Missing Letter Monday No “V” – Another Author’s Oracle Tag

Published October 30, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

So, in trying to decide what to post for my last Missing Letter Monday until December (yeah, it’s going away for NaNo), I looked through to see what I’d done in the past with this letter, and found this post with a series of questions for an author to answer about their current WIP.  And I decided that hey, I could just answer the questions again, only this time for the project I’m going to work on next month.  These questions were initially encountered on Sara Letourneau’s blog, in an open-ended “consider yourself tagged if you’re reading this” kind of thing.  So I guess that means I’m re-self-tagging?

Er….anyway…on to the questions, though (as before) I used some * in the questions when this week’s forbidden letter came up.

The Author’s Oracle Questions

The answers this time are going to be NaNo prep, for next month’s project, which I am planning as the first in a series.  (Who knows what I’ll actually end up writing, but…)  I keep putting off filling out the cool character sheet I found on the NaNo forums, so maybe this will help me with that.  It’s a genre-ignoring project with elements of the fantastic, elements of steampunk, and an LGBT romance.  And giant eagles.  Because all things are better with giant eagles.

0. The Fool: Which of your characters is the most intuiti*e?  The worst decision-maker?

The best decision-maker would be Ouden, the 12 year old girl on the crew of the airship.  She considers herself the one who keeps Cal, the captain, from dying all the time, and she’s pretty much right about that.  As to the worst…hmm.  That’s a tie between Cal and Elliot (the romantic leads), but for different reasons.  Cal is extremely passionate, and short-tempered.  He acts on impulse, but he’s also slow to trust, so he’ll do dumb things because he doesn’t trust someone yet, only then once he does trust them, he’d bend the fabric of reality if he could for someone important to him.  He was hurt horribly not too long before the book starts, so he’s become more slow to trust than before.  Elliot, on the other hand, is the ultimate naïf.  I mean, the guy took a madam’s word for it that she was just sheltering him out of the goodness of her heart, and had no idea she was charging the men who were also just taking shelter in the same room with him and who just happened to want to sleep with him.  (In his defense, he is quite young (about nineteen) and recently ran away from his sheltered home on the family farm.)

I. The Magician: What character, location, or object has the most positi*e influence in your story?

(OMG, I skipped this one last time!)  Probably Cal’s airship, the Audacity.  The cast would be utterly lost without it.  Although Cal wouldn’t be hunted without it, so maybe it’s not all good.

II . The High Priestess: Do any of your characters ha*e *ery strong beliefs?

Again, this sounds like Ouden.  Her country has a sla — ack, how do I talk about this without this week’s forbidden letter?  Ooookay, so, please go to Wikipedia (or something) and look up ancient Sparta and the perioikoi and helots.  Ouden’s country is based on Sparta (because usually when someone bases a fictional country on ancient Greece, it’s always Athens, and I’d rather be different), complete with their own helot-like group.  Well, Ouden’s parents wanted to put an end to the subjection of the…ack, I didn’t make up a name for that group yet!  *whimper*  Well, I’ll just call them “helots” for this discussion.  So, Ouden’s parents wanted to free the helots, and were trying to do so through political change.  (Not an easy task in an oligarchy!)  Then the helots rose up in rebellion (this happened with the Messenian helots on more than one occasion), and Ouden’s country needed the help of their neighbors (Cal’s country), who promptly took control of the country once the helots had been subdued.  In an attempt to both placate and distract the conquered people, the oligarchs framed and executed Ouden’s parents as scapegoats, claiming they had incited the helots to rebel.  This is why Ouden took the name Ouden (which means “nothing”), and made her completely 100% all about freedom.  She encountered Cal before he broke up with his ex, Payden, and they took her in, making her part of the crew of their (well, Cal’s) airship, and when Payden left, Ouden stayed with Cal instead of going with Payden, not because she liked Cal better (she didn’t), but because she, too, felt betrayed by what Payden explained about himself during the break-up.

III. The Empress: Who is your biggest supporter?  Gi*e them a little lo*e here.

Uh….I don’t really….this is pretty much something I don’t talk about.  No one understands or cares.

I*. The Emperor: Do you outline or plan?  (You know… plotter or pantser?)

I’m more of a pantser, but I like to make a general outline of basically where I’m going.  I’d probably be a better writer if I was more of a plotter, because my pantsing tends to go in weird and nutty places that don’t always work (usually don’t, in fact) but I get bored quickly by the whole plotting process.  And since I’m really only doing this because I enjoy it, what would be the point of it if it bored me?

