Version 1.5 // Used with permission
Please, please understand that the following commentaries and "guidelines" are, as the title of this page suggests, not meant to be taken too seriously, or to offend. They're, you know, facetious. Humorous. Sarcastic.
Well, at least, we hope it's funny.
Over the years we've been reading, writing, playing, and observing Pern and its multitudinous online and offline incarnations, we've noticed certain "trends" among Pernese personae. Yes, those "trends." You know what we're talking about. Twins, redheads, psychotics, loner with the mother of all chips on their shoulder, orphans, bleeding-heart sparkly-eyed Candidates. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
As Far Jordan itself was born out of a frustration with cookie-cutter Weyrs, this sub-page comes from an equal frustration with cookie-cutter personae. So here we have a collection of FJW No-No's. Please take the following at something less than face value, appreciate the humor, crack a smile, laugh a little laugh -- but be discerning enough to understand the message we're trying to get across. Any cliche can be beaten to a neat little death by a talented writer. If you're out there, we'd love to have you aboard.
And lastly, we give kudos and many blessings to Rowan of SouConMUSH, Arien of DragonsFire MOO and Cameen of SouCon, for the insightful and damned funny document that is their Satire of a Goldrider Application. They were our inspiration. Go over and read satire at its best.
Eunice Sioson & Amanda Wickham
with some help from the deranged writers of Far Jordan Weyr
NAMES - No names seemingly grabbed from trashy romance novels: Aurelia, Hyacinthia, Amalisia -- all those -lia and -sia endings. No obvious rip-offs of common-knowledge gods and godesses, Shakespearean characters, or characters from Broadway musicals. Variations on Athena, Juno, Cerridwen (yes, it's amazing how many Cerridwens there are), Ophelia, Selene, Morgan, and the ubiquitous Kylee (Kaylen, Kylae, Kelyn, etc.) are overused. Overly Celtic or Greek names are also tired, and oh, if you can't pronounce it, don't even try it.
Avoid having obtusely long names only to conveniently shorten them to snappy mono- or duosyllabic nicknames. This applies to humans, dragons, and table glows, for all we care. What's worse, don't bestow umpteen nicknames upon your character. Felefonesthesia cannot be Felly, Fonny, Thessy, and Sia all at the same time. Imagine being a Rebecca and being called Reb, Bec, and Ca. Cute? Oh, hell, no. You might want to try the novel concept of using your character's whole name.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION (from Amanda) - Let's start with hair, shall we? Okay, I know we all want to possess long, pale silky strands of wheaten hair and bright, sparkling blue eyes. Or maybe you want long, curly, silky strands of chestnut hair and bright, sparkling blue eyes. Maybe you dig the thick, fiery red hair (and a temper to match) and bright, sparkling green eyes. And alabaster skin, of course. Got news for 'ya folks. It gets old. And speaking for myself, I am a redhead, my hair is neither fiery nor curly, I do not have green eyes, and I'm fairly laid back.
What we're trying to get rid of is silly stereotypes and maxim descriptions. If you want a blonde-haired character, that's fine. Find some way for him or her to be different. Blue eyes are lovely. Just don't use "sparkling" to describe them. And all fair-haired people have some amount of freckles. And remember the climate we're in. All fair-haired people with their fair skin means THEY BURN EASILY. So be prepared with some sunscreen or a hat, or at least an explanation. Because if you're thinking the sun's gonna reflect off that perfect skin of yours, well, you'll be buddies with a lobster in no time. It's the same for the opposite. You know all those deeply tanned towheads? They're cheating. I swear. Either by skin or by hair, they're cheating. So don't cheat!
We honestly don't care what your persona looks like. Just don't create fantasy mixes of complexions and hair and eye colors. Nothing pulls your audience out of the narrative stream faster than a character with dark skin, copper hair, and lavender eyes.
PERSONALITY (from Amanda) - I'm not as particular about this one. It's my belief that the real personality should come out in the writing. But the description is a basis to go on. It's for us as Moderators and for your fellow co-writers to get a better understanding of the character that you may not choose to reveal. But it's real easy to slip into those stereotypes again, and that is bad. Remember the adage of actors, "What's your motivation?" Think of that cheesy line. You're trying to create a living, breathing character on paper, the main thing you want to consider is why he or she would do anything. Happy all the time? Is she on Prozac or is she covering up past pain? Cold and aloof? Then why did he tell us his father was murdered when he was twelve but it's a big secret so don't tell anyone? We only met a few minutes ago. Angry at the world? Give us a reason. Give us a person. Not a bubble. Or a rock. Neither of them are very good company.
