since beta males are sterile and it's essential to the nobility to be able to produce a son, and because beta males can't inherit and thus have a difficult time getting political or financial power, and because most noble alpha males spend some time in the army and the army has a rule against homosexuality, very few alpha males are willing to take a beta male as a lover. So there aren't many beta males to start with because of the genetic distribution, and those there are are generally not taken seriously, mistreated, disliked, and lonely because alpha males won't take them as mates. Absolutely none of which Merru knows the first time he sees a beta male and goes, "Oh my god this body does have hormones! Oooh, I want one of those..." Lieann Aravian has experienced all of this. He also happens to be extremely intelligent, impatient with idiots (practically everyone from his pov), and used to using power because he is after all a child of nobility. So Lieann is used to being lonely, and perfectly aware that he is much-disliked. He responds to this by being misanthropic and unconcerned about others' feelings (which just makes him more disliked. He has learned to verbally defend himself with biting sarcasm, and is rebeliously defiant of society. He is somewhat bitter and jaded, but still has a healthy (if dark and a bit sadistic) sense of humor. He is particularly satisfied if he can shoot down an alpha male's machismo and ego. But on the other hand he _is_ extremely lonely and vulnerable to any alpha male who would be nice to him, he wishes he could find one who was actually worth his admiration rather than his contempt. Obviously this is going to be Attranath and/or Merru. And how exactly who meets whom and how the love story unfolds is the major question of the plot. So... anyone have any thoughts? Comments/questions? [edited by - sunandshadow on November 8, 2003 3:22:46 PM]

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I LOVE IT!!!! I have a question and a few comments though. First off, what genre are you writing, Sci-Fi, Comedy, or Fantasy? Here''s my idea. Instead of having it be a one pronged love story, have the lovers fluxuate, with Merru perhaps eventually falling in love with a female construct, and Lieann becomes angry, as Merru and Lieann were just begining to get close. Lieann then lashes out against Merru, and then Attranath, as Attranath is Lieann''s obvious competition, and the owner of Merru. Lienn''s desire is to take Merru from Attranath and use his intelegence (Merru and Lieann have had conversations) to make Lieann an alpha-male, thereby allowing him full royal privliages. This, however, wouldn''t change his mind, and therefore, his feelings toward Merru would remain the same. Durring this time, however, Attronath has also become close to Merru, although he will not begin to change his mind about how he feels. Perhaps as a humerous twist at the end, Lieann''s plan goes terribly wrong, and Merru gets the injection intended for Lieann. This, for some reason, gives Merru two X chromosomes, and the construct form changes around him. Because he has become so much a part of the dragon''s society, the construct form becomes his true body. Lieann is tried for his crimes of attempted murder, etc., and Merru and Attranath fall in love. Attranath is made general, and Attranath is made king, Merru is made queen, and the story ends. Good luck with your story.

Richard Veysey

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quote:
Original post by RichardMV
I LOVE IT!!!! I have a question and a few comments though. First off, what genre are you writing, Sci-Fi, Comedy, or Fantasy? Here''s my idea. Instead of having it be a one pronged love story, have the lovers fluxuate, with Merru perhaps eventually falling in love with a female construct, and Lieann becomes angry, as Merru and Lieann were just begining to get close. Lieann then lashes out against Merru, and then Attranath, as Attranath is Lieann''s obvious competition, and the owner of Merru. Lienn''s desire is to take Merru from Attranath and use his intelegence (Merru and Lieann have had conversations) to make Lieann an alpha-male, thereby allowing him full royal privliages. This, however, wouldn''t change his mind, and therefore, his feelings toward Merru would remain the same. Durring this time, however, Attronath has also become close to Merru, although he will not begin to change his mind about how he feels. Perhaps as a humerous twist at the end, Lieann''s plan goes terribly wrong, and Merru gets the injection intended for Lieann. This, for some reason, gives Merru two X chromosomes, and the construct form changes around him. Because he has become so much a part of the dragon''s society, the construct form becomes his true body. Lieann is tried for his crimes of attempted murder, etc., and Merru and Attranath fall in love. Attranath is made general, and Attranath is made king, Merru is made queen, and the story ends. Good luck with your story.