*. The Hierophant:  What do you feel is your most *aluable piece of writing ad*ice?

Er….I really shoulda re-read this questions before I decided to do this.  I’m not really a big one to read hints and tips on writing.  But I did see someone recently on the NaNo forums that outlined a bunch of suggestions about what one should and shouldn’t do in writing, and then followed it up with “but if any of these don’t work for you, then just ignore them and write what feels right.”  (Paraphrasing here, but that was the idea.)  I liked that.

*I. The Lo*ers: Which of your characters follow their heart? Is it for the right reasons?

This is both Cal and Elliot, though perhaps more so for Elliot, because he hasn’t had his heart broken yet.  Cal’s has been shattered twice (though in the first case, it was because he died, not because he left Cal), so he’s a little more leery of letting it run free.  But Elliot wants to think that true romance is worth all the world, and he’ll end up circling the globe (literally) out of his passion for Cal.  Once he has that passion, anyway.  (It’ll grow during this first book, but in my current plans, it’s not going to be 100% reciprocated.)

*II. The Chariot: Tell us about the first “darling” you e*er “killed.”

Um…if this is supposed to be about this WIP, none, ’cause I won’t start writing it until Wednesday.  My plans so far…most of the deaths are of characters who are already dead before the book starts.  (The cast is not actually large at this point in the planning stage.)  I think I’ll really be hurting when I get to writing about the death of Cal’s first ex, though; Cal’s country is largely based on Rome (some late Republican elements, but mostly based on the early Empire, principally Augustus’ and Hadrian’s reigns, despite how chronologically disparate those are), and his ex is one of many cut down by a proscription set in place by a new Imperator.  This guy, Manlius, is really sweet and smart, the type of character I like to get a happy ending, not to be horribly killed.

*III. Strength: What do you feel your greatest creati*e strength is?

None; I pretty much suck all around.  My ability to come up with basic plot ideas (often just set-ups, really) is my best aspect, and it’s both weak and drawing far too much on other people’s work, so…yeah, I suck.

IX. The Hermit: Can you write in coffee shops or other busy places, or do you need quiet?

I don’t need quiet, as such, but I can no longer watch Blu-rays and whatnot while I write.

X. The Wheel of Fortune: Do you ha*e a set routine or schedule?

It’s not a schedule, but it seems like the only time lately that I can absolutely get around to writing is between getting up and going to work.  Not a huge window, so I’m a little worried about NaNo, actually.  This could be the first year I fail to reach 50k, which would suck.  But my job comes first, and then my school work (not that it’s gotten much attention at all this semester), and NaNo’s third, so…yeah.  Not gonna stress about it.  If I make it, great.  If not…well, it is what it is.

XI. Justice: What’s the biggest consequence that your main character will ha*e to face? (If it spoils the plot, feel free to be *ague.)

Hmm.  Well…actually, I’m not sure which is the main character, Cal or Elliot.  (That’s embarrassing!)  They’re pretty much joined at the hip for most of my plans for the series, so maybe that’s not important here anyway.  The primary antagonist for the series is the king of Elliot’s country (and the father of Cal’s ex boyfriend, Payden), so they face a lot of consequences in terms of “potential harm to life and limb.”  Beyond that…in my current plans, during the final confrontation of the final book, Elliot will end up deciding to sacrifice his own happiness for the sake of the world, shattering his relationship with Cal, possibly permanently.  (I’m still on the fence about whether or not to let them get back together in the ten years later epilogue.  It’ll probably depend on how things look when I get there.  It usually does.)

XII. The Hanged Man: What sacrifices do you make for writing time?  Or, what must your main character be willing to choose between?

I might end up failing my class if I spend too much time writing.  But hopefully that won’t happen.  As to what my characters choose between, towards the end of this first book, Cal will be offered a reunion with Payden if he’s willing to sacrifice the kindness and hope for the world that Manlius felt in creating his airship.  (Which would also mean betraying Ouden and Elliot, but they don’t mean anywhere near as much to him as Manlius and Payden.)

XIII. Death: What do you do after you’*e finished a project?

Generally, I set it aside and work on something else.  Often I set it aside permanently.  I really enjoy writing, but editing not so much.  And usually I don’t intend to release my writing to the public, so what does it matter if I edit it or not?  For reasons that are stupid and petty and would take too long to go into, I do want to release this one when it’s done, but unless it turns out way better than my writing usually does, that probably means posting it as original fiction on AO3.  That would still require some editing, but not the 1000-proof polish that trying to publish professionally (or to self-publish) would require.

