What is a Langkah?

Langkah (Indonesian) - noun: literally step, move, pace, action, measure, stride, leap, foot, footstep, gesture, tread, footpace

In Indonesian martial arts, Pencak Silat, it commonly refers to geometric patterns on the floor used to train footwork and develop an understanding of the role of the lower body in maintaining balance and a base from which to generate power.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Worlds of Fiction -- Addendum

A few months ago, I wrote a post entitled Worlds of Fiction. In it, I discussed the fact that fictitious worlds are not our world, even if they seem like it. As such, if an author writes something like, "he released the safety on his Glock," you can assume that, in the world of the story, Glocks do have manual safeties.

While this is entirely true and a valuable thing to remember, it doesn't give authors carte blanche with such things. A cardinal sin in fiction is for the narrative to kick the reader out, and things like this can easily force the reader out of the story.

Even in worlds that are distinctly not our regular world, such as high fantasy or sci-fi on another planet or another dimension, there's no such thing as carte blanche in the long run. When the author develops the world, rules get established. Rules about the science, magic, societies, geography, etc. take shape. If the author writes something that violates an existing rule, that will kick the reader out of the narrative too.

Readers, cut authors a little slack by remembering, no matter what the world on the page looks or feels like, it is not your world.

Authors, keep the rules you develop in mind and, if your world bears any resemblance to our world, keep it as consistent with our world as possible to avoid such errors.

I know, it's impossible to get every detail accurate to our world and, sometimes, you don't want to, but we must do our best.

A note for readers on "you don't want to:"

This is especially true when it comes to military, crime, and science-based (fortunately, I don't work for the CDC 🤣 ) fiction. A true-life example I have for this is the SEAL Team 666 novels by Weston Ochse. While writing these novels, Weston is very careful to have his SEALs use only declassified weapons and tactics. If you happen to be a SEAL who reads these books, you might think, "Well, that's not how we really do it" ... but realize it's intentional on the part of the author because you don't want people to have any idea about how you really do it.

In crime fiction, there are many areas where authors might, as a conscious decision, decide to fudge things. For instance, a quick Google search will reveal that quicklime doesn't actually get rid of bodies. In fact, it mummifies them and leaves quite a bit of evidence. Yet quicklime was a staple of crime fiction for many decades. I don't know if various authors who used it knew it was bogus or not, but they may have known. Also, various tools and methods depicted may not exist or, if they do, they don't often yield results as quickly or precisely as they do in fiction. The last thing we want to do is give a schematic for the perfect murder in the real world, though in our fictitious world, it may, in fact, be perfect.

Again, we're back to the fact that worlds of fiction, no matter how closely they resemble our own world, are not our world.

These are just some thoughts I have on the subject. I suppose, having been an avid reader as long as I can remember, I'm something of an expert on being a reader, but that's the end of my expertise in this area. I've written quite a bit, and had a few things published but, as an author, I'm still very young. These ramblings are as much a discussion in my own head as they are with you, the person reading this.

The Wandering Guru

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