Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The ravens: the poetic impulse

The seven ravens rode down from the tower on the hill on kameels of azure and scarlet, as bold as the breaking day that urged them on. From my perch atop the mill tower on Farnham street, I could see them leaving a dust trail in their haste. I marked the leader as he weaved through the scattering of travellers on the dirt road, then slowed as the road became cobbled near the town. 

I was working with my elf refugee setting, worrying about whether calling my races "elves" and "goblins" was problematic. They're pretty alien, not much like the traditional fantasy genre labels (I hope), and yet I am going for an inversion of stereotypes that doesn't make sense without the labels. So I'm sticking with the labels so far. But I experimented with using other names, and the first thing I came up with was Ravens and Skinks. 

The elves have some birdlike qualities, while the goblins have some reptile and amphibian ones, so that's where the labels come from; these labels at least evoke the right image. The text at the start of this post is an experiment at using these labels. I also tried simply taking a story and replacing the words "elf" and "goblin".

This was worth doing, but the main thing that came out of it was that the label "raven" is highly evocative for me, and apparently makes me want to write epic poetry.

I have no idea what happens to the ravens next, though. That's as far as I've gotten. 

1 comment:

  1. I like this idea a lot. Maybe you could blend the Elves/ravens and Goblins/skinks aspect by giving all the Elves clan or tribe names based on birds (mostly impressive ones like Ravens, Goshawks, Falcons, Owls, etc. w/ some less respectable ones like Crows or Sparrows thrown in) and the Goblins similar names based on reptiles and amphibians (Salamanders, Skinks, Cobras, Turtles, Mud Toads, Bullfrogs, etc.)

    Then you could use whatever term worked for you in a given situation.