XI*. Temperance: Please share your best-tested & pro*en tip for balancing writing and “the rest.”

Uh…”don’t be me.”

X*. The De*il: E*eryone has a nasty habit they can’t shake. What’s your main character’s?

Erm…again, not sure which is the main character yet.  (We’ll see who takes the show from the others when I’m writing, y’know?)  Cal’s is a bad temper and drinking.  Okay, a bad temper isn’t a habit per se.  But he absolutely drinks too much.  Elliot’s…hmm.  I don’t think I assigned him any “nasty habits”.  He has flaws — he’s too trusting, and remains a wide-eyed naïf long after he should wise up — but he’s short on bad habits as such.  I should come up with one for him.  Probably lying in order to please those around him, actually.  Saying what people want to hear seems like an Elliot thing to do.

X*I. The Tower: Ha*e you e*er had to scrap an entire project and start o*er? How did it feel? Were you frustrated, sad, relie*ed, etc.?

Okay, this hasn’t changed from the last time I did this, so I’m skipping this question.  (Except that due to spontaneously needing to write fanfic for a while, I didn’t end up finishing the new project for the characters I was talking about last time.  I still hope to finish it someday, though.)

X*II. The Star: What is your fa*orite part of starting a new project? New notebook smell? Getting to know the characters? Building the plot?

Filling in the holes in the initial idea and watching as it all falls into place as an actual story idea instead of just a few isolated ideas.

X*III. The Moon: What’s the biggest lie that your main character is telling herself?

For Cal, it’s that Payden is a better person than he actually is:  Payden’s father wants to take control of the world, and Cal thinks that Payden opposes that idea, when he actually doesn’t.  For Elliot…I feel like his whole way of looking at the world is a lie he’s telling himself:  he thinks the world is a good place and that people are basically good, and that it always all turns out well in the end.  The thing there is that when he makes that sacrifice at the end of the last book, he’s basically trading his personal happiness for the ability to make the world a good (or at least substantially better) place, and to make people a bit better to each other.

XIX. The Sun: Do any themes, symbols, or objects come full circle in your story?

The McGuffin they spend most of the books searching out will be making something of a full circle, and I might make Cal and Elliot’s meeting in the decade later epilogue rather mirror their first meeting in the first book, but that’s all the plans right now.  More might come up as I’m writing.  I am 75% pantser, after all.

XX. Judgement: Do your characters get what they deser*e? Why or why not?

I don’t know yet, what with not starting book 1 until Wednesday.  But probably not, in two of the three cases.  I don’t know what’s going to happen to Ouden after the books end, but she’s tough as nails and enjoys the fight, so she’ll land on her feet, no matter what.  But Elliot will end up accepting a position at a remote temple in the middle of nowhere, using a powerful object to help people with their problems, which sounds great except that the way the object works means that no one remembers him when they’re not in the room with him.  (If you watch the new Doctor Who, it’s a bit like the power of the Silence, only not creepy and horrible.  At least, it’s not creepy and horrible because it’s Elliot who has it.  It could be misused, which is why Elliot decides he has to safeguard it.)  So that means he’s separated from Cal, and unless I write a loophole into the object’s powers, he can’t resume his relationship to Cal when Cal shows up again ten years later, and poor Elliot is going to suffer more than the others in the course of the story (entirely Cal’s fault), so he really ought to get a happier ending.  As to Cal, he’s still nursing a broken heart ten years later, so…part of me wants to say it’s his own bleeding fault he’s not happier.  (Which is a really, really strange thing to say about a character of my own creation (though strongly inspired by someone else’s character) in a book series I am only about to write.)  Again, I could decide to find a way for Cal to hook up with Elliot again so they can both be happy.  I’ll decide that when I get there.

XXI. The World: At what point did you know that you had to write this project?

As usual, it started out as an idle thought, but then it started spiraling into a stronger idea.  Then this creep on the NaNo forums started attacking me in a post where I was asking for some suggestions regarding some of the world building, and I knew I had to write and release to the public this work in order to spite that troll.

I recognize that that’s a moronic reason to write something.

Thank goodness!  That’s the last question!

And now that I get to the end of the other post, I see it took me two hours the first time, too.

I suck.  (Did I already mention that?)


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