It seems as if every persona just loves being a dragonrider, when they're too infantile to realize the gravity of the situation. Anne McCaffrey likened dragonriding to being a jockey; we at Far Jordan think that it's more like being a fighter pilot who periodically goes to war. Now, fighter pilots do love their jobs, but not everyone is cut out for that kind of do-or-die life. Cops, soldiers, firefighters -- all risk their life for the greater good. The point is, Weyr life's not a fantasy, and sometimes people fall into doing things that may not always be their ideal life. A dragonrider having doubts about his chosen career -- God forbid! It's emotional texture, what we're looking for.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY - We do not need to know all 3,024 of your persona's relatives, friends and pets. Yes, the Pernese may have bred indiscriminately and often, but please keep it to necessary progeny and progenitors.
HISTORY: This is where the natural penchant for melodrama often shows up. Sometimes a normal childhood is eventful enough, sometimes painful tragedies play a part. Just make it cohesive, and make sure your persona acts in accordance with their past. After all, what are we but the sum of our experiences?
1. Wheaten hair, raven black hair, fiery red hair, fiery tempers, fiery anything.
2. Any eye color that "glitters." Sand does not "shimmer" and eyes do not "sparkle."
3. "Tresses" of any sort.
4. "Alabaster" skin. Use "olive skin" sparingly. What are you, green?
5. Those long, flowery adjectives which just seem so pretty and roll off your tongue, like surrealistic wings and quiescent moments? Just try it and see what happens. Come on. You know you want to.
6. The greeting "clear skies." For that matter, "clear skies and bubbly pies." Who thought that up, anyway? It's not cute, and nowhere can it be found coming out of Lessa's mouth.
7. Oh, by the way, there are no such things as "runner-tails." Though Pernese would certainly have lost the etymology of the word "ponytail," that does not give you permission to have it transform into "runner-tail."
8. "Having a cup of klah" is not the solution for everything.
9. Any phrases that liken things to the sun, moon, stars, etc.. There will be no dewy eyes, moonlit skin, and sunkissed hair, or rainbows of happiness or butterflies of joy. N-O. No.
10. Ephemeral, adj. [[ < Gr epi-, upon + hemera, day ]] 1 lasting one day 2 short-lived; transitory. There will be absolutely NO ephemeral gazes that seem to last a lifetime. "Ephemeral" is not a synonym of "gossamer" or any other flowery superlative, as so many people seem to think it is merely because it sounds like it does. PLEASE don't use a word if you don't know what it means! Because Eunice, collector of arcane and pretty much useless facts, will tell you the entire etymology of the word in Latin, Greek, and Egyptian heiroglyphics from the Old Kingdom. Trust me. Take it from someone who had to learn the meaning of "Veronica" the hard way. (Well, see, it comes from the late Latin phrase "vera iconica," which comes from the Gre-- ::forcibly silenced with chloroform::)
11. There will be no descriptions of fingers unless you plan to make them short and chubby (or you have one less). Use of the word "supple" to describe any body part, in fact, shall result in hideous taunting and ridicule. And that's just the beginning.
1. The Innocent, Wide-Eyed Virgin (with her womanly assets just beginning to bud). Weyr-born women are rarely so, heh. And there will be absolutely no swooning going on. Don't be trite. This isn't one of those 18th century Gothic novels.
2. Variations on the Local Slut (like the Hooker with the Heart of Gold, etc.). Don't even try if you can't do it right or with complexity--or if you're underage.
3. Psychopaths. Who in the world would want to be a psychopath? Do you have Charles Manson fantasies? Dream about being Hannibal Lecter? What is wrong with you? It's not a fun or funny subject. Having a genuine mental disorder on Pern often leads to a life of drudgery, if not worse.
4. Twins. Especially identical ones with similar names. Get your own egg.
5. Orphans. Been there, done that...
6. Redheads. Especially those with "sparkling" green eyes, fiery tempers, and stubborn wills. And yet, they're strangely agreeable and nice and sweet and...excuse me, there goes my lunch, pseudo-Celtic mysticism and all. This is offensive to people of Gaelic descent. This is offensive to people of any descent.
7. Moody, broody loners with their dragon (or firelizard) as their only friend and companion. No man is a rock. No man is an island. Just ask Paul Simon.
8. Rapunzels trapped in golden Holden towers, dreaming about the day when they'd be Searched, saved, and bonded to their own very special dragon, worthy of the stature they tried so hard to get away from. (Convenient, eh?) Stuck-up, spoiled, "thinks she's above everyone." But of course she's really just an insecure child looking for a little love, so of course she looses up as she goes along. Hey, look, the brat's not so bad a person after all! It's a formula that everyone's seen before.
9. The Walking Love Machine. This is Pern, not the Love Boat. Or Gilligan's Island, for that matter. Write romance realistically, with a minimum of weepy violin music, moonglow and gondola rides.
10. Lizard Queens, Catwomen, Flipper-friends, Jack Londons. Firelizards are not exactly rare, but they are uncommon enough that people often have practical reasons for having them. Runners are beasts of burden, not quite pets. Herdbeasts are food. Dolphins remain the mythological shipfish. Pets are certainly allowed, and do add color to the daily life of the Weyr. We only ask that you do not bring a menagerie trailing in after you upon your entrance to a room. Dragonriders have enough responsibilities on their hands.