Richard Veysey


Hey, enthusiasm, that''s what I like to hear. ^_^ I''m guessing the book is going to be a fantasy romance novel with military elements. Which is odd because I myself read a lot more science fiction than fantasy, but I wanted a fairly low-tech culture which means they would have to be producing constructs by magic rather than technology. It will have comic elements because everything I write always has comic elements but it won''t be terry pratchett funny. I definitely want the lovers to fluxuate and the readers to be in doubt who''s going to end up with who. Using a female construct would be a problem though. See, normal constructs have the brains of animals, so they''re _stupid_. Whereas Merru is a genius. He''s definitely smarter than Attranath, and one of the things he finds most attractive about Lieann is his intelligence. So he just wouldn''t ever fall in love with a construct - it would seem like beastiality to him. Maybe with a female dragon though. Merru''s Constructor was an alpha female, and I''ve been trying to think of a way to work her in somehow, because she''s like Pygmalion, the sculptor who creates their ideal of beauty and then brings it to life.

I actually was thinking of having Lieann kidnap Merru. I was thinking that Lieann originally is in love with Attranath (not entirely sure _why_... >.<) and he figures out that Merru is the most precious thing in the world to Attranath, so he kidnaps Merru to try to blackmail Attranath. Which puts Merru living with Lieann for a little while, a great opportunity for Merru tobecome sympathetic with Lieann and possibly comfort/seduce him. So that would put Lieann in love with Attranath, Attranath (secretly) in love with Merru, and Merru sleeping with Lieann, nice and messy like a good love triangle should be. ^_~ Also, I like Lieann, so I''m not going to make him suffer at the end of the story - I was thinking it would be an interesting and rare enough twist to have the three of them end up together, as like a permanent threesome.

I suppose that Merru, as a construct, coud be re-constructed to look like something else; but I wouldn''t want to make him a girl. Attranath really is gay and probably wouldn''t be attracted to a woman, and Lieann doesn''t even like beta males, only alpha males. So if Merru got turned into a girl Lieann and Attranath would probably end up together and Merru would be left out, which is exactly what I _don''t_ want to do. As I see it, Merru is really the ingredient that makes this character dynamic special. Without him Lieann and Attranath would have a very typical irresistable force/immovable object dynamic, but Merru is like the monkeywrench in the works, or perhaps lubricant (ahem ^_~ ) - he is the one who isn''t homophobic, isn''t a virgin, is a playa, and likes to seduce and manipulate others (usually for their own good, but of course they don''t see it that way ^_^ ). Kind of like Albus Dumbledore, only young and sexy, if you can imagine that o.O .

Oh, and Attranath can''t be the king or whatever because like I said he''s a natural follower - he either has to follow Merru or some other dominant. Which reminds me about Dominion teams, which I didn''t explain above. Dragons live in little dutchies, basically a clan castle/manor house for the noble family and the village of commoners it overlooks. One of these is called a Domain. The ruler of the Domain is the dominant alpha male of the noble family, and he''s called the Dominion. But dragons have a leadership and family structure something like lions. The alpha males tend to kill each other off as teenagers, so there are more adult females than adult males, and you get polygamy. In order for an alpha male to have political power over alpha males he has to be stronger than them (for modern dragons this would be military/political/monetary strength, but for their primitive ancestors it would have been physical strength.) So it''s a major advantage for an alpha male if he can get another alpha male to be his right hand man. That would give you the Dominion, his Sub (a subordinate or submissive alpha male, occasionally a beta male) and some females, and all together this would be the ruling family of the clan, called a Dominion team. All of the members would refer to each other as mates (in the british or australian sense of the word where it means friends) and would specify which were their lover(s) by referring to these as Ardenmates. The dragon word for a casual lover is Ardens, while a permanent lover is an Ardenmate. So basically your ''mate'' would be your co-husband or co-wife and friend, but only possibly your lover. So a typical dominion team would be the Dominion (alpha male), his two or three wives (probably at least one a beta female), his Sub(s)(alpha and/or beta male), and maybe a wife for the Sub. Basically to the dragon mindset every relationship, sexual or friendly, has a dominant member and a subordinate member, and that''s the way things are supposed to work.

The army is an extension of this Dominion team concept. The leader of a squad is it''s Dom, and all the squad members are his Subs, at least in theory. But naturally some of these squad members want to be Doms too, so you get a constant low-level power struggle between them and the commander which is kept non-violent by military discipline and the promise of eventual promotion to command. You also get some squad members being dominant to others as a natural internal hierarchy (or pecking order) is established. (If anybody reading this knows anything about BDSM these terms undoubtedly seem familiar. Just keep in mind that when one alpha male is the dom of sub of another this is expected by dragon society to be a _non_-sexual relationship.) One of the reasons for giving officer candidate cadets Constructs is to give them somebody to practice ordering around.

Now Attranath, he thinks he''s going to win glory and promotion and become a Dominion or at least the Dom of a small family, but what he really is is a Sub looking for a Dom to be loyal to. He first latches onto his commanding officer Bannis, and then transfers his loyalty to Merru when their friendship becomes closer than his friendship with Bannis. So we have the odd situation where a Construct, who is supposed to be property, is acting as the Dom for his master, who is nobility and thus supposed to be a natural-born leader. Attranath has to learn not to be embarrassed by this, and he has to learn that it''s not wrong or perverted or whatever to want to be sexually involved with his Dom. And then there''s Lieann. Lieann is a beta male, and beta males are culturally expected to be submissive (there''s a proverb that beta males are 1/3 female), but Lieann is also spoiled nobility and impressed with his own intelligence - he would probably be a leader if anyone would follow him. But he doesn''t have great people skills, so nobody wants to (until Merru comes along). Now, Merru''s what you would call a Switch, capable of being either a Dom or a Sub depending on what his partner brings out in him. So he Doms for Attranath, but might Sub for Lieann or any sufficiently aggressive person. He would probably get frustrated from being either a complete Dom or a complete Sub for too long, and be happiest if he has a chance to do both.

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You have this so well thought out! You''re right, I forgot about Attranath''s follower tendancies, so perhaps because Merru belongs to Attronath, he can become king, and when I spoke of Lieann as a villain, I was getting him confused with Kayden, so I therefore thought Lieann and Attronath were brothers, which significantly screwed up my ideas. This could be a very interesting literary world, and I agree that you don''t want to bring any Terry Pratchet elements into your books (altough he is a great humorist, I''ve read the Color of Magic and am looking for the Light Fantastic). Hopefully though you have as many sequels as he does . The way you''ve thought everything out makes me almost certain that this could become a very popular work, and have that ever sought after fan base that demands a sequel. When you start writing, or if you already have, you should leave room for a sequel if you want one, by leaving some things unresolved. These can be minor points if you aren''t sure about your desire to continue, but still can have some influence later. If you have some of your novel done, I would love to see perhaps a page or two. Although you want it to be a romantic fantasy, I think the potential for great humorous scenes is great, and you must milk the story for all it is worth to get some great belly laughes out of the reader, without resorting to slapstick or ridiculous elements found in other comidic novels.

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quote:
Original post by RichardMV
You have this so well thought out!



Nah, if I had it well though out I would have started writing already. I have some of the pieces thought out, especially the characters, but the plot is giving me fits, and I need to work on the dragons' culture a lot more. That's why I'm posting about my ideas here, because it helps me work them out.


quote:

...when I spoke of Lieann as a villain, I was getting him confused with Kayden, so I therefore thought Lieann and Attronath were brothers, which significantly screwed up my ideas.



Ah, that would be a bit screwed up. Incest is a bit more daring of a subject than I want to tackle in my first novel. o.O The political dynamic of a romance between half-brothers would be fascinating, but you can only ask the readers to swallow so much, and I think a gay threesome with BDSM elements about uses whatever credit I have as a first time author.


quote:

This could be a very interesting literary world, and I agree that you don't want to bring any Terry Pratchet elements into your books (altough he is a great humorist, I've read the Color of Magic and am looking for the Light Fantastic). Hopefully though you have as many sequels as he does . The way you've thought everything out makes me almost certain that this could become a very popular work, and have that ever sought after fan base that demands a sequel. When you start writing, or if you already have, you should leave room for a sequel if you want one, by leaving some things unresolved. These can be minor points if you aren't sure about your desire to continue, but still can have some influence later. If you have some of your novel done, I would love to see perhaps a page or two. Although you want it to be a romantic fantasy, I think the potential for great humorous scenes is great, and you must milk the story for all it is worth to get some great belly laughes out of the reader, without resorting to slapstick or ridiculous elements found in other comedic novels.


I agree that there's a lot of potential for humor - Merru making faux pas until he learns about dragon culture, Attranath finding his own nature working against his plans and getting politically outmanuvered by various people because he's not the sharpest tool in the shed, Lieann plotting and planning and losing his volatile temper, not to mention a whole army troop to play the chorus... oh yes, lots of potential for humor. ^_^ Reminds me I need to think up funny characteristics for the soldiers. I know I want to have one who makes bets all the time, and one who worships women...

Sequels are an interesting question. I don't at the moment have any plans to write a sequal, at least not with the same characters - maybe with their kids or one of the beta males who's a minor character in this book or something like that. Kind of like C. J. Cherryh, where she has lots of books set in the merchanter-alliance universe, but they mostly all have different characters and can be chronologically hundreds of years apart. At the moment I can't imagine writing as many books as pratchett has, but it's supposed to get easier after the first one, so who knows?


[edited by - sunandshadow on November 12, 2003 2:26:44 AM]

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Sounds great! However, as Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg showed, you can make something awesome from the most simplistic, unoriginal idea and something terrible from a rather interesting, complex and original idea (yes, I know, they''re not exactly writers but they illustrate my point rather nicely). I am of course referring to Pulp Fiction and AI, respectively. As usual, the devil is in the details.

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HELLO EVERYBODY! Last I checked there were more then two people here on the forums, so why aren''t there more replies? I would like to see at least four or five people here expressing their opinions, too. Sorry, but I wanted to revive this as I''m still interested in this story.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Very well thought out, I don''t care for the the anime-ness(is that a word?), or the gayness, but it is quite good. Hmmmmm.... this gets me thinking, maybe i should post my game storyline to get some feed-back on it.

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AP - Well I expect most people here not to care for the gayness, but what about the novel strikes you as anime-ish? While I do write anime or manga scripts sometimes, I didn''t _think_ I had put any of that into this novel concept... ???

RichardMV - Oh, well if you''re interested in the story I''d be happt to talk more about it. ^_^ Hmm, what haven''t I talked about yet... oh yeah, scent glands!

Okay, the dragon aliens have scent glands behind their cheek bones and at the base of their tails. Males (both kinds) have one type of scent and females (both kinds) have the other type of scent, and then there are smaller differences by which they can determine which individual''s scent it is. Scent-marking is done with a little ritual where the marker touches a fingertip to each of his cheek glands and then rubs the scent on a few particular points on the other dragon. Scent marking reinforces dominance and dominion-teams, e.g. Attranath regularly scent marks Merru because Merru is his personal property, and in the army you always have to mark your stuff (just like stenciling your name on your uniforms and other equipment). The Dominion of a family would regularly scent mark his mates and children, especially before they go to a political function such as a ball.

So naturally scent plays a part in the courting process, like it''s a very important moment when a lover first scent marks another, and it makes illicit liasions complicated because you always have to make sure you scrub the other person''s scent off. A traditional courting gift is a cloth strip (used to make a nest) soaked with the suitor''s scent - the idea is that proto-dragon-aliens used to scent mark their territory, and the nest is the last vestige of territory thus marked by modern dragon aliens. Also, dragon scent (probably harvested from constructs) is sold in bottles, and used to make aphrodesiac desserts (either cupcakes or candy balls, haven''t decided yet). These would be color-coded so people don''t accidentally eat the wrong one. More humor with Merru not knowing what''s up. ^_~

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I dunno, just feels kind of anime-ish.

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