11. Perfect 10's. They're beautiful, they're kind, they're talented, they're even a bit humble. And even if no one says it, nearly everyone wants them to jump off the nearest cliff.
12. The Renegades. Young, brash, rebellious, and left-of-center. So left-of-center, in fact, that they kicked them out of the Weyr for their supposedly bad-@$$ behavior, or because they knew better than the Old Fogies in some subject of contention or another. Of course, all the wisdom and experience of Old Fogies don't count at all against the hormonal angst of a bunch of "misunderstood" young people. Oh, and did I say "kicked them out"? Excuse me, I meant "exiled" or "banished," because that sounds entirely more elegant and romantic than "thrown out on their collectively useless arses."
13. The Humble Pie. This is a special kind of persona type which incorporates many of the above types. Young, virginal, Craft-raised or Hold-born, looking for love (even though they don't go outright and say it), and very self-effacing, because you know they really can't believe that they're Weyrfolk now, because they know they don't realy deserve it, even though in their heart of hearts this has always been their dream, but oh, Faranth, how wonderful it all is... Now, can you imagine this person risking their life for the good of humanity -- without melting into a puddle of messy adolescent feelings? Didn't think so, either.
14. Pern Muyo! Characters with anime-like appearances or abilities will be sent to the Supermagical Most Excellent Pretty-Pretty Portal to Hell.
15. The Pedigree -- "Daddy was a Master____ while Mommy was a Master____" or "Daddy was a bronze rider and Mommy was a gold rider" roughly translate into "pampered trust fund brat who uses her lineage as a crutch so that we don't notice how she doesn't have her own personality."
1. "Flipper Weyr" (aka the Dolphincrafthall of the Barely Adolescent), where the kids and their dolphin counterparts save the world from evil through the magic of their nice tans and nifty surfing skills.
2. "Hukt on Foniks Weeyr," were noone kan sppel enytheng reesembling enythang en dhe inglish lengooage.
3. "My Little Weyr" (tm). ALL character names MUST contain the letter K at least once, as well as one or more of L, Y, I or E. If you can make an entire name from these letters, even better! (Yes, just think...Kylies galore... ::falls on sword::)
4. "Friendship Weyr," the Disneyfied version where everyone gets their very own gold or bronze (or maybe even a silver!) dragon. Joining rules require that you be under 13.
5. "Very Remote Weyr," set so far away that nobody can remember where the Northern Continent is, or even how to get back there, despite the fact that every dragonrider is at least a Journeyman Harper as well.
6. "North Benden Weyr," where you too can have your rider be pally with F'lar, Lessa, F'nor and all those wonderful characters from Anne's books. (Which, by the way, is completely, thoroughly illegal.)
7. "The Lost Weyr of Pern," which was abandoned on an island until a gold and a bronze dragonrider were banished for being inventive, and the whole weyr was created, but now we can't get back to the mainland! Oh no!
8. "This Old Hold," the ancient Hold which has only recently been rediscovered, older than Fort or Ruatha, but with every mod con imaginable. Neato, huh? And guess what? Aivas/Avias/Aivias was discovered here, not Landing!
9. "Candidate Weyr" (aka "Never-Never Weyr"), where flights take place every other day, lending to the image of "barefoot and pregnant gold queens," and each weekly Hatching brings in wave after wave of pimply pipsqueaks. It's all Candidates, all the time, baby!
10. "Pern's Creek," where looove and teenage angst hang permanently in the air like a cloud of deranged pheromones.
1. Upper Middle Flight, Center Middle Left Right Spear, Lower Right Center Claw.
2. "Hi! I'm Kylae, rider of Gold Lovelieth, and I'm the Weyrwoman of newly opened Starkiss'd Weyr. I have a Weyrleader around here somewhere, but no one really cares about him..."
3. Aivis-- no, Aivias. Or is it Avais? Because golly gee willickers, with so many spellings of AIVAS, I don't know what to do with myself!
4. "wHAt yOu M3An 2 SaY mY DRaGiN CaNT B CaL1eD MeGaDeTH?" 'Nuff said...
5. "Who Wants To be a Male Goldrider?" R'gis and Phylbynne (actually C'ris and Tarante in the UK versions of the Pern books) hatch their dragons' clutch, and Golly Gee Whillikers, little five-year-old Jonny, son of R'gis and Phylbynne is Impressed straight from the stands. 'Can I email a RL friend?'
6. Inbred Scion of Dragonriders. "Your (sic) my long-lost brother who is now a bronze dragonrider and Masterharper Robinton and Menolly were our parents and we where (sic) left out for wherries on the mountains when we we're (sic) born and rescued and brought up by dolphins and taught how to speak but not how to write anything but illegibil (sic) run-on sentences?"
7. Blue queens. What? What??